As we approach the thought of a release from lockdown it’s important to consider what may have changed in the dormant buildings whilst we have been away.
Whilst the Alpine Service Team have remained 100% operational across the UK some businesses may have taken the decision to pause their planned maintenance schedules whilst the facilities are empty.
We have gathered the thoughts of our in house technical experts for advice on some considerations to be given where sites have not been fully maintained, tested or checked.
Here are 5 issues that may arise from a pause in the regular tests and checks advised by LPS 1048 and could potentially compromise the operation of a fire sprinkler system.
1. Seized Pressure switches – unless regularly exercised pressure switches can stick causing a number of issues with the sprinkler system. Pressure switches installed on the pump initiation lines would not detect a drop in system pressure and would therefore not start the fire pump(s) preventing the sprinkler system from operating. The pressure switches on the alarm line of the control valves would not send a signal to the main fire alarm, impairing the detection of any issues, either accidental damage or fire related.
2. Water Motor Alarms could be seized – although seen by some as outdated technology the mechanical aspect of a water pressure driven alarm cannot be overlooked as this should still give an audible signal if there was ever a problem with the building fire alarm system. It also enables a hard check on the alarm valves operational effectiveness during regular checks, this would not be possible with an inoperable alarm motor and gong due to failed or seized components.
3. System valves could be stiffer to operate or seized – water flow control valves that are seized or at least stiff would be much more difficult to close in the event of an accidental discharge, potentially leading to excessive water damage if the flow of water cannot be stopped. Individual test valves seized will prevent the normal testing procedure being carried out. However the worst case is that the alarm valves may not open correctly preventing water from flowing into the main sprinkler system in the event of a fire situation.
4. Fire pumps could be seized – As above, if the fire pump is not able to deliver water to the sprinkler system then the effectiveness of that system is eliminated. The ability to provide a continuous flow of water at required pressure based on the design parameters is paramount in the operation of the overall fire suppression system.
5. Undetected frost damage – we have endured some of the coldest days on record in the UK during lockdown. There is a risk within closed sites that there may be frost damage to parts of the system, which could lead to impaired components that could fail on returning to standard operation. These components may not operate as designed and impair their ability to control a fire or at the minimum could cause water damage within a facility in the event of failure.
So, as we all look to Spring for a return to something more like the life we remember, we recommend that your fire sprinkler systems are checked for impairments and correct operation by a competent engineer before reoccupation of buildings takes place.
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