3 FM quick reads on sprinkler system
1. Less Water Used in Sprinklered Properties Versus Unsprinklered, Study Says
The amount of water used during a fire when a building has a sprinkler system is less than that of an unsprinklered building, according to a report released by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) commissioned this report to assess community impacts related to water consumption.
Water authorities have introduced strategies over the past three decades to recover costs for water consumed in sprinklered buildings. These fees are typically not related to the actual sprinkler flow, but address the fact that these flows are not metered and therefore not accounted for in conventional cost recovery systems. Fires that occur in unsprinklered properties that utilize water from hydrants, which are not metered, are typically not subject to fees, says NFPA.
As a result, the study found that an owner of an unsprinklered building received the full benefit of unlimited water through the public water system during a fire without an increased cost, while the owner of a sprinklered building pays for the water used for commissioning, inspection, testing and maintenance of the sprinkler system. NFPA says it hopes fire departments and water authorities will use the report as a basis for reviewing the policies in their own jurisdictions.
The report considered standard estimates of the amount of water expected to be used in seven building types with and without automatic sprinkler protection during a fire condition, and also estimated the water used per year for commissioning, inspection, testing and maintenance of buildings with systems for each building type. The building types included business, assembly, institutional, mercantile, storage and residential.
Trends in Fires in Educational Facilities
According to National Fire Protection Association statistics on fires in educational properties, including preschool through high school as well as colleges and adult education centers and day -care centers, in the 2003-2006 data sample the greatest percentage of fires (73 percent) occurred in nursery schools through high schools. This was followed by 11 percent that occurred in college classroom buildings or adult education centers.
In the preschool through high school building sector, the leading causes of fire were trash fires, arson and cooking equipment. The area of origin was most commonly a trash receptacle, followed by a kitchen or cooking area and bathrooms. The peak times for fire were weekdays between 11 am and 2 pm.
In this 2006 dataset, 34 percent of the structure fires happened in buildings with automatic suppression systems in place, made up primarily of sprinkler systems. In these fires, the fire suppression systems successfully operated in 93 percent of the cases. When the systems failed to operate it was due to the system being shut off (48 percent) or other "manual intervention which defeated the system" in 33 percent of the cases.
Source: Structure Fires in Educational Properties
Savings Through Sprinkler Retrofit
Sprinkler systems are an important part of a fire/life safety system, but many existing buildings were built before they were required by code and many facility mangers balk at the challenges posed by retrofitting a system in an existing building. But the benefits of such system extend even to the bottom line. Maybe some of these figures can help you make a retrofit case to your C-suite.
The most immediate financial benefit is in insurance rate reductions. According to experts, with a sprinkler system an office building can reap a 46 percent reduction in insurance cost for the building and a 43 percent reduction for the contents. This estimate is based on a 10-year-old, 10-story, 110,000-square-foot masonry-construction facility with typical contents and occupancy.
The trick to cashing in on this benefit is to keep up with annual inspections and testing and to make sure the results are sent to the insurance company. Once a facility is overdue by a year for its inspection, the rates start to climb back up, typically by 5 percent the first year, 20 percent the second year and back to unsprinklered rates once a facility is overdue by three years or more.
Other immediate savings are available through income tax deductions.