It is very important to ensure the office fire sprinkler will protect you. If your office suddenly caught on fire, are you confident that your automatic fire sprinkler system would deploy? Do you have a strong fire protection system that ensures fire safety in your workplace?
Many of us are secure in the fact that the sprinklers would come on, allowing workers to safely exit and help in managing a fire. In 95% of cases, this would indeed occur. However, it is wise to continually monitor the system to ensure that it works when you need it.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
It is always best to remain proactive in matters regarding the safety of others. While it may not be convenient, or you may forget, it is important to routinely inspect your fire sprinkler system to ensure it is working properly. Technology can become outdated, and problems can arise without you being aware of it.
If managers are lax in this area, lives may be on the line. The only thing more horrible than losing an office building is knowing that lives were lost due to negligence.
How Can You Ensure Your Fire Sprinkler System Will Protect You?
There are different ways that you can ensure your office or building remains safe and that your fire sprinkler system is running efficiently.
- If you are the landlord of the building, get in touch with the contractor of your sprinkler system whenever there is a change in tenants. They can come and evaluate the sprinkler to ensure it can properly meet the needs of the tenant. Not all systems are designed for every type of tenant.
An example of this would be if the building was originally designed for office space, but the new tenants are an injection molding company. Then, the sprinkler system would need to be changed as it wasn’t created to be used with plastic material. In the case of fire, the system wouldn’t allow for adequate protection.
Ensure your office fire sprinkler will protect you:
- An internal assessment is required every five years and must be done by a qualified contractor. They will ensure no foreign material is found in the system’s piping, or any blockages may prevent the system from deploying in the event of a fire. Things that can prevent a system from working properly are sludge, rocks, and rust.
- A qualified contractor must also inspect the system annually to inspect the maintenance of sprinkler heads, valves, fire pumps, and riser pipes, and test the main drain. If there is a dry pipe valve or antifreeze loop, they will also need to be examined.
- Eighteen inches of clearance needs to be maintained underneath the sprinkler heads. The clearance will permit the water to keep the fire in check and reach the fire until the fire department arrives. This will also minimize damage to the building and its contents.
- Any time a sprinkler head is worn out or damaged, the sprinkler contractor must come in. This requires regular inspections to make sure they are in working condition. Those that are damaged may not deploy when there is a fire or would become active in the absence of a fire. This can cause water damage.
- Conduct a quarterly inspection to ensure all caps are on water intake connections (Fire Department Connections) found on the outside of the building. If an office space is on fire, this is where the fire department will hook into the building to help your sprinkler system. It will be able to supply water to the standpipe system as well.
Ensure your office fire sprinkler system will protect you:
Ensure the area around the connection remains visible and remove any clutter or anything preventing people from reaching it. It should be free of any debris and remain easily accessible. Caps may fall off over time, be stolen, and break. This allows inorganic and organic materials to come into your system.
Furthermore, it opens it up to be vandalized as debris can be placed into the connection.
These tips are very basic and something that every person should follow. Due to the sprinkler system, or the number of occupants, some systems will require more frequent monitoring. You may require a monthly churn test to be conducted for fire pumps. Discuss your system with the contractor so that you will know what inspections need to occur at what time.
Landlords need to note that fines may occur for various reasons. They may or may not be in your control when it comes to fires. However, if you properly maintain your sprinkler system, and it contains a proper design for your occupants, it will do its job in the event of an emergency.
If you are concerned about the design of your sprinkler system, the standards set forth by the National Fire Protection Association can be found on its website. It will outline not only the design but also how fire sprinkler systems should be installed and serviced.
What About If You Are a Tenant?
While many of us are confident that the sprinkler systems in our office buildings are guaranteed to deploy, all employees should be aware of what to do in the event of a fire. Even if you know what to do, nothing can prepare you for a fire in your building. Once the alarm goes off and heat and smoke fills the room, it is easy to panic.
To tamp down the hysteria, it is a good idea to ensure that all equipment is functional and that employees are prepared should a fire break out.
Ensure the office fire sprinkler will protect you:
- Regularly practice building evacuation and fire drills so people are familiar with it.
- Maintain monthly fire sprinkler inspections.
- Ensure all employees are aware of the nearest exit.
- Make sure all emergency exits are clear of objects or furniture.
- Everyone should know where the fire alarm is in the building and how to activate manual pull stations.
- Annually hire fire prevention professionals to conduct semi-annual or annual fire extinguisher inspections.
If people are unprepared, chaos can ensue in the event of a fire. It is best to always be prepared in the event of an emergency so people know what to do and can safely exit the building.
These are simple tips to keep everyone safe in case of a fire. It begins with ensuring that regular inspections are done and items are maintained so that when and if they are needed, the system will properly deploy. Exits should be kept clear and the system should not be damaged. This requires ongoing inspections. However, the extra time spent on protection may end up saving lives.
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