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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.
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.
Gorman-Rupp has designed a line of high efficiency, limited solids handling Super T Series® pumps that are available in standard materials of construction or fitted in Gorman-Rupp Hard Iron for abrasive environments. The 2”, 3”, and 4” Super T Series pumps are now available with a new impeller and wear plate designed to boost efficiency as much as 19% with a shutoff head increased 37% more than the previous standard models. The 2” Super T Series pumps will pass a 0.75” spherical solid and the 3” and 4” Super T Series pumps will pass 1.50” spherical solids. Maximum operating speeds Issue 1 Super T Series pumps will also require an upgrade to the new back cover assembly The maximum operating speeds have increased, expanding the overall hydraulic envelope for all three sizes. The ‘D’ hydraulic includes a slimmer, tapered 2-vane impeller with a smooth, tapered wear plate for improved performance and efficiency. The ‘E’ hydraulic provides the eradicator solids management system to help clear away stringy material, rags, or wipes. ‘D’ and ‘E’ hydraulics, in all sizes, are in stock and available for purchase. Please reference the price pages for the new repair rotating assembly part numbers that have been assigned to these models. Any Issue 2 Super T Series pump (equipped with the new style inspection cover/back cover) can be converted to the ‘D’ or ‘E’ hydraulic by replacing the impeller and wear plate in the field. Older style, Issue 1 Super T Series pumps will also require an upgrade to the new back cover assembly. It is worth noting that the ‘D’ and ‘E’ hydraulics have slightly steeper performance curves than the Super U Series or the T4B pumps, making them less susceptible to flow runout.
Once a converted car ferry that originally ran between New Castle, Delaware, and Pennsville, New Jersey and later between Newport and Jamestown, Rhode Island, now, DiMilio’s Restaurant is one of the largest floating restaurants in America. Rising and falling with the tide twice a day, the restaurant is surrounded by water, offering spectacular table views, fresh seafood, choice cuts of beef, and Italian fare to Portland Harbor’s Long Wharf residents and tourists year-round. But where there’s a restaurant business, there’s wastewater – and a lot of it to be moved. Pier sewer connection The water that is used within this 65’ x 206’, three-story restaurant for normal day-to-day operations – cooking, dishwashers, toilets, floor drains, and more – is all pumped up and away from the restaurant via a unique mission-critical design. Health department regulations are strict. If our pumps malfunction, we’re required to close our doors" “Health department regulations are strict. If our pumps malfunction, we’re required to close our doors,” shares Sam DiCenzo, Pump Maintenance Engineer for DiMillo’s. To avoid a costly shut down – even for a day – the DiMillo family made the decision to invest in a smart design, smart technology, and support they could rely on. The floating nature of the restaurant requires the engineered design to pump wastewater from a holding tank located in the bottom of the vessel up to the pier sewer connection – an incline of approximately 90 feet. Automatic alternation design When the holding tank reaches its level, the tank will be automatically pumped down, forcing the wastewater out another 500 feet to the city’s main sewer line – carrying everything from gray water to sanitation for treatment. To meet this unique challenge, two Gorman-Rupp T Series® pumps are enlisted, designed to perform on an alternating basis. In this automatic alternation design, pump efficiency is maximized while pump wear and tear is equalized. As the first pump shuts down, the second pump automatically kicks in on the next pump down cycle. The discharge to the city’s main sewer is further accomplished by using flexible piping, a design specification created to address the need for the discharge operation to move up and down with the tide. “The normal tide is 10 to 11 feet, but we can get more extreme tide here,” offers Steve Thayer, of Hayes Pump Inc. Packaged pump station The technology used to address this unique challenge is a Gorman-Rupp LE model packaged pump station “With such extreme deviations in travel ways, pumping the waste from the restaurant to its eventual destination at the city sewers was a design challenge.” The technology used to address this unique challenge is a Gorman-Rupp LE model packaged pump station. The total solution, which incorporates duplex pumps and the associated piping, settings and control panel technology, further incorporates high water alarms, alerting DiMillo personnel of potential problems with the pumps, before they arise. “Everything I need to know is right there on the panel itself,” adds DiCenzo. “In the course of any given day, I’m probably in and out of the control room 25 times – I’m not servicing the pump during those visits, I’m poking my head in to see what the controls are telling me, and then I go about my day. To me, these controls are a visual check.” Mission critical environment “The pumps are the original Gorman-Rupp Classic T Series design, including original level controls which were the old float switches,” adds Thayer. “We have since refitted the level control system via the Gorman-Rupp EPS (electronic pressure switch) retrofit kit with the electronic solid state pressure transducer set-up.” Routine maintenance to unclog a troubled pump is to be expected in this high volume Routine maintenance to unclog a troubled pump is to be expected in this high volume, mission-critical environment. In most cases, debris has fowled the inlet, whereby the unique self-priming, centrifugal Gorman-Rupp design allows DiCenzo and his team to ready the system without calling in maintenance technicians to clean the pump’s parts that plugged, unclogging the blockage. By draining the tank and then identifying the source of the problem, DiCenzo can also pull the spare parts that the restaurant keeps on hand to immediately rectify the situation. Air release valves “Generally, I’m never down more than 30 or 40 minutes – and when I am, 99% of the time, it’s a debris blockage, a very simple fix, or one of the air release valves have jammed or the inlet to the sump has clogged,” shares DiCenzo. “But even if a pump goes down due to debris, they’re so easy to maintain that it’s as easy as one-two-three for us now. We simply look at it and know what you’re going after. And if the maintenance requires something a little trickier, all I have to do is make a call to Hayes Pump, and they can generally walk me through it – to get me back up and running. I love these pumps.” Particularly stubborn blockage Only once in more than a two-decade history has the restaurant found the need to replace a pump In fact, to date, the restaurant has enjoyed relative maintenance- and problem-free solution for now nearly 24 years, with the original technology outperforming any industry standard and continuing to function nearly flawlessly. Only once in more than a two-decade history has the restaurant found the need to replace a pump – due to a casing, which had worn out after 23 years. During another particularly stubborn blockage, the engineer at DiMillo’s opened one of the pumps by removing the cover plate, only to reveal a badly worn impeller. The impeller, which had been functioning well for more than eleven years, was worn to just 6” – reduced more than 30 percent from a standard 8 ¾” impeller diameter.
