Phenomena

How Fire Sprinklers Work

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Most of us have probably never given much thought to how a fire sprinkler works, but fortunately, the Slow Mo Guys have used their high-speed skills to answer that question anyway. Sprinkler systems of this variety are constantly pressurized by a full pipe line of water that’s held back by a thin metal disk and a colored glass ampule containing a fluid like alcohol. The color of ampule indicates the temperature at which the system is designed to activate. As the ampule heats up, the fluid inside expands, breaking the ampule at or near the critical temperature. That allows the metal disk to fall away and releases a torrent of water, which falls onto the gear-like disk at the bottom of the sprinkler and gets flung out over a wider area. Despite appearances, that bottom disk is stationary, not spinning; its shape alone is what distributes the water. (Image and video credit: The Slow Mo Guys)

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