Click here for a printable version of this article.

August 2003: ESFR Sprinkler Summary

A hot topic involved in sprinkler design and installation is ESFR (Early Suppression Fast-Response) sprinklers. ESFR sprinklers have many benefits when it comes to warehouses and other storage facilities, however it is also important to remember that they also have their limitations. ESFR sprinklers have a ceiling-only design which potentially eliminates the need install more costly in-rack sprinklers in storage areas.

An ESFR sprinkler system can not only be less expensive to install, but it also has great storage flexibility. This flexibility includes protection of a variety of commodities, unexpanded plastics in solid-piled, palletized and open-frame rack storage.

The K14 pendent was the first FM Approved ESFR sprinkler back in the 1980's. Now there are six different FM Approved ESFR sprinklers. The K14 pendant offers the widest range of tested applications. In general, ESFR sprinklers larger than K14 offer the advantage of delivering adequate fire suppression at lower required water pressures and higher storage and building heights. This reduced pressure demand of larger orifice ESFR sprinklers eliminates the need for a fire pump in many applications, which can result in significant savings.

In order to operate properly, ESFR sprinklers need water to be delivered directly to burning commodities at a high volume and rate. Due to this, they are especially vulnerable to obstructions by girders, joists, braces, plumbing, and electrical/communications wiring and conduits. An obstruction not only impedes rapid water delivery, allowing a fire to grow, but also can cause splashing and cooling that can prevent or delay additional sprinkler heads from opening. The best thing to do is design your warehouse or storage facility with ESFR sprinklers as part of your initial design. Another important factor is to be sure that building occupancy is suitable for this type of protection.

If you are considering installing ESFR sprinklers at your warehouse or storage facility, be sure to follow the most current guideline in FM Global's Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 2-2, Installation Guidelines for Early Suppression, Fast Response Sprinklers. It is important to remember that although ESFR sprinklers have many benefits, proper installation and research is still the key when it comes to their protection success.

If you would like further information regarding the installation of ESFR sprinklers, please contact Risk Logic Inc.

Suppression-Mode Sprinkler Facts and Figures

 

ESFR Sprinkler
Year Approved
Approximate Flow at 50 psi (3.5 bar)
Max Storage/Ceiling Height
Ceiling-to-Deflector Clearance
Manufacturers
K 16.8 Upright
2002
119 gpm
(460 L/min)
30 ft./35 ft. (9m/11m)
14 in. (356 mm)
Tyco
K 22.4 Pendent
2001
158 gpm
(598 L/min)
40 ft./45ft.
(12 m/14m)
18 in. (457mm)
Reliable
K 14 Upright
2001
100 gpm
(379 L/min)
30 ft./35 ft.
(9m/11m)
14 in. (356 mm)
Viking
K 16.8 Pendent
200
119 gpm
(460 L/min)
35 ft./40 ft.
(11m/12m)
14 in. (356 mm)
Central, Tyco
K 25.2 Pendent
1998
178 gpm
(675 L/min)
40 ft./45 ft.
(12m/14m)
18 in. (457mm)
Central, Grinnell, Star, Tyco
K 14 Pendent
1988
100 gpm
(379 L/min)
35 ft./40 ft.
(11m/12m)
14 in. (356 mm)
AFAC, Best, Central, Grinnell, Reliable, Star, Tyco, Viking