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What Are the Steps in a Fire Sprinkler Inspection?

Posted May 19, 2017 by Koorsen Fire & Security

 What are the steps in a fire sprinkler inspection?

The Koorsen Fire Sprinkler Inspection Process

Recently, a team of Koorsen technicians performed fire alarm inspections at an old school campus in Indianapolis. Along with the fire alarm inspections, the team also performed fire sprinkler inspections. In this article, the detailed steps taken during a fire sprinkler inspection are highlighted.

Inspecting & Testing the Fire Sprinkler System

On this day, the team of two Koorsen Systems Technicians are inspecting one of the older buildings that used to be a residence back during the Civil War. While one technician is stationed at the fire alarm panel located in the basement, the second technician is in the attic inspecting the sprinkler system components. In the attic, the second technician goes to the corner of the floor where the sprinkler risers or the main sprinkler pipes that go up through the building are found. From the risers, the fire sprinkler pipes run out along the ceiling where the sprinklers are located. At the risers, there is a gauge and a butterfly control valve that turns the water off for the sprinklers located in the attic.

The reason there are butterfly control valves located on each floor is to allow the ability to turn off an activated sprinkler on that floor without turning off the sprinkler system for the whole building. For instance, if there was a fire in one of the attic areas and the sprinkler above the fire activated and put out that fire, you would want to turn off that sprinkler without having to turn off the whole fire sprinkler system. Closing the butterfly control valve on that floor will turn off the activated sprinkler, as well as the other sprinklers in the attic, but not turn off the sprinklers for the rest of the floors.

Step 1: Testing the Control ValveFire sprinkler butterfly control valve

The first step when inspecting the sprinkler system is to test the butterfly control valve. while exercising the valve (closing) in this scenario the control valve has a tamper switch installed, the tamper will transmit a supervisory signal and or a trouble condition to the fire alarm panel.  This is to notify building occupants, owners and fire department there is a control valve closed or partially open. In the event of a fire, the water may not reach the hazard area due to the valve being closed. Once the technician in the attic confirms with the technician at the fire control panel, that the panel recognizes the valve is turned off, he opens the valve back up. Once the valve is returned to its normal position Koorsen will then place a tamper seal on the valve to ensure it is in the correct position before leaving. The tie can easily be broke in the event that the valve needs to be closed.  The seal also serves as a deterrent to keep people from tampering with the valve.

Step 2: Gauge Readings & Activating the Sprinkler SystemRecording gauge readings during a fire sprinkler inspection.

The next step the technician in the attic takes is to capture a reading of the gauge. The gauge ensures there is proper water pressure for the fire sprinkler system to operate effectively. Once the reading is taken, the technician then opens the main drain of the fire sprinkler system. By opening the main drain, we determine that there is sufficient water pressure supplying the fire sprinkler system and there are no blockages that will hinder the system from performing in the event of a fire.

After performing the main drain, the technician will then locate what is called the inspector’s test.  The inspector’s test is typically located at the farthest point of the sprinkler system.  The inspector will then open the inspector’s test, the inspector’s test simulates a sprinkler activating and shall send a signal to the fire alarm panel within 90 seconds. These same steps are taken on every floor as the technician makes his way to the basement. After inspecting the fire sprinkler systems the technician will then verify signals were transmitted to the monitoring company and place systems back in service.  If additional devices are being tested (backflows) we will keep the system on test due to closing additional valves.

Onto the Next Building

Depending on the job, Koorsen technicians will either move onto the next building or finish up if there are no other buildings to inspect. In this case, the Koorsen technicians were inspecting and testing the entire campus, which consisted of over a dozen buildings. Some were original buildings when it was an arsenal while others were built around 1912 when it was transformed into a high school.

One Last Thing – Backflow Testing

After all the buildings’ fire sprinkler systems were inspected and tested, the team finished up by testing the backflow preventers. A backflow preventer, or a double check valve backflow prevention assembly in this case, is a device that is connected between the water line leading to the sprinkler system and the public water line coming from the street. A backflow preventer device is installed to prevent the reverse flow of water, which could contaminate the public water supply. Due to the size of the campus and the number of buildings, there were four backflow devices to inspect and test.

The backflow devices were located in “pits” near each corner of the campus between the public street and the nearest building. The pits were covered with steel covers that swung back to reveal a 10-foot deep concrete pit where the backflow assembly was located.

To test a double check valve backflow prevention assembly requires a special field test kit that contains a gauge and 3 hoses that connect to four test cocks located on the double check valve backflow assembly. The testing is a complex process that will be covered in a later article. In this incidence, the testing was successful and all the backflow preventers passed inspections.

Documentation of Inspections

After all inspections were completed, Danny and the other Koorsen technicians filled out the necessary documentation showing that all required inspections had been completed according to codes and regulations. These documents are for Koorsen’s own records, as well as the client’s records in case a Fire Marshal or other public official wants to check that all inspections are up to date. All the documentation is completely digital which sets Koorsen apart from the rest of the competition. The Koorsen technicians fill out all the documents on tablet computers that they carry with them. When they are finished, they are able to quickly email the client the documentation, as well as save it on a database for Koorsen’s records. This technology gives technicians and other Koorsen employees the tools needed to offer exceptional field service to their clients.

Another Successful InspectionKoorsen fire sprinkler technicians at a fire sprinkler inspection and testing.

As you can see, there are many steps and processes a Koorsen technician takes to inspect and test a client’s fire sprinkler systems. Each and every step is important and must be followed precisely to ensure that a fire protection system always does its job in protecting life and property. As the face of their company, Koorsen takes great pride in having some of the best technicians in the nation. Not only do Koorsen techs provide unparalleled customer service but they are some of the best-trained in the industry. Koorsen technicians are fully certified and receive ongoing training at the Koorsen Training Center, one of the largest and most advanced training center of its kind.

To learn more about the services, inspections and products Koorsen Fire & Security offers or to schedule an inspection, contact Koorsen today.

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Topics: Fire Sprinkler Systems

Disclaimer: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is believed to be reliable, but Koorsen Fire & Security assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in the content of this article. It does not constitute professional advice. The user of this article or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information's accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.