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    Cool Sometimes sprinklers AREN'T good!

    Found this on MSNBC.com. One more thing for the pre-plan!

    www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6828635/]

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    Whoopsies.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    We had a chemical manufacturer that made water reactive chemicals, and they had a sprinkler system installed in their factory from the previous occupiers.

    This place had about 80,000 gallons being manufactured at a time, most of it in huge open mixing vessels. When we were on an inspection and we enquired about whether they had a response team they replied "No" because they thought we would be there real quick and would save the day We enlightened them slightly by saying that our response time to there was about 10 minutes, and that each truck carried one drychem extinguisher - which wasn't going to do diddly or squat against a fire going in one of their containers. Nearest bulk dry agent is an hour away, by which time this place was going to be a big smoky black hole in the ground we figured.
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    Why does the phrase, "hey ya'll, watch this" come to mind?
    18 months prior, they were warned to cap the sprinklers. I would have to think that the fire officials warned them of the time bomb they had overhead.(Surely somebody there knew of the hazard?)
    Maybe the facilities Risk assessment was skewed?
    JSA'S not completed?
    One of those things that make you go Hmmmmmm.
    Maybe there is more than meets the eyes.
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    From the news articles:

    Officials are trying to determine why the Advanced Magnesium Alloys Corp. plant had a working sprinkler system in the same area where the metal is stored.

    Although I realize that it was not the intent of the first poster to do this, I would like to remind everyone that a fire service professionl should never speak badly about sprinklers. We should be the largest advocate group for the proper installation of sprinkler systems. They save lives and property when properly installed and maintained.

    We do not have a failure of sprinklers here. We have a failure of the fire department code enforcement people. If they told them 18 mos. ago to cap them, why weren't they back 17 mos. ago to follow up? And 16 mos. ago to issue a violation? There may be more to this story (I hope there is), but right now it looks like somebody fumbled the ball.

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    Well put, sprinklers are the single most valuable tool for saving lives and property. So valuable that in the home I am building for my family I am having a 13D system put in. (non mandatory)
    Their shouldn't be any debate, this was a case of poor enforcement.

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    George is correct.

    An alternative would have been to lock out/tag out the sprinkler controls for that zone.

    Either way, there was a fumble..and everyone lost.
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    George is right on target as usual.
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    We do not have a failure of sprinklers here. We have a failure of the fire department code enforcement people. If they told them 18 mos. ago to cap them, why weren't they back 17 mos. ago to follow up? And 16 mos. ago to issue a violation? There may be more to this story (I hope there is), but right now it looks like somebody fumbled the ball.
    As an inspector myself, thats the first thing that came to mind

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    Sprinklers are always good !!!!!!!!!!!

    What we have here is a failure to use them in the correct enviroment. There is always a danger with a sprinkler system in a building that is NOT being used as first built of a problem. Not only can the sprinklers be inapproiatte for the new contents, as in this case, but you can also run into the situation where the system was not designed, in terms of flows and/or head placement, to handle the new contents. In these cases the fire will not be supressed because of the lack of an adequate flow, and in most cases, the building will be lost, or at least heavily damaged. That is why the fire department (or muncipal) inspection process and FOLLOW-UP is so important whenever a sprinklered property changes hands and occupancy type. The follow-up seemed to be the failure in this case, as has been mentioned several times in this thread.

    It's important that we stress this as those who oppose sprinklers in commercial buildings, and oppose communties attempting to develop new sprinkler ordinances, will try to use these types of events against them. We must always point out the saves, both in terms of lives and property,that sprinkler systems have made over the years, both locally and nationally. In these cases, if they are brought up by the opponents, we must stress that it was not a sprinkler system failure ... but instead, as George stated in an earlier post, it was a review or enforcement system failure.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 01-18-2005 at 03:19 PM.

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    Originally posted by LaFireEducator
    Sprinklers are always good !!!!!!!!!!!

    ......It's important that we stress this as those who oppose sprinklers in commercial buildings, and oppose communties attempting to develop new sprinkler ordinances,
    Who opposes sprinklers? The cost to retrofit yes, but the sprinklers themselves? Never heard of true opposition to them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Dennis .. from experience I can tell you that if you ever tried to get an ordiance passed in your community you would find the the Builders are a very strong opponent of sprinklers, especially if you are trying to get them into residental properties. They fear the increased cost, which actually is marginal ($1000-1500 on a 2000 square foot home), even if you propose construction/code trade-offs. They also fear that the homes/apartmets may not be bought or rented as easily as the public has several misconceptions about sprinkler systems (accidental discharges flooding the whole house, etc).
    It can become quite a battle, especially in areas that have little experience with sprinkler system requirements beyond commercial properties.

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    Dennis:

    As a combined Fire/Building Services department in our township with constant construction high occupancy residential, mutli-family dwellings, and commercial structures, it is a CONSTANT battle for basic things as smoke detectors, automatic fire alarms, and the like. Much less sprinklers. Our township's building code is actually stricter than the state mandated BOCA code on fire protection, and we've won every time someone's opposed us, but we've had some LOOOONG drawn out battles over this kind of stuff. Builders hate it. They claim it raises costs, etc. etc.

