Sprinklers in Patient Room Lockers

Q: Are sprinklers required in patient room lockers for existing facilities?

A: No… Section 8.1.1 (7) of NFPA 13-2010 says furniture not intended for occupancy is not required to be sprinklered.

Strange Observations – Part 35

Continuing in a series of strange things that I have seen while consulting at hospitals…

This is pretty easy to spot… A sprinkler hanger used to support copper medical gas pipe.

Not permitted….

Strange Observations – Part 31

Continuing in a series of strange things that I have seen while consulting at hospitals…

This one is confusing…

You have a standard backflow preventer in the water supply line for the very small sprinkler system.

Those valves for the backflow preventer would need to have tamper switches…. right?

Strange Observations – Part 30

Continuing in a series of strange things that I have seen while consulting at hospitals…

This picture is a cousin to last week’s picture…. you have a ball valve in the sprinkler supply line and there are no tamper switches.

Also, the clean linen on the left appears to be too close to the sprinkler deflector… a minimum of 18-inches clearance must be maintained.

Strange Observations – Part 29

Continuing in a series of strange things that I have seen while consulting at hospitals…

Ugh. How did this ever get installed?

All sprinkler control valves are required to have tamper switches.

I suspect this is a single sprinkler head taken off of the domestic water line for a remote space. But even still, you have to have sprinkler control valves that have tamper switches.

Strange Observations – Part 23

Continuing in a series of strange things I have seen while consulting at hospitals…


This may be a little difficult to see, but we have a picture of a domestic water pipe suspended from a sprinkler pipe. Sprinkler pipe cannot be used to suspend anything else.

Like I said last week… Keep an eye on those contractors. They will do something silly if you don’t keep an eye on them.

Strange Observations – Part 22

Continuing in a series of strange things I have seen while consulting at hospitals…

I used to work in the construction trades. I like to think that workers in the construction trades know better than to do something silly like this.
The sprinkler pipe is suspended from the frame-work for the overhead door. All sprinkler pipe has to be suspended from the building structure.

Oh well…. I seem to remember I didn’t know how to install a fire damper properly for a long time.

Keep an eye on those construction people… they don’t always know what the code and standards require.

Sprinklers Under Canopies

Q: Does the Life Safety code require a sprinkler under a 4′ canopy? I find this hard to believe so I would like to know if you have a reference for this.

A: The LSC does not say how to install sprinklers, it just says that you do or you don’t need to install them. If you are required to install sprinklers (new construction, renovation, or construction type) then you must follow NFPA 13 (2010) edition on how to install them.

Section of NFPA 13 says sprinklers must be installed under exterior roofs or canopies exceeding 4 feet in width. An exception to this requirement is if canopy or roof is of noncombustible or limited combustible construction. Also, sprinklers must be installed under roofs or canopies over areas where combustibles are stored and handled. The annex portion of this standard says vehicles that are temporary parked are not considered to be in storage. And the Annex says limited combustibles such as newspaper vending machines do not constitute storage of combustibles.

So, if your canopy is 4 feet in width or less, then you are not required to install sprinklers, according to NFPA 13. Also, you need to install sprinklers where the local or state authorities tell you do so. I suggest you check with them to determine if your arrangement requires sprinklers.

Sprinkler System Pressure Gauges

Q: My question has to do with the pressure gauges for our fire sprinkler system. We just had some out of date pressure gauges replaced by a new sprinkler contractor. They removed the 3 1/2 inch gauges and replaced them with 2 inch gauges. Upon further inspection I noticed that the gauges had no UL or FM listing. They have on the back a CRN aka Canadian Registration Number. Can this type of gauge be used?

A: The Canadian Registration Number (CRN) is a number issued by each province or territory of Canada for the design of a boiler, pressure vessel or fitting. The CRN identifies the design has been accepted and registered for use in that province or territory. You are in Florida, so there is no requirement in the USA for a CRN. According to NFPA 13-2010, the standard on the installation of sprinkler systems, section says the pressure gauges must be listed and must have a maximum limit not less than twice the normal system working pressure at the point where installed. It is apparent that the Canadian Registration Number is not the same as a listing from an independent testing laboratory, so I would say the gauges that were installed at your facility would not be acceptable.

Sprinklers in Construction Areas

Q: My question is about removing ceiling tiles in a construction area, and not having adequate fire protection in a 6′ to 8′ high ceiling plenum. The suggestion had been made to turn the sprinkler heads up, but the water spray still will not reach 12 inches below the deck since the deck is very high. What would be considered an adequate solution besides erecting fire rated walls surrounding a construction area? Also, where in NFPA 13 does it mention the requirement for 12 inches below deck, and is there is a requirement to turn the existing sprinkler heads up?

A: NFPA 13-2010, section says the distance between the sprinkler deflector and the ceiling above must be based on the type of sprinkler and the type of construction. Section of the same standard says for standard pendant and upright type sprinklers, the minimum distance is 1 inch and the maximum distance is 12 inches between the sprinkler deflector and the ceiling. In your case, when the suspended grid and acoustical tile ceiling is removed for construction, the deck above now becomes the ceiling. If you have 6 feet of interstitial space above the suspended ceiling, that is more than 12 inches so the piping needs to extend upwards so the sprinkler deflector are within 12 inches of the deck. Make sure you install upright sprinklers… you cannot use pendant sprinklers in an upright position. There are exceptions and added requirements for ductwork, piping and ceiling-mounted obstructions.

The requirement to provide sprinkler fire-protection during a construction project comes from the NFPA 241-2009 standard on demolition and construction, required by of the 2012 Life Safety Code. If your construction project is not protected with sprinklers during the construction phase, then you must construct 1-hour fire-rated barriers between the construction project and the occupied areas of the facility. A fire-rated barrier that is 1-hour is typically steel studs with one layer of 5/8 gypsum board on each side with all seams taped and covered with joint compound, and any openings would have to be 45-minute fire-rated door assemblies with closer and positive latching hardware. If the construction area is protected with sprinklers, then the barrier is not required to be 1-hour fire-rated, but construction tarps and flame-retardant plastic sheeting would not be permitted. Actual non-rated walls would be required.

Also, if an area of the healthcare facility is already protected with sprinklers, and the area is undergoing construction/remodeling that requires the removal of the suspended grid and acoustical tile ceiling, then a fire watch is required to be enacted until such time the sprinklers are no longer impaired. A fire watch is now based on the CMS Final Rule published on May 4, 2016. A fire watch must be performed by a trained individual who has no other duties to continuously patrol the impaired area looking for unsafe fire conditions, and must have the ability to immediately contact the fire department if they spot a fire. Continuous means this person is in the impaired area and does not leave to use the restroom, take a break or for any other reason. This is based on NFPA 25-2011, section A.15.2(4)(b). This goes on for 24-hours a day until the sprinklers are back in service. Even if you used minimum-wage individuals that would cost the hospital $3,500 to $4,000 per week, because you would need 5 individuals. This money could be better used to either turn sprinklers up to within 12 inches of the deck, or install sprinklers at the beginning of the project.