Whether you are in health care or manufacturing, your fire sprinkler system is in place to help prevent the spread of a fire and save lives. While your employees rely on a facilities manager and fire protection service provider, such as Brenneco Fire Protection, to be sure your system is in good working order, fire safety in the workplace involves all staff members. Here are some facts and tips you can use to educate your staff on fire safety and sprinkler systems.
How Fire Sprinkler Systems Work
Here are two True or False statements you can share with your staff to teach them more about sprinkler systems:
If one head goes off, all of the heads will go off.
Fire protection systems are designed to fight single fires in single locations, not multiple fires in multiple locations. Each sprinkler head is individually activated by conditions (heat) from the fire. Those movie scenes showing entire office buildings being drenched are purely fiction. (This statement is False!)
Excessive smoke from incense, candles or cigarettes will cause a sprinkler system to activate.
We wouldn’t condone burning materials in your workplace, but smoke will not activate your fire sprinkler system. Excessive heat is what makes a sprinkler head release a spray of water. The color of the glass bulb indicates the temperature required to activate the system. A common range is 155-286 degrees. (This statement is False!)
6 Do’s And Don’ts
Here are 6 do’s and don’ts you can teach your staff about working near fire sprinkler systems:
Do Make Sure Sprinkler Heads Are Visible and Accessible.
When employees are stacking boxes in spare rooms, hanging pictures or simply moving furniture, it can be easy to cover up a sprinkler head, especially if it is mounted to a wall. Hospital room curtains or privacy screens that are moved often are common offenders. When you are moving things around the workplace, be sure sprinkler heads can still do their job. If you can’t see them, they probably aren’t going to put out a fire in the area they are supposed to cover.
Do Be Aware of Repair Issues.
Many facilities, including hospitals, apartment buildings and offices, with plenty of heated rooms have wet systems. These systems have water in them at all times. If your employees see signs of rust or a leaking pipe, ask them to report the problem so it can be fixed.
Don’t Treat Your Sprinkler System Like Hooks and Rods.
Sprinkler heads can often be hung in places where someone might want to hang a coat, tie a party streamer or string some Christmas lights. (Wedding parties are famous for hanging gowns and dresses on sprinkler heads.) Ask staff to resist the urge to do so. If the glass bulb is broken, water will discharge, putting a real damper on your party and your workplace. We see the same thing on sprinkler system piping; excess stress on pipes can damage the connections, contribute to leaks and degrade the effectiveness of your system.
Do Be Aware.
It can be easy to accidentally bump into a sprinkler head, so encourage your coworkers to look around. Ask them to become familiar with where the heads are so that if they are hoisting a ladder, hanging a picture or installing a heat-producing piece of equipment, they won’t interfere with a sprinkler head.
Don’t Put Heat Sources Near Heads.
High temperatures activate sprinkler heads, so before your employees install a new piece of equipment such as an oven that emits a lot of heat, be sure they are paying attention to where their sprinkler heads are located. A less common issue has arisen with the arrival of bed bugs. Bed bug extermination often involves the use of excessive heat. We have been called on to either remove heads or deactivate systems in facilities like apartment buildings while the bugs are exterminated. Again, heat and sprinklers heads are a bad combination.
Don’t Be Helpless.
If your system does accidentally discharge, your employees need to know where and how to shut off the system. All systems should have a clearly marked control valve. This valve us usually located in a mechanical room or may be accessible outside. Be sure employees know where the valve is.
Contact me, Eric Flora, at 1-866-967-0017 to find out how Brenneco can help you keep your staff fire safe.