|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 188.8.131.52.5 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.
There are several types of corrosion that can form in sprinkler pipe. When a pipe is leaking you cannot automatically assume the cause is Microbiologic corrosion (commonly referred to as “MIC”). The following is a list of common corrosions:
- Galvanic Corrosion
- MIC Corrosion
- Localized Corrosion
- Erosion Corrosion
- Environmental Corrosion
- Crevice Corrosion
I will be focusing on the form of corrosion commonly referred to as MIC. While there are visual similarities between the aforementioned corrosions there are some key signs of MIC in fire sprinkler systems. I remember when I was an apprentice in the early 90’s working on a job in San Antonio. One morning there were several “scientific- looking” guys waiting for us to drain down a sprinkler system. My foreman asked one of them what they were doing. The “scientist” said they were taking samples of the water to see what was in it that may be causing the pinholes to appear in the sprinkler piping. My foreman instructed me to go inside and open the two inch drain slowly so they could get their sample. When I returned I could hear my foreman telling the scientist, “there’s nothing in there.” As he poured out the last bit of his coffee he filled his cup with the water coming out of the drain. Then turning it up, he chugged it. I know what you’re thinking…. and yes, he’s still alive today. But I would not suggest doing this. We have other ways of testing in the 21st century. There are test kits available where you take a sample of the water and send it to a lab for testing. This is the simplest to verify a system has MIC. Here are the key signs of MIC:
- Pinhole Leaks
- Obstructions (decrease in flow rate)
- Black or red water
- Rotten egg smell
- Tubercles or deposits
- Exterior rusting and condensation
MIC is used to designate the corrosion due to the presence and activities of microorganisms, including microalgae, bacteria and fungi. Simply put, there are organisms living in the pipe that are causing the corrosion. MIC has been found in 45 states throughout theU.S.Consequently, the chances of it being found in your area are great. Totally eliminating corrosion is impossible. However, the following provide ways to slow the process:
- Eliminate the bacteria
- Eliminate the oxygen
- Eliminate the water
Now comes the “how to” section.
Let’s start with eliminating the bacteria. There are two main types of chemicals used in fire sprinkler systems. These include:
- Biocides – Used to kill MIC. Normally toxic. Will kill all of the bacteria in the system. Drawbacks include: it is toxic, bacteria can become immune to it and it
is only for wet systems.
- Dynamic Biostatic Inhibitors – Protects the pipe walls, offers generalized corrosion protection, often non-hazardous and usually have biocidal properties.
For obvious reasons the inhibitors are the best way to go. They may not kill the bacteria but the product is not toxic. Be sure to check for back flow requirements in your area. The inhibitor is simply injected into the water supply as you fill the system. There are several different companies and units used to accomplish this. The unit I prefer is made by Potter. It comes with a pump and two 15 gallon tanks. (Potter is also a great source of information with brochures to aid in selling the system). The pump and tanks come in a self-contained cabinet with a stainless steel braided hose to connect to the sprinkler system. A qualified electrician will be required to connect the pump power supply.
Next, we need to eliminate the oxygen. This is not easy. If possible you will need to eliminate any areas of the system that trap air. These areas may be due to an offset in the piping. Where it is impossible to do this, an automatic air vent will need to be installed. As with the chemical delivery system there are several from which to choose. Their basic function is to release the air as the system is being filled and shutting off as soon as the water hits it. It is similar to the air vent on a fire pump casing.
Finally, eliminate the water. Unless you can change the wet system to a dry system this is close to impossible. Even if you could, you would have the same problems because no dry system is totally dry. If you tried this method you would then be faced with using a nitrogen generating system.
Once you install the inhibitor injection system, introduce the inhibitor into the wet system and vent the trapped air as much as possible; the only thing left to do is install a corrosion monitoring station. This is a unit in which we can make the conditions perfect for MIC and monitor it through site glasses and corrosion coupons. This is how you can tell you are making a difference in the sprinkler system. This monitoring station should be installed at the riser.
In closing, I would recommend that salesmen do a little research on this before talking to your customers. Put your presentation together, go in with confidence and make your pitch. More and more customers are becoming familiar with this and they are looking for an expert o help them.
Brass sprinkler head extensions are used in a fire sprinkler system to extend fixed nipples (drops) that have been cut too short to place the sprinkler head at the proper working height. They are manufactured to fit both half (1/2) inch and three-quarter (3/4) inch pipe and are available in various lengths to allow for exact placement of the sprinkler head.
As we head into 2014, we thought it was important to share what building and business owner’s responsibilities are when it comes to fire safety. In this two-part series, we’ll highlight comprehensive steps you can take to ensure your building is both up-to-code and, just as important if not more, safe for you, your employees, customers, and family!
