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The manageability of BlazeMaster Fire Sprinkler Systems allowed the aging buildings throughout the Broward County School District in Florida to be retrofitted, meeting National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.
Lubrizol CPVC offered Sprinklermatic and the district comprehensive support from beginning to end. (Broward County is part of the Miami metropolitan area; its county seat is Fort Lauderdale.)
A school building poses a tricky situation when it comes to installing a fire sprinkler system. Students fill hallways and classrooms constantly, whether it’s classes during the day, sports after school or on weekends, and activities throughout the summer. Finding the time to complete a major facility upgrade without disrupting the flurry of activity can be a challenge. Educational facilities rarely close long enough for this to take place. How to solve this problem?
Powered by the flexibility and ease of installation offered by BlazeMaster Pipe & Fittings, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Sprinklermatic Inc. made a showcase of the school district, having outfitted the majority of the district’s buildings with new fire protection systems over the last decade. About 22,000 feet of pipe and 1,300 sprinkler heads have been installed districtwide.
Sprinklermatic Vice President Tim O’Brien has worked with BlazeMaster systems for years and was excited to bring the product to a new project. “The Broward County school board needed to upgrade their fire protection systems,” O’Brien said. “That’s where the opportunity presented itself on the project. It became a question of, ‘How do you sprinkler a building that is in essence open all the time?’ ”
Updates to the school district’s fire protection began in 2003, as the administration learned that one of its oldest buildings, Northside Elementary, required a new fire sprinkler system in order to meet new codes and regulations. The age and structure of the building would require delicate work processes – something that would become incredibly difficult with a steel system.
Initially, the Broward County school board balked at the prospect of a CPVC system installation. That’s where the team at Lubrizol CPVC stepped in. Sprinklermatic brought in one of Lubrizol’s expert piping systems consultants to present the benefits of a chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) system to the school board.
“The school board only knew steel pipe,” O’Brien said. “So we had to teach them the benefits of CPVC. The cost benefits and the ease of installation sold them. We showed them we could install the product without tearing apart ceilings, and that it could be done quickly.”
O’Brien noted that the flexibility of BlazeMaster systems worked well with the unpredictability of installations in buildings greater than 50 years old, where architectural and structural changes may not have remained consistent over the years. With BlazeMaster pipe and fittings, contractors don’t have to worry about starting and stopping pipes at specific points during the installation. The flexibility of the product allows contractors to pick up and leave off where necessary throughout the process.
This was particularly important considering the time crunch involved on some of the Broward County installations. One building in particular needed the job completed in under two weeks, a job made possible only with CPVC. A comparative system using steel would have involved hours of setup and cleanup, not to mention prefabrication and design that would have been impossible to install in the same amount of time. The district’s Coconut Creek High School was similarly sprinklered in just 28 days in 2013.
“The flexibility of CPVC allows you to make changes on the fly, if necessary,” O’Brien said. “The product allows you to work above ceilings in an occupied building with little to no interruption of operations, and it brings fluidity to the project.”
Across the Broward County School District, Sprinklermatic received the opportunity to sprinkler several other buildings — totaling 13 campuses districtwide, each with around 10 buildings. And Lubrizol CPVC offered its full support each step of the way, from helping the school board realize the value of BlazeMaster systems, to offering its comprehensive training to the folks at Sprinklermatic. Thus far, the district has experienced no issues with its new fire protection systems, and Sprinklermatic continues to use BlazeMaster Pipe & Fittings successfully.