What Is the Cost of a Commercial Fire Sprinkler System?

Most commercial buildings require a sprinkler system or other form of fire suppression mechanism to be installed in order to protect life and property. As a professional, it’s important to understand the systems available so you’re confident that the safeguards are adequate.

Additional smoke mitigation systems can augment sprinklers and provide another layer of cost-effective life and property protection. When it comes to protecting your people and your building, adding additional fire protection is always worth the effort.

Pricing a Commercial Fire Sprinkler System

Many factors go into the cost of a commercial sprinkler system:

  • Type of piping: plastic, copper or iron
  • Extra equipment such as backflow preventer, storage tanks and pumps
  • Will the system need a separate piping system or share the building’s system?
  • The number and type of sprinkler heads
  • Savings on insurance premiums

While each system will have special needs that will affect the total price, here are some average costs to consider:

  • If your project is new construction, expect to pay $1 to $2 per square foot of coverage.
  • A high-rise building will be more expensive, averaging $2 to $4 per square foot of coverage.
  • Existing buildings that will be retrofitted can average $2–$7 per square foot of coverage.
  • Historic buildings will average $10 per square foot of coverage.

Most sprinkler systems activate when the temperature at the head reaches 135° F or higher. The liquid-filled glass bulb on the sprinkler head expands when the temperature reaches the design limit, and the expansion causes the bulb to break, allowing water to enter the sprinkler and spray the flames.

The heat requirement means that smoke will not activate a sprinkler head. Therefore, smoke and odors will not set the system off by themselves.

Why Are Commercial Fire Sprinkler Systems Valuable?

The price of a sprinkler system may seem high at first, but when you consider the value you receive, it makes sense: The system is on the job 24/7.

No property management team can monitor every space in the building every minute of the day. Not to mention, the system is able to detect fires in areas where people rarely go. Being able to catch it immediately means potentially limiting damage costs and giving people time to safely exit the building.

In addition, sprinkler systems protect your investment. Buildings with commercial fire sprinkler systems suffer 50% less property damage than those without. Even if a fire does occur, these systems are able to catch it early on in order to save the building and eliminate further damage.

Fire sprinkler systems also save on insurance costs. Properties with fully covered sprinkler systems can save up to 13% on their annual rates.

Do Fire Sprinklers Cause Property Damage?

There is a common misconception that sprinkler systems can randomly activate without a fire present and cause major property damage. The chances of a properly maintained sprinkler head misfiring are 1 in 16 million. In the event that an actual fire emergency is detected, only one or two sprinklers are normally required to extinguish the flames. A single sprinkler being activated will not set off the rest of the system, as they are all heat sensitive.

Additional Equipment to Enhance a Fire Sprinkler System

Fire sprinkler systems do an excellent job of protecting property by reducing the spread of fire, but they are ineffective when it comes to containing the smoke that results from the fire. In fact, as the sprinkler system douses the flames, it will cause additional smoke once the inflamed material starts to smolder.

Personnel inside the building will need to be safely evacuated, and that requires exit paths that are as smoke-free as possible. There are smoke and fire containment systems that will work in conjunction with your sprinkler system to ensure that building occupants have adequate time to escape to safety.

Containing Smoke in Large Stairwells and Atriums


Stairwells, like elevators, are large openings that have access to most of the building.

When a fire breaks out, these openings will quickly draw smoke into them, unless there is a system to prevent it. A perimeter containment system, such as the Smoke Guard M4000 fire curtain, can work with the building’s sprinkler system to seal off the stairwell from smoke and fire, allowing the occupants safe passage when escaping the building. It can also work as a reservoir to keep smoke contained in large openings on the upper floors of a building.


Smoke and fire in smaller horizontal openings between the floors of a building, such as those formed by an atrium, is easier to contain with an individual curtain at each level. Smoke Guard’s M3000 horizontal fire curtain works with the installed sprinkler system to provide the utmost protection for personnel and property.

Smoke Guard Provides Smoke and Fire Protection for Any Purpose

Smoke Guard has developed state-of-the-art smoke and fire containment systems to meet the needs of architects and designers worldwide. Our goal is to maximize the usable space in your building by engineering our systems to meet the specific needs of your project. We specialize in custom systems that can cover almost any opening from a small window to expansive atriums.

Contact us today to find a distributor nearby who can help you with your next project!