Fire Safety Inspections – What to Look For
Most insurers and government fire safety standards require an annual inspection to verify that business buildings and their equipment and occupants are protected by the existing fire control methods. Ultimately, the business and/or building owner is legally responsible for the safety of their premises.
If you don’t have a dedicated fire team, and most small businesses don’t, you could be subject to expensive fines if deficiencies are cited by the local government fire marshal. Your business could even be closed down until any problems are corrected and the repairs re-inspected. There are simple, inexpensive steps that a small business owner can perform periodically to ensure a good annual inspection.
If it has been some time since you performed an inspection or had one done by a third party, or you have recently purchased a business, here are some things to consider. Know what the codes require for your local area. Your local fire marshal and some insurers can furnish you with a checklist. While every jurisdiction may have area-specific codes, in general they tend to follow OSHA and NFPA guidelines. Keep a record of when and what you inspected, using the checklist or standard form if available, or create your own form, note any deficiencies and date and sign it. Keep the document safely stored and accessible. If you use a third-party inspector, be sure you get a copy of their report.
Common Areas for Fire Safety Deficiencies
Here are some of the more common areas that inspectors often cite as deficiencies.
1. Lack of accessibility to fire lanes, fire alarm panels and fire department connections. Make sure that standpipes, panels and valves are not blocked by things like trash containers, vehicle parking, construction debris, outside storage containers or machinery. Mark the required clearances (check with authorities for the minimum requirements) with yellow tape or painted lines inside the building, install guards and use appropriate signage to remind everyone to keep both inside and outside areas clear.
2. Combustible items should be kept out of areas that contain electrical connections or open flames. Things like cleaning rags or paper towels, lavatory supplies and flammable aerosols or solvents should be properly stored in approved storage areas.
3. Check that all portable fire extinguishers have been inspected as required (usually every 12 months) and that they are in the green or operating range. When having portable fire extinguishers serviced do not allow the vendor to remove your extinguishers from the building without leaving you replacements.
4. Check all exit and emergency signage and replace any burnt out bulbs or dead batteries.
5. Be sure emergency exits operate properly (including sounding an alarm when opened) and are accessible at all times. Never allow exits to be blocked or locked during normal business hours.
6. Depending on codes in your area, there may be restrictions on the use of small appliances, extension cords and multi-plug adapters. Find and remove any such items and caution employees about their use.
7. Keep the building in good repair. Damaged or missing doors and holes in walls or ceilings should be repaired or replaced to minimize the spread of fire from room to room.
8. If accessible, check sprinkler heads for damage and obstructions, and keep storage such as racks or boxes away from sprinkler heads and ceilings. Know what the minimum clearance is for ceilings, panels, manifolds, standpipes and portable extinguisher stations and keep those areas clear. Make sure that there is no buildup of cobwebs, dust and other debris on the walls and ceilings.
9. Check cords and electrical connections on equipment and approved appliances for fraying and damage from cuts or traffic.
10. Make sure that your address is clearly visible from any vehicle access area. Paint or mount large letters with your address prominently displayed on the outside of the building and make sure the address is visible to emergency vehicle drivers. Remember that fire equipment is taller than the average car or pickup and mount your address accordingly, observing local codes.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, or you are unsure whether you are knowledgeable enough to catch any potential problems, you might want to contract with an qualified third party inspection service. While there are no national governmental standards for fire safety inspectors, the National Fire Protection Association’s section 1031 outlines recommendations usually followed and even codified by most fire safety professional organizations, including fire departments.
Flexible sprinkler drops are connectors between the rigid piping framework and the sprinkler head in a fire sprinkler system design. The sprinkler head supply line can be either rigidly mounted using a pipe nipple or mounted on what is essentially a relatively flexible stainless steel hose, i.e. a flexible drop, that looks and functions much like the braided metal lines used in faucet installations.
Earlier this week I was reading through an article about residential fire protection and noticed a commentator calling out the serious maintenance obligations and malfunctioning potential of residential or commercial fire sprinklers. His argument was that malfunctions – and the subsequent water damage – were reason enough to dismiss the growing consensus around the safety benefits of fire sprinkler systems. I’m going to take this opportunity to dismiss some of these concerns.
- Thermal sensitivity
- Temperature rating
- Orifice size
- Installation orientation
- Water distribution characteristics
- Special service conditions
Standard Response Sprinkler Heads (SR): The most widely used type of sprinkler head. Their effectiveness is based largely on their ability to pre-wet nearby materials that the fire has not yet reached and cool adjacent areas. Fire control with the standard response sprinkler occurs as the original fuel burns out. The fire spread is gradually slowed because the fire can’t ignite surrounding areas that have been pre-wet by the sprinklers. Because the fire is confined to one area, only sprinklers above the fire operate.