Responding to Activated Sprinkler Systems

When an alarm comes in for a sprinkler system activation, there are many reasons it has been activated, including fire, broken pipe, or accidental sprinkler activation.

The next steps are critical in making sure the building occupants are safe during the impairment process of the system. The responding company officer may contact the department Fire Marshal or provide direct feedback to the occupant. First, the building occupant should contact the approved sprinkler contractor to perform the repair. While the contractor works to fix the system, the space or building should be placed on fire watch and the clean-up process will start.

Depending on the amount of damage by the system, the insurance carrier for the occupant or owner will have a legitimate restoration company respond. These firms specialize in water removal and restoration. Depending on the area of damage, the remediation of the water damage can affect the building occupancy.

It is important to note that the reason for the accidental discharge should be investigated by the fire department. If a pipe froze, the piping arrangement should be change and ensured to meet the installation requirements of NFPA 13, Installation Standard for Automatic Sprinkler Systems.

Properly installed and maintained systems are a life saving tool which ensure safety for occupants. When these systems activate and extinguish fires the department's response to supplement or return the system to service is as critical to the response. If responding firefighters are unfamiliar with the components of the systems in the response area, it is a great idea to get with your fire marshal or inspector and review the system components. Performing a company walk-through with multiple "what if?" scenarios can be a great training sessions for all levels of responding firefighters.

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MICHAEL O'BRIAN, is a fire marshal for the Brighton Area Fire Authority in Michigan. Brian is the president of Code Savvy Consultants and is the creator of the dynamic webpage that is designed to assist all types of inspectors by providing resources, information, checklists and up-to-date news. To read Michael's complete biography and view his archived articles, click here. You can reach Michael by e-mail at