    We solved the issue, though. First(or next) time they come to oppose you in a planners meeting, do we what did. We brought in three(a family) body bags with two adult mannequins and a child, all in the appropriate sized bags. The plan review council(and everyone in the audience) looked at us with shock and we laid out that we explained that we wanted a strict fire code so we don't have to put any of them or their families into one.

    Dramatic? Yes. Overly? Perhaps. Did it work? We haven't lost a plan review yet. And we've had literally hundreds.

    Our chief building inspector has a body bag on his office wall with a sign on it that says "Install Sprinkler Systems: NONE OF THIS".
    Last edited by SpartanGuy; 01-18-2005 at 04:22 PM.
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    Never had heard of the accidentaly flooding the house arguement, but makes sence, not sure if it has not caught my ear or what. Guys it is just as the folks that still are afraid that their seatbelt will trap them in a fire.
    Intersting and nice to learn. But I still say the builders are against the cost, not the sprinklers themselves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    In most cases, yes, it is the COST they oppose, not the sprinkler system itself. But the cost is the they main reason they oppose most of the other firesafety requirements such as alarm systems, standpipes and additional exits. Some of them oppose them because of the hassle of "one more contractor we have to deal with", "one more thing that can slow down or stop the project", or "one more thing that needs to be inspected". And some of the oppisistion is just because it's another requirement they have to deal with.

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    Yes, builders can be a pain in the a**.

    I had a sprinkler fight over a new townhouse project about 8 years ago. In Fla. any multi unit, 3 stories or higher require sprinklers.

    First they said they were sold as single units and didnt fall under that code. I said there were 3 units per building and it did. I won.

    Then they said that you only count the "living" area (they were 2 living floors over a garage). I said the fire code starts at grade. I won that one as well.

    Then they came to me and asked what kind of "trade off" I would accept. I took a copy of the site plan, and proceded to draw a 2 hour rated fire wall, with a 4' high throuh the roof extension, which of course ruined the "look" of the building.

    They ended up with sprinklers

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    I work in an Industrial environment which houses the common wet system and dry systems. Last year, we began having problems with a dry pipe during the trip test. Not only that, but it was a real MONSTER to reset these buggers! The valves were really in dire need to be changed! Rebuilding could have been done (and had been), but it was like pouring money into the turlet. Let's just say that a loss at this facility would not be able to be made up somewhere else. It is the only one like it. (gives you a sense of urgency, at least it does me.)
    Long story short (or shorter) researched and priced new valves, gongs, to make reliable. The powers to be said, and I quote, "we have not had a need. it has never tripped(nusence{sp}). Why change it?" Serious cringe here. I belive a poster has touched on this, but some managers do not see the need to put money into something that has no immediate return/gain. It's the bottom line that matters. If you don't have an incident that rocks the very foundation of the facility, then it may not get the attention. I was fortunate in selling them the idea, and explaining what the benefits would be..

    Now I am not saying that is the case here, but that is a background in my world of Industry.

    Sprinklers: #1 in my book. But in this case, they should have listened. Wonder if the facility manager is squirming in his/her seat?
    YGBSM!
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    When you have a manager in an industrial seeting that has a problem with this type of thing, remind him that your insurance company (if it is industry, it is probably a large insurer) has something called a Loss Control Department that frowns on malfunctioning sprinkler systems. Perhaps a strategically placed telephone call would convince this short-sighted manager that this would be money well-spent.

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    George...you may be intersted in the following..

    Not too long ago, I answered the Deputy's phone line becuase he was busy with going over permit information with a contractor at the window.

    The person on the other end of the line was a plant engineer for a computer component manufacturer in town, who was appraoched by the company's Chief Financial Officer to look at ways to save money.

    The CFO noticed that the the sprinkler company came out quarterly to run a test on the system. The question he wanted answered was
    "can we do a sprinkler test on a biannual basis instead of quarterly? It would conserve water and save the company money".

    I asked the plant engineer if the CFO was available to talk to, and he said that he could connect me with him. My Deputy came back into his office, I filled him in about the request for information. I looked up the information in NFPA 13 pertaining to testing systems, then I was connected with the CFO. I put the phone on "speaker" so the Deputy and I could both hear it.

    I asked him the total value of the building, the contents, the machinery used in the manufacture of the components and the amount of raw materials and finished product on hand on any given day.

    He gave me a ball park figure of anywhwere between $15 and $20 million. I then asked him the ballpark cost of the the sprinkler company's contract to test and maintain the system per year. He estimated about $2K.

    I then asked him how he would explain to the CEO and the stockholders of the company why the building suffered a loss from fire because the sprinkler system did not work properly because it hadn't been tested according to the NFPA 13 standard all to save a fraction of 1% on the bottom line....

    You could hear the "doh!" as plain as day!
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    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    George...you may be intersted in the following..

    Not too long ago, I answered the Deputy's phone line becuase he was busy with going over permit information with a contractor at the window.

