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Fire Sprinkler Failures In Buildings: Why They Happen & What To Do
Fire Sprinkler Failures In Buildings: Why They Happen & What To Do

The fire sprinkler system in your building is a critical safety measure and, when needed, it can save lives. Still, even the best systems can malfunction, and sprinklers do occasionally fail. When they do, they can drench the interior of your building, damaging everything from furniture and personal belongings to drywall and building materials. As a property manager, dealing with fire sprinkler failure can feel overwhelming. What do you do next? Where do you start? And why did the sprinkler system fail in the first place? In this post, we’ll discuss the common causes of accidental discharge, and what to do if it happens to you. Reasons for Fire Sprinkler Systems Failure Today, all building fire sprinkler systems must meet NFPA 13 standards. These National Fire Protection Association benchmarks define safety requirements for components and installation, and help ensure that sprinkler systems are well maintained and ready to perform. Still, fire sprinkler systems can fail. Here are a few of the most common culprits: Aging parts Building renovations (collisions with construction equipment, displacement or disturbance, etc.) Incorrectly placed heating systems that activate sprinklers Vulnerable pipes that freeze and cause sprinkler heads to burst Corrosion Fire sprinkler malfunctions can be incredibly problematic, causing extensive damage to your building Regardless of what causes the sprinklers to discharge accidentally, fire sprinkler malfunctions can be incredibly problematic, causing extensive damage to your building and requiring costly repairs from a water damage repair contractor. 5 Things to do if Your Sprinklers Fail There are no flames in your building, but your sprinklers are soaking everything in sight. You have to move quickly to avoid even more damage. Stay calm and follow these five steps: Get everyone out Even if there’s not an active fire in the building, water poses its own set of dangers. To avoid problematic slip and fall conditions, get everyone out of the area immediately. Move them to a safe location outside the building, preferably one you’ve agreed on in a previously established evacuation plan. Shut off electrical equipment Water and electricity are a deadly combination. To avoid electrical shocks, shut off all nearby electrical equipment and appliances, and then, turn off the building’s main power supply, as you exit the building. Turn off the water main Instead of wasting time shutting off broken sprinkler heads individually, go to the building’s main water supply immediately and shut it off at the valve. This will stop all water flow and prevent additional water damage. Take photos of the scene Once it’s safe to re-enter the building, document the scene. Use your smartphone to take photos of broken sprinkler heads or anything else you believe may have caused the accidental discharge. Additionally, take photos of the damage the sprinklers caused to floors, walls, personal belongings, and more. These photos can help response specialists understand the cause of the malfunction and may streamline your insurance claims process. Contact a restoration specialist Even if your water damage looks minimal, you’ll need to contact a skilled water damage restoration expert, like the Chicago-based maintenance and service company, ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba.  Accidental sprinkler discharges soak drywall, destroy carpets and textiles, and lead to dangerous mold and mildew growth, which can happen just 24-48 hours after water exposure. Prevent worsening damage and the dangerous conditions by contacting a sprinkler repair specialist right away. Cleanup and water damage restoration services Using your documentation, your insurance company will work to determine the cause of the sprinkler failure Using your documentation, your insurance company will work to determine the cause of the sprinkler failure. This can be a lengthy process that takes weeks or even months. As that happens, your cleanup team will focus on providing water damage restoration services. Typically, fire sprinkler water damage involves ‘blackwater’- a dangerous mixture of sediments and other contaminants that leave behind an unpleasant smell and a film that can destroy belongings. To reclaim your space, the water damage restoration service will focus on extracting the remaining water, drying the space to prevent mold and mildew formation, and decontaminating all surfaces. This is a critical step that you can’t afford to rush. Work with the best water damage cleanup company you can find to ensure positive results. Protecting Your Sprinkler Systems in the Future While it’s impossible to completely avoid every accidental discharge, there are certain steps you can take to safeguard your sprinkler system. Proper maintenance, for example, allows you to avoid preventable issues that could lead to malfunction. You should also take care to keep all remodeling and construction work away from sprinkler heads and systems to avoid accidental damage. These are simple tips, but they can help keep your building and tenants safe and dry - both now and in the future.

