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Avoid Paint Hazards in Fire/Life Safety Systems




Giving interior spaces a fresh coat of paint sounds like a great way to start of the new year. But if painting is on your to do list, make sure you or your contractors don't inadvertently create a life safety hazard in the process.

Care should be taken to protect the components of the fire detection and suppression system so that an errant swipe of paint doesn't end up compromising the future operation of the system. " Painted sprinklers, painted smoke detectors, painted heat detectors — those aren’t supposed to happen, but we find them," says Christopher Culp, P.E., who is vice president and a fire protection engineer with Henderson Engineers Inc., in a Facility Maintenance Decisions article on fire protection system maintenance.

A little dab of paint doesn't seem like it should be that big of a deal, but it can cause significant problems. Joe Szachor, fire alarm installation manager at LifeSafety Management, details some of the issues paint can cause when mistakenly applied to life safety systems.

• Paint on a horn can clog up the vents allowing the proper amount of sound out (audibility).

• Paint on a strobe light reduces the amount of light produced for a coverage area. It is similar to placing a film over your car headlights, he says.

• Paint on a sprinkler head can delay how long it takes to operate. It can prevent the sprinkler from operating or can change the spray pattern of the water being discharged. 

• Paint in a smoke detector can block the amount of smoke that enters the device.

In addition to making sure no devices were painted over, a walk-through after the painting is done should also confirm no devices were inadvertently knocked out or otherwise damaged.

Find the full Facility Maintenance Decisions article here.

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