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How Much Does a Fire Alarm Sprinkler System Cost?

A top priority for every business owner is fire safety, since a fire in your building can be disastrous, potentially causing serious injury or even death to your customers and employees. Combine that with any damage to your merchandise or records, and a fire can lead to the permanent closure of your business. That is why businesses across multiple industries install sprinkler systems in their buildings.

Types of Sprinkler Systems

The type of sprinkler system you need depends on your business and the type of building it is located in. The following are a few of the common types of sprinkler systems available.

Deluge sprinkler systems

In this system, the sprinkler heads are always open but water does not enter the pipes until it is triggered by a heat or smoke detector that is separate from the heads. Some deluge systems also have a manual trigger. These are ideal in buildings or businesses where the spread of fire would be especially dangerous. 

Dry pipe sprinkler systems

As the name suggests, the pipes in a dry pipe sprinkler system are not filled with water. Rather, they are filled with compressed air. A valve releases the compressed air through the sprinkler heads once the heads are activated, and the pressure changes once all the air is released, allowing the water to come through.

The response time of dry pipe sprinkler systems is slower than others (sometimes up to a minute of delay), but it makes up for this by quickly delivering large amounts of highly pressurized water. However, more water requires larger (and costlier) pipes, and while leaks in a dry system don’t present the risk of flooding, maintenance is costly and difficult. Dry pipe sprinklers are ideal in areas where the pipes in a wet system might freeze. 

Pre-action sprinkler systems

These sprinkler systems combine elements of dry and wet pipe systems, with two triggers before water is released. First, a heat or smoke detector that is separate from the sprinkler head allows water into the pipes. From there, it acts as a wet pipe system, with the sprinkler heads triggering the release of the water. Pre-action sprinkler systems help to prevent accidental or unnecessary activation and are ideal for businesses with sensitive merchandise or property.

Wet pipe sprinkler systems

The most common and simple type of sprinkler system, wet pipe systems are cost-efficient as well as easy to install and maintain. They have the fastest response time of any sprinkler solution.

Wet pipe systems always have water in the pipes. Water is released when the sprinkler heads are activated. It should be noted that in areas where freezing or leaks might be a concern, wet pipe systems are not ideal.

Building Codes and Sprinklers

It is important to review any and all codes for your area when installing your new sprinkler system. Rules and regulations regarding the installation of fire sprinkler systems have been in place for decades, having become especially prominent after it was realized that sprinkler systems can drastically reduce fatality rates in addition to property loss.

Most of the building codes in place today are based on generic code sets developed by local building associations and organizations such as the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). These generic code sets are amended at a local level, with most building codes being set by city and state governments.

How Much Does a Fire Alarm Sprinkler System Cost?

The cost to install a fire alarm sprinkler system depends on a number of factors, including any building codes or laws in your area, the complexity of the installation, and the size of the building. Sprinkler systems typically cost more to install in older buildings than newer ones.
  • On average, the cost of integrating a fire sprinkler system into a new construction project is approximately $1 to $2 per square foot.
  • Retrofitting an existing building generally costs between $2 and $7 per square foot, unless it is a high rise. These average between $2 and $4 per square foot.
  • Historic buildings can be the most expensive to retrofit, coming in at up to around $8 to $10 per square foot, depending on the requirements of the building.
  • The material of the piping used in the sprinkler system will also affect the overall cost, with non-metallic pipes costing an average of $1 to $1.50 per square foot, a mix of metallic and non-metallic averaging $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot, and metallic pipes costing $3 to $4 per square foot. You will also need to factor in the cost of any added features, extended warranties, or permit fees.

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