Blog Posts: Fire Code

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In the United States, fire departments respond to a fire every 23 seconds. Regardless of response time, the risk of injury and property damage before the fire department arrives can be significant. Without an adequate fire prevention plan – this risk is even higher.

In this article, we discuss the importance of following applicable fire safety codes and how to develop proper fire safety protocols. Continue reading to improve fire safety in your office.

What Is a Fire Prevention Plan?

A fire prevention plan involves the development of fire safety protocols and procedures. These protocols help reduce the risk of fire and improve fire knowledge in the workplace.

A fire safety plan is more than having a fire extinguisher or fire alarms in your office building. While those items are important – you need to be better educated and prepared. A fire prevention plan is about preventing fires as well as understanding what to do if a true fire situation occurs.

Why You Need a Fire Prevention Plan

While it’s important for business owners and managers to understand the value of a fire prevention plan, it’s also important for your staff. Vesting your staff in fire safety is an effective way to ensure it’s practiced regularly.

A fire prevention plan can benefit your business in several ways such as improving employee safety, reducing risk, and following certain business requirements.

Reduce the Risk of Injury and Building Damage

One of the main motivators for creating an effective fire prevention plan is to reduce the risk of injury and property damage. While personal injuries and damages are traumatic, they also come with a significant financial impact on a business.

Follow Fire Safety Code

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) only requires businesses to have a fire prevention plan under certain circumstances, it’s recommended for all businesses.

Those required must have both written and oral prevention plans that are easily accessible to employees. Small businesses must at least offer an oral fire prevention plan to employees.

Avoid Panic

In the unlikely event of a workplace fire, fire safety protocols can help avoid panic. Instead of staff wasting time wondering what to do, they can calmly execute the necessary procedures to lower the risk of injury.

How to Create a Fire Prevention Plan

To create a fire prevention plan, you need to identify potential fire safety risks in the office space. This includes sources of heat, areas of clutter, and the absence of safety devices such as extinguishers and alarms.

You also need to schedule regular preventative maintenance. A professional should inspect your building for fire hazards and ensure your extinguishers aren’t expired. They should also ensure you have a functioning, tested and inspected fire sprinkler system.

Finally, you need to set aside time for staff training. The best fire safety protocols are ineffective if they aren’t executed properly. Make sure your entire staff is on board with the plan.

Develop Your Fire Prevention Plan

Use the above guide to develop your fire prevention plan and prepare your staff for the necessary fire safety protocols. Doing so will help you reduce the risk of injury and building damage, which can save your business emotionally and financially.

If you’re ready to get serious about your fire safety protocols, request a quote for service today.

 

The FDNY has  strict requirements for all commercial and multi-residential buildings within its jurisdiction. This includes the NFPA 25 standards, which were adopted citywide in 2012. 

A key component of this standard is for the inspection, testing and maintenance of effective fire sprinkler systems that are specially designed for each building and occupancy.

Warehouses

Warehouses may have different needs than other facilities. There tends to be less open floor space, and  tightly packed commodities on in-rack storage systems that may  reach near ceiling elevations. In order to meet FDNY, Building Department and insurance minimum requirements, these facilities may  require Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler systems in order to suppress a fire, but each  warehouse is different.

Violations are  very common.  A recent study indicated that 1,100 buildings do not yet meet FDNY requirements and the Environmental Control Board has recently issued 983 violations for sprinkler system violations — reinforcing their ability to enforce the FDNY’s violation as well as the life-safety severity of these situations. 

In order to mitigate a violation, a fire sprinkler  system must be  installed, tested, inspected and maintained by a Licensed Master Fire Suppression Contractor. Each FDNY violation falls within a specific violation category and the five most issued violations are as follows: 

  1. VC-5: Failure to produce permit and/or record.
  2. VC-7: Labels/marks/stamps (color coding).
  3. VC-12: Maintenance of sprinkler, standpipe, alarm, suppression systems.
  4. VC-17: Certificates of fitness
  5. VC-20: Test/inspection

1. Inspection Records

If your fire sprinkler inspections are not recorded properly, the FDNY can only assume that existing sprinkler system(s) are not up to code.    You must provide specific inspection/testing and maintenance documentation, upon demand, from a Licensed Master Fire Suppression Contractor  in order to comply with the local fire code. Allstate Sprinkler is the most reputable, reliable and a leading  Master Fire sprinkler contractor that enables our inspectors to use customized software to record every relevant factor in the inspection. Well make sure you have the appropriate paperwork to answer  this violation.

