If your building has fire sprinklers installed, you can be safe in the knowledge that you have one of the most effective and successful fire suppression systems available. A lot of businesses opt for this fire safety measure because it is so effective.
However, what many people don’t know is that sprinkler systems require a certain amount of maintenance in order to function properly. Just like any other kind of fire protection, it needs to be inspected by fire safety professionals in order to ensure that it will function flawlessly if the need ever arises.
Even though the full inspection needs to be performed by skilled professionals, some aspects of it can be left to you or your staff. Here’s how sprinkler systems are maintained.
As mentioned before, there are some simple tasks which can be done by non-professionals, which includes you and your staff. The simplest of the tasks should also be done most frequently – about once a month and that is inspecting the system visually.
That is to say, making sure that all sprinklers are in the appropriate positions and that there are no leaks anywhere. If you have a wet system, check the gauges to see whether the water pressure is appropriate. In dry systems, you will also need to inspect the gauges which regulate the water or air pressure which should release the fire suppressant.
Even though a monthly visual inspection is important, it’s not enough to ensure that everything is in working order. The laws mandate that there is a quarterly inspection as well as certification which typically lasts for 5 years before it needs to be renewed.
The first thing which is checked in the quarterly inspection is the fire alarm. If you don’t do it more often, have it checked first. While you are at it, make sure that your system’s connection to the fire department is fully functional as well.
Once those things are out of the way, you can focus on the sprinklers themselves. Inspect all caps and plugs on the system to ensure that they fit perfectly and that they aren’t leaking. Check the couplings as well; they need to be easily rotated by hand.
Checking Water Pressure
As a part of a quarterly inspection, you may want to check the water pressure in the system as well. However, that requires either a staff member who has been trained to do it or a fire safety professional.
Wet and dry sprinkler systems have different testing methods which is why you shouldn’t try to do this on your own if you aren’t sure what you are doing; you run the risk of damaging the system or flooding the office, neither of which is a good prospect.
When it comes to the annual inspections, you will need to have it done by a licensed fire safety inspector or a person with a comparable title in your area.
This inspection goes into far more detail, and each individual part of the system is inspected and checked, as well as the operational capabilities of the system as a whole. If there is any kind of damage or structural deformity in the system which might compromise the effectiveness, the inspector will find it and put it in their report.
What Can You Do
Even though the system may spontaneously develop problems for one reason or another, if you treat your sprinklers with care, it is very likely that you will not have any problems with it.
Some of the things which people tend to forget when it comes to the sprinklers is that they are relatively fragile, so you shouldn’t really hang anything on them. They might break or activate, which can flood your office.
Additionally, it is recommended that you do not paint over the sprinkler heads or the covers (if there are any) as it might block the fire suppressant if the system is ever activated. Finally, it is recommended that you leave at least 18 inches of free space in every direction from the sprinkler to ensure that the suppressant is distributed equally should it be needed.
Fire safety is a serious matter, which is why you need to take it seriously as well. These are simple ways you can help keep your sprinkler system fully functional.