Spare Sprinkler Heads

Q: How many spare sprinkler heads are we required to keep on hand in our hospital? Some people have told us we need 6 of each kind of head we have, and some people have said we only need 6 total heads regardless how many types of heads. What do you say?

A: When it came to spare sprinkler heads, NFPA 13-1999 was misleading and it was often misinterpreted. At one time, accreditation organizations required 6 spare heads of each type, but that was not the intent of the technical committee. The 2010 edition of NFPA 13 has cleared this up. Section 6.2.9.1 of NFPA 13-2010 says a supply of at least six spare sprinklers must be maintained on the premises, but to clarify, Annex section A.6.2.9.1 says a minimum of two sprinklers of each type and temperature rating should be provided. Also, section 6.2.9.4 does say a supply of dry heads is not required. However, section 6.2.9.5 requires an increase in spare heads if the facility has more than the following thresholds installed:

  • Under 300:         No fewer than 6 spare heads
  • 300 to 1000:        No fewer than 12 spare heads
  • Over 1000:         No fewer than 24 spare heads

Section 6.2.9.6 says there must be a sprinkler wrench for each type of head stored with the spare sprinkler heads, although a single sprinkler wrench could be appropriate for use on multiple sprinklers. Section 6.2.9.7.1 does require a list of all the sprinklers be included in the spare sprinkler cabinet. This list includes the following:

  • Sprinkler identification number (SIN) or the manufacturer, model orifice (size), deflector type, thermal sensitivity, and pressure rating
  • General description of each sprinkler type, such as:
    • Upright
    • Pendent
    • QR
    • SR
    • Sidewall
  • Temperature rating in °F
  • Quantity of each type of sprinklers maintained in spare cabinet
  • Issue or revision date of the spare sprinkler list.

Find your spare sprinkler cabinet and make sure you meet all of the above requirements.