> Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the two main areas that people have questions about in the fire protection system industry. There are general business type questions and then there are sprinkler specific questions. If you need additional information or have an additional question you would like answered, please CONTACT US today!

 

> General Questions & Answers
Q: Which credit cards do you accept?
A: Regretfully, Bay Fire does not accept credit card payments at this time.

Q: Can I cancel my Inspection Service?
A: Yes you can, as long as you cancel in writing 30 days prior to your scheduled inspection.

Q: What are the benefits of performing sprinkler system inspections?
A: You have invested in a sprinkler system for your business. Regular maintenance and inspections assure the performance of your sprinkler system. By maintaining your fire protection system, you can keep minor repairs from becoming a major expense, as well as a big headache.

Q: Do I have to do system inspections?
A: The National Fire Protection Journal places "the responsibility for maintenance and inspection of the building's fire protection system on the owner."*Section 1-4.2. Local fire authorities which have adopted the NFPA standards, as well as Insurance carriers require and enforce the performance of fire sprinkler system inspections.

Q: What happens during a sprinkler system inspection?
A: All Critical Measures are included during sprinkler system inspections performed by Bay Fire. Click here to see those Critical Measures!

Q: How long does it take to perform a sprinkler system inspection?
A: The average time required to perform a sprinkler system inspection is approximately 4 hours. However, larger systems can require 8 hours or longer.

Q: Does Bay Fire offer corporate pricing?
A: Yes. For companies with five or more facilities to be inspected, Bay Fire offers Corporate Pricing. Contact Tiffany Rouleau or Gerald Van Wormer for pricing information!

Q: How often should a sprinkler system be inspected?
A: Depending on the type of sprinkler system, insurance company requirements, and your company requirements, the frequency of your inspections will vary. The standard is once a year for Wet Systems and twice each year for Dry Systems. However, some companies are required to perform inspections up to four times per year.

Q: What qualifications does Bay Fire Protection have?
A: Norman Van Wormer Sr. founded Bay Fire Protection, Inc. in 1963. Our staff includes a retired Fire Marshal, Nicet Certified Engineers, and State Certified Fire Inspectors. Bay Fire holds licensing for the State of Michigan and Ohio. With over 47 years in the industry, Bay Fire can provide you with the most up-to-date services and information regarding regulation changes, equipment recalls, and fire code requirements.

Q: What other sources of information are available?
A: You can get answers to many of your question through your local Fire Marshall. Other sources of information are The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), (NFSA).. see our Industry Links page.

 

> Sprinkler Systems Questions & Answers
Q: Which types of piping are used?
A: The use of various weights of piping is now standard within our industry. Initially the weight of piping changed for economic reasons, both material and labor savings.

1. Schedule 40 is threadable and grooved or used with slip type connectors. It is more costly and heavier. NFPA #13 allows it to be bent and it is to be used where corrosive atmospheres are prevalent.

2. Schedule 10, 5 and threadable light wall piping (XL) are the new comers and offer appreciable cost savings on the materials side and are easier to handle. NFPA #13 allows the use of all these types of piping, as long as they are used in compliance with the manufacturers recommendations. The mixing of both schedule 40 and thinwall is a standard normally seen in thinwall mains and schedule 40 branchlines. The concern might be that the hydraulics represent and confirm what types of piping are actually installed.

NFPA #13 Section 2-3

Q: How do we know if a valve is open or closed?
A: All valves used in fire protection systems as main control valves are self indicating. This is done in various ways depending on the type of valve. In an OS&Y valve the stem of the valve sticks out beyond the wheel indicating an open valve. In the case of butterfly, grooved valve or wafer type valve the body itself has an indicator with wording to denote whether the valve is open or closed. The only exception to this rule is for underground valves which have listed post or wall indicators, road way valves or valves with remote supervision.

NFPA #13 Section 2-7

Q: Do all valves need to be supervised or will we accept chains?
A: All control valves controlling the water supplies to a fire protection system must be sealed, locked, or monitored by a tamper switch linked with supervision. Valves provided with chains and locks should be individually locked, not locked together.

NFPA #13 Section 2-7.2.3
NFPA #26 Section 2-6

Q: When one opens a flow alarm (inspection test) how long will it take for the alarm to ring?
A: The time frame for a flow alarm to ring on a wet system is specified in section 8-2.4. The time frame is that an auditable alarms should be heard within 5 minutes of opening the inspectors test.

