Fire Sprinkler Accidents: 5 Causes and How to Fix Them

Upright Fire Sprinkler Head

Did you know an activated fire sprinkler can cause $2,000 in damage in a single minute if there’s no sprinkler tool to shut it off? Of course, if your building is on fire, that’s a risk well worth taking. But when your sprinkler system activates by accident — not so much. According to the National Fire Safety Protection Organization, firefighters responded more than 33,000 times for faulty sprinkler deactivation in 2014. Here are the top five reasons why:

1. The Sprinkler Head Overheated

If your fire sprinkler is installed in the wrong place, such as too near a skylight or too close to a stove. This can spell disaster when rising heat triggers activation for no good reason. If you must install fire sprinklers in questionable areas such as these, have them calibrated so higher thermal temperatures must be reached to cause activation.

2. The Water Pipes Froze

Of course you’re not going to let the heat lapse in your tenant-occupied building, but what happens during an extended power outage? And what about sprinkler pipes that run through basements or garages? If even a portion of your sprinkler system becomes exposed to freezing temperatures, accidental deactivation or damaging leaks may occur. 

3. The Components Became Damaged

It’s rare that fire sprinklers suffer defects in manufacturing, but shipping is a different story. Fragile parts get jostled or dropped, and there’s no way to tell until after they’ve been installed and begin to malfunction. 

Often, damage to sprinkler heads occur after installation, as well. When a technician tightens a sprinkler head too much, a ladder used in renovation clips a fire sprinkler, or a tenant accidently hits the fire sprinkler with a tennis racket — activation may occur. You can help prevent accidental damage by placing guards that resemble metal cages over your sprinkler heads. 

4. The Pipes Corroded

Corrosion on pipes may not cause your sprinkler to activate, but it will destroy your water pipes over time, causing costly leaks. The same solutions that’s so effective at dousing many fires is also highly corrosive to water pipes. Regular inspection and maintenance of your system and pipes may help prevent this scenario. 

5. The System Was Vandalized

Vandalism is a huge problem in some areas, and hardly noticeable in others. But, if you own a building in a high-crime area, expect vandalism. Be proactive by installing institutional sprinkler heads that are difficult for vandals to access.

A final solution involves keeping a sprinkler tool, such as a Shutgun, on-hand at all times. Shutguns should be stored with your fire extinguishers and easily accessible in the event of an accidental deactivation. This tool is simple to use and instantly shuts off the flow of water at each fire sprinkler head without damaging it further. 

Fires are destructive, but so are accidental fire sprinkler activations. A simple sprinkler tool such as a Shutgun can help protect you from one without interfering with the other. Consider buying a sprinkler tool today.  

About The Author

Jason Hugo is the owner of Quick Response Fire Supply. You can read more of his fire and safety & related blogs here.

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