The first fire extinguishing systems were installed in the early 19th century in textile mills in New England. These were deluge-type systems and were activated manually.
The first automatic deluge sprinkler system was developed in England by John Carey in 1806. In the year 1864, Major Stewart Harrison developed the automatic sprinkler head, while the first sprinkler head in the USA was patented by Philip W. Pratt on 17 September 1872. Henry S. Parmalee improved upon the performance of Pratt’s sprinkler head and in 1874 he installed the first sprinkler system in his piano factory. This system is considered to be the forerunner of the modern sprinkler systems.
In 1895, the representatives of insurance companies held a meeting in New York aimed at defining fire protection standards. The following year saw official establishment of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the first standard for the design and installation of sprinkler systems was issued.
Since then to this day, sprinkler systems have protected from fire the properties worth millions of dollars. And, even more importantly, they save thousands of lives each year.