Q: How many flow alarms do you need in a large facility?
A: The number of flow alarms required is set by the number of systems required. If the sprinklers occur on one floor then only the per system alarm is required by NFPA #13. Where sprinklers occur on multiple floors then each floor should have an alarm to notify the actuation of the system on that floor.

Q: How many inspectors tests are required in a facility, and where are they to be located?
A: Every alarm should have some mechanism for testing. I do not know of any mechanism except and inspectors test which tests the flow of water and resulting alarm. The NFPA standards do not limit the position of the inspectors test connection.

Q: How many feet does a sprinkler head cover?
A: The allotted area each sprinkler can cover is determined by many factors.
- The occupancy of hazard.
- The orifice size and water supply.
- The size of the room, small room rule.
- The architectural and mechanical features of the area.

Table 4-2.2 indicates the maximum sprinkler areas for various sprinkler constructions.

NFPA Section 4-2 and 4-4 cover this aspect of sprinklers and their spacing.

Q: Why check the age of the sprinklers?
A: The age of sprinklers is required due to the standards under which they have been tested and approved. The U.L. standards are aimed at 50 years longevity. Each sprinkler is to have the type, manufacturer, temperature rating, and year of manufacture stamped on the sprinkler. This is done in various ways by each manufacturer, color coded frames and glass bulbs, label on the deflectors, and markings stamped in the frames during manufacturing.

Q: Explain the difference between all sprinkler heads?
A: We will bring with us samples of the various types of sprinklers to be discussed.

Sections 2-2.7.1 thru 2-2.7.3 describes in detail the number and type of sprinklers to be stocked per system.

Q: Can we test a dry system?
A: When a dry system is tripped tested in accordance with NFPA #13 and NFPA #25 water in both types of tests, full flow, and partial flow, is allowed to enter the system beyond the heated area of the dry valve. If the Fire Marshal's complete this type of testing they assume the liability of freeze damage should it occur. This is always the possibility due to faulty installation methods of some firms.

Q: How often must a dry system be inspected?
A: NFPA #13A and 25 call for partial flow tests annually and full flow tests every three years. Since they also caution that some types of dry valves do not function and trip correctly on partial flow tests it is recommended and the normal practice to full flow test dry system annually. Since the liability of full flow tests is so great only qualified persons should trip test dry systems. Except an inspection report filled out completely by a qualified and reputable person or company, I know of no way to identify if a valves has been tripped and tested. The only way to trip a dry valve is to release the air pressure in the system. If this has been inadvertently done the cheapest solution in the long run is to call the contractor who installed or maintains the system to reset and drain the system. This policy may cost several hundred dollars but in the long run will eliminate the more costly freeze up and system break down.

Q: How do we know if a dry valve has been inspected properly?
A: An antifreeze loop is a mechanical arrangement using a check valve to allow an antifreeze solution to be trapped in a section of piping which is subject to freezing. This term dual action I believe is referring to double interlocked pre-action type systems. This is an special valve which utilized two tripping mechanisms to activate the entry of water into the system. The tripping mechanisms are normally the release of air pressure in the system by the tripping of a sprinkler. The second actuation is usually electrically activated by smoke detection or linear heat detection wire. Both activation systems must see heat and release to allow the water to flow.

Q: How do we know if a fire pump is approved?
A: Each approved fire pump is labeled with a tag permanently affixed to the pump driver indicating the model and approving bodies.

Q: How doe we know if a sprinkler contractor is doing and adequate inspection (i.e. dry system)?
A: At the time of each test of a dry system a timed flow of water is discharged. Comparison of these tests can determine if he is in fact testing the system. Other than this, there is no way of knowing that I am aware of.

Q: What is an adequate water supply and how do we know?
A: An adequate water supply should be one where the system designed perimeters are met and a safety margin of 5% is left for deterioration of the water supply in the future.

Q: Why doesn't the fire marshal division accept thin wall piping?
A: I have no idea why thin wall piping is not allowed.

Q: Is a flow alarm connected to the fire alarm system?
A: Flow alarm's are sometimes connected directly to the building alarm system. This is a jurisdictional item and is totally dependent on what makes sense.

Q: Does a flow switch need to be supervised?
A: Since specific testing of a flow switch and the fact that it is to be supplied though an emergency circuit I have never seen one supervised.

 

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