2. Color Coding of Sprinkler System Pipes

During a fire, every second is priceless. Piping and components must be immediately identifiable, especially the exterior fire department connection. This apparatus is where the fire department connects their pumper truck while fighting a fire in order to augment the existing water supply. . Interior standpipe and sprinkler piping must also be painted accordingly. Valve handles must also be painted either red, yellow or green depending on their function.

3. Proper Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Fire  Sprinkler  Systems

In order for fire sprinkler systems to be effective, they must be inspected, tested and maintained properly.  Dirt, dust, grime and paint will affect the operational capacity of sprinkler heads; valves might be shut closed by careless employees or customers; piping and components may become corroded or develop leaks; a definitive number of spare sprinkler heads and wrench must be kept on premises; NOTHING can be  hung from overhead sprinkler piping; and all inventory must be kept within 18 inches of all sprinkler heads.

4. Certificate of Fitness

Certificates of fitness are issued by the FDNY to individuals who pass a written exam to ensure they have adequate knowledge of fire sprinkler/standpipe systems. Individual businesses should also have someone on-site who is certified to safely use, store and handle dangerous materials in their particular workplace.

5. Regular Testing of Sprinkler Systems

Your fire sprinkler system must be regularly tested by a Licensed Master Fire Suppression Contractor regularly to remain within code. This includes a regiment of monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual testing procedures.

If you’ve received a Notice of Violation from the FDNY, answering it within the time frame permitted will help you reduce any possible  monetary fines if you need to appear before the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings/Environmental Control Board (OATH). Allstate Sprinkler Corporation is fully licensed and insured to test, inspection, repair and install  designed sprinkler systems in all types of facilities. Contact us today for more information.

FDNY Adoption of NFPA 25: Inspection and Testing of Fire Sprinkler Systems

Effective January 1, 2012, The Fire Department of New York City adopted The National Fire Protection Association’s Standard #25.  This standard significantly impacts and changes the requirements for inspecting and testing all sprinkler systems in all facilities throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a highly trusted, not-for-profit organization that is recognized as a leading information and knowledge resource for fire, electrical, and life safety hazards. NFPA Standard # 25 identifies and governs the inspection, testing, and maintenance requirements of water-based fire sprinkler systems.  The inspection, testing, and maintenance regiment of NFPA 25 will inform property owners and/or their tenants about the readiness and integrity of the fire sprinkler systems throughout their facilities.

The importance of Timely/Regular NFPA 25 inspections:

To ensure that fire sprinkler systems are working and tested properly, NFPA 25 provides a suggested timeline and frequency to perform the specific requirements. It is essential to follow the requirements of monthly, quarterly, and annual inspections and testing. Although the monthly inspection is usually a visual inspection, quarterly and annual frequencies require more thorough and detailed testing requirements.    The inspection requirements vary according to the particular system(s) within a facility and the following paragraphs are summaries based upon the NFPA 25 standard recommendations.

Monthly Visual NFPA 25 Inspections:

Monthly visual inspections standardized by NFPA 25 provide immediate visible confirmation if the sprinkler system is in good, working condition.  The most important tasks to perform during a visual inspection are:  1. Inspection of all control valves only equipped with locks and/or supervised tamper switches. 2. Inspection of all gauges (wet, dry, pre-action, deluge systems) 3. Inspection of all alarm valves 4. Inspection of all dry pipe valves and their heated enclosures 5. Inspection of spare sprinkler heads and spare wrench 6. Inspection of fire department connections. 7. Inspection of the backflow device 8. Inspection of the booster pump and jockey pump The visual inspection acts as a baseline indicator for property owners or building engineers to estimate the functionality of their sprinkler system. NFPA 25 describes this inspection as a visual assessment to make sure that there are no visible problems with the system and it is reliable with no visible, physical damage.