Mobile Firefighting Systems Provide Flexible Fire Protection For Major Facilities
Mobile Firefighting Systems Provide Flexible Fire Protection For Major Facilities

Within traditional commercial and industrial firefighting systems, engineers have primarily focused on permanent installation designs rather than entertaining alternative or supplemental mobile firefighting systems. Permanent installation design is typically better understood, supported, and supplied throughout the fire protection engineering and manufacturing community. However, mobile firefighting systems provide unique solutions and advantages compared to their permanent installation cousins such as flexible deployment, simpler servicing, improved economy, and much higher performance availability. The combination of both systems is frequently the most strategic solution for the facility operator. Limitations of fixed installation systems Permanent installation (fixed) systems include everything from sprinklers, foam systems, primary watermain pumps, and the plethora of piping in between. A large refinery complex will need to address various hazard mitigation and control problems that span both hardware and personnel needs. In the event standard hazard mitigation safety procedures and equipment have failed, the facility immediately initiates a hazard control operation. Passive fixed systems automatically engage the hazard through an array of sensors, mechanical triggers, and control algorithms. A properly designed system with adequate hazard coverage, preplanning, preventative maintenance, and testing will successfully terminate the hazard, while firefighting personnel respond and ensure no further hazards develop. This conceptual approach relies on hardware and personnel all operating as planned…. Combining permanent and mobile apparatus “According to plan” would never have any failures or fires, but history has a different script. In the worst-case petrochemical scenario, fixed systems fail to extinguish a hazard putting the entire response on human and mobile hardware resources. This would include but is not limited to firetrucks, mobile high-flow pumping systems, large mobile monitors, foam proportioning units, and large diameter layflat hose. This type of response escalates into a larger scale operation, sometimes involving agencies beyond the facility operator itself. Although a low probability event, the risk to life and property is significantly substantial. Fixed systems may be rendered inoperable due to the loss of electrical power or actual physical damage Reducing fire-related expenditureMore typical than the worst-case scenario, facilities experience both maintenance-related system downtimes and natural phenomena damage such as extreme weather and seismic events. In this case, fixed systems may be rendered inoperable due to the loss of electrical power or actual physical damage. In any of these situations, mobile fire apparatus may fill the gap requirements of the facility as their flexible storage and deployment would protect them from everything but the worst natural disasters. Their further benefit is that a smaller set of mobile apparatus resources may be used to protect a larger amount of infrastructure, especially while in use in a mutual-aid program between facilities and communities. According to the NFPA’s report “Total Cost of Fire in the United States”, fire-related damages and expenditures from 1980 to 2014 have risen from roughly $200B (adjusted for inflation to 2014) to nearly $330B. The greatest expenditure is in fire safety costs in building construction, amounting to $57.4B. Although the overall losses per year as a ratio to protection expenditures has dropped by roughly 70% over the past 30 years, petrochemical facility losses have continued to rise over the same time. In the worst-case petrochemical scenario, fixed systems fail to extinguish a hazard  Petrochemical facility challenges According to the NFPA, refineries or natural gas plants had reported an average of 228 fires or explosions per year through the 1990s. Furthering this data with Marsh’s “100 Largest Losses, 25th edition”, refinery losses have continually expanded throughout the last two decades with 11 of the top 20 largest losses of the past 40 years happening during or after the year 2000. Two primary drivers of this trend are the advanced age of petrochemical facilities and their staggering complexity. As oil margins fall, upstream operational businesses are detrimentally affected by reduced investment in everything to new equipment, maintenance and passive safety systems. There is an observable correlation between a major oil price drop followed by upstream facility fire losses. Even with reduced investment and oil throughput growth rates, US refinery utilisation at the end 2017 was at 96.7%, the highest since 2005 (Marsh, The Impact of the Price of Oil). The short story is that systems and personnel are being asked to do more with less with each passing year. Cost-effective mobile apparatus systems  Mobile fire apparatus is generally more cost-effective to procure when using standardised designs and application methodology. They can access open water sources by either drafting (when in close proximity to the water) or using floating source pumps (for variable level or difficult access water sources). Mobile fire apparatus is generally more cost-effective to procure when using standardized designs and application methodology With this open water access, they can provide significantly more water (upwards of 10,000 GPM or more per system if necessary) than any typical fixed fire pumping solution. Moreover, as their primary benefit, they are easy to move and deploy. This benefit allows them to be utilised at the point of hazard as needed while being easily accessible for service. While fixed systems are installed at “every known” hazard and must be continually maintained to operate effectively, mobile systems may be used sitewide or across facilities. This flexibility reduces overall capital expenditure requirements and establishes a valuable primary and secondary firefighting system depending on the hazard and facility resources. Combining fixed and mobile systems Permanent installation fire suppression systems are a mainstay of modern day firefighting. They provide immediate passive response with little human intervention. However, as facility utilisation is pushed to maximum capacity while fixed systems continually age out without adequate replacement or maintenance, mobile systems will need to both fill the response gap and provide a final wall to total loss incidents. The reality is that both fixed and mobile systems need to work together to provide the safest possible operation. Service and training requirements need to also be maintained to manage an adequate, or even better, exemplary response to hazard control incidents. Managing major facility uptime requires continuous oversight and to drive hazard mitigation standards throughout the organisation, including executive management. A safe, reliable and fully-functional plant is also a profitable and cost-effective plant much like a healthy worker is a better worker. Protect your people and property and you will protecting your company’s future.