Oconee County Quarry, outside of Walhalla, South Carolina, is a county-owned rock quarry, providing more than 2,500 tons of a variety of crushed rock daily for county needs as well as for contractors and the general public. If rainwater and runoff from nearby springs are allowed to collect in the quarry, operations slow down or even stop, making water removal a constant necessity. Since digging began in 1979, Oconee County had relied on a single S4D1 10 HP electric submersible pump to keep the water out the bottom of the quarry. In periods of heavy rains, the quarry utilized two side-by-side pumps to keep the water at a manageable level and the digging operation ongoing. Natural gathering area At the time, the pumps were initially placed at the quarry’s lowest point, a natural gathering area for water. The walls were 75’ high and a 10 HP pump was adequate to drive water out of the site. Water was pumped up the side of the quarry through a 4” line and sent another 50’ to a retaining pond on county grounds. As the quarry grew deeper, the walls climbed higher. At the time, the pumps were initially placed at the quarry’s lowest point, a natural gathering area for water The two 10 HP pumps were still strong tools, but the distance was affecting the efficiency of the water withdrawal and subsequently, the level of water in the quarry. Oconee County Quarry Foreman Mickey Kerr found that the pumps were straining to pump water the additional distance. “The older pumps were still working well, but the effectiveness of pumping the water up the steeper walls was not as strong as it had been in the past due to the added vertical distance,” said Kerr. Constantly changing quarry Technicians at Oconee County Quarry were pleased with the performance of the original Gorman-Rupp 10 HP pump, so they turned to Gorman-Rupp to provide a solution for their ever-deepening rock quarry. Through their experience with the existing pump, and after additional research, Kerr knew he could count on Gorman-Rupp pumps to hold up to the rigors of a dusty, demanding, and constantly changing quarry. “As we went deeper into this quarry, we had to step up our pump size to get the task accomplished,” said Kerr. “To get the job done right, we decided on a pair of Gorman-Rupp’s 65 HP electric submersible pumps to replace the two 10 HP pumps.” Refueling diesel engines Kerr selected electric pumps to allow water to be pumped anytime of the day or night The pumps, located in the customer’s pit in a sump hole at the base of now a 200’ high wall, are both attached to float switches that power up the pumps when the water reaches a certain level. The 65 HP S Series pumps easily transmit water the 300 total feet, with more than 200’ being straight up the wall. Furthermore, bigger pumps have benefited the county by pumping more water out of the quarry, lowering the customer’s overall operating costs, and allowing them to dig deeper without having to invest in additional pumps in the near future. Kerr selected electric pumps to allow water to be pumped anytime of the day or night, and to reallocate a worker who would be responsible for refueling diesel engines. Rock crushing operation “Being a county-owned entity, we had to stay within a budget, while also finding the most effective manner in which to keep the water at a low level. The electric pump best suited our needs. More water is now pumped faster than ever before. The majority of the water is sent to a retaining pond on county property, but Kerr also utilizes the water for several applications throughout the quarry.” We are also in the process of filtering the water in order to use it to cool the oil pumps" “In a mining situation, having a water truck is a must. We fill the truck with water daily and continually spray water on the roads leading into and out of the quarry to keep the dust to a minimum. We are also in the process of filtering the water in order to use it to cool the oil pumps that are used in our rock crushing operation.” Maximizing operations uptime Additionally, Kerr understood that by choosing Gorman-Rupp pumps, uptime would be maximized. 18 Oconee County employees are involved in the quarry operation to handle any problems and keep this county enterprise efficient. “Another reason we chose these pumps is the service we’ve gotten from our distributor, Interstate Equipment,” Kerr said. “Interstate has helped us get more than 15 years of operation from our first 10 HP pump and they are very attentive when it comes to getting parts or service for all of the pumps used here at the quarry. Interstate also helped train our staff to obtain the most out of the new 65 HP pumps for years to come.”
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