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 22.214.171.124 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.126.96.36.199 says a minimum of two sprinklers of each type and temperature rating should be provided. Also, section 188.8.131.52 does say a supply of dry heads is not required. However, section 184.108.40.206 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 220.127.116.11 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 18.104.22.168.1 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:
- 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.