Re: Flex Sprinkler Heads (hope this topic is ok)
Posted by Sylvan Tieger on March 30, 2004 at 21:20:15:
In response to Re: Flex Sprinkler Heads (hope this topic is ok)

: Anyone here have an opinion about them?

Oh my Tina you hit a sensitive subject with me.

Being a member of the NFPA I am appalled that this was ever approved.

I can understand how the UL. FM, etc., would allow Flex Sprinkler heads as they possibly have no real plumbers on staff.

Tina as an engineer you and I both know sprinkler systems are designed hydraulically sized and designed using Hazen - Williams using a K factor and SI all are used in configuring adequate protection. Without getting too technical see if this refreshes your memory?


Now we SI and what type of hazard is present all account for which type of sprinkler head, side wall / pendent / up right and temperature and K factors (flow rates)


Now lets picture a building in Manhattan 81 years old 18 stories high.

Over the years many folks used these lofts for all types of business including sweat shops and now possibly law offices or art studios.

Knowing every time a new tenant moves in they constantly make changes like recessed lighting and dropping the ceilings to lower heating and cooling bills plus placing computer cables in the ceiling or under the built up flooring.

Now lets assume that there is existing flex head sprinkler piping already installed so rather then drain this system the carpenters install new ceilings and for aesthetics they center the sprinkler in relation to ceiling tiles and not actual room coverage GOOD BYE coverage and proper fire protection

Second, lets assume these same carpenters do drop the ceiling and place the pendent heads properly BELOW the new ceiling.

Now a fire breaks out between the suspended ceiling and the main ceiling there goes all your protection as once the fire starts spreading along this up protected area kiss the structure good bye as the sprinklers are now totally useless.

EVERY sprinkler system should be examined by a licensed master fire suppression piping contractor (like yours truly) Or an engineer specializing in NFPA standards or a really qualified LMP.

If nothing else the WTC bombings should show us we need more protection not settle for something that cost less in dollars but may cost human life.


With the bombing of the world trade center something came to mind that was discussed during my apprenticeship days when the WTC was being built.
The topic on the minds of plumbers/steamfitter at that time was how to protect life and property with adequate fire protection as we knew no fire fighting equipment could shoot water up that high.

High rise building were always a deep concern of world wide fire departments as these sky scrappers are hell to protect under the best of conditions.

Now considering we have the technology to install stand pipe systems with sprinklers a new concern has arisen that of a possible plane crashing into these sky scrappers and a water system just will not extinguish this kind of fire or even keep it under control until the fire fighters arrive.

Being a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) I know we do have the means to protect these structures with several options for a class B fire.

Even as a fire fighter in the Navy (Damage control specialist) almost 40 years ago we were able to not only contain these types of fires but extinguish them quickly with some damage to the electrical equipment but we saved lives and were able to keep damage to a minimum.

The code bodies should stop thinking bottom line pricing and think of saving people by use of fire suppression systems that use foam or CO 2 or a number of other ways or a combination of several types of protection.

We could for example utilize a two pipe system one would be the cheaper water type and the other using higher temperature rated sprinkler heads for the B type of fire such as oil, gas and other flammable liquids which burn at a much higher temperature then the A type of fire which is wood paper and for a rule of thumb anything that leaves an ash.

Fire protection is not a new subject as we members of. the trades do read about high rise fires and how many life's are lost because of inadequate protection

I think some good may come out of the World trade disaster by having people wake up and realize how we (professionals in the trade) have been saying all along that these structures need more protection then most code bodies want to address.

Yes, it will add cost to a building design but what price do you put on human life?

Fire suppression systems do save life's and property and there is no valid excuse why they should not be made part of the building codes world wide.

Many times because a fire suppression system is installed the code officials give a "trade off" like less fire rated (time to burn through) walls and stairways.

Think about the fire suppression systems that are utilized in air port hangers, or on Air craft carriers.

We have the technology why not use it?

I am sure the insurance savings would more then offset the cost human life and the replacement of these structures.

Think about how many billions will be paid out in property damage and loss of life and businesses that are no longer providing jobs and thus the loss of income to the business owners and employees


Sylvan LMP/LMSFPC/




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