3 Fire Sprinkler Myths from the Movies

Posted on August 10th, 2018

We all know that movies frequently fudge the laws of physics. Usually, it’s to keep the plot going and make it more dramatic, which is why most of us don’t mind when we see cops jump impossible spans between rooftops, villains with revolvers with a seemingly endless bullet supply, and so forth.

Occasionally, though, such blurrings of real life can have real-life consequences. Take sprinkler systems, for example. While it may not stand out as much as seeing a man outrun a locomotive, much of American film tends to misrepresent how fire sprinkler systems really work.

Have a look at our list of common film-inspired sprinkler misconceptions, courtesy of AMC Fire Protection.

#1. You can set off the sprinklers by pulling the fire alarm.

In many films, you will see the hero or villain pull the fire alarm and set off the sprinkler system to create a distraction, enabling them to make a getaway.

The truth is, though, that pulling a fire alarm has nothing to do with the sprinklers. The switch to the fire alarm will activate just that: a warning siren for other people in the building. In fact, pulling the fire alarm won’t even set off the sprinkler in that particular room, let alone the entire building; bringing us to #2.

#2. Setting off one sprinkler will set off all of the sprinklers.

This is another popular film trope. A character will trigger one sprinkler, in turn activating the whole sprinkler system and flooding every room in an office building or skyscraper.

However, in the vast majority of sprinkler systems, only the sprinkler that is triggered will spout water. In other words, it will be restricted to that specific room, not the whole building. Unfortunately, this misconception frequently causes business owners and the managers of office buildings to mistakenly believe that setting off a single sprinkler is dangerous to their property, thinking that if one is set off, it will deluge the whole facility.

So how are fire sprinklers triggered? That leads us to #3.

#3. Smoke will set off a sprinkler.

Contrary to movie depictions, a stream of smoke from a cigar will not trigger a sprinkler. Sprinkler systems utilize either a fusible link or frangible bulb that reacts to the temperature in a room, not to smoke. That means that you don’t need to worry about getting doused by your sprinkler just because you’re cooking in your kitchen.

AMC Fire Protection is dedicated to protecting your life and your property. To learn more about the services we provide, contact AMC Fire Protection today by calling us at  877-781-7878.