Sr. Design and Project Engineer
Plumbing and Fire Fighting System
Member of Kuwait Society of Engineers (KSE)
Kuwait Fire Force License [KFD Card]
Contact : +965 94074747
Email : kamal.mech.engg@gmail.com
Hydraulic Calculations for Fire Fighting System
We designing a fire protection system, hydraulic calculations are very important to ensure that the flow rate in piping network will be enough to control fires effectively. In NFPA, the calculation procedures are established and verified by the three basic elements of firefighting system:

Water delivery requirements of fire sprinkler system

Available water supply

The piping network system and its related friction losses.
Occupancy Classification
Any hydraulic design of sprinkler systems must begin with an analysis of the commodity being protected. The National Fire Protection Association, Standard No. 13 “Installation of Sprinkler Systems” (NFPA13) defines three basic commodity classification: Light Hazard, Ordinary Hazard and Extra Hazard. These classifications are defined in NFPA13 and examples are given in that document. Ordinary Hazard occupancies are divided into two categories: Ordinary Hazard Group 1 and Ordinary Hazard Group 2. Extra Hazard occupancies are also divided into two categories: Extra Hazard Group 1 and Extra Hazard Group 2. Once a hazard classification is chosen for a known occupancy, the water requirements may be established from NFPA13, (2007) Figure 11.2.3.1.1
Density/ Area Curve for water requirements
NFPA13, (2007) Figure 11.2.3.1.1 displays five density/area curves overlain on a graph. These five curves correspond to the previously discussed hazard classifications: Light Hazard, Ordinary Group 1 Hazard, Ordinary Group 2 Hazard, Extra Hazard Group 1 and Extra Hazard Group 2. These curves stipulate the required minimum densities and remote areas that establish minimum water requirements for sprinkler systems.
Densities and Remote Areas
These curves stipulate the required minimum densities and remote areas that establish minimum water requirements for sprinkler systems.
Density  The amount of water that must be delivered every minute for every square foot of floor space. The English units for density is (gallons per minute per square foot (gpm/sq.ft.) For example, a Light Hazard occupancy could be designed for a density of 0.1gpm/sq.ft. This means that 0.1gallons must discharge every minute for every square foot of floor space over a specified area.
Remote Area – the minimum area of floor space over which the density must discharge.
As an example, Figure 11.2.3.1.1 indicates that an acceptable design for an Ordinary Hazard Group 1 occupancy is 0.15gpm/sq.ft. over 1500sq.ft.
This means the sprinkler system designer will choose the most hydraulically demanding 1500sq.ft. of the sprinkler system layout and perform a calculation of all sprinklers within that 1500sq.ft. area. Therefore, only a portion of sprinklers on a sprinkler system are expected to operate during a typical fire, not all. If all sprinklers on a sprinkler system operate the water supply most likely will not be adequate to control the fire.
Calculating number of sprinklers in Remote Area
Total number of sprinklers = Remote Area (Design Area) / Area covered by one sprinkler.
For example, if Remote area = 1500 sqft and area covered by one sprinkler = 130 sq ft
Total number odd sprinklers = 1500/130 = 11.538.
Therefore, we shall consider 12 Nos. of sprinklers which the water tank must provide for sprinklers to operate in case of fire.
End sprinkler start conditions
Once the hydraulic requirements are selected for the occupancy, the hydraulic calculation of the sprinkler system may begin. In modern times sprinkler system hydraulics are performed by computer programs. However, in the early days of sprinkler system hydraulic design all systems were calculated with a calculator as we will do here. A thorough understanding of these principles is not required to perform calculations on a hydraulic calculation program but these are the principles on which the program operates. A better understanding of these principles will allow the designer to better understand how the sprinkler system will function hydraulically. The density/area curves will tell the designer the starting point of the design. Our example is an Ordinary Hazard Group 1 occupancy and we will choose the point on the density/area curve of 0.15 gpm/sq.ft. over 1500sq.ft.
This means that every square foot of the 1500sq.ft. remote area must be covered with at least 0.15 gpm. By extension, this means that the floor area under each sprinkler, called the Protection Area of Coverage, must be provided with 0.15gpm/sq.ft. In other words, each sprinkler must discharge enough water to provide a minimum of 0.15gallons per minute for every square foot it protects.
The end sprinkler must discharge 19.5gallons every minute over the 130sq.ft. it protects in order to meet the minimum density requirement of NFPA13. We might start the calculation process at this point, however there is one other item that must be verified. NFPA13, (2007) section 22.4.4.10.1 states that no sprinkler may operate at less than 7psi. This means that we must verify that our end sprinkler satisfies this condition. For our example, we have chosen a sprinkler with a kfactor of 8.0.
Formula used in Hydraulic Calculation process
Simple Example for Manual Calculation
Consider the following remote area.
Hazard Classification : Light Hazard
This is three story building (Ground Floor +1st Floor + 2nd Floor + Roof). Fire water tank and Fire Pump set is installed on roof. Therefore, we will select remote area on second floor since it will have less pressure.
Remote Area
Calculation Summary
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Sample Calculation 2