General Contractors: 5 Ways to Keep your Fire Protection Project on Schedule

Keeping your design-build project on schedule can be a challenge. Planning, communicating and coordinating all the different trade professionals is important and one set-back can cause a ripple effect for others. Here are a few items General Contractors can check off the list to keep the fire protection part of the plan on moving forward.

  1. Have background CAD Drawings available

Your fire protection project starts with installation drawings which overlay with the project’s background CAD drawing. The design of a fire protection project cannot begin until these original drawings are received. When you select your Life Safety partner, have your project’s CAD drawings ready to hand over so that the fire protection design can begin immediately. To delay the start of the design can lead to slow submittals, unnecessary delays, or even missed deadlines.

  1. Coordination with other trades

To have a successful fire protection design, your Life Safety partner will need to coordinate efforts with other trades during construction. Successful communication between trades will limit delays and errors in project delivery. For example, your HVAC professional needs to provide an accurate count of duct detectors installed and their location. If you have an excavation company performing the underground work of laying the pipe for the fire sprinkler water connection, they need to communicate with your life safety company concerning the details and timeline.

  1. Cut out the Phone Company

We all know utilities move at their own pace. Waiting on the phone company to provide a dedicated line for your fire sprinkler monitoring system can be frustrating and cause an unnecessary delay. By utilizing cell monitoring you can cut out the phone company altogether. Take back control of your project. Your Life Safety partner can install a cell dialer during construction. Cell monitoring will not only save you time in your project schedule, it is also more cost effective for sprinkler monitoring. If you will be selling the property, this is a money-saving feature you can pass on to your buyer. If the property will be for tenant use, having cell monitoring means you don’t have to worry about relying on the tenant’s phone line or interrupted monitoring when tenants move in and out. Read more about the benefits of cell monitoring. 

  1. Communicate Permit Notes/Changes

When permits are returned with comments it is imperative that these notes be passed back along to your subcontractors including your Life Safety partner. If changes are required but not implemented, you can fail your final walk-through and delay occupancy. Even small changes can take time and cause extra expense if they have to be corrected after all work is complete; however, the delay and expense can be minimized if the changes are communicated during construction.

  1. Communicate Changes to Project Schedule

Changes to your project schedule need to be communicated to your Life Safety partner and other subcontractors as soon as possible. If you are changing your project to a phased project, experiencing delays, or accelerating your project getting all of your partners on-board with that change as quickly as possible can be the difference in successfully meeting your new timeline.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. Click here for more information on how A1 can provide all your fire safety needs.

Greg Lane


Concealed Space Sprinkler Requirements

Attics: Determining if sprinklers are required

First, it is important to remember the difference between Code and Standards. Code tells us what needs to be done for fire protection and comes from the IBC, International Fire Code, or State Building Code. Standards pick up at this point outlining how the fire protection needs to be carried out; these are from the National Fire Protection Association.

While codes and standards are created to provide clarity on what is required, there can sometimes be varied interpretations on how a standard is applied. These interpretations can vary geographically or depending on the role of the interpreter in the life safety profession. To avoid this confusion, the NFPA technical committees work to ensure the language of the codes and standards is clear and can be enforced only in the intended manner. However, there are still cases where various interpretations exist and one such area is the idea of providing automatic sprinkler protection in attics.

NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, the standard for the installation of automatic sprinkler systems never specifically addresses whether or not an attic requires sprinkler protection. Section 8.1 states that all spaces should be protected unless there is a specific exemption somewhere in the standard. Since there is no specific “attic sprinkler exemption” in NFPA 13, many people think that all attics require sprinklers.

The real answer is a bit more complicated. Since there is no outright exemption for attics, the NFPA various standards on concealed spaces must be read to determine whether or not each particular attic space is considered a concealed space that does not require sprinklers. Currently, there is even some confusion on whether attics are even considered to be concealed spaces. NFPA 13 does not declare attics to be concealed spaces because not all attics are created the same from a fire development and fire spread perspective. Because of this, the standard is written to take into consideration hazards present in an attic when determining if it is a concealed space and if it requires sprinkler protection.

