So a pretty great study came out recently that was just published in Sprinkler Age – which is the monthly/online/catch all your sprinkler related news here for the American Fire Sprinkler Association.
For years, the NFPA 25 has been a standard bearer of sorts for us Fire Safety guys. It gives us ‘the right way’ to go about our business, what standards should be, etc. This month, there was discussion on the concept of loading sprinklers.
Loading sprinklers is simply when some sort of dust coating or construction application ends up on the sprinkler. The study itself wanted to test whether that loading was detrimental to the sprinkler’s performance or not. And by answering that question – should these sprinkler heads be replaced or cleaned regularly and how does that fit into a long-view of fire safety standards. The natural concern here, obviously – was that the coating of dust, particles or whatever gets on the sprinkler – whether it insulates the thermal elements of the sprinkler itself and shields it from going off in the event of a fire – thus putting a building more at risk.
So in this study, they tested a couple of different sprinklers to see what would happen. The results were predictably mixed – and with them came even more questions than before, but that can be the nature of these sorts of things. One some models and tests, light loading had no effect. On other models it had a big effect. Long story, short – while models showed similar impacts from loading, response time DID play a role on whether the loading itself was considered detrimental or not.
What was re-affirmed was that NFPA 25’s statement on replacement. When it comes to safety, you shouldn’t ever take the risk. Get loaded sprinkles cleaned and tested – and if need be – get them replaced in accordance with the nationally recognized standards.
Here’s a link to the full study, it’s absolutely a worthwhile read and important if you want to learn/understand how your sprinkler systems work.