Spare Sprinkler Heads

Q: How many spare sprinkler heads are we supposed to have in stock at our facility? We had an inspection recently, and the fire marshal said we did not have enough spare sprinklers, but he did not say how many we are supposed to have, or where we can find that information.

A: Section of the Life Safety Code (2000 edition) requires you to be in compliance with NFPA 13 Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, 1999 edition, when the occupancy chapter requires fire protection sprinklers. Section 3-2.9 of NFPA 13 discusses the need and quantities for a supply of spare sprinkler heads. A minimum of 6 spare sprinklers is required for each type of sprinkler head that you have installed in the facility, when the total quantity of each type is less than 300. If you have between 300 and 1,000 sprinklers installed of the same type, then you must have at least 12 spare sprinklers in supply. And if you have over 1,000 sprinklers of the same type installed in your facility, then you must have a minimum of 24 spare sprinklers of that particular type. As you can see, different spare heads are required depending on their type, temperature rating and quantity installed. And, with each type of spare head that you have in supply, a special wrench used in the removal and installation of sprinklers must also be provided and kept in the cabinet. For an older facility that had their fire protection sprinklers installed in stages, you can imagine that there may be many different types, styles and temperature ratings of sprinkler heads installed. A supply of this magnitude often requires a full-size cabinet to store everything. The NFPA 13 standard does not say where you need to store these spare sprinklers and wrenches, but contractors often install a spare sprinkler box in the fire pump room. The only requirement for storage is the room cannot exceed 100°F.