Your building’s fire sprinkler system is the first line of defense when there is a fire that breaks out in your building. A fire sprinkler system can control Fire and keep it small until the fire department arrives, all while protecting the occupants inside from harm and limiting the damage to your business.
How certain are you that your sprinkler systems will perform 100% when needed? To be confident your system will work as intended, you need to be current with your fire sprinkler maintenance and testing.
Fire sprinkler system experts will ensure your system is in working order with regularly scheduled fire sprinkler inspections and follow up with regular maintenance and testing timelines.
By following the required fire sprinkler system inspections and testing timelines, as well as the fire sprinkler maintenance schedules put in place by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), will ensure your fire system operates as it should and minimizes the risk of damage and more importantly loss of life due to a fire at your business. importantly loss of life due to a fire at your business.
From 2014-2017 the U.S.’s death rate per 1,000 reported fires was 84% lower in properties with fire sprinkler systems than in properties without any automatic extinguishing system. – NFPA
How Often Do you need to have your Sprinkler Systems Inspected?
The adopted codes require all commercial entities to follow the NFPA 25 Point Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance for all Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.
Each local county fire inspector may also have their own additional fire sprinkler inspection and testing requirements that you will also need to follow. Be sure to call your local fire marshal to see if they have any other local codes in place.
The NFPA25 Standard has weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual fire sprinkler inspection requirements:
Any designated staff member who has been appropriately trained in the NFPA25 Standards and local codes may perform the weekly fire sprinkler inspections. The person put in charge of this should check for water pressure and normal air on the dry, pre-action, and deluge gauges. That person must also make sure the control valves are not leaking, locked, sealed, and open.
During the monthly inspections, your designated person should look at the wet pipe gauges to confirm the water pressure is maintained, and there are no visible signs of damage. The alarm valves also should be inspected for any physical issues.
A licensed fire protection technician must perform the quarterly, annual, and every five/ten-year fire sprinkler system inspection. You must also keep your records for a minimum of one year, along with the ability to produce these records when requested by any inspector or Fire Marshall.
It is a good idea that you hire a fire sprinkler inspection company that can service all your locations and have copies of all your records just in case of a fire at your place destroys your records.
Keeping your fire sprinkler inspections current will help you avoid any code violations.
In 97% of fires from 2014 to 2017 with operating sprinkler systems, only 25-50% of the sprinkler heads had worked correctly? Reported sprinkler failures averaged around (660 per year) this was twice as common as the reported fires in which the fire sprinklers were ineffective and did very little to control the Fire. – NFPA
In addition to your regular safety inspections, fire sprinkler system testing and maintenance are also vital to the overall process. A system test is more of a physical check making sure the fire sprinkler system no only looks like it’s functioning, but it works as designed.
The below video is what a fire inspector looks for when doing their inspections.
When Should you Perform Fire Sprinkler Maintenance & Testing?
You are required to have quarterly, semi-annual, and annual fire system testing and tagging that is performed by a licensed technician according to NFPA25 and your local fire code. Inspection tags for your fire sprinkler systems must be located on the sprinkler system itself and must be current.
Fire Sprinkler System Maintenance Timeline:
Fire sprinkler system testing and maintenance is a vital step in the process that should never be overlooked.
In fact, without ongoing testing and maintenance, your sprinkler system might appear it’s in working order and test, okay. Still, without lubrication, cleaning, tightening of bolts, and clearing lines, your fire sprinkler system may experience a short life span and may not work when you need it the most. Be sure to follow these maintenance schedule tips to ensure your fire sprinkler system is always ready to use.
As needed: maintain and replace parts that appear questionable during any visual inspections/testing (don’t put this off).
Annually: lubricate all of the control valves, clean the dry pipe valves and the interior of the pre-action/deluge valve, and as always, repair/replace any parts looking worn or old.
Other: Examine your fire system for any obstructions where conditions exist that could cause obstructed piping access. It is essential to have access to all of the valves at all times. If this is blocked, you need to fix it ASAP as this is a code violation waiting to happen.
When sprinklers were present, and every value was working correctly, the flame damage was confined to the specific room of origin in 96.5% of fires compared to 71.5% of fires without 100% working, a difference of 25%.
Preparing for Your Fire Safety Inspection:
Sprinkler System Inspection Companies Minimize Damage & Save Lives:
If you find an issue during your fire sprinkler inspections or suspect that something may be wrong with the system at any time, contact a reliable, experienced fire protection company as soon as possible to have a technician come and have a look.
1. Collect Copies of Your Previous Inspection Reports
Being proactive helps make a good impression with the inspector and lets them know your company is invested in meeting requirements. Provide all documentation of any steps the company took to address any of the previous violations if any.
