Month: March 2016

The Importance of Spare Sprinkler Heads

Did you know that if your building is protected by a fire sprinkler system you are required to have a stock of spare sprinkler heads?

NFPA 13 states (2010 6.2.9) “A supply of at least six (6) sprinklers (never fewer than six) shall be maintained on the premises so that any sprinklers that have operated or been damaged in any way can be promptly replaced.”

So what does this mean and why do I need them?

Fire sprinklers, like any other technology, have evolved tremendously. We have come a long way since the basic idea of automatically applying water to fire in an emergency. Sprinklers have become more effective and more specialized for specific needs. When choosing a sprinkler head the position in which it is designed to be installed, temperature rating, finish, thread size and orifice size are just a few of the variations. Today there are literally thousands of different styles, types and variations of sprinkler heads. It is important to replace a sprinkler with the exact type required and put the system back in service as quickly as possible.

Why can’t I just order a new one if I need one?

A sprinkler may need to be replaced for any number of reasons. For example it may be physically damaged, it may have become coated with a foreign material or it may have activated due to a fire. The area the sprinkler is protecting is now unprotected until it is replaced. Worse if the sprinkler is damaged and cannot hold pressure, the entire sprinkler system must be shut down and is rendered inoperable leaving the whole facility unprotected. The sprinkler must be replaced and the system put back in service as quickly as possible to protect life and property. Ordering a new one can take days or even weeks depending on availability of the type needed.

What exactly do I need and how many?

NFPA tells us;

“The sprinklers shall correspond to the types and temperature ratings of the sprinklers in the property.” (NFPA 13 2010 6.2.9.7)

“The stock of spare sprinklers shall include all types and ratings installed and shall be as follows

                300 sprinklers or less = no fewer than 6

                300-1000 sprinklers = no fewer than 12

                Over 1000 sprinklers = no fewer than 24” (NFPA 13 2010 6.2.9.5)

“The sprinklers shall be kept in a cabinet located where the temperature to which they are subjected will at no time exceed 100 deg.” (NFPA 13 2010 6.2.9.3)

Typically this is a red metal or plastic box mounted near the sprinkler riser. As stated above at least one of each type and temperature is required however two of each is suggested.

Is that all I need?

Almost. NFPA also states;

“One sprinkler wrench as specified by the sprinkler manufacturer shall be provided in the cabinet for each type of sprinkler installed to be used for the removal and installation of sprinklers in the system.” (NFPA 13 2010 6.2.9.6)

With all the different types of sprinklers you need to be sure to use the appropriate wrench to install them. Using something other than the approved wrench may cause damage to the sprinkler head rendering it in-operable or may cause it to fail.

In addition to the spare sprinklers and wrench(s). “A list of sprinklers installed in the property shall be posted in the sprinkler cabinet.” (NFPA 13 2010 6.2.9.7)

“The list shall include the following;

                Sprinkler identification number (SIN) if equipped or the manufacturer model

 Orifice size

 Deflector type

 Thermal sensitivity

 Pressure rating

                General description

                Quantity of each type to be contained in the cabinet

                Issue or revision date of the list.” (NFPA 13 2010 6.2.9.7.1)

A properly stocked spare sprinkler cabinet is a critical component of your fire sprinkler system. This along with a comprehensive inspection and maintenance plan will insure your system is always ready to protect life and property.

For more information or a free audit of your sprinkler cabinet, please contact a professional service provider.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Greg Lane

 

Weekly Testing of Diesel Fire Pumps

In accordance with 2014 NFPA 25: Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, diesel fire pumps must go through not only an annual flow test, but also a weekly churn test (sometimes called a no-flow test or an operating test).

The standard procedure for a weekly test on a diesel fire pump is as follows:

INSPECTION:

Before any testing, follow the attached checklist to ensure the conditions are correct and the pump is ready to be tested.

TESTING:

  1. Use a fire pump churn test log to verify steps completed (see link.)
  2. Notify your alarm company and facility representatives of the pending churn test.
  3. Review the fire pump assembly nameplates, noting the voltage rating, rated speed, and churn pressure for the unit.
  4. Record the suction and discharge pressures. Record the current pressure reading as well as the highest and lowest pressures indicated on the fire pump controller event log. If these values are outside of the expected range, a record of the entire event log must be made and further investigation must be conducted, with corrective action being taken.
  5. Check the area surrounding the relief valve or cooling water discharge outlets to ensure there are no apparent conditions that would stop water from being discharged safely or cause direct damage to the area. If the discharge area is subject to potential freezing conditions, the facility representative should be advised.
  6. To limit the exposure of the connected systems to the surge or pressure during the start-up of the pump, consider closing discharge control valve prior to conducting the test.
  7. Simulate an automatic start for the fire pump by creating a pressure drop in the sensing line to the fire pump controller. This can be accomplished by slowly opening the drain valve on the sensing line located near the fire pump controller until the fire pump starts automatically. Do not use the “start” button when simulating an automatic start. Note the start time of the fire pump to measure the run time and record the starting pressure.

