UL continues to urge inspection and testing of dry sprinklers
Operational sample testing for building owners offered at no cost
NOTE: This information is from a previously printed press release, newsletter, or other dated document. It is presented here for archival purposes only.
NORTHBROOK, Ill., Dec. 21, 2001 - Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), the world's foremost product safety and certification organization, is again reminding property owners whose buildings are equipped with dry sprinklers that have "O-ring" water seals to have samples of those sprinklers inspected and tested immediately. Based on ongoing research, UL has found that these sprinklers may not operate in the event of a fire because they may require higher water pressures to operate than may be available in the building.
UL has tested more than 700 dry sprinkler samples from numerous manufacturers that were removed from more than 100 different installation locations. Approximately 50 percent of the samples tested have required inlet pressures greater than 7 psi to discharge water and approximately 22 percent have required an inlet pressure of greater than 40 psi to discharge water.
UL has also received reports of ice forming within the internal waterway of some dry sprinklers installed within freezers. Based upon the information available, UL engineers believe that ice inside the sprinkler assembly may contribute to undesired sprinkler discharge as well as inhibited sprinkler operation in a fire condition.
"Fire sprinklers have a long history of saving countless lives and substantially reducing property damage," said Jim Beyreis, UL's vice president and chief technical officer. "But the research we have gathered continues to indicate the need for building owners and managers whose buildings are equipped with dry sprinklers to immediately contact their sprinkler installation and maintenance companies to assess the system and determine corrective actions, including possible replacement."
Accounting for less than three percent of all installed fire sprinklers, dry sprinklers are generally found in locations with harsh environmental conditions, characterized by wide variations in temperature, humidity and corrosive conditions, such as attics, car ports, cold storage structures, parking garages, warehouses, and unheated portions of buildings.
Beyreis said that any dry sprinkler showing signs of corrosion, regardless of construction type or year of installation, should be replaced. He also recommends that dry sprinklers installed within freezers be inspected for evidence of the formation of ice within the waterway.
The results of UL's on-going investigation, and input from fire safety experts, led to a revision to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 25, Standard for Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. The revision, which became effective Aug. 9, 1999, requires the testing of dry sprinklers in the field after 10 years of service. However, recent data indicates that immediate testing of dry sprinklers equipped with "O-ring" water seals is advisable.
UL has disseminated several public notices reporting on the operating performance of certain sprinklers and has recommended specific precautionary actions. UL issued public notices regarding dry sprinklers on Jan. 22, 1999 and March 3, 2000. On July 27, 2001, UL announced several revisions to its sprinkler standards, including those applicable to dry sprinklers, specifying additional performance and construction requirements. Central Sprinkler Company has a voluntary replacement program in place for several dry sprinklers including those manufactured by Star Sprinkler Company. The voluntary replacement program represents two of the numerous dry sprinkler manufacturers tested. Additional information regarding this replacement program can be obtained by visiting: www.SprinklerReplacement.com.
Operational testing available
Building managers and property owners can verify whether the sprinklers in question utilize "O-ring" components by contacting the sprinkler manufacturer or UL. Building owners desiring to have installed sprinklers tested should have representative samples of these sprinkler models removed from the installation and sent to UL for testing. In keeping with UL's not-for-profit, public safety mission, UL will conduct these operational tests at no cost to the submitter during the course of UL's investigation, with the exception of expenses related to sprinkler removal, replacement, shipping and handling.
Before representative sprinkler samples can be submitted to UL for testing, it is important to consult directly with the sprinkler manufacturer or through their customer service representatives for information regarding removal and replacement of the test samples, as well as the applicable terms of the manufacturer's warranty. Once samples have been properly removed and packaged according to the instructions, sprinkler samples can be sent directly to Kerry Bell at Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), 333 Pfingsten Rd., Northbrook, Ill., 60062 (phone: +1-847-664-2629; e-mail: email@example.com).
UL is an independent, not-for-profit product testing and certification organization that evaluates products, materials and systems in the interest of public safety. As part of its safety mission, UL has investigated and Listed automatic sprinklers for fire protection for nearly a century.