Fire Protection Terms You Should Know

Whether you are looking into installing a fire protection system or are just interested to know more about them, knowing a few fire protection terms can help you communicate your needs better. As a business owner or property manager knowing is half the battle. This list only scratches the surface, but it is a place to start for those new to fire sprinklers. We will highlight just a few fire protection terms that are good to have in your vocabulary.

Wet Pipe Fire Protection System

When it comes to fire protection terms, you will hear this one a lot. These are your most common fire sprinkler systems, and it is important to know the difference between a wet and dry system. They both use a water supply as the fire suppression agent. The big difference here is that water is constantly in the wet systems pipes and ready to activate in case of a fire. When heat activates the sprinkler head, the water flow is instantaneous.

Dry Pipe Fire Protection System

A dry system is another one of the most highly used fire protection terms. The term is self-explanatory, which can be confusing. It is a sprinkler system where the pipes are dry until the time of a fire. Water for this system is stored under pressure until it is needed. The lines are full of compressed air, and when the sprinkler head is activated, the air flows out and opens the valve allowing the water to flow. These are good for areas without heat and can reach temperatures below 40 degrees. Dry pipes will help eliminate water freezing in the pipes and bursting.


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is another fire protection term you should know if you are dealing with fire protection in any sense. They create the safety standards for fire protection systems including extinguishers, sprinklers, and alarms. The NFPA establishes these standards through extensive research and training. Their purpose is to decrease the loss of life and property.

Special Hazard

In industries with highly valuable or combustible materials, explore other avenues for fire protection. The term special hazard suppression comes in when industries require other options. These systems use fire suppression agents other than water to protect against fire. Dry chemicals or gas are often used in these systems to eliminate water damage or to reduce the spread of combustible materials.


While backflow preventers are separate devices, you will often hear about them when dealing with fire protection terms. Backflow preventers protect the water supply from being contaminated by your fire suppression system. Backflow is when contaminated liquids, gas, or suspended solids reverse out of the system and into the safe water supply. The backflow preventer will prevent this from occurring. They are extremely important to public health and required by most environmental standards.


These systems are like dry systems in that they do not contain water in the pipes until the system is triggered. The pipes are filled with pressurized air until a detection system triggers the valve to open and creates a wet pipe sprinkler. The water will only flow out of the heads when a sprinkler head is activated. Because it requires a two-step process to discharge, it is great for areas where accidental discharge is costly.


Fire protection terms like deluge system do not come up too often. However, this is an alternative for industries that require large volumes of fire suppression. Deluge systems can use water or foam to suppress fires. Foam blankets the fire and hazardous materials and deprives it of oxygen. These are used mostly for large facilities that hold combustible materials, such as aircraft hangars.

Fire Pump

Sometimes your facility needs more water pressure than a municipal water system can provide for your fire protection system. In this case, the system needs a fire pump to give it adequate pressure to protect your facility.

Need more clarification on any of the fire protection terms? Tell us what you need, and we will be happy to help! At Valley Fire Protection & Plumbing, we have expert staff that can design, install, or repair and of the systems we discussed.

Related Topics: Fire Protection // Fire Sprinklers
By: Tom Hartel
I acquired my expertise by directing day-to-day operations of the business for over 20 years. Continuous hard work helped me become a nationally recognized speaker and expert on fire protection, fire sprinklers, special hazards, and plumbing systems. In this blog, I share my knowledge that will hopefully help you make better decisions for your projects.


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