October 5, 2011


We have all seen the movie sequence where the hero is trapped in a building and sets the sprinkler system off to create a distraction while he escapes. In the movie, the entire building is doused in a torrential downpour with wet occupants scattering in all directions.

But what happens in the real world? Mostly, very little. If you put heat under a sprinkler head, only that sprinkler head goes off. This makes sense because the fire is where the heat is! None of the other sprinkler heads are needed until they become hot. If the sprinkler system is doing its job, the fire is extinguished locally and other areas of the building remain dry.

The big distraction that our ninja was expecting did not materialize; the police simply arrest him for being a public nuisance. The ninja will also have to pay civil damages for the water clean-up. I wonder if he carries insurance?

Mark Robison, PE

One Comment

  1. Ken Drewnowski says:

    Not to mention the fact that the water that does come out will be black as tar.

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