The Importance of Checking your Fire Sprinklers Regularly

Like most man-made things in life, corrosion and malfunction occur even when they aren’t being used. Fire Sprinklers, Alarms and Suppression Systems are subject to this as well. To an untrained eye, a fire sprinkler system may seem fine so here are a few important reasons to have your fire sprinkler systems checked regularly by a professional.

  • Fire Sprinkler Heads – These can rust or become non-functional. Like the old saying goes, if it’s not moving, entropy can set in. If a fire occurs you definitely want these to work properly. These can be nonfunctional while appearing to be just fine to the average person’s eye.
  • Old or Malfunctioning Gauges — If the gauge on your sprinkler system is five years old or older, it’s outdated and needs to be recalibrated or replaced. If the gauge isn’t working the other vital parts of your fire sprinkler or fire suppression system may not deploy or work properly. These gauges give you and your inspector insight to the health of the system. If these are not working you may think everything is okay when it is not.
  • Obstructed Pipes — Over time, corrosion and mineral build-up inside pipes can compromise their performance, blocking adequate water flow or the flow of chemicals needed to put out various types of fires. No flow equals no protection.
  • Tightened Packing Glands — Water is propelled through a fire sprinkler system by a fire pump, and a mechanism called a “packing gland” helps cool and lubricate the pump. These glands are supposed to leak a little, and tightening them in an attempt to “fix” the leak actually hurts, rather than helps. If this isn’t checked it can cause malfunction during a fire.
  • Missing Sprinkler Heads and Wrenches — Another important part of a sprinkler system is the cabinet that houses spare sprinkler heads and the proper wrenches for adjusting and installing sprinkler heads. Make sure those tools are in the proper place and can be easily accessed in an emergency.
  • Improper Signage — Signage can go missing or fall off. It’s important that the proper and accurate signage is in place for anyone having to operate the fire sprinkler or suppression system.
  • Your Building Hazard Rating might have changed – Depending on the nature of your business, your fire hazard level rating can increase or decrease. Your fire sprinkler system may have been installed a long time ago to match the fire hazard rating of the original business that occupied your building. This means that it may not be sufficient if a fire breaks out and may not be as effective at containing or controlling the fire as you would like. It’s good to get it inspected to ensure the safety of yourself, your employees, customers and investment made by yourself and your investors. If your business model has changed and you have more flammable products on site there may be a need to adjust the system, like moving or adding fire sprinklers for increased safety.
  • Sprinkler settings may not match with your Hazards – Traditional fire sprinklers send a spray of water to their immediate area. Each sprinkler head is usually heat activated and only triggers when it detects a temperature substantially above the norm. In a traditional setup, the sprinkler heads will not all turn on at once — each activates on its own. This needs to be checked to ensure all are working properly. The main goal of a traditional sprinkler system is to extinguish a traditional fire — the type that might be encountered if a stack of paper in an office or warehouse were to be ignited. This is accomplished by initiating a sprinkler head that disperses water over a predetermined area. Depending on the design of the system, this water might be dispersed as large droplets, a fine mist, or something in between.  As your inventory, storage, growth and set up changes so should your sprinkler head calibration.
  • Effectiveness in a Fire – Water may not be the best answer for new flammable liquids and gases you have in your business setting. There are times when water doesn’t help. Each Sprinkler can require its own special design to contain and control the flames. This may include using multiple types of fire suppression systems within the same building if different areas within the buildings have different needs. While this may involve a higher construction or refitting cost than a traditional sprinkler system, not using the right fire suppression system presents tremendous risk to life and property and may carry an increased insurance cost.

Having a real sense of confidence in the effectiveness of your fire sprinkler system is important. If you haven’t had your system inspected in the past 12 month or have moved your business into a new location, remodeled or added different supplies or storage give us a call to ensure your fire sprinkler system works and matches your fire hazard level.  Not having your fire sprinkler system and fire alarms tested can give you a false sense of confidence.

For a complete Fire Sprinkler and Fire Alarm inspection give Maverick Fire and Safety a call.

(832) 653-2598

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