The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has issued a safety alert recommending that residential fire sprinkler systems containing antifreeze should be drained and the antifreeze replaced with water. The alert, issued on July 6, follows a research study and an initial set of fire tests conducted after a fire incident raised concerns about antifreeze solutions in residential sprinkler systems. The incident involved a grease fire in a kitchen where a sprinkler with a high concentration of antifreeze deployed. The fire resulted in a single fatality and serious injury to another person.
As we all know, fire sprinklers are extremely effective fire protection devices, significantly reducing deaths, injuries, and property loss from fire. These systems should not be disconnected. Until the results of further testing on antifreeze are available, NFPA recommends the following:
- If you have, or are responsible for, a residential occupancy with a fire sprinkler system, contact a sprinkler contractor to check and see if there is antifreeze in the system.
- If there is antifreeze in the system, as an interim measure, drain the system and replace it with water only. Problems associated with freezing of sprinkler pipes can be mitigated by alternative measures such as insulation. NFPA hopes to provide further guidance based on additional testing before the winter freezing months.
- If you are putting in a new residential sprinkler system, design and install a system that does not require antifreeze.
“We are providing this safety alert as interim guidance based on the information we have right now,” says NFPA President Jim Shannon. “As soon as more information is available, we will update the public.”