Home Fire Sprinkler System – Inspections

Background

Fox and Jacobs installed home fire sprinkler systems in Bryan Place to help offset the inherent fire risks associated with the density of the development. I have been told by several sources (including my plumber) that our sprinkler systems are tied directly into our home’s plumbing system without a separate cutoff valve. Each individual sprinkler head is activated by a heat sensor independent of the other sprinkler heads i.e., if there is a fire in the kitchen, only the kitchen sprinkler head will activate. This is by design, since the goal is to supply the maximum amount of water to the fire. If all the sprinklers go off at the same time, the water pressure will be substantially reduced to the target area.

Our sprinkler systems are now about 35 years old, and there has been concern by residents that the current systems may be outdated and/or ineffective. I asked Urban Fire Protection (972‐636‐2800, Ryan Pfuhl, ryan@urbanfire.com) about these concerns and was told that new systems typically operate with a cutoff valve and require a larger water main than most of our homes currently have. The larger water line is needed to accommodate the new sprinkler heads which are designed to put out more water than the old sprinkler heads. The new sprinkler heads are individually heat activated just like the old sprinkler heads. Most new systems also have an outdoor “test” feature by which water is triggered to flow outdoors to test the water pressure to the sprinkler heads (our systems do not have this feature). Of course, each project is unique, but Urban Fire Protection estimated that a retro‐fit to a new sprinkler system would cost about $3.50/s.f. based on the size of the home. The primary advantages of the new systems include the higher water output of the sprinkler heads and the ability to test the water pressure to the system.

Sprinkler System Inspections

Home insurance companies offer an insurance premium discount for homes with a fire sprinkler system. I have found that the discounts and requirements to obtain these discounts can vary greatly from company to company, so you may want to check with your insurance agent. The BPNA has organized group fire sprinkler system inspections twice over the past twenty years.

For those residents interested in an inspection of their sprinkler systems, we have been offered a group discount from Urban Fire Protection to come out on a Saturday in late August or early September. These inspections will include a visual inspection of each sprinkler head in your home, take 15‐20 minutes, cost $150 ($250 if you have it done individually) and they will provide you with an inspection certificate for your insurance company. If you are interested in an inspection or have any questions, please email me at doberst23@me.com .

Submitted by: Danny Oberst

Published on August 11, 2015

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