Latest AMKUS Rescue Systems news

Amkus Announces Participation At The 2020 Fire Expo With ION Tools On Display
Amkus Announces Participation At The 2020 Fire Expo With ION Tools On Display

Behind every great firefighter is a department and behind every great department is Firehouse Expo, the trade show and expo for the fire industry, offering all the behind-the-scenes tools, training, equipment and exposure to the ideas and inspiration firefighters need to be bright and brave in the business. Amkus recommends not to miss the event that everyone is talking about. Firehouse Expo, the fire-service event in North America, is bigger than ever. 2020’s event includes 32 hands-on training programs, 10 pre-conference sessions, a new series of hybrid workshops, and officer development track, 150 main conference sessions, and an expanded exhibit floor featuring more than 350 exhibitors displaying the latest tools and technology. One can join Amkus Regional Manager Bill Davis in the AMKUS booth to see the latest ION tools.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad Uses Amkus Tools To Save People From An Overturned Tractor Trailer Collision
Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad Uses Amkus Tools To Save People From An Overturned Tractor Trailer Collision

Rescue Squad 741B and Chief 741F from Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad, along with other units from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, were dispatched to the inner loop of the Capital Beltway between Connecticut Avenue and Georgia Avenue for the reported collision, possibly involving an overturned tractor trailer. Initial arriving units found a jackknifed tractor trailer with the cab overturned and heavily damaged. The sole occupant was determined to be severely pinned and barely visible on arrival of the units. Portable simo pump As Battalion Chief 702 established the Command, Chief 741F assumed the roll of the Extrication Group Supervisor working with Rescue Squad 741B and Truck 716 to devise and execute the stabilization/extrication plan. All tools on board Rescue Squad 741B were put to use. An additional 2 Amkus rams were connected via a portable simo pump Crews deployed and utilized 4 pre-connected Amkus tools including 2 heavy-duty cutters, 1 spreader, and 1 ram. An additional 2 Amkus rams were connected via a portable simo pump and also simultaneously utilized. Crews worked on extricating the driver for approximately 40 minutes before he was freed, transferred to the waiting EMS crews, and transported as a Priority 1, Category A trauma to the local ED. Providing assistance to incident They just received word this week of the extent of the drivers injuries upon arrival at the hospital. He was stabilized in emergency surgery that day and has undergone several other surgeries since. He has currently been transferred from the ICU to a step-down unit and is expected to make a full recovery. This was an excellent job by all units involved and was made possible by the use of the suite of Amkus tools carried on board Rescue Squad 741B. People involved in providing assistance to the incident are Battalion Chief Keith Stakes, Extrication Group Supervisor Master Firefighter Steven Solomon, Rescue Squad Officer Captain Leo Ruiz, Rescue Squad Technician Firefighter Andrew Knight, Rescue Squad Firefighter.

Iredell Rescue And Cool Springs Fire Department Saves A Patient Pinned Under The Vehicle With Amkus Spreader Lift
Iredell Rescue And Cool Springs Fire Department Saves A Patient Pinned Under The Vehicle With Amkus Spreader Lift

The call was dispatched for a vehicle overturned with 4 patients possibly 2 pin in the vehicle. Andy Webster Chief of Cool Springs arrived on scene and confirmed double pin in. Deputy Chief Brandon Lester of Iredell Rescue arrived on scene and started assessment of vehicle. Delane Mcwhorter arrived on scene with crash truck and all personal above started assisting with deploying tools and assist with cribbing vehicle. Deputy Chief Brandon Lester from Iredell Rescue started extraction efforts on patient that was pinned under vehicle from waist down and was freed by the vehicle doing an Amkus Spreader lift of the vehicle to remove vehicle from over the patient. Assisting the rescue squad Started working on the other pin in. The patient was completely pinned in the back compartment area of vehicle showing about 6 to 8 inches of the patients left side. Started Extraction efforts on second subject and Captain Spencer Alves from Iredell Rescue arrived and assisted Deputy Chief Lester. All personal above assisted the rescue squad by obtaining tools and removing items to better clear the way for extrication. The vehicle was located in several trees that had to be removed. Due to the efforts of the individuals listed above all four patients are alive. The most critical patient was the one in the back compartment and due to the way subject was in vehicle and location it was around a 50 min extrication time. All subjects worked together and assisted with carry out of patient.

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