Fire Sprinkler Systems 101 Q&A
PSI recently held a webinar focused on today's fire sprinkler systems, and the requirements for inspection, testing, and maintenance. Attendees left with a greater understanding of the types of sprinkler systems and how they operate, emergency service issues and when to call, and annual and 5-year Inspection requirements. If you weren't able to attend, you can still watch a recording of the Fire Sprinkler Systems 101 Webinar here.
Several great questions were asked during the presentation, and we wanted to provide the answers for everyone to reference. Please find the Fire Sprinkler Systems 101 questions and answers below.
At PSI, our factory-trained and NICET-certified technicians provide comprehensive fire and life safety services—monitoring, testing and inspecting, system maintenance, installations, and code compliance consultations—all under one agreement. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Our Comcast lines are attached to a portion of the sprinkler system pipe in the garage area. Is that a problem?
Attaching other equipment to sprinkler lines is not allowed. It could potentially be a problem if the cable is obstructing sprinkler heads or otherwise interfering with the operation of the system. Your cable installer should know better.
Should I have more than one backflow on my building?
Backflows may be located on any number of water lines feeding equipment that poses a real or potential health hazard. In all cases, your fire sprinkler system should have a backflow if fed by city water or a well.
The best practice would be to check with your water purveyor to determine if your water systems have proper backflow protection.
Which sprinkler system is most preferred? Are any of these systems expected to be phased out?
Wet systems are reliable, low cost, and low maintenance. It depends on environmental conditions and what you are protecting. If you will be protecting areas subject to freezing or high-value assets, Dry or preaction systems may be necessary.
I am not aware of any sprinkler systems that are being phased out.
When is it good to flush a wet system? I’ve run into heads that were plugged, and full of debris.
Anytime you find plugged sprinklers, an obstruction investigation must be performed and the system flushed as needed per the investigation findings.
Does the location suppose to have spare sprinkler heads for each type it has in use?
Spare sprinklers of all types and temperatures installed are required to be kept onsite:
- 0 - 299 installed = Min 6 spares
- 300-1000 = Min 12 spares
- Over 1000 = Min 24 spares
What is the monthly and annual test on the valves?
Monthly visual inspection:
- Verify valve is in its normal position (Open/Closed)
- Sealed locked or supervised
- Provided with correct wrenches (Post indicator valves)
- Free of leaks
- Properly identified (Signage)
- Valves operated through a full range of motion.
Is there a type of spill containment that is needed for flushing sprinkler systems, or capturing the old antifreeze?
Sprinkler System Antifreeze is food grade, however, it should be recovered and recycled whenever possible in accordance with its Safety Data Sheet.
There are several companies that recycle antifreeze.
Is there a percentage of lines that are inspected, along with pictures taken?
NFPA25 does not specify the number of lines to be inspected. Performance Systems Integration inspects piping at the most likely place where debris would be found on each system inspected.
Typically, at the end of a cross main and branch line adjacent to the ITV connection when possible. Pictures are typically taken however there is no requirement to do so.
What is the typical source of the corrosion? Galvanized pipes? Or heavy mineral deposits?
Internal corrosion is most often due to moisture and oxygen within dry systems reacting with metallic piping. Other sources can be Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC).
How important are escutcheons?
Most escutcheons are listed for use with their specific sprinkler head and therefore required to be part of the installed assembly.
Is there something that needs to be added to our sprinkler system because we have new EV charging stations being installed in our underground parking structure?
Check with your local AHJ for answers to this question. If an EV battery catches fire, water may contain the fire but it’s not likely to put them out.
A quick internet search for videos will demonstrate how much water it takes to contain this type of fire. Here is a link to a good article if you want to go more in-depth.
Pictures of all the Corrosion and Leakage make these systems appear that they haven't been inspected in quite some time. Is that true?
Unfortunately, sprinkler systems are not always inspected properly or at all. Nearly all photos were taken by our technicians and I am sure some of these systems had been previously inspected.
Inspectors often struggle with access to all locations to perform comprehensive inspections. Keeping these systems in top condition requires diligence on the part of both owners and inspection companies working together.
Is there a required sprinkler head replacement interval? Every 10 years?
There are no required replacement intervals however testing is required at predetermined intervals based on type and environment. Only when a sample fails are heads required to be replaced. Test intervals may vary by the adopted standard.
Below are the current requirements for Oregon, Washington, and California as of March 2023:
- 5-year High temp solder link sprinklers and Sprinklers subject to a harsh environment
- 10-year Dry Sprinklers California/Washington
- 15-year Dry sprinklers Oregon
- 20-year Quick Response
- 50-year Standard response
75-year All sprinklers then 5 years thereafter
How fast is the detection of a fire sprinkler?
Response time is generally less than a minute but varies slightly based on the sprinklers' response time. The timing in the video presented in the webinar gives you an idea of typical response time.
Does it require a tech to replace a drum drip or can a non-professional?
Check with your local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Some repairs can be made by the owner if qualified to do so.
Do you think tests should be more frequent than the designated timeline?
We feel that NFPA timelines for inspections are adequate to verify systems and components are operating as intended.
Is the 75-year age head test a change from 50-year?
No, the 75-year test is in addition to the 50-year. All sprinklers regardless of type are required to be tested at 75 years then each at 5 years thereafter for all sprinkler heads.
Do the inside strobes go off when the sprinkler head goes off?
Generally yes, in most all cases the fire sprinkler system is tied to your alarm system.
We hope you find the recording of the Fire Sprinkler Systems 101 Webinar and the Q&A above helpful. At PSI, our NICET-certified technicians provide services considered by our customers to be best in class. Contact us today for a free consultation on your fire and life safety systems.