Adding to the confusion are two different staff interpretations from NFPA staff members in the last five years. The first interpretation stated that attics cannot be considered concealed spaces and so always require sprinklers. The second interpretation attempted to clarify that attics can be concealed spaces, and therefore may not always require sprinklers.

To determine if your attic requires sprinklers, your sprinkler system designer and reviewing authority should consider the following:
* what are the construction materials?
* can the space be occupied?
* are goods stored in the space?
* what is the quantity of combustible material?
* what level of access is provided to the space?

The answers to these questions will allow them to determine whether or not the space qualifies as a concealed space and if it needs sprinklers.

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


Commonly Overlooked Test and Inspection Requirements

Life safety systems such as sprinklers, fire extinguishers, fire pumps, and fire alarms all have required tests and inspections to ensure they are running properly. Fire safety systems protect lives and property, and where they are required to be installed there is an authority (such as the AHJ or Fire Department) to inspect them and ensure compliance with state and federal laws.

While many people look at these inspections as a hassle, they actually benefit the building or business owners, and those that utilize the building.

Fire safety inspections offer:

  • A safer shopping, work or living environment;
  • Business and job security, as up to 80% of all small businesses that experience a large fire never reopen, and those that do reopen stand to lose much of their customer base due to prolonged closures;
  • A building with an improved resale value, as many buyers will have a building inspected for fire or safety hazards, or areas not up to code.
  • A potential for lower insurance premiums, some items on the inspection checklist may be required by both the fire department and your insurance company (such as an annual fire sprinkler and fire alarm inspection), many insurance companies provide premium reductions to businesses for a properly installed and maintained fire protection system.

For a complete list of fire safety devices and their required inspection schedules, check out our Inspections Guidebook. But below are a few of the most commonly missed safety device inspections.

  1. Sprinkler Head Testing

If you have a Sprinkler System you should have the system regularly inspected and tested. But did you know that you also need to have the Sprinkler Heads tested?

A fire sprinkler head is the component of a fire sprinkler system that discharges water when the effects of a fire have been detected, such as when a predetermined temperature has been exceeded. It is critical for the sprinkler head to be clear of obstructions, as well as corrosion, paint or other foreign material, which may prohibit it from working properly.

Required Inspections: Every 10 Years for dry type sprinkler heads; Every 20 Years for Sprinkler Heads with a Fast Response Element; at 50 Years all Sprinkler Heads must be tested and from this point must be tested every 10 years; at 75 Years all Sprinkler Heads must be tested and testing must be done every 5 years.

Find out what type of Sprinklers Heads you have and how old they are to determine what testing you need to schedule! Call A1 or your Fire Protection company for help.

  1. Sprinkler Standpipesstandpipe1

Standpipe systems are a series of pipe which connect a water supply to hose connections, basically an extension of the fire hydrant system. They are designed to provide a pre-piped water system for building occupants or the fire department. Standpipe systems are designed to provide fire protection water for hose lines in strategically placed locations inside a building or structure. They are most common in large floor area buildings, where most of the facility may be some distance from an outside entrance, or in multistory buildings to prevent long lengths of hose in stairwells and on the ground.

Required Testing and Inspections: If you have a Standpipe system in your building, it is required to be inspected annually. Various testing of equipment is also required, for example a flow test must be performed every 5 years. According to NFPA 25 2011 (6.3.1), a flow test shall be conducted every 5 years at the hydraulically most remote hose connections of each zone of an automatic standpipe system to verify the water supply still provides the design pressure at the required flow. Check out A1’s Standpipe Systems Ebook for more detailed information about Standpipes.


  1. Sprinkler Cabinets sprinkler cabinet

If you have a Sprinkler System, you are required to have a Sprinkler Cabinet with spare sprinkler heads, a sprinkler head wrench, and a list of all sprinkler head locations on site. NFPA requires a certain number of each type of sprinkler heads used in your sprinkler system to be stored on-site to allow for immediate removal and replacement of sprinklers that may have been operated or become damaged.

