FM Global explores reliability and value of next-generation fire sprinklers

  • Dr. Kaushik Chatterjee Senior Research Engineer, FM Global

New technology aimed at protecting more challenging warehouse fire scenarios

What is a SMART sprinkler system?
The SMART (Simultaneous Monitoring, Assessment and Response Technology) sprinkler system is new technology being developed that can help protect buildings, such as warehouses, from highly challenging fires for which no protection solutions are currently available. This system uses multiple sensors and programmable logic with the goal of detecting and locating fires more quickly; operates with less expensive water systems; and is designed to activate sprinklers earlier and in groups, to suppress major fires better than traditional wet sprinkler systems, and with less damage.

Because SMART sprinklers add more equipment and components, FM Global has conducted a comparative study of the reliability/availability and cost-effectiveness of a proof-of-concept SMART sprinkler system versus traditional wet sprinkler systems. The detailed results of this research can be found in the new FM Global report Evaluation of the Availability of the SMART Sprinkler System.

Highlights of this study include:

  • Estimates of the availability of these early wired and wireless SMART sprinkler configurations (i.e., their ability to operate when called upon) are 86 percent and 83 percent, respectively, over a 30-year product lifetime—compared to 97 percent for an established traditional sprinkler system.
  • The gap between the availability of SMART sprinklers and that of traditional sprinklers can be roughly cut in half by increasing frequency of inspection, testing and maintenance from once to twice yearly.
  • The estimated lifetime risk reduction for SMART sprinklers is greater than 90 percent, similar to that of traditional sprinklers based on cost-benefit analysis.

It should be pointed out that these results are based on the study of a proof-of-concept system. Real commercial systems may differ in their availability and cost-reduction values. However, the potential for SMART sprinklers to protect highly challenging fires cannot generally be matched by traditional sprinklers, which is the true value of this next-generation protection technology.

Download Evaluation of the Availability of the SMART Sprinkler System