You trust your building's fire suppression system to activate if necessary to minimize the threat and damage caused by a fire. Most systems rely on a combination of integrated fire sprinklers and handheld fire extinguishers. Regular inspection and maintenance are crucial to ensuring your system will function properly when activated. Here are several practical tips to help you properly check and maintain your sprinklers and extinguishers.
Depending on your local laws, you may be able to inspect your building's fire extinguishers on your own. This can be a fairly simple process that should generally be completed monthly. Before starting, make sure you know where all the extinguishers are located. Then, perform a visual external check on each one. The extinguisher should be easy to see, have a clear nameplate, and show a valid maintenance tag.
After verifying the extinguisher meets visual requirements, make sure it is ready for use. Check the tamper seal that holds the pin to ensure it is intact. Next, make sure the canister is full and charged. Some models have a pressure gauge that can indicate if the extinguisher is full. For models without a gauge, it's best to weigh them and check the weight against that listed on the tag.
Your building's fire sprinkler system must be inspected every year by a licensed technician, according to the NFPA. You can set up an inspection by calling your local fire sprinkler company. The technician should thoroughly check and repair all system components, including water flow alarms, sprinkler heads, pipes, gauges, antifreeze solution, and backflow prevention systems. An inspector can also verify there are no obstructions that could affect performance.
Along with scheduling an annual inspection from a licensed technician, you can also perform regular checks every week or month. As a general rule, deluge system gauges and control valves should be checked every week for leaks and air and water pressure levels. Gauges on wet-pipe systems can go for a month between checks. Externally check alarm valves every month, and verify the location and reliability of hydraulic nameplates quarterly.