    The person on the other end of the line was a plant engineer for a computer component manufacturer in town, who was appraoched by the company's Chief Financial Officer to look at ways to save money.

    The CFO noticed that the the sprinkler company came out quarterly to run a test on the system. The question he wanted answered was
    "can we do a sprinkler test on a biannual basis instead of quarterly? It would conserve water and save the company money".

    I asked the plant engineer if the CFO was available to talk to, and he said that he could connect me with him. My Deputy came back into his office, I filled him in about the request for information. I looked up the information in NFPA 13 pertaining to testing systems, then I was connected with the CFO. I put the phone on "speaker" so the Deputy and I could both hear it.

    I asked him the total value of the building, the contents, the machinery used in the manufacture of the components and the amount of raw materials and finished product on hand on any given day.

    He gave me a ball park figure of anywhwere between $15 and $20 million. I then asked him the ballpark cost of the the sprinkler company's contract to test and maintain the system per year. He estimated about $2K.

    I then asked him how he would explain to the CEO and the stockholders of the company why the building suffered a loss from fire because the sprinkler system did not work properly because it hadn't been tested according to the NFPA 13 standard all to save a fraction of 1% on the bottom line....

    You could hear the "doh!" as plain as day!
    Cool. Some people are so smart they are downright dumb.

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    Again .. it's our "fire acceptance culture" at work.

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    I think a big problem with getting firefighters to really aggressively pursue fire safety education and strict enforcement is the lack of visible results. If your fire safety program works, you don't 'see' any benefit from it. There aren't any fires. We've cut our number of working fires in half in the past ten years due to strict fire safety while enduring doubling residential population and greatly increased commercial properties during that same time.

    The big thing that turns a lot of firefighters off to fire education is the fact that if it works, it ruins all of your 'fun'. Most get a lot more excited over responding to a worker w/ entrapment than coming out in October or whenever to take some kids through a smoke house.

    And with builders/residents, they never prepare for any sort of fire. There's a thread floating around here saying something like 3/4 of Americans aren't ready for a fire, and it's the sad truth. I saw in the NFPA journal I think two months ago that the vast majority of Americans are more worried about earthquakes and tornadoes - rare events when compared to fires.

    And I think we should take the blame for it. We're not being aggressive enough in our enforcement and education programs. If you want to convince builders/residents to follow your ordinances/codes without fuss, you need to explain and SHOW them.

    And if they won't do it voluntarily, wrestle them into the ground with the legal side of it. FORCE them. Do what you have to do. Get the support of your municipalities and, if possible, your public. And it's not just sprinklers. Look at the entire aspect of the operation. For example, in all housing developments in our municipalities, roads have to be so wide to accomodate apparatus. There is a mandated number of hydrants. And all cul-de-sacs have to be big enough to give enough manevuering room for the longest ladder we have for mutual aid(a midmount Sutphen that's pretty damned long).

    And if they don't do it, let em have it. Handing out "STOP WORK" orders is fun. Try it sometime.
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    From the video shoots from the news media here in the Indy area, that I seen it was one hell of a fire though.
    It was cold as all get out too this past week-end, I feel sorry for everyone that got "put-out" but from what I hear it sure was a purty
    fireworks display.
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    You are right Spartan... we don't push it enough. In most departments, public education programs are done after someone calls the station and requests one. How many departments actually go out into the community and ask to do public education programs or provide information? I bet the answer is a very small minority. And there are plenty of opportunities that would be more than happy to have us .. schools, pre-schools, libiary children's programs, businesses, community groups, church groups, senior citizen centers, public access television, community newspapers ... etc etc etc.
    People in here talk about how you rarely see a police department's funding cut. Part of the reason is, that in addition to a greater fear of crime than fire, the police communityu has done a much better job of pushing thier public education programs in the community and keeping them in thier view. Examples like Neighboorhood Watch, McGruff, Amber, Officer and Friendly all keep them in the public's mind. I bet that most people in America could name one program run by thier local police department. Can the same be said about fire department public education and public realtions programs ?

    And yes, the average career firefighter fears that if we do TOO good a job on public education, there will be fewer fires and runs, and he may lose his job. Many of the volunteers also fear that fires will decrease, and there will be less excitement. That is a barrier that somehow needs to be overcome through strong leadership.

    And yes, getting the local powers that be to make ordiances that reduce fires or make fighting them easier is a very dufficult process, and the primary reason, as you stated is education. One thing that we did in Vermont was we gave the folks on the zoning board the chance to come out and drive our trucks in a large parking lot using cones to simulate the width of an average road and cul-de-dac in our town. After they tried to manuvuer the truck, some of them started to realize why we were asking for wider roads and turn-arounds in new developments. After a short class on sprinklers and alarm systems, some of them seemed to get the message. Not all, but enough of them so at least we had a few allies on the board.

    But it's something that we need to do. There are enough of us out there that do realize that. It's up to us to try to make the difference.

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    George, remember the part of my post about selling them the idea?
    Well, no I didn't make a phone call...and we'll leave it at that?
    The thought of not having a facility woke somebody up.
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