State by State: Fire Sprinkler System Requirements for Commercial Businesses

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( — October 4, 2016) — Fire safety is a major concern for commercial business owners all around the country. A fire in a building can cause serious death or injury. If it happens during business hours or after hours, mass property damage can occur as well. That’s why it’s smart to install a sprinkler.

Governing Bodies

Each individual state differs on whether or not they have mandatory or suggested fire codes. If there is no such thing as a statewide code, then it’s up to local jurisdictions. The main governing association on a federal level is the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). They set the standard on the differing companies and office areas that require different types of sprinkler systems.

(NFPA) does this through determining it on a scale that takes into account occupancy levels and hazard classifications. These standards should be met and then coincide with whatever local city jurisdiction is being enforced or suggested. It’s better to be overly prepared for an emergency rather than see the burned remains of your old livelihood.

Many proponents of sprinkler systems are actively trying to pass mandatory legislation in states that do not have any preexisting laws. Most of these will pass and help both commercial and personal spaces.

Building Codes

There is a select group of criteria set by (NFPA) that needs to be followed. Any building that his higher than 55 feet in height must have automatic sprinkler systems put into place.  Buildings that have an area exceeding 5,000 square feet, older buildings that have been renovated or expanded must have systems installed as well. The rationale behind this is because the certificate of occupancy will have increased or changed.

Fire pumps installed around the area should be housed in separate buildings when possible. If it is located in the same building then the pump needs to be enclosed safely in a fire proofed room with an outside entrance. At the same time these rooms need to be marked for ease of entrance. Valves situated in stairways should be easily accessible and able to be used.

Pumps should be connected to non-pressurized tanks or through a local municipal water system already set into place.

Maintaining Sprinkler Systems

Just because your building has installed a comprehensive system, doesn’t mean it’s over yet.  A healthy maintaining regiment is needed so that if a fire breaks out, the sprinklers will do their job.  One such example is a corrosion monitoring system that acts internally to monitor the pipes and sprinkler system.

The inspector simulates conditions where internal corrosion may begin to develop and removed or replaced without taking the system out of use.  Equipped with this maintaining device is a monitoring probe that lets off a visual or electronic notification if any corrosion activity is detected.

Along with watching over corrosion detection is maintaining the filing and draining process of the entire fire sprinkler system.  The different models allow for corrosion detection at the top of the pipe and any trapped water at the bottom of a pipe.

Constant Fire Protection

It’s just a basic fact that you or others cannot be at the office or building at all times. A system that is put into place will fight a fire regardless of the time of day, it’s a 24/7 product that ensures safety when maintained and properly set up. Unexpected fire emergencies can be taken care of before any fire department comes in.

Minimizing any causality during the day is important as well as saving property so that a business can easily stay open after potential catastrophe occurs. An addition to your sprinkler system should be a fire extinguisher. If the fire hasn’t got out of complete control and you don’t need whatever you have being completely soaked,  a fire extinguisher will do.

They have the ability to put out a small fire that could escalate into causing some serious damage or letting the sprinkler system take over before it decimates the fire in its path.

Regular Testing & Upkeep

If your building or associated water areas have a low water pressure it affects that in the event of a fire the system might not be able to take out the fire. That’s why it’s imperative to keep checking and inspecting your system on a monthly basis, while having the additional detective attachments. A fire extinguisher can be a first defense in a fire, while a healthy sprinkler system can take over the rest.  They are the essential resource in protecting a business from a fire.

Lucas Winter works as a fire risk assessor. Outside of work he enjoys running, playing soccer and spending time with his fiancée as they seek the perfect house in which to start a family.