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Flexible Technology Applications

Flexible Technology Applications for Dry Sprinklers

Eliminate Freeze-Ups and Inefficiencies

Flexible technology was recently introduced into the dry sprinkler market, bringing with it a simpler and safer solution for eliminating system freeze-ups and installation and maintenance inefficiencies. By infusing flexible technology into the VicFlex™ Dry Sprinkler Style VS1, Victaulic gave owners, architects, engineers and contractors a revolutionary solution for dry sprinkler systems.

Overcome the Cold

Historically, traditional dry sprinklers have posed a challenge for fire protection professionals, including the high frequency of freeze-ups. Since traditional dry sprinklers are rigid and typically installed in a horizontal or vertical orientation, these design barriers often resulted in wet piping being run in exterior building walls. This caused the water in these pipes to freeze during winter months. When freezing occurs, the result is impaired sprinkler systems.

To eliminate such concerns, builders, designers and architects had no choice but to use soffits to ensure that sprinkler piping would remain in a heated space. Creating these soffits has unfortunately become a necessary burden, not only because they are unsightly, but also because they drastically limit the design process for architects looking to create minimalist spaces. Soffits also require added labor and material expenses each time they need to be constructed or repaired, causing further inconvenience and racking up unnecessary costs.

Another solution to reduce the impact of freezing conditions on traditional sprinkler systems is to use dry sprinkler piping with dry sprinklers. While eliminating the water-filled piping, dry sprinkler systems have their own unique installation challenges. During installation, these systems require numerous trips to the jobsite for measurement, design and installation coordination between different trades. These added steps often result in redesign. Inherent installation difficulties, such as complex measurements and insulation requirements, can lead to delays and additional expenses – all of which will result in negative effects on a project’s budget and timeline.

Flexible technology can solve all of these issues. With the ability to bend flexible dry sprinklers, installers are now able to keep water farther from freezing conditions within the wall. This minimizes or eliminates the risk of frozen and burst pipes. The resulting sprinkler systems are less likely to be compromised by cold weather, increasing sprinkler system safety, reliability and performance.

Flexible Technology Can Eliminate Inefficiencies

The three convenient lengths and the 2-in. bend radius create a high-performance, installation-friendly sprinkler for systems that blends with surroundings, providing additional flexibility during the design stage.

The flexible dry sprinkler has a branch line swivel nut that allows for an easy connection to the branch line. The one-piece brackets have no loose parts, which further simplifies the installation process. Compared to the nine steps needed to install traditional dry sprinklers, the new installation process includes only three steps: ordering the sprinklers, installing the sprinklers and testing the system.

Flexible Technology in Action

Veteran sprinkler contractor David Satterfield of VSC Fire and Security and Raleigh Assistant Fire Marshall Steve Berry opted for flexible dry sprinklers to protect a new multi-family residential building in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“There’s nothing better than having everything already on your truck,” says Satterfield. “Standard products like the Style VS1 for a job are ideal.”

When choosing a dry sprinkler solution for the balcony application, several requirements were considered including NFPA 13 requirements for exposed sprinkler length, aesthetics of eliminating soffits, and reducing trips to the job site. Taking these design and installation challenges into mind it was easy for them to see the benefits of installing flexible dry sprinklers.

Satterfield and Berry were present for the install, along with representatives from Victaulic, and all were impressed with the installation speed and versatility of the flexible dry sprinkler. To conceal the sprinkler heads from sight on the balconies and eliminate the need for soffits, the flexible dry sprinklers were installed in a pendent orientation. The team was most impressed with the distance that the wet pipe moved back into the conditioned space recognizing the increased safety factor of using flexible dry sprinklers.

When asked to describe the flexible dry sprinklers, Satterfield simply replied, “No more freeze-ups.”

Flexible technology is changing the way the industry thinks about sprinkler systems. Infusing flexible technology in the VS1 sprinkler provides owners, contractors, architects, engineers and designers the ability to deliver in unique spaces without compromising the quality of their craft with unsightly, constraining soffits.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Thomas C. Savage is global product manager for fire suppression systems for Victaulic. He leads a global team developing and commercializing new technologies for flexible fittings, sprinklers and special hazards. Over the past 25 years, Savage has served in various research and development, sales and marketing roles at companies such as W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.

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