Replacement of Semi – recessed Sprinkler Escutcheons

If the escutcheon is missing for many pendent and sidewall sprinklers it will not negatively impact the operation of the sprinkler. They are just considered an aesthetic issue and are not required to be replaced. During the recent webinar on an Update to NFPA 25, 2017 edition, it was stated that a missing escutcheon for semi-recessed sprinklers can be treated the same – did not have to be replaced. Having given it additional thought, this was an inaccurate statement.


The components that make up the family of flushed, concealed, and recessed sprinklers are listed as an assembly. When you replace one of the components, such as an escutcheon of a recessed sprinkler, it must be listed for use with that individual sprinkler. The reason being is that it can affect the time to activation and/or functional operation. That’s why Section states, “Escutcheons and cover plates for recessed, flush and concealed sprinklers shall be replaced with their listed escutcheon or cover plate if found missing during the inspection.” This also confirms that the escutcheons for other types of sprinklers do not have to be replaced.


It gets a little ambiguous for semi-recessed because the thermal link/bulb protrude beyond the wall or ceiling. As such, the escutcheon does not have a lot of impact on the activation time and merits being treated differently. Unfortunately, the definition says if any part of the sprinkler body other than the shank thread is within a recessed housing (even if it’s only 1/8 of an inch), it’s a recessed sprinkler. This will be discussed further at the next technical committee meeting but until then, a semi-recessed is still part of the recessed family and all are treated the same.


It’s also worth emphasizing that the type of deficiency varies depending upon its impact on the effectiveness of the sprinkler to control a fire. As shown in Table A.3.3.7, a missing escutcheon on a recessed sprinkler is a noncritical deficiency if the operating element is in the correct position. If it is not in the correct position, the classification jumps to an impairment. For instance, the escutcheon falls off a recessed sprinkler due to ceiling sag. If the deflector is above the plane of the ceiling, the activation time will be increased and more importantly, the water discharge will likely not control the fire. Thus, it’s classified an impairment.