Your building relies on a network of fire protection equipment to keep your building and its occupants safe from fire. One of the most important features is the automatic sprinkler system, which acts as the first line of defense against fire, even if the building is vacant.
To keep your fire sprinklers working properly, you should perform inspections and testing according to NFPA 25, which is the Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. Retain all records of your most recent fire sprinkler inspections and tests for at least one year and be prepared to show these records to your service provider upon request.
Here’s a look at the recommended timelines for performing inspections and tests and what each process entails.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD MY FIRE SPRINKLER BE INSPECTED?
An inspection is essentially a visual once-over to check the status of your sprinkler system. According to NFPA 25, this is the inspection schedule you should follow:
Weekly or monthly: Inspect the gauges in dry, pre-action, and deluge systems as often as once a week. Wet pipe system gauges can go a month between inspections.
Quarterly: Every three months, have the water flow alarm devices, valve supervisory alarm devices, supervisory signal devices, control valves, and hydraulic nameplates inspected.
Annually: Once a year, inspect the hanger/seismic bracing, pipes and fittings, information signage, and spare sprinklers.
Every 5 years: Conducting an internal inspection of sprinkler piping is only required once every five years.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD MY FIRE SPRINKLER BE TESTED?
Tests are comprised of more in-depth physical checks.
NFPA 25 dictates this fire sprinkler testing schedule:
Quarterly: In order to be as effective as possible, fire sprinkler mechanical devices should be tested quarterly.
Semiannually: Every six months, vane and pressure switch type devices must be tested.
Annually: Full testing and tagging should be performed annually. During a complete fire sprinkler system test, the technician should perform physical checks on all parts of your fire sprinkler system. These checks include water flow tests, fire pump tests, antifreeze concentration tests (in applicable systems), alarm tests, and trip tests of dry pipe, deluge, and pre-action valves.
Every 5 years: Sprinklers exposed to extra-high temperatures and harsh environments, along with gauges on all sprinkler system types, should be tested or replaced every five years.
Every 10 years or more: Dry sprinklers should be tested or replaced every 10 years. Fast-response sprinklers should be tested after 20 years in use and every 10 years after that. Standard response sprinklers should be tested after 50 years in use and in 10-year intervals after that.
FIREINSPECTOR.ORG LLC INSPECTS FIRE SPRINKLERS IN THE SOUTH FLORIDA AREA
When choosing a company to inspect and test your fire sprinklers, look for one that hires well-trained service personnel with the proper qualifications, which may include factory training, certification, and licensure to perform sprinkler inspections and tests. Ask the service company you want to hire to show evidence of qualification.
At FIREINSPECTOR.ORG LLC, we’re happy to offer full inspection and service work for all types of automatic sprinkler systems installed in South Florida commercial buildings, including:
- Wet pipe systems
- Dry pipe systems
- Deluge systems
- Pre-action systems
- Fire pumps
- Fire hydrants
Whether you need any of these inspections and tests performed, or you need a quote for fire sprinkler system services, please call Enrique today at 561-603-5030.
After the annual and quarterly sprinkler system inspections, many building owners may think they are all set and compliant with fire codes. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. Sprinkler heads need to be tested outside of the annual and quarterly inspections.
“It’s important for building owners to be aware of the age of the building and the age of the sprinkler heads installed,” said Inspector Enrique Estrada, Owner of FIREINSPECTOR.ORG LLC. “Often times there aren’t visual cues that the sprinkler heads are not functioning or need to be tested, making it necessary for owners to know their systems and know the codes.”
Inspector Estrada also noted that building owners should look for corrosion, damage or large amounts of dust on their sprinkler heads. These issues can all make an impact on a sprinkler head’s effectiveness.
Outside of the annual sprinkler inspection, the sprinkler heads have code requirements for testing. The standards set forth by the NFPA vary depending on the type and age of sprinkler heads.
Sprinkler Head Types
Extra high: These sprinkler heads need to be tested every five years. This is not a common sprinkler head and is often used in ovens or heat treating areas.
Quick response: This is the most common type of sprinkler head. Following installation, fast-response sprinkler heads do not need to be tested for 20 years. After the initial test, these heads are required to be tested every 10 years.
Standard: This type of sprinkler head needs to be tested 50 years after installation and then every 10 years following the first test.
Dry pendent: These sprinkler heads need to be tested every 10 years.
The service for testing sprinkler heads includes removal of a sample of sprinkler heads by a FIREINSPECTOR.ORG LLC professional. FIREINSPECTOR.ORG LLC will then submit the sample to a certified testing laboratory such as UL. According to NFPA 25 standards, a minimum of four sprinklers or at least one percent of all sprinklers in the building, must be tested. If the building uses multiple types of sprinklers, such as dry, wet or pre-action, then at least one percent of each type of sprinkler must be tested.
Sprinkler heads removed will be replaced with new heads. If any of the sprinkler heads fail the laboratory testing, NFPA requires that every sprinkler head in the area sampled will need to be replaced.
When you own or manage a property protected by fire sprinklers, you hope you never need them. But if the day comes that you do need them, you expect them to work properly.
However, if your fire sprinkler system has not received proper maintenance and care during the years it has been installed and waiting for action, there is a good chance it may not function properly or at all.
This is why the 5-Year Internal Piping Condition and Obstruction Inspection is so important.
What is the 5-Year Internal Piping Condition and Obstruction Inspection?
The 5-Year fire sprinkler inspection is an NFPA mandated inspection examining the insides of your fire sprinklers’ piping. The examination must be carried out a minimum of every 5 years.
Its Purpose: the purpose of the inspection is to ensure there are no blockages in the piping that would hinder the effective and free flow of water through the piping when needed in the event of a fire.
What it Identifies: the inspection will search for and be able to identify a variety of internal obstructions or problems developing within the piping, including:
- MIC (microbiologically influenced corrosion)
- Other foreign organic or inorganic materials
What it Entails: the inspection will first include an initial assessment. The initial assessment will include opening the flushing connection at one of the main ends and removing a sprinkler tower from one end of a branch line.
If sufficient foreign organic or inorganic material is discovered to be obstructing the pipe or sprinklers, then there will be a more comprehensive obstruction investigation.
The obstruction investigation will take place at a minimum of four points in the fire sprinkler system:
- System valve
- Cross main
- Branch line
If obstructions are found, a complete flushing program will be conducted to remove all foreign materials from the piping.
Why is it Important?
Even over a relatively short period of time and even in new fire sprinkler pipes installed in a newer structure, sludge and build up can occur surprisingly quickly.
When these obstructions develop, they diminish or even prevent the flow of the life- and property-saving water through your fire sprinklers in the event of a fire. Keeping your fire sprinkler piping up to code by adhering to the 5-year internal inspection will mean ensuring that both your property, your employees and your customers are safe.
Not sure whether your fire sprinkler system is due for its 5-Year Internal Inspection or who you should arrange to perform it?
The fire protection experts at FIREINSPECTOR.ORG LLC have been serving businesses for over 35 years. Whether your system needs an assessment, repairs, or you’re in need of a completely new system, Enrique at FIREINSPECTOR.ORG LLC, will provide you with the very best quality service and materials.