5 Ways to Avoid Sprinkler Accidents in Cold Weather

Don’t let Winter Temps Be The Cause of Accidental Sprinkler Activation.

As the temperatures plummet, the risk of accidental fire sprinkler discharge increases.  Regular maintenance and testing is critical to ensure that the automatic fire sprinkler system is functioning properly.  However; the cool temperatures bring with it the additional risk of frozen pipes and damaged sprinkler heads.  Every year, the news is filled with stories about pipes bursting, sprinkler heads rupturing and the extensive, costly, water damage that results.

Don’t be the next news story!  This winter put a prevention plan in place to keep your building protected from accidental fire sprinkler activation.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Sprinkler Accidents

1) Check for drafts which could let in cold air, and then seal them.  Open windows, cracks in foundation, missing insulation, and lack of weather stripping can make the room cooler and increase the risk of frozen fire sprinklers or pipes.

2) Close any cold weather valves.

3) Keep the room temperature above 40 degree Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius)

4) Keep secondary heating units away from the sprinkler heads to prevent accidental discharge from overheating.

5) In the case of accidental discharge, keep a Shutgun sprinkler shut off tool nearby for fast and easy shut off.

Most winter freeze ups tend to occur in the nooks and crannies that may miss a quick visual scan. Attics, basements, and wall and floor joists are often the more vulnerable areas. The key to avoiding the extensive damage from accidental fire sprinkler discharge is having a strategic prevention strategy.

Cold weather doesn’t have to be the arch nemesis for automatic fire sprinklers if the right steps are taken.

For more information visit: http://www.ecclesiastical.ca/2012/avoiding-freeze-ups-and-malfunctions-of-automatic-fire-sprinkler-systems/

Institutional Shutgun Is Safe Alternative For Correctional, Mental Health Facilities

Accidents involving fire sprinkler heads can be a costly reality facing institutional and correctional facilities today.

Detention and correctional facilities pose unique fire protection design and installation challenges. These types of buildings includes any facility where people are restrained by locks they do not control such as prisons, some mental health facilities and juvenile detention facilities. The fire protection design for these buildings is particularly difficult with concerns including the potential for vandalism to the fire protection equipment and specifically the automatic sprinkler systems themselves.

The “institutional” sprinkler heads used by these types of facilities have been designed to be “tamper resistant” – making them more suitable than other types of sprinkler heads for installation in environments where vandalism is a concern. They are also designed to reduce the likelihood of attaching heavy loads to the device prior to failure; an important feature in correctional or mental health facilities where there is the possibility exists for self inflicted injuries.

The team at Shutgun has developed a new Institutional Shutgun specifically engineered with these types of unique characteristics in mind – it gives facility managers peace of mind of having the proper sprinkler system in place for fire protection and patients’ safety, while shutting down any extensive water damage due to accidental activation.

Secondly, Because many correctional facility employees are not familiar with the workings of sprinklers and how they operate, a high level of confusion exists when vandalism occurs and the sprinkler head activates. Shutgun has made it simple with their trademark, one handed squeeze.

Shutgun will be displaying their prototype of their Institutional Shutgun at the 146th Congress of Correction trade show in Boston, MA from August 7th and 9th at booth #1619 !

sources: http://www.vikingcorp.com/sites/default/files/documents/Detention%20and%20Correctional%20Facilities.pdf

The Holidays Are Coming: Time to Ramp up Hotel Fire Safety

The holiday season brings in new guests and added revenue. There is no better time to impress new guests with your hotel amenities. But with crammed schedules and sold out rooms, it’s easy to become preoccupied with perfecting the guest experience and less time spent preparing your staff for emergencies.

Fires occur when you least expect them. Any member of your staff who doesn’t know what to do in the case of a fire is a liability. They not only put themselves at risk, but they also become a hazard for guests and other staff.

During the holiday season, these risks increase with added distractions, increased guests and additional personnel.

Hotel Managers would be prudent to review drills and emergency procedures ahead of the Christmas rush with both new and seasoned employees. Make sure all personnel are comfortable with fire safety protocols.

Proper training is much more than knowing the location of exits; it includes understanding how to keep guests safe and knowing how to handle fire protection equipment.

Are your Staff Fire Safety Savvy?

Do they know:

1)   The location of all fire extinguishers and how to operate them?

2)   Where and how to direct guests out of the hotel – While keeping them calm?

3)   The location and operation of a fire sprinkler shut off device in the case of accidental fire sprinkler activation?

4)   How to handle guests that have mobility concerns and/or are distressed in an emergency?

5)   Techniques to assist and communicate with non-English speaking guests

6)   How to keep your guests fire safe when they are unable to leave the building?

Fire prevention and safety needs to be a collaborative effort. Ensuring that your staff is familiar with these and other safety procedures can help minimize the risks.

CHECKLIST – for engineers, safety managers and risk managers.

Property owners and managers can reduce the possibility of extensive losses through a water damage mitigation program. The program involves a detailed checklist specific to your facility. This analysis gives risk managers, safety managers, building engineers and other professionals more control over potentially paralyzing situations.


• Are small leaks promptly repaired?

 • Is the cause of any leak analyzed to determine if it was an isolated occurrence,

or a symptom of a system-wide problem?

 • Are housekeeping personnel instructed to immediately notify maintenance when

any type of dripping, leakage or clogged drains is found?

 • Is there close monitoring of the work of outside contractors and vendors that may

affect piping systems (sprinklers, water, etc.)?

 • Are there any liquid storage tanks or vessels (hot water, condensate, boilers, fuel

oil, etc.) inside the building, mechanical penthouse, or on the roof?

 • Are pipe diagrams or prints up to date, and showing the location of valves for all

liquid carrying systems?

 • Are shut off valves “exercised” (closed and reopened, lubricated as needed)

at least annually to verify they can be quickly closed during an emergency?

 • Is someone available on all shifts trained to respond immediately to any leak?

 • Is someone immediately available at all times with authorization

(24 hours x 7 days) to call and bring in the professional clean up

and restoration companies?

 • Do you have a proper sprinkler shut off tool in place in case of accidental sprinkler discharge?


As part of pre-loss discussions with your insurance carrier, a thorough and specific checklist assessment for your facility should be developed for major areas of concern.


 For more information: www.ZURICH.com and www.shutgun.ca


A Case for Water Protection Kits and Staff Sprinkler Training

Recently, Shutgun chatted with Thomas Riegelman, VP of Engineering and Facilities Management for White Lodging properties about his experience in placing the Shutgun Water Protection Kit into over 170 of his properties.

Like any property owner in the hotel or lodging industry, Thomas has had his run-ins with sprinkler mishaps, most often due to brides and grooms using it as a garment hanger.

But what struck us was the emphasis that Thomas put on training his staff in cases of sprinkler emergencies.  The decision to purchase the water protection kit was one of pure necessity.

All of White Lodging Shutgun sprinkler shut off tools are placed next to the main fire panel box, so if a sprinkler is set off, the closest staff member can view the panel, grab the water protection gear and go investigate. They also ensure that each staff member is trained in how to use the Shutgun tool as well as procedures to follow.

After all, shouldn’t it be standard as part of facility management training for all front desk and night shift staff?

For many smaller properties, staffing during off hours is limited, sometimes just one person.  Having not only the proper tools, but the proper protection gear would allow them to feel more confident in investigating these types of sprinkler related incidences.  

The Shutgun Team