Now that National Flood Awareness Week is over, we turn our attention to an opposing problem: fire. More specifically, we're going to discuss sprinkler maintenance because when a fire occurs, the first thing you'll want is a flood of water to help put it out. If your sprinklers aren't working, that rush of water isn't going to come.
Unfortunately, sprinkler systems may easily fall by the wayside when it comes to maintenance management. Perhaps you're more focused on fixing your HVAC system, or checking your roof for air leaks. Weekly inspections become monthly or even quarterly reviews. It's a slippery slope, but it's also a dangerous one. In this regard, computerized maintenance management software can be a big help, as it keeps you on track for routine testing of your systems. But first, you need to know what you need to test, and how often.
For those looking to get a broad understanding of the expectations and maintenance guidelines for sprinklers, there is NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. It's name seems to say it all, offering ways to protect against system failure and the requirements necessary for standpipe systems, such as fire pumps, hoses and sprinklers, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
As FacilitiesNet has noted, NFPA 25 is in many ways the standard-bearer for facility managers trying to bring their fire protection systems up to snuff. It may help managers determine the quality of their pipes or the functionality of their valves.
Not up to snuff
However, FacilitiesNet was also quick to point out that NFPA 25, while useful, is by no means foolproof in terms of the proper functioning of your sprinklers.
"What most owners don't understand is that NFPA 25 is only supposed to verify that a system is operating correctly, that the components that are there are in good working order," Christopher Culp, vice president and fire protection engineer of Henderson Engineers, told the source.
There may be other issues that arise, such as improper pipe drainage or poor fire insulation that aren't immediately exposed with NFPA 25.
Taking care of business
As such, you may want to use NFPA 25 as a guide for do-it-yourself maintenance, but it's not always a substitute for rigorous third-party inspections. If you're ever in doubt about the quality of your fire protection systems, make sure you schedule regular inspections via your CMMS, so you don't forget. Additionally, you can use the software to keep you updated on weekly maintenance checks. Do this, and you could save yourself some serious trouble later on down the road.