For pressure-actuated fire pump controllers that use an automatic timer, an automatic opening of a solenoid valve in the sensing line to the controller might be used to simulate the automatic start of the fire pump. These systems must include a record of the pressure drop on the pressure recorder for the controller.

  1. Observe the amount of time required for the diesel engine to crank. Any delays in starting the engine should be investigated and corrective action should be taken. Typically, the controller will attempt three 15-second crank cycles before registering a failure-to-start trouble condition.
  2. Check the operating speed of the diesel engine and note the time needed to reach the rated (should be within 20 seconds). The measurement can be taken with a handheld tachometer. Note that the use of a strobe-type handheld tachometer requires advance preparation prior to the test for proper measurement, including the application of a reflective tape on the shaft and/or removal of protective covers that shield the rotating shaft.
  3. Observe the engine instrument panel to ensure that the engine oil pressure, operating speed, water and oil temperature, and charging rate are within the acceptable range. Check approximately every 5 minutes during the test.
  4. Check the fire pump packing gland for a slow drip of water, adjusting the packing gland nuts as needed to achieve about 1 drip/second. For safety, the adjustment should be made when the pump is not running. Exercise care to ensure the glands are not tightened to the point of breaking.
  5. Monitor the fire pump operation for any unusual vibration, noise, or other sign of malfunction.
  6. For radiator-cooled diesel fire pumps, verify that the operation of the circulation (casing) relief valve has a steady stream of water to ensure proper cooling of the pump case.
  7. For heat exchanger-cooled diesel fire pumps, verify that the heat exchanger has a proper flow of cooling water.
  8. If the fire pump is equipped with a main pressure relief valve, verify the operation of the valve such that outlet pressures do not exceed the pressure rating of the piping downstream of the fire pump. Usually, this rating is 175 psi (12.1 bar); however, some systems are designed for higher pressures.
  9. Record the suction and discharge pressures. Note that for vertical turbine pumps, only the discharge pressure is recorded.
  10. Record the pressure at the fire pump controller pressure switch or pressure transducer, and compare it with the discharge pressure recorded above.
  11. Check the packing gland box, shift bearings, and pump casing for overheating about every five minutes during testing. The packing gland box and shaft bearings may be warm to the touch, but the pump casing should remain cool.
  12. Allow the fire pump to continue operating for 10 minutes, checking for overheating periodically. Shut down manually after 10 minutes have elapsed. Some fire pump controllers might include automatic run timers that shut down the pump after a specific amount of time. For these controllers, check the run time for the fire pump to ensure the required 10 minutes has passed.
  13. Reopen the fire pump discharge control valve (if closed) and conduct a valve test downstream of the closed valve.
  14. Inspect and clean any installed intake screens.
  15. Where the fire pump controller is equipped, replace any pressure recorder charts and rewind as necessary.
  16. Restore the fire pump to automatic operating position.
  17. After completing all testing, notify the fire department and/or alarm monitoring company and the facility representative that testing is complete. Reset fire alarm system as necessary. A state certified professional should also be called to correct the deficiency.

Click the link below to download a printable fire pump testing checklist.

Weekly Fire Pump Inspection Checklist

 

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Mike Rossman
Mike Rossman

 

Weekly and Monthly Testing of Electric Fire Pumps

In accordance with 2014 NFPA 25: Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, electric fire pumps must go through not only an annual flow test, but also a monthly churn test (sometimes called a no-flow test or an operating test).

However, for the 2014 Edition of the standard, the technical committee of the NFPA determined that certain fire pumps must be tested more frequently, based on risks associated with the building or arrangement of the pump. Electric-driven pumps in high-rise buildings, electric-driven vertical turbine pumps, and pumps using limited service controllers must undergo weekly operating tests.

The standard procedure for a monthly or weekly test on an electric fire pump is as follows:

INSPECTION:

Before any testing, follow the attached checklist to ensure the conditions are correct and the pump is ready to be tested.

