Fire Control System

February 7, 2014

We talked in our previous post about the fire sprinklers and what not to do with them.  Now it’s time to talk about the fire control panel and its role in monitoring the sprinklers.

IMG_20140131_125059_733In the layout of your fire sprinkler system are a number of valves with monitoring switches that send signals to the panel for detection.  The control panel is typically monitored at an alarm company which will notify the fire department of any detected water flow or system problems and also notify the manager or management company when an alarm is detected, not just a fire alarm.

Its imperative that your fire control system be serviced routinely to determine if the system is operating correctly. These same companies, typically commercial fire protection companies, will offer PM service contracts and lay out what is covered in the service contract.  Some companies will offer flow testing annually to make sure there is adequate water flow and provide written reports to your local municipality.

If there are trouble codes or problems with your fire control panel they should be addressed immediately so there is no interruption of service to your fire control system. Leaks within the system should also be repairs quickly to prevent further damage to individual units or the property itself.

A problem that developed many years ago at one of our area condominiums was a leak that was noticed in a flower bed. The landscape company was notified thinking it was simply a leaking sprinkler head.  When the landscape company dug around and investigated it turned out to be a leak in a main line servicing the fire sprinkler system.  This rather innocuous leak turned out to be a major problem requiring 48 hours of continuous work until the leak was repaired (it was the result of a large, decorative palm tree being planted too close to the line-as the tree and its root ball grew it ruptured the line).  The lesson to be learned is address all leaks as soon as they’re noticed and be mindful of your decorative landscape.

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Fire Sprinklers

February 6, 2014

In Florida, all high rise condominiums, anything over three stories really, has a fire sprinkler system throughout each unit and some common areas.  The common area sprinklers are typically found in elevator shafts, electrical room,  pump rooms and lobby areas.  The reason condominiums have sprinklers is obviously to put out fires.  Now that we’ve stated the obvious, let’s go over what you should do and not do with the sprinklers in your unit.

If you look closely at a fire sprinkler you will see a tiny colored glass bulb inside.  The glass is colored based upon the colorsofsprinklerheads2temperature at which the bulb will melt.  The bulbs will melt at a fixed temperature as indicated in the picture.  That glass bulb is all that separates the thousands of gallons of water available in the sprinkler systems and the prized possessions in your condominium.

Having said that, there are some things that you SHOULD NOT do with the sprinkler heads in your condominium.

1) Do not paint the sprinkler head.  As tempted as you are to blend your sprinkler head into your tray ceiling mural, DO NOT paint the sprinkler head.

2) Do not hang anything from the sprinkler head. Remember, fire sprinkler systems are installed by the builder and typically are performed by the company that provided the cheapest quote. Hanging anything from a sprinkler could break the glass bulb, pull the sprinkler away from its fitting (causing flooding) or develop a slow leak that could damage the ceiling.

3) DO NOT prohibit access to your unit by the maintenance company contracted to perform routine service or preventative maintenance.  This applies to your renters and tenants as well.

The best thing to do is pretend the sprinklers are not even there. If you do not damage or harass the sprinkler heads, chances are you’ll never have a problem and they’ll perform exactly as they should.  Hopefully that time will never happen to you.