Sprinkler system tactics

Sprinkler system tactics

Dick Murchison


Grinnell Fire Protection Systems

Hartford, Connecticut


Waterbury (CT) Fire Department

Andrew Fredericks makes a valid point about fire sprinkler systems in “Long Handlines and Hose Headers” (What We Learned, March 1999). All too often, we see the fire department connections in poor condition because of vandals or a lack of maintenance.

Using a test header as a fire department connection is a good option. Finding the test header usually is not a problem because of the number of valves attached to the header. That the header can be just about anywhere is very realistic because there has to be somewhere to flow the water out of harm`s way when testing the fire pump.

One way to help find the correct indicating valve is to look for the valve that is closed and then double-check the piping for the test header. If it is in proper working order, the bypass valves as well as the fire pump valves will be open. When going in to open a test header indicating valve, bring a pair of bolt cutters. The valve might be locked shut. Sometimes, you will also find the test header indicating valve in a not-so-easy-to-reach location, so a stepladder might be needed.

Now it is not uncommon to see a storz connection for the fire department connection. If it is common practice to use large-diameter hose for fire department connections, make sure that you have proper hardware (storz to 212-inch female or storz to 212-inch male with a double female) before you hook up to a test header.

The maximum pump pressure was another good point. With the use of thinwall piping and mechanical fittings, gaskets on pipe fittings have specific maximum psi ratings and could pose a hazard if overpressurized.

Another possibility that might be available is the wall hydrant, if one exists. Wall hydrants may be located at various points around the building. Fire apparatus could pump into the wall hydrant and get the same result as using a test header. Preplan for this to find the location of the wall hydrant valve and to make sure it does not have a check valve at any point that could stop the flow of water to the area at which it is needed.

This superb article shows a little ingenuity can go a long way when the traditional approach to supplementing the fire sprinkler system is compromised.

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