Do you run a motel or hotel? What fire protection systems do you have in place? According to disaster surveys, an estimated 150 injuries and 15 deaths occur each year within motel and hotel premises. If a fire starts on your commercial property in the late hours of the night when your employees are not present, the only thing that can effectively save your property is an automated fire sprinkler system. If your fire sprinkler installations were properly done, then lives and property may get saved.
Inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire sprinkler systems
In unfortunate circumstances, fires may break out long after your fire sprinkler installations, and when they do your system may not be ready. Notably, fire sprinkler systems may get damaged due to leakages, rusts, blockages, and the breakdown of the sprinkler system’s fixtures. As such, there is a need for regular fire sprinkler inspection and sprinkler repair when damages occur after successful or unsuccessful fire sprinkler installations.
Apart from the sheer need to do it, such inspections and tests are a mandatory safety requirement set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The NFPA sets the basic standards in maintenance, testing, and inspection of water-based fire sprinkler systems. As a commercial property manager, you’re required to keep test and inspection records for at least one year. During this period you should ensure these records are readily available to your fire protection service provider if needed.
Who can do the tests and inspection?
The services of maintaining and testing a fire sprinkler system require the expertise of a life safety professional. But it’s also possible that such tasks can be undertaken by a knowledgeable facility or property manager after proper fire sprinkler installations.
Fire sprinkler inspection simply entails a visual analysis of the sprinkler system. The NFPA 25 standards have set the basic inspection schedule, which determines when the inspections should be carried out. The schedule is as follows:
- Monthly or weekly: You should inspect wet pipe systems’ gauges at least once a month. In the dry pipe system, deluge, and pre-action systems ensure that inspection is done weekly.
- Quarterly: In every three months, you should have the hydraulic nameplates, control valves, supervisory signal devices, valve supervisory alarm devices, and water flow alarm devices inspected.
- Annually: The spare sprinklers, information signage, pipes and fittings, and seismic bracings should be inspected at least once in a year.
- In five year intervals: Conduct an internal inspection of the sprinkler system pipes at least once every five years.
Unlike visual inspections, tests of fire sprinkler systems consist of in-depth physical examinations. According to the NFPA 25 standards, fire sprinkler testing should happen according to the following schedule.
- Quarterly: Fire sprinkler’s mechanical devices are supposed to be tested every three months to ensure effective operation.
- Semi-annually: Vane and pressure switch-related devices should be tested after every six months.
- Annually: Complete tests and tagging should be done at least once in a year. In the full annual test, the testing technician should do physical examinations on all components of a fire sprinkler system. The tests should include an anti-freeze concentration test, alarm tests, fire pump tests, and water-flow tests.
- In 5-year intervals: After every five years, fire sprinklers exposed to harsh environments and extra-high temperatures, along with all gauges should be replaced or tested.
- In 10-year intervals or more: You should replace or test dry sprinklers every 10 years. You should test fast-response sprinklers after two decades of use, and every 10 years after the initial test. You should test standard response sprinklers after five decades of use, and after that, testing should continue in intervals of 10 years.
If you have a commercial fire sprinkler system in place, then plan on how to have it inspected and tested regularly by fire sprinkler service providers. These tests will help you determine problems that may have occurred during fire sprinkler installations or those which arise after proper installation. When doing so choose a certified and experienced professional with the right licensure and qualifications so as to get the best services.