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Life Safety Services You Can Trust

Category: Sprinkler

The Human Element in Fire Sprinkler Monitoring

Sprinkler Head in Facility

In a recent article from NFPA, it states, “three out of every five fire incidents where sprinklers fail to operate, the system has been shut off.” This is especially troubling because this can be easily fixed by added checks to the system.

Not all valves are supervised, so it is very important to make sure that after inspections or any other work, the valves are turned back on. Both contractors and staff have a part in making sure the valves are ready in case of an emergency.

For valves that are not supervised NPFA has certain allowances. “In lieu of electronic supervision, NFPA 13 also permits valves to be locked, sealed, and tagged to prevent unauthorized closing.” Seals must be checked weekly and locks monthly to assure no one has tampered with them.

The overall message of the article is that whether a valve is supervised or not, a visual check is truly the best way to assure that your system will work when it is called upon. Protegis Fire & Safety is equipped to help with your valve and sprinkler needs.  

1 NFPA – In Compliance | NFPA 13 – Monitoring the status of a sprinkler system by Brian O’Connor

5-Year Inspections are Essential!

NFPA standards require comprehensive inspections of piping systems every five years. The 5-Year Obstruction Inspection is a thorough examination of internal valves and piping for various types of insidious, flow-limiting buildup. It can uncover hidden signs of such deterioration as Microbially Induced Corrosion (MIC), one of the inherent woes of metal sprinkler pipes which, if not caught early, can cause enough damage to ultimately require the replacement of the entire sprinkler piping system.  You don’t want or need that expense!  Constriction can also be caused by the introduction and accumulation of sediment during construction, or even from nearby municipal water system repairs. The internal inspection of valves includes removing the valve covers to inspect their internal elements – strainers, filters and restriction orifices – for visible evidence of blockage.

Although we hope you’ll never require it, you depend upon your fire sprinkler system to protect your property from the costly ravages of fire.  Don’t wait until you need it to perform to find out that it’s blocked!  Scheduling a 5-year Obstruction Inspection of your system, as required by NFPA-25 standards, is the best way to peace of mind. Protegis Fire & Safety can conduct a 5-year inspection to keep your facility in compliance with code, save you money in the long term by identifying early signs of blockage or corrosion, and assure you that your sprinklers will function when you most need them.  We can also offer you system flushes to help remove accumulated deposits found during these inspections to keep your facility in compliance with code, save you money in the long term by identifying early signs of blockage or corrosion, and assure you that your sprinklers will function when you most need them.  We can also offer you system flushes to help remove accumulated deposits found during these inspections.

Monitoring Sprinkler Pressure Gauges

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The results obtained from sprinkler system testing are only as valid as the instruments used for measurement. Old, damaged, or faulty water or air pressure gauges are likely to produce inaccurate test results and result in an unreliable system that may fail when you most need it. Although fire protection companies can perform regular inspections and provide maintenance services, the property management team should be instructed in the periodic visual inspection of pressure gauges to ensure proper operation in the event of a fire activation. This important preventive maintenance check will allow your company to be proactive when a deficiency is found.  When inspecting your sprinkler pressure gauges, be sure to refer to previous inspection reports or inspection tags to verify the recorded pressure. This procedure should be scheduled daily, as well as after any power outage that affects your building.  System components from the point of connection, including control valves, backflow preventers, and pressure-reducing valves, should also be regularly inspected and tested for proper operation.

In the event that any sprinkler system gauges are found to be impaired, or if your gauges show evidence of a reduction in water supply pressure, local administrative procedures for notifying your fire sprinkler service provider should be followed immediately.

Whenever an impairment is found, you will want your fire protection service company to take the proper steps to resolve the issue in a timely manner. Should you have an emergency or need a repair to your system, you can trust Protegis Fire & Safety to be ready to meet your needs at any time, day or night.

The Importance of Testing Your Fire Pump

A fire pump is an integral component of a total fire protection system.  A fire protection system at a facility may include automatic sprinkler systems, standpipes, hose stations, and/or fire hydrants.

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The purpose of a fire pump is to provide or enhance the water supply pressure from public mains, suction tanks, gravity/elevated tanks, lakes, and other bodies of water.

The building owner or a representative (e.g., management company) is responsible for the maintenance of the fire pump.  Fire pumps should be inspected, maintained and tested per the manufacturer’s specifications.  If the manufacturer’s specifications are unavailable, refer to the standard for the maintenance of fire pumps NFPA 25 (Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems) or contact the Protegis Fire & Safety’s Automatic Sprinkler Systems Inspection, Maintenance, and Testing Department.

A comprehensive maintenance program is generally broken down into three components:  inspection, maintenance and testing.

Inspection.  A visual examination of the fire pump to verify that it appears to be in operating condition and is free of physical damage.  Examples include:

  • Heat in pump room is minimum 40 degrees F (70 degrees F for diesel engines)
  • Pump suction, discharge, and bypass valves are open.
  • Controller pilot light (power on) is illuminated.

Protegis also offers maintenance that is performed during this inspection.
Examples include:

  • Lubricate pump bearings
  • Clean pump room louvers
  • Clean coolant strainer in coolant system

Testing.  A procedure used to determine the status of the fire pump and auxiliary equipment by conducting periodic physical checks.  Examples include:

  • Conduct a routine churn test as required by NFPA 25
    (run pump without water flowing)
  • Conduct an annual full-flow performance test
  • Operate alarm, supervisory, and trouble signals

Measures should be taken during an impairment to ensure that increased risks are minimized and that the duration of the impairment is limited.  NFPA 20 provides a trouble-shooting checklist to help in identifying causes of pump problems.  Qualified personnel, such as Fireguard, must make the necessary repairs and adjustments to ensure proper pump operation.

Understanding the proper selection, installation, and maintenance of a fire pump can make the difference between business as usual and a catastrophe at a facility. Let Protegis Fire & Safety be there for you for all your needs. We are your one stop shop for all commercial fire protection needs. Our services range from the installation of fire protection systems in new construction projects to retrofits, to service, testing and inspection of fire sprinkler systems, fire pumps, fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers, kitchen hood systems and emergency lights.