Fire Sprinkler System Shutdown Practices

March 4, 2021

Loss Control

The recent arctic temperatures in the South have caused many fire sprinkler system pipe failures due to freezing. With the initial emergency response completed and recovery under way the repairs to the system need to be considered. With thousands of fire sprinkler system repairs pending it is likely your system may be out of service for several days or even weeks.

If this is your situation, consider these items:

  • If the system cannot be repaired quickly minimize the impacted area by capping off the damaged line until the system can be fully repaired. Capping the damaged area will allow for some coverage, however the full system should be repaired and restored as soon as possible.
  • Notifications should be provided to:
    • The local fire department with and expected return to service date.
    • The fire alarm company. If the current fire notifications are not directly to the fire department, consider having a temporary direct notification to the fire department established to reduce any response time.
    • Customers or other authorities such as the DOD if the contracts have requirements for sprinkler protection a notification.
    • All employees.
    • IAT (cynthia.scarborough@iatinsurance.com) – this is not a substitute for filing a claim.

Establish a fire watch that will visually check the facility on a regular basis, especially any areas not covered by smoke or fire detection.

Review with employee fire prevention and response practices including:

  • No Smoking policy.
  • Fire extinguisher location and use.
  • Elimination or reduction of any hazardous processes such as welding, paint operations, or wood working operations until the system is fully restored.
  • Removal or restriction of any temporary heating or personal space heaters. Any temporary heaters used to prevent pipe freezing should be carefully evaluated for the fire risk.

In addition, the Sprinkler Contractor making the repairs should:

  • Be properly licensed for the state to make repairs to fire sprinkler systems.
  • Fully insured and provide adequate proof of insurance.
  • Provide a signed contract or bill of service with no unfavorable hold harmless statement in favor of the contractor.
  • Note that during catastrophic event may out of state contactors may relocate to your area to offer services. None resident contractors should be carefully evaluated.
  • Retain all damaged/failed parts for potential subrogation purposes.