All sprinkler systems require a reliable water source. In urban areas, a piped public service is the most common supply, while rural areas generally utilize private tanks, reservoirs, lakes, or rivers. Where a high degree of reliability is desired, or a single source is undependable, multiple supplies may be utilized.
Basic Fire Sprinkler Water Source Criteria Include:
- The source must be available at all times – Fires can happen at any time and therefore, the water supply must be in a constant state of readiness. Supplies must be evaluated for resistance to pipe failure, pressure loss, droughts, and other issues which may impact availability.
- The system must supply adequate sprinkler supply and pressure – A sprinkler system will create a hydraulic demand, in terms of flow and pressure, on the water supply. The supply must be capable of meeting this demand. Otherwise, supplemental components such as a fire pump or standby tank must be added to the system.
- The supply must provide water for the anticipated fire duration – Depending on the fire hazard, suppression may take several minutes to over an hour. The selected source must be capable of providing sprinklers with water until suppression has been achieved.
- The system must provide water for fire department hoses operating in tandem with the sprinkler system.
Most fire department procedures involve the use of fire attack hoses to supplement sprinklers. The water supply must be capable of handling this additional demand without adverse impact on sprinkler performance.