TESTING:

  1. Use a fire pump churn test log to verify steps completed (attached).
  2. Notify your alarm company and facility representatives of the pending churn test.
  3. Review the fire pump assembly nameplates, noting the voltage rating, rated speed, and churn pressure for the unit.
  4. Record the suction and discharge pressures. Record the current pressure reading as well as the highest and lowest pressures indicated on the fire pump controller event log. If these values are outside of the expected range, a record of the entire event log must be made and further investigation must be conducted, with corrective action being taken.
  5. Check the area surrounding the relief valve or cooling water discharge outlets to ensure there are no apparent conditions that would stop water from being discharged safely or cause direct damage to the area. If the discharge area is subject to potential freezing conditions, the facility representative should be advised.
  6. To limit the exposure of the connected systems to the surge or pressure during the start-up of the pump, consider closing discharge control valve prior to conducting the test.
  7. Simulate an automatic start for the fire pump by creating a pressure drop in the sensing line to the fire pump controller. This can be accomplished by slowly opening the drain valve on the sensing line located near the fire pump controller until the fire pump starts automatically. Do not use the “start” button when simulating an automatic start. Note the start time of the fire pump to measure the run time and record the starting pressure.

For pressure-actuated fire pump controllers that use an automatic timer, an automatic opening of a solenoid valve in the sensing line to the controller might be used to simulate the automatic start of the fire pump. These systems must include a record of the pressure drop on the pressure recorder for the controller.

  1. Check the operating speed of the motor and note the time needed to reach the rated (should be within 20 seconds). The measurement can be taken with a handheld tachometer. Note that the use of a strobe-type handheld tachometer requires advance preparation prior to the test for proper measurement, including the application of a reflective tape on the shaft and/or removal of protective covers that shield the rotating shaft.
  2. For reduced-current start or reduced voltage start fire pump controllers, record the time the controller remains in first step voltage. The transition is characterized by a distinct change in the sound of the motor rotation as the controller voltage goes to full output. This transition should not take longer 10 seconds.
  3. Check the fire pump packing gland for a slow drip of water, adjusting the packing gland nuts as needed to achieve about 1 drip/second. For safety, the adjustment should be made when the pump is not running. Exercise care to ensure the glands are not tightened to the point of breaking.
  4. Monitor the fire pump operation for any unusual vibration, noise, or other sign of malfunction.
  5. Verify that the operation of the circulation (casing) relief valve has a steady stream of, as this will ensure the pump case is properly cooled.
  6. If the fire pump is equipped with a main pressure relief valve, verify the operation of the valve such that outlet pressures don’t exceed the pressure rating of the piping downstream of the fire pump. Usually, this rating is 175 psi (12.1 bar), although some systems are designed for higher pressures.
  7. Record the suction and discharge pressures. For vertical turbine pumps, only the discharge pressure is recorded.
  8. Record the pressure at the fire pump controller pressure switch and compare it with the discharge pressure recorded above.
  9. Check the packing gland box, shift bearings, and pump casing for overheating about every five minutes during testing. The packing gland box and shaft bearings may be warm to the touch, but the pump casing should remain cool.
  10. Allow the fire pump to continue operating for 10 minutes, checking for overheating periodically. Shut down manually after 10 minutes have elapsed. Some fire pump controllers might include automatic run timers that shut down the pump after a specific amount of time. For these controllers, check the run time for the fire pump to ensure the required 10 minutes has passed.
  11. Reopen the fire pump discharge control valve (if closed) and conduct a valve test downstream of the closed valve.
  12. Restore the fire pump to automatic operating position.
  13. After completing all testing, notify the fire department and/or alarm monitoring company and the facility representative that testing is complete. Reset fire alarm system as necessary. A state certified professional should also be called to correct the deficiency.

Click the link below to download a printable fire pump testing checklist.

Weekly Fire Pump Inspection Checklist

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Mike Rossman
Mike Rossman

 

Photoluminescent Stair IDs

We’ve already discussed Photoluminescent exit signs, restrictions on which buildings can use them, and benefits of using them. (If you missed it, check that out here.)

A brief synopsis: photoluminescent exit signs have recently become popular because of their unique benefits. Not only do they require no power, batteries, or bulbs in order to function, but they also require no maintenance, and can save building owners thousands of dollars of year.

Other than Exit Signs, photoluminescent signs are great for Stair IDs. Remember, buildings that use photoluminescent signs must have controls on the ambient lighting so it’s important to have a professional check your stairways to see if they are a good place to utilize photoluminescent stair IDs. If you can use them, you will see benefits of reduced cost from electrical/battery powered signs.

Since the signs store energy from the buildings ambient lighting the signs require no connection to power, no battery, and no light bulbs they are much easier to install. The lifespan of a photoluminescent sign in normal conditions is upwards of 25 years and the light will remain visible for up to 9 hours in total darkness once it is fully “charged.”

In the event of a power outage, it’s clear that a photoluminescent sign is the way to go, they will remain visible for several hours in complete darkness. Additionally, if there was ever a fire in the building, these high visibility signs will be much more discernible through smoke than standard lights. Keeping your stairways safe is an important part of any building’s fire safety and evacuation plan.

 

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke