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Common Problems with Fire Sprinkler Systems.

Some Fire Systems Need Daily Inspections  

Fire sprinkler systems can be exceptionally complex to design and construct. Like every mechanical machine, routine maintenance and inspections need to be performed on the fire sprinkler and fire alarm system in order to ensure that these systems are functioning at 100% effectiveness. Although every state requires regular inspections, AS per AS 1851, there are times and reasons when a sprinkler system needs to be serviced outside of the regular mandated inspections. There are several different factors that will determine when this is necessary.

Different Purposes

Different buildings will be used for different purposes. A manufacturing plant will have specific requirements for the type of fire suppression system than what a computer data center will need. Where there can be a large oversight is when a building which was used for one purpose is then adapted to another. Retail shopping centers and warehouses often fall into this category. If there is not a review or inspection of the existing fire sprinkler system, when it is mostly needed it may very well prove to be insufficient.

The Climate Factor

Depending on the region of the country, certain areas with different climates can pose potential problems. While the Northern Tropical zones are prone to cyclone damage or the mountain regions, especially during the colder weather, are prone to damage due to subzero temperatures. The most commonly installed wet pipe sprinkler systems are more susceptible to damage by freezing temperatures. When the water in a wet pipe system freezes, expansion will take place. The added pressure on the joints and heads can cause cracks.

The Human Factor

Another very common problem is due to the carelessness of an employee or equipment hitting a sprinkler head or other parts of the system. Ongoing nearby modifications or construction and forklifts can be apparent culprits. Damage of this type can prevent the head from spraying or spray uncontrollably, which can cause the system to malfunction. In either case, a service professional will need to be called to affect repairs.

Operating Environment

It may be recommended that sprinkler heads which are subjected to elevated heat sources such as heaters, construction lighting, or skylights, may need to be replaced with heads rated for higher heat tolerances. Under no circumstances should an employee, manager or business owner attempt to repair the system themselves.

In Conclusion

Any damage that may be present will not usually be readily apparent, until the system is needed and it is too late. Repairing or replacing fire sprinkler components should only be performed by trained experts. Any attempt to repair a system without the proper training and experience can result in disastrous effects. Vigilance by competent persons is essential when dealing with fire safety systems, the outcomes can be catastrophic if damage or defect is not found before an event. Having staff, trained in what to look for will go a long way to ensuring your building is safe and remains in compliance.

Yours in Fire Safety 

Alex

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