Can Steam Set Off a Fire Sprinkler? [Explained]

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  • Post last modified:December 25, 2022
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It may sound like an unlikely cause for such an advanced protection device, but steam can, in fact, set off a fire sprinkler system.

Recent studies have suggested that there would need to be an extraordinary amount of moisture in the air before any kind of notable effect was felt, yet statistics show that steam-filled and otherwise smoke-free environments alone account for up to 8 percent of all fire-sprinkler activations worldwide.

So how does this happen? Let’s find out!

How Does it Happen?

It has been found that steam can penetrate the fusible link within a valve’s structure and trigger the release of water from the sprinkler system almost instantaneously.

This is due to the fact that the temperature at which a fusible link melts is lower than what is needed to create steam. The temperatures required are usually much higher than what you would find in most commercial buildings or industrial facilities.

Also, it should be noted that not all systems are triggered by steam; some sprinklers require other elements such as heat or smoke in order to activate them.

Is it Still a Source of Debate?

Yes! The debate over whether steam can set off a fire sprinkler is still firmly divided. Some experts argue that even though statistics have shown that steam-filled environments can trigger fire sprinklers, these same experts also acknowledge that it takes very specific conditions for this to happen.

On the other hand, some believe that even small amounts of steam or increased humidity levels could lead to false alarms if not taken into account when designing a sprinkler system.


Despite its debated nature, one thing is certain—steam can set off your fire sprinklers if certain conditions are met.

Therefore, it is important for building owners and managers alike to be aware of the potential risks posed by high levels of humidity or moisture in their environment when installing and maintaining their fire protection systems.

With proper maintenance and proper design considerations taken into account during installation, you’ll be able to ensure your safety against potential fires while avoiding false alarms caused by excessive moisture or steam.