2. Collect Proof of System Service and Inspections
Make sure to collect the necessary paperwork to prove that you had a licensed company service your fire extinguishers, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and pumps within the required timeframe.
Collect the necessary paperwork showing the kitchen hoods, if applicable, has been serviced by a licensed professional within the required timeframe. (usually within the past six months for standard operations).
Additionally, collect any paperwork to show that any generators, if you are responsible for them, have been inspected and serviced by a licensed professional within the set required timeframe.
3. Make appointments for outstanding systems maintenance issues.
It’s best to maintain your safety systems with the help of a reputable, licensed professional who does this for a living. The inspection, testing, and maintenance process of your fire system can be complicated and time-consuming. Most of these tests will require a trained professional with significant expertise in the field.
If you hire a company to provide your inspection services, they should complete or coordinate any repair services needed to make sure everything is working as it should.
The company you hire should also provide a detailed report of any problems found and what was done to correct the issues. Many companies can also perform several aspects of ITM simultaneously, including checking the emergency lighting, exit signs, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and the primary system test.
Ignorance is not bliss when talking about fire protection, testing, inspection, and maintenance.
Business owners and facility managers, understanding and adhering to all the standards set by your local, regional, and national authorities are vital for your protection and legal compliance.
The Law Regarding Water-Based Fire Protection Inspection
This falls under the jurisdiction of The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). They have developed a compliance baseline for standard testing, inspection, and water-based fire protection systems maintenance. This is referred to as NFPA 25; This is used where testing, inspecting, and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems are required. This states, “The purpose of the compliance testing is to ensure a fast, and effective response in case of any fire and avoid any fire sprinkler system failures.”
The NFPA is part of the International Building Code of 2003 and 2006 that has been adopted into law in over 46 states now, excluding Hawaii, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Mississippi. This law states that any type of change, including but not limited to the rearranging of an office space or installing any additional storage capability, will require evaluation by a qualified contractor or engineer.
The code also calls for periodic inspections, tests, maintenance, and these should be performed to show that the fire protection system is in good operating condition, and any defects or impairments shall be revealed.
All inspections, testing, and maintenance should be performed to meet or exceed those established by the NFPA 25 guidelines and should also be in accordance with local and state requirements.
What fire protection standards apply to my business?
Fire protection standards and requirements vary from county to county and state to state. Also, municipalities may elect to adopt different versions of the standard, thereby making it law in their specific jurisdiction.
It comes down to which version or year of the law your municipality or state chooses to adopt; regulations will differ. It’s important to contact local and state building officials to verify what standards have been adopted.
Penalties For Non-Compliance With Fire Code Regulations
The codes and regulations in place are there to protect you, your customers, employees, business, and your property. Under local and state laws, every company must comply with all fire codes to ensure everyone’s optimum safety.
In order to accomplish that goal, the enforcement of these codes must be carried out through on-site inspections. During the inspection, local fire and rescue personnel will visit your place of business to determine if your facility is safe to be open by identifying any problem areas or processes that could endanger someone’s life or property as a result of a fire.
During the inspection, if hazardous or dangerous conditions are present, the fire and rescue personnel will immediately advise the business of their findings and talk with the owner or manager regarding their findings and the recommendations required to fix them. They will also go over the timeline that will be allotted to correct the issues and bring the business in compliance with fire codes.
There can be several inspections done in an effort to gain compliance, for which fees will be applied. If compliance is still not met, the inspector may then implement enforcement along with penalties. Penalties can range from $50 to $200 per violation per day that the violation is not fixed.
If the violations are still not corrected after this period, the business may face charges filed by the local District Attorney’s Office.
Livingstone College, located in Salisbury, North Carolina, had fallen victim to those harsh penalties due to fire code violations that grew to over 1,000 individual citations and racked up over $62,000 in fines, the most ever seen by this city for this type of fine.
After several months of wrestling with city officials and eventual reluctance to comply, violations have been resolved, and a greater commitment to fire safety and compliance with up-to-date standards has been put in place.
How to find quality inspection services for your fire protection compliance.
Penalties and fines can become nasty when safety is concerned. There are countless examples of other businesses, such as the one mentioned above, that have been struck with plenty of fines, legal ramifications, and endless consequences directly resulting from much-needed repairs and correction from their fire code violations.
Complete Fire is your business solution when it comes to compliance. We educate businesses on fire codes and compliance laws in your area, inform you on how to prepare for and pass all of your inspections, and educate businesses on keeping their work environment safe for employees and customers alike. We also provide the inspection, testing, maintenance, and monitoring necessary to keep all of your fire systems up to code and fully compliant.
For more information on how Complete Fire can assist your business in staying compliant with your local fire code regulations and avoiding lofty penalties, click here, and a member of our fire protection team to help you create a plan that enables your business to operate at top capacity with optimal legal compliance.