Why do I need a fire sprinkler shutoff tool?

A research report dated July 2017 from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) stated “Fire departments responded to an estimated 29,800 sprinkler activations caused by a system failure or malfunction and 33,600 unintentional sprinkler activations in 2014.”  That equates to an average of 176 non-fire related sprinkler activations a day!

If you’ve never seen a fire sprinkler go off we’ll try and put it in perspective for you.  A standard fire sprinkler head puts out 15-25 gallons per minute. That equates to about a bathtub of water every 2 minutes from a single head.  So imagine standing under a bathtub and every 2 minutes having it dumped on your head, or worse, in your house, office, hotel, jobsite, hospital and the list goes on and on.  And if you think beautiful crystal clear water is what comes out of fire sprinklers, guess again. Often, the water is black, dirty and filled with small debris from years of the system being left stagnant and un-serviced.

Most of us go about our day not giving a second thought to the hundreds of gallons of water right above our heads held back by just a ¼” glass plug.  The simple design that makes fire sprinklers so reliable also makes them easy to break. But for firefighters, facility managers and maintenance staff this is something that is front of mind. If you have a building or property with thousands of occupants going in and out on a daily basis, not to mention the 176 accidental activations per day, it’s not IF it will happen but when it will happen.

A common misconception is that shutting off the valve to the water supply should be the first course of action.  However, this puts significant liability on the property owner or building manager. Building Codes state that the fire system is only supposed to be shut off by a knowledgeable, authorized person (ie: fire department).  Closing the valves will leave parts or all of the sprinkler system inoperable. If the system is inoperable, most Building Codes and Insurance Companies require at a minimum a fire watch be put in place. The building now has no fire sprinklers protecting it.  The NFPA has additional standards that could require the evacuation of the building, or an establishment of a temporary water supply.  

It’s also extremely common for staff in buildings to be unaware of where the shut off valve is located for the fire sprinkler systems.  In many cases, those valves are located in locked rooms sometimes only accessible by an off-site property manager. Those minutes of searching cause increased water damage to the building.

Estimates place damage from accidental sprinkler activations at $1,000-$2,500 or more for each minute water discharges.  It’s common to see insurance claims for hundreds of thousands of dollars from a single activation.

The Quickstop Commercial Tool or Multi-Tool can shut off an accidentally activated fire sprinkler in seconds, reducing the water damage and keeping the rest of the building safe by allowing the other fire sprinklers to remain active while waiting for the damaged head to be replaced.  Quickstop Tools are also equipped with a fusible link which means your fire protection system is fully operable. The only concern you have is getting that head replaced as soon as possible.

Quickstop Tools are sold worldwide in over 30 countries from New Zealand to the Netherlands.  When it comes to keeping your building safe and being prepared, trust the experts at Quickstop Tools who have over 15 years of Fire Fighting experience and have developed tools to help you prevent water damage from accidental fire sprinkler activations.

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