Better Than A Smoke Detector: An Add-On Sprinkler


click image to enlarge; credits Taewoong Kim & Chul Kim

In our Big Steps in Building series, I advocated for sprinklers in every housing unit, not just for fire safety, but so that we could also get rid of all those flame retardants that are building up in our bloodstream. Installing sprinklers in new construction is not such a big deal, but it is really expensive to retrofit.

That's why I am intrigued by this idea in Yanko.

If it worked, this could be a great alternative for when a wet sprinkler installation is impossible or expensive. But would it work? All the drawings say is that it puts out the fire with "powder." In How Stuff Works, they explain how powder extinguishers work:

The most popular extinguisher material is dry chemical foam or powder, typically made of sodium bicarbonate (normal baking soda), potassium bicarbonate (nearly identical to baking soda), or monoammonium phosphate. Baking soda starts to decompose at only 158 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius), and when it decomposes, it releases carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide, along with the insulation of the foam, works to smother the fire.

Unfortunately, they continue:

Most fire extinguishers contain a fairly small amount of fire-suppressant material -- you can use it all up in a matter of seconds. For this reason, extinguishers are only effective on relatively small, contained fires.

So I have to conclude that as nice as the idea is, putting a fire extinguisher on the ceiling that spread its contents around the room probably won't do much good. Now perhaps if they added directional heat detectors and could aim it.....

More at Yanko

More on sprinklers and fire safety:

Fire Sprinklers To Be Required In New Houses
Put Sprinklers in Every Housing Unit
L.A. Demands Fire-Fighting Goats

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Tags: Big Steps In Building | Designers

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