Go to Top

Sprinklers and Firetrace: friends or foes?

By Firetrace International marketing director, Scott Starr

I’ve had the pleasure of travelling to meet some of our great distributors and end users around the world, and I am grateful for both the compliments and the constructive criticism I receive; it all goes a long way in making Firetrace even better.

On one recent visit to a Firetrace distributor that also is a leading sprinkler contractor, I heard several concerns about Firetrace’s effect on sprinklers. I was asked if I felt that “Firetrace was trying to take the place of sprinklers”.

The good news is that there is an easy answer, “No”, but the question and the answer warrant a bit more discussion of the role and intent of each of these two technologies.

In most commercial and industrial occupancies, sprinklers are the go-to choice for fire protection.  Sprinklers offer reasonable cost, large area protection for the entire facility.  The intent is to protect the structure and personnel by limiting the spread and impact of a fire. Sprinklers remain relatively agnostic to the contents of the space, provided that the contents represent a reasonable fire load. Every square foot of the facility is protected equally.

Conversely, Firetrace is about targeted rather than general protection – often called special hazard protection. In any facility, there are areas of elevated fire risk; electrical controls, chemical storage, processing, machining etc.  All of these areas carry a much higher probability of fire, but have the same level of protection as an empty, open floor.

Firetrace offers supplemental fire protection for these higher risk areas. It provides an immediate targeted response using a suppression agent specifically selected for the hazard, rather than waiting for the general protection of sprinklers using the most universal of suppression agents, water.

So yes, Firetrace may prevent activation of the sprinkler system by quickly addressing a fire where it starts, but certainly doesn’t eliminate the requirement for, or benefit of, general protection.