Important Fire Sprinkler Requirements For Commercial Buildings

Employees, customers, and visitors count on business owners to do their due diligence when it comes to safety. To prevent serious injuries, sprinkler systems can go a long way to protecting everyone under your proverbial umbrella. These tools can also save expensive equipment, preserve critical documents, and keep merchandise intact. Yet it’s important to consider the potential ramifications of these systems — particularly if they’re accidentally tripped. Learn more about the codes, and how a sprinkler stopper can be a wise investment for your business.

NFPA 13

This is the official national standard for the installation of sprinkler systems, and the most widely used guidelines. You’ll still need to check with local regulators to learn more about specific codes in your area, but this is a good place to start.

Here are a few highlights from NFPA 13:

  • Any building higher than 55 feet will need to install an automatic sprinkler system.
  • Fire pumps are recommended to improve the pressure of the sprinkler system (if working with a non-pressurized water tank or an insufficient municipal system).
  • Water supply control valves need to be easily accessible.

Fire Area

A fire area is defined as a floor area that is bound by fire barriers. You can generally think of this as the total area of the space. New commercial buildings with a fire area of more than 5,000 square feet are required to have automatic sprinkler systems. This includes buildings that have been newly renovated to expand past the 5,000 limit. The same rule applies to a single-tenant expansion that increases a fire area beyond 12,000 square feet.

When it comes to fire areas in commercial buildings, owners need to be aware of the kind of property they own. We tend to think of these as office and retail spaces, but they can also apply to certain kinds of homes. For instance, a townhome that contains more than two units per building will need a sprinkler system.

Sprinkler Systems

The objective of a sprinkler system is to detect heat and immediately provide water to either mitigate the fire or eliminate it entirely. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for fires to ramp up before the water reaches them. This is why pumps are highly recommended in certain cases. A weak stream of water will do little to extinguish roaring flames. Early suppression means more people can safely exit the building and give firefighters more access to any stubborn parts of the fire.

Protecting Your Business with a Sprinkler Stopper

Under NFPA 13, your sprinkler system has to provide maximum coverage. This is great when there’s a real fire but devastating if you have any kind of unintentional activation. Instead of dealing with thousands of dollars worth of damage for no real safety benefit whatsoever, spending $60 on a sprinkler stopper like a Shutgun is a more cost-effective solution. Easy to use and typically stored with the fire extinguisher, it just takes one hand to stop water damage in its tracks.

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