Required Inspection: According to NFPA 25 (, a supply of at least six spare sprinklers shall be maintained on the premises so that any sprinklers that have been operated or been damaged in any way can be promptly replaced. A5.4.1.5 states that a minimum of two sprinklers of each type and temperature rating installed should be provided.


Tips for your fire inspection

Meet with your inspector before they begin to ask what devices they will be looking at. Provide the inspector with copies of all your system and equipment inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) reports. Have someone accompany the inspector to take notes on areas you need to address.


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.

David Strunk

A Quick Guide to Fire Sprinkler Systems in the Home

Home Fire Statistics

Residential fires kill 3000 people annually. Children and the elderly hold the greatest risk of death simply because they are less mobile. The average fire department response time for a residential fire is 7-12 minutes, but a fire can become deadly in as little as 3 minutes.

Hands down, the best way to protect a home is to install a fire sprinkler system. No other technology offers as much protection as fire sprinklers. 90% of fires are extinguished using only one sprinkler, and each sprinkler uses only a fraction of water compared to your hose.

How Does a Fire Sprinkler Work?

Contrary to popular belief, smoke will not trigger a sprinkler. Only the extreme heat of a flame will set off a sprinkler. A standard sprinkler head has a liquid-filled glass plug to hold the water back. The liquid in the plug expands in heat, breaking the glass to release the plug. With the plug gone, water freely flows out over the deflector plate and sprinkles over the fire. Water flow will continue until the main valve is shut off.

Fire Sprinkler Diagram

Quick Sprinkler Facts

  • Operates off the household water main
  • Each sprinkler can protect a 12 x 12 area or more
  • In a fire, only the sprinklers closest to the flames will activate
  • Most manufacturers offer concealed sprinklers that will not affect the appearance of your home

Cost Concerns for Fire Sprinklers in the Home

Home fire sprinklers are not as expensive as you may think. Homeowners benefit because fire sprinklers increase their property value. Insurance rates may decrease. Financial losses from a fire may decrease by 90%.

Builders have found a way to reduce construction costs with sprinklers using trade-ups. The average cost to sprinkler a home in 2013 was $1.35 per square foot.

Why You Should Consider a Home Sprinkler System

Just in case low cost and safety aren’t on the top of your priorities list, the law may mandate home fire sprinkler systems. In New York, legislation has passed requiring some homes to have a home fire sprinkler system. A similar law  is being discussed in California and other states. How long until your state passes the same law?

Get Answers

For more information, visit NFPA online or the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Click here or call 1-800-859-6198 to contact an expert.

Greg Lane

Are You Sprinkler Savvy or Sprinklerstitous?

Sprinkler Savvy or Sprinklerstitious? Take This Test to Find Out.

There’s a lot of misinformation about fire sprinkler systems out there. Do you have the right information, or are you sprinklerstitious too?

Answer true or false to these statements. Scroll down for the answers and explanations to see how much you know!

1. Water damage from a sprinkler system costs more than the fire damage it prevents

2. Only one or two sprinkler heads go off when there’s a fire.

3. All you need is a smoke detector to save lives.

4. Sprinklers were designed to protect property, not so much lives.

5. Sprinklers don’t add too much additional cost to construction projects.

6. New buildings are much safer than older buildings.

7. Sprinkler systems can work fine in freezing temperatures.

8. Smoke detectors don’t set sprinklers off.

9. Smoke detectors will not put out a fire.

10. Most insurance companies value the use of fire sprinkler systems.

True or False Sprinkler Test Answers.

1. False. Water damage from a sprinkler will be much less severe than fire damage. Think of it this way, would you rather have your building get a little wet or let it burn to the ground.

2. True. Contrary to Hollywood portrayals, each sprinkler is individually activated. Only those affected by heat at 165 degrees will activate.

3. False. Smoke detectors save lives in offering a warning to get out. For people that have trouble moving, like the elderly, a sprinkler system will put out a fire early and keep everyone safe.

