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November 24, 2010 -
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Once the decision is made to retrofit a building with a fire sprinkler system, there is a lot to keep in mind. It starts with a good survey of the building's relevant features and constraints. Finding out there's an obstruction while in the midst of a retrofit could lead to costly change orders.
Take the water supply, for example. To meet domestic needs, there is probably only a 2-inch pipe coming into the building, but to meet the needs of a sprinkler system, you'll need a 6-inch or 8-inch pipe. If the water pressure is insufficient, a fire pump and the room to house it — at least a 10-foot-square space — will be needed. If municipal water demand cannot meet the sprinkler system demand, a water tank may be required.
The interaction with existing safety systems must also be taken into account. Sprinklers are part of the whole system, interfacing with the alarms, the smoke management system, the paths of egress. For example, it's not safe to assume the existing fire alarm system will work with the fire sprinkler system. Tamper switches and flow switches will need to be connected so that once the sprinkler goes off, it will send a signal to the fire alarm system.
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