As Temperatures Plummet, NFSA Provides Tips to Protect Fire Sprinkler Systems from Freezing

Frozen fire sprinkler pipesAs winter continues to batter the country, the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) reminds building owners that fire sprinkler systems are the only proactive form of fire protection, mitigating the risk to individuals affected by fire, including both occupants of the building and responding firefighters. Proper maintenance is required to ensure that this life saving system performs when a fire strikes. With temperatures plummeting, it is critical to protect fire sprinkler system piping from freezing.

Water leaks caused by freezing and bursting pipes can damage buildings and contents and interrupt your business. NFSA recommends an effective freeze-up prevention program that includes the following elements:

1. Conducting a physical inspection of the facility, looking for freeze-up hazards.

2. Inspection, and maintenance of the fire sprinkler system including:

  • Identifying if the system contains water that is to be drained before the onset of cold weather (such as low points in dry pipe sprinkler systems).
  • Determining if there are unheated areas in the building containing sprinkler system piping.

3. Any freeze prevention program should also include annual surveys of buildings and equipment to find insulation and heat tracing deficiencies and to check for unwanted outside air; look for vents and openings in windows, walls, roofs, or floors.

4. Low point drains (drum drips) on dry-pipe sprinkler systems should be emptied to remove water that may be present from condensation or accidental trips.

5. All buildings should provide adequate heat (40ºF) for dry-pipe valve rooms, pump rooms, and water tanks.

6. Building owners should appoint individuals to monitor weather reports. Establish guidelines to alert management and maintenance personnel and again, maintain indoor temperatures at a minimum of 40ºF.

7. It is important to provide adequate heating throughout areas susceptible to freezing, such as in stairwells, above dropped ceilings, and attic spaces.

8. Monitor boilers and other facility heat supply sources, using personnel and/or supervisory devices.