Common Causes of Fire Suppression System Failure

Everyone knows that the goal of every fire suppression system is to protect both your workers and property in the event of a fire in your place of business. However, there are issues that can affect a system’s ability to function properly.

Here are some of the common problems that we run across when we inspect fire suppression systems as well as some things you can do to keep an eye out for issues that might lead to their cause. Like we always say – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Let’s jump right in!

Failing Water Supply

Maintaining the right amount of water pressure in your suppression system is vital to its proper function. To be frank – if you have really low water pressure, you’re mostly defeating the purpose of having a system in place, to begin with. The right pressure needs to be delivered at all times – not just so that you can get the appropriate amount of suppression and radius; but also because fires can happen at any time.

The next time you have a fire safety pro in your place of business, make sure they run a risk-based analysis of your system and find out where your water comes from. Having that understanding will help bring into a clearer focus the kind of equipment you’ll need in order for this not to be a problem. And when and where possible, make sure those systems get tested.

Faulty Pumps

This is usually a problem we’ll encounter at larger, industrial facilities. Typically, when you’re talking about smaller facilities – one system can get water from where it comes from to where it needs to go pretty easily. In bigger systems, it’s not as straightforward. Sometimes, the pumps don’t provide enough water to the connected systems, meaning one or both don’t provide enough water to adequately fight fires. 

Make sure that whatever your system might be; that it is designed around the adjoining systems. Make sure both meet or exceed the demand for higher water pressure with the right size pump (or multiple pumps) to make sure you’ve got enough water for both systems. And finally, make sure you don’t have leaks. Piping isn’t always perfect and getting out ahead of things like friction leaks by selecting the right nozzle diameters and pipe fittings that go with them can be vital. 

CO2 Doesn’t Reach The Level Of Concentration Needed To Fight A Fire

In order to fight fires effectively, suppression systems and other gas-based agents need to generate a certain amount of those agents in order to put out the fire. To do this, CO2 will build up in tight quarters. But those places, just like any fire safety device – can wear down over time. 

During your next system inspection, make sure you walk through with your fire professional safety professional and learn about the different enclosures that your system has. This is important because they may all have different discharge levels depending on the space they’re designed to protect. Make sure from there, that any results from tests and information/levels of the agent are documented accordingly.

At the end of the day – these issues are hard to notice to the untrained eye. But you can avoid a lot of issues just by being proactive. You can do that by 1.) scheduling regular, ongoing maintenance and 2.) by asking professionals and doing your own 10-minute walk through every month or so. Just doing that alone will allow you to get way out ahead of any potential issues that may lead to dysfunction in the future.