4. False. Sprinklers will protect both lives and property. In fact, statistics show that there has never been any multiple loss of life in a fully sprinklered building.

5. True. Sprinklers costs about 1-2% of the total construction costs. They are comparable to carpet costs, paved driveways, or adding a whirlpool bath.

6. False. Newer construction techniques make a facility much more susceptible to fire. You can learn more information from NFPA here.

7. True. With the right equipment, sprinkler systems will work fine in cold temperatures. You may need a dry pipe or preaction system as an alternative to water filled pipes.

8. True. Detectors are there to sense a fire and talk back to the panel. The panel will sound an alarm and notify the necessary parties to handle the emergency. Detectors will not set off the sprinklers.

9. False. Again, detectors offer warning, but will not put out any fires. You need some sort of suppression equipment for that.

10. True. Insurance companies will sometimes lower the value of your premiums and some are leading advocates for sprinkler systems.

So, are you sprinkler savvy, or sprinklerstitous? Do you have more questions? Click here to contact us.


Joseph Reynolds
Joseph Reynolds

MIC and your Sprinkler System: Identification and Prevention

General corrosion affects pipe gradually and consistently but does not pose an immediate threat to the metallic system. Corrosion does threaten a system, however, when it’s accelerated and localized by colonies of bacteria.

Microorganisms accelerate corrosion by rapidly diminishing pipe material at distinct, concentrated points. This process is referred to as microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). The MIC process, generates debris and leaks, eventually causing premature failure of a system.

A standard sprinkler system with proper maintenance will typically last over 50 years before needing major repairs. Unfortunately, the untreated presence of MIC can ruin a system much earlier. In severe cases, MIC can ruin a system in just 5 years.

What Constitutes Premature Failure?
A system fails prematurely for two reasons:
-The system has pinhole leaks that require component replacement.
-The system cannot operate as designed to achieve fire control.

MIC creates an uneven internal surface, produces clogging debris and bores holes within pipe. These three effects of MIC will alter the intended pressure within a system and cause its premature failure.

Pipe surface texture is critical in sprinkler system effectiveness. Any increase in roughness increases the pressure loss in each foot of sprinkler pipe. Even a small amount of internal corrosion, especially in main feed areas, could potentially make a system ineffective in fire control.

Where in the System is MIC Predominant?
Corrosion occurs in a system where air and water meet. In wet pipe systems, corrosion occurs most frequently where air is trapped. In dry pipe systems corrosion always occurs under pools of trapped water.

When the Corrosion Rate Increases
Introducing air into a wet system refreshes the oxygen corrosion reaction process. Every time a wet pipe system is drained and refilled the corrosion rate accelerates. The corrosion rate doubles for every 18 degree Fahrenheit increase. The higher the temperature of the system the faster the corrosion rate.

When the compressor in a dry system runs, it reintroduces warm, moist oxygen into the system piping. This humid air is a feast for the microorganisms that cause MIC.

Detection and Treatment
Treatment options include:
1. System Cleaning- Having your system cleaned is a good choice if the corrosion has not greatly altered the pipe surface.
2. System Replacement-If the damage is bad enough, your system will need to be replaced.

MIC test
MIC test

1. Drain and refill your system as infrequently as possible. Only test according to the required minimum. Tests introduce fresh nutrients and oxygen that help bacteria flourish.
2. Have leaks or weeping at joints and/or abnormal pressure inspected. They are a good indication of the presence of MIC.
3. Design for MIC prone areas to have thicker pipes. This method won’t prevent MIC but it will buy time until a standardized prevention method is determined.
4. Keep an eye on MIC prone areas of your system.
5. Get a lab test of the water supply to identify the microorganisms present.
6. Replace excessively corroded pipe.
7. Clean your system of MIC causing microorganisms using chemical injection methods.

Find More Information
For more details and to ask any questions about MIC you can reach an expert by clicking here .

Joseph Reynolds
Joseph Reynolds