Quarterly Tests and Inspections of:

Quarterly tests and inspections standardized by NFPA 25 include the monthly visual inspection(s) identified above as well as the important tasks identified below:

  1. Examination of the control valves to confirm they meet the following requirements:
  2. The valves must be in their original position, open or closed.
  3. The valves should be correctly secured, protected and monitored
  4. The valves should be accessible and reachable with no external leakage
  5. Alarm valves including the retard chambers and drains should be leak-free.
  6. The valves should show no physical damages
  7. The valves are suitably tagged and identified
  8. Pressure reducing valves are maintaining the downstream pressure as per design criteria.
  9. All wheel handles are in good condition.
  • Examination of all the gauges of the sprinkler and confirm they meet the following requirements:
  • Wet sprinkler systems: Confirm that all gauges are in excellent condition and the pressure from the water supply is also sufficient.
  • Dry Sprinkler systems: Confirm that all gauges are in excellent condition and that there is accurate pressure on the supply side of the dry pipe valve as well as on the quick-opening device, where applicable.
  • Mechanical water-flow alarm devices must be free from any physical damage and tested through the appropriate test connection with alarms actuating and flow being observed.
  • Hydraulic nameplates for calculated systems are securely attached to the riser and legible.
  • Fire department connection(s) are visible, accessible, not damaged with plugs, gaskets in place and in good condition with identifying sign(s) in place and lower check valves are not leaking with automatic ball-drips in place.
  • Post indicating valves need to be opened/closed accordingly.
  • Priming levels and quick opening devices on dry pipe systems are tested accordingly.
  • Main drain tests for systems downstream of backflow devices are performed recording both static and residual pressures.

Annual Test and Inspections:

Annual tests and inspections standardized by NFPA 25 include the monthly and quarterly regiment identified above as well as the important tasks identified below:

  1. Inspection of the hangers, piping and fittings throughout the building where accessible
  2. Confirm that the visible sprinkler heads are free of corrosion, free of physical damage, free of obstruction to the spray pattern and free of foreign materials including paint.
  3. Confirm that there is adequate sprinkler protection throughout the facility where access is granted.
  4. Operate each sprinkler control valve by closing and then restoring it to the fire ready position.
  5. Perform annual dry-pipe trip test for dry systems.
  6. Drain and blow out all low-point drumdrips on dry systems.
  7. Perform full-flow fire pump test(s) (if pumps exist)
  8. Confirm adequate heat is provided, as necessary.
  9. Perform an internal obstruction assessment – every 5th year.
  10. Lastly, examine the water flow in the water supply pipes and check if there is any change in its condition.

Conclusion

Fire sprinkler systems save lives and property!   The regular, timely inspections and testing of such systems as per NFPA 25 will provide building owners, tenants and firefighting personnel the utmost confidence that the sprinkler systems installed throughout the City of New York will function as designed. NFPA 25 is regularly being enforced by the FDNY and in order to avoid any violations, please contact Allstate Sprinkler Corporation to perform these mandated inspections and ensure that you are compliant with the governing laws of New York City.

About Allstate Sprinkler

Allstate Sprinkler Corp. is a licensed Master Fire sprinkler contractor with the New York City building department. Providing our customers with cost-effective, professional, and reliable service is our priority. We hope that you will enjoy our website and become a part of our family customer base.

Allstate Sprinkler Corp. was founded in 1972 by William and Gladys Goodrich who emigrated from Russia and Poland in search of a better life in America. William, ‘Bill’, learned and mastered the fire protection trade over 5 decades of tremendous learning and effort. Our family business has developed from a “mom and pop” company into a highly regarded fire protection contractor servicing the New York City Metropolitan area. Our commitment is to assist you with all of your commercial and residential fire protection needs. We have built a reputation on the sound principle of providing professional service and high-quality products to all our customers. Allstate Sprinkler Corp. is recognized as one of the most responsive, thorough, and reliable fire sprinkler contractors in the New York City metropolitan area. We are currently licensed and conduct business throughout the -5- boroughs of New York City, Westchester County, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Lower Hudson Valley, and Northern New Jersey. We have also successfully completed large construction projects in Baltimore, Maryland; Albany, New York, and Syracuse, New York.