Overhead fire sprinkler systems are an integral part of fire safety for many commercial and residential buildings. These fire sprinkler systems may be the only fire precautions available aside from fire extinguishers. And fire extinguishers are really only useful for small fires. Or overhead fire sprinklers might be one of many lines of defense in an overarching fire suppression system.
Regular Maintenance & Inspection is Vital
But no matter what type of overhead fire sprinkler system your building has, inspection and maintenance are important. These systems protect structures that may experience Class A fires of the ABC fire classification system. Class A fires are comprised of ordinary combustibles, such as wood, fabric, trash, or paper. Class A fires are the most common type of fire and can be devastating to commercial buildings. For this reason, regular maintenance and inspections are crucial.
Overhead fire sprinkler systems need to be operational at all times since you can’t predict when a fire might occur. Additionally, owners of commercial buildings will want to adhere to local codes related to maintenance schedules. This requirement may also cover residential buildings with overhead sprinkler systems in the kitchen or other areas. A failure to adhere to local codes may result in a fine, in addition to putting your assets at risk.
How Frequently is Inspection Required?
Local fire codes govern overhead fire sprinkler inspections in many municipalities. There may also be state laws that cover all jurisdictions in the state. Generally speaking, these codes will dictate if sprinkler inspections are required annually, semiannually, quarterly, or more frequently. The period between inspections is often determined by the code itself and the purposes of the building.
Additional components in your overhead fire sprinkler system may also change the frequency of inspections. Those systems that must cover a large or tall building might feature a fire pump. While this pump ensures that water can reach all areas of the building, it may change how frequently inspections must be conducted.
The best way to determine how frequently to conduct an inspection is by becoming familiar with all applicable codes. You can contact your local regulatory agency or body to determine which codes apply and develop an inspection schedule that adheres to the laws. In addition to following this inspection schedule, an inspection should also be conducted after any fire has occurred – no matter how large or small. If any of the sprinkler heads have been damaged, those in the entire zone likely must be replaced.
What is Involved in an Inspection of an Overhead Fire Sprinkler System?
There are often codes related to both testing and inspecting overhead fire sprinkler systems. It’s imperative to understand the difference between these two processes, though an experienced technician should conduct both. A test of this type of system assesses the functionality of the components in the system. For instance, the technician may open valves to check the water flow. This individual may also test alarm panels or additional components.
An inspection, on the other hand, requires the technician to assess the components visually. They often check for leakage, corrosion, chipping paint, or other red flags that may impact operability. They can also ensure that the sprinkler heads are unobstructed. While inspections are vital in alerting owners of a potential issue, they are not as intensive as the overhead fire sprinkler system test.
Conducting an inspection is vital, but so is the documentation process. A local fire marshall or other agency with jurisdiction may require proof that regular inspections have been performed. This documentation is often requested after a fire. And remember, you can’t predict when a fire might strike your building. So keeping up-to-date inspection documentation is essential. These documents can legally protect your company, too. In the event of a tragedy that results in death or injury, this documentation can prove that you complied with your duties to provide a safe environment.
Inspections Can Identify Required Maintenance
Conducting regular inspections isn’t just a good idea to protect your valuable assets. It’s also a legal requirement. Owners of commercial buildings are legally required to follow local and state regulations related to inspection. Whether there is a fire or not, business owners who cannot prove compliance risk fines or penalties for non-compliance.
Furthermore, regular inspections can identify required maintenance. If an inspection reveals damage or other evidence that the system may not work appropriately, it must be addressed immediately. You don’t want to be caught in a scenario where you invested money into an overhead fire sprinkler system that fails to work when it is most needed.
And damage that impacts functionality can come from many sources, often without anyone realizing damage has occurred. Renovations can conceal sprinkler heads and impair their ability to permit water flow. Painting over a cover plate often means that the sprinkler won’t deploy appropriately. Even something as simple as rearranging furniture can result in a blocked sprinkler head.
Trust an Expert with Experience Inspecting Overhead Fire Sprinkler Systems
While inspecting overhead fire sprinkler systems sounds like a straightforward process, most people lack the training and skills to conduct an inspection. And this is one responsibility that you don’t want to delegate to anyone. A failure to properly recognize a red flag or warning sign can result in substantial financial losses and put those in your building at personal risk. Additionally, only professionals licensed through a state fire marshal are authorized to perform inspections. Without this certification, you cannot legally perform the inspection and would expose your company to an incredible amount of risk if a fire were to occur.
When you trust an industry expert, such as Legacy Fire, you can be sure that your inspections will be thorough. Our team has decades of experience in working with, inspecting, maintaining, and installing overhead fire sprinkler systems. We know what elements to inspect, and we know when to recommend maintenance. Further, we can help our clients understand applicable local codes to ensure compliance.
Legacy Fire knows that you put a ton of investment into your business and home. Why risk it all when an operational overhead sprinkler system can protect those things and people you hold dear? Contact Legacy Fire today to learn more about inspecting your overhead fire sprinkler system.