The National Fire Protection Association has many codes and standards, but one of the most essential is the NFPA 25, which deals with inspection, testing, and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems, including sprinklers.
Fire sprinkler inspections are important because they help save lives. In fact, there are no records from the NFPA of a fire ever killing more than two people in a building that is fully equipped with properly functioning fire sprinkler systems.
Sprinklers are also shown to be highly effective and reliable in dealing with fires large enough to activate them. According to NFPA statistics, fire sprinklers went off 91% of the time they should have and were effective in 96% of cases. They also reduced average fire damages to a store or office to about $38,000, compared to an average of $55,000 in fires without automatic extinguishing equipment.
However, regular fire sprinkler inspections are still essential in making sure that the equipment will function properly in the event of an emergency. In six percent of cases where a sprinkler system should have gone off but didn’t, the reason was due to a simple lack of maintenance.
Your fire sprinkler systems should be inspected at least once a year by a professional fire protection company, though some regional and city bylaws require more frequent testings and inspections, especially in commercial and retail spaces. Any time significant changes are made to the layout or use of a commercial space should also be cause for an extra fire sprinkler inspection to make sure that all of your assets and valuables will be protected as they should.
In addition to complying with NFPA 25 code and municipal regulations, regular fire sprinkler inspections give you the peace of mind of knowing that your system is in working order. Remember to never paint over your sprinklers, never hang items from any part of the system, and make sure that control valves are in the open position.
A fire sprinkler system is only as good as its upkeep. Though you may not have to worry about it on a daily basis, mark your calendar for regular inspections to ensure that you’re well protected, year in and year out.