According to the sprinkler system installation regulations issued in the 2022 Edition of the NFPA, automatic fire sprinklers are compulsory in self-storage facilities, all newly constructed commercial buildings, and multi-occupancy townhomes in Ontario.
This is because fire sprinkler systems are one of the most reliable fire suppressing mechanisms on the market.
In fact, before we discuss tips to maintain your building’s sprinklers, here’s a case for why we need fire sprinklers in the first place.
(i) Fire Sprinklers Save Lives
According to a recent study by the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C., fire sprinkler systems help to mitigate the odds of dying in a fire by 79%.
The same study also showed that of all the fires recorded, 97% of them occurred within buildings that did not have working sprinklers.
As a result, it’s not surprising that the highest fire-related injuries (97%) and deaths (99.2%) occurred in these incidents.
(ii) Fire Sprinklers Confine Fires
Fire sprinklers are effective fire suppressant mechanisms. They help to successfully control fires, keeping them maintained so they don’t spread.
The same study by researchers at the University of the Fraser demonstrated that 88.4% of the time, fire sprinklers confined a blaze in the room of origin.
(iii) Fire Sprinklers Keep Everyone Safe
Fire sprinklers also keep firefighters safe. Firefighters were safer in buildings with fire sprinklers.
Evidence of this comes from the rate of injury of firefighters while attending incidents. It was shown that firefighters were injured 1.6 times more when responding to fires in buildings without fire sprinklers.
In properties with fire sprinklers, no serious injuries were reported among firefighters. This is in sharp contrast to non-sprinklered buildings where there was a 15% incident of serious fire-related injuries.
The main takeaway is that fire sprinkler systems are evidently important not just for occupants of the building but for firefighting professionals responding to the fire.
Now, here are five tips on how to best care for your fire sprinkler system.
5 Tips for Fire Sprinkler Maintenance
Tip #1 Conduct an Annual Fire Sprinkler Inspection
At least once a year, you’ll want to perform a thorough fire system inspection. This should be carried out by a licensed fire service company.
Professional inspectors will identify any problems your fire system might have and propose solutions to remedy the situation.
A fire safety inspection is an excellent preventative measure that gives peace of mind to building occupants and building owners.
Tip #2 Routinely Clean Sprinkler Heads
Sprinkler heads are stationary and as a result, tend to collect dirt and grime that’s circulating in the air around them.
Over time, this can potentially clog the spouts in the sprinklers causing a blockage. And this is the last thing you want when you have a fire break out.
Routine cleaning can be scheduled twice a year – after every six months. In most cases, the sprinkler heads can be easily uninstalled, washed and re-installed.
Tip #3 Inspect the Control Valves
What’s another part of the fire sprinkler system that can get clogged up? The non-electric sprinkler control valves.
These valves must be in working order and open for water to emerge from the sprinklers. They should be checked at least once a month by skilled fire protection technicians.
How are they inspected?
Typically a dynamic pressure and flow test are conducted.
For sprinklers with electronic valves, the head detector is placed inside each sprinkler head. When a fire occurs, the sprinkler heads closest to the fire will become activated. However, if for some reason these automatic electric valves aren’t working, things can quickly escalate in a matter of minutes.
For buildings whose fire sprinkler system consists of electronic control valves, these can be added to the list of systems to check during the annual fire sprinkler inspection.
Tip #4 Look Into the Water Pressure
The water in the pipes connected to the sprinkler heads is pressurized. Because of the technical requirements of checking water pressure, this is one tip that will definitely require the services of a professional fire systems specialist.
This inspector can verify that the water pressure is correct and the overall integrity of the entire fire sprinkler system. Such checks can be done on a quarterly basis (i.e. once every three to four months).
Tip #5 Eliminate Any Potential Obstructions
Ceiling fans are one example of objects that are most likely to obstruct the flow of water from a fire sprinkler.
During the monthly checks, it must be observed whether or not there are any objects near or around fire sprinklers that act as impediments to the delivery of water.
These objects can affect the way the fire sprinklers discharge water, either suppressing it or delivering it at low pressure.
Remember, water must be able to be distributed evenly from the overhead sprinkler system, and if it can’t, then whatever is blocking its path is a fire hazard and needs to be removed as soon as possible.
Schedule a Fire Safety Inspection Today
A routine fire safety inspection is one of the best ways to ensure all your fire safety mechanisms, such as fire sprinklers are in good working order. For certified inspectors look no further than our Nutech Fire Prevention technicians.
At Nutech Fire Protection we appreciate the vital necessity of fully functional fire safety systems. We offer tailored fire inspection services to match your building’s requirements. Our service offering goes beyond assessments, however.
We also provide a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services for businesses in Waterloo, Ontario.
Request a free quote today.