Fire protection at a commercial or industrial facility consists of much more than a few sprinkler heads. A network of engineered systems must all function together to be effective. Unlike most engineered systems, however, installed fire protection systems cannot be tested under actual conditions. That makes it essential that the specification, design, installation and testing of fire protection systems closely follow accepted industry fire protection standards. The full-text article details several steps that will help ensure that a fire protection system is properly installed for years of effective, reliable and trouble-free service.
These steps are outlined below to help you get the best system available for a reasonable cost — and avoid the most common mistakes.
It is important that all design parameters are available to contractors before a customer obtains bids for a new fire protection system. A vague specification will result in a vague bid. To select the appropriate specifications for an installation, information about the building and its intended occupancy must be known.
Using the Information
Based on this information, the owner’s engineering representative should prepare detailed fire protection specifications. A safety margin of at least 10 psi or 10 percent should be specified. The insurance carrier’s written agreement to the specifications can help prevent coverage problems once the design is already completed.
In general industry practice, the fire protection contractor prepares the design drawings. The owner’s engineering representative should thoroughly review the drawings and calculations. The insurance carrier should accept them before they are submitted to the local jurisdiction for approval.
Installation should not begin until written approval has been obtained from all review agencies. Otherwise, major changes could result after the system has already been installed and the additional costs passed on to the owner.
This step requires verification that both the design and installation specifications of the fire protection system have been met. It also requires nondestructive acceptance testing. Additional safeguards are needed because testing under actual performance conditions is not feasible.