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Preventing Fire Sprinkler System Freeze-Ups in Winter

The cold temperatures are upon us. Fire prevention bureaus and building departments can save their communities money in repairs and water damage by reminding local residents and businesses to simply check to be sure their fire sprinkler systems are protected for the colder weather temperatures, especially below freezing.

The Wisconsin Chapter of the National Fire Sprinkler Association recommends an effective freeze-up prevention program that includes the following elements:

  • Conduct a physical inspection of the facility, looking for freeze-up hazards.
  • Inspection, and maintenance of the fire sprinkler system includes: identifying if the system contains water that is to be drained before the onset of cold weather. Determine if there are unheated areas in the building containing sprinkler system piping.
  • Any freeze prevention program should include annual surveys of buildings and equipment to find insulation and heat tracing deficiencies and to check for unwanted outside air; look for vents and opening in windows, walls, roofs or floors.
  • Low point drains (drum drips) on dry-pipe sprinkler systems should be emptied to remove water that may be present from condensation or accidental trips.
  • All buildings should provide adequate heating throughout areas susceptible to freezing, such as in stairwells, above dropped ceilings, and attic spaces.
  • Monitor boilers and other facility heat supply sources, using personnel and/or supervisory devices.

Overall, building owners with fire sprinkler systems should check them to make sure that dry pipe systems are dry and wet pipe systems are filled and insulated as they were designed. Please have them refer to NFPA 25 standard for inspection, testing and maintenance.

Any questions that the building owner has about ensuring their system is protected should consult with a qualified fire sprinkler contractor, fire prevention bureaus and building departments.

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