Augmenting Sprinkler Systems By Michael Stevens FIR 204 December 1st, 2009
What We Will Talk About • Importance of pre-incident planning • What to look for during pre-incident planning • Fire Department connections • Why sprinkler systems should be augmented. • Importance of establishing SOGs for operations in buildings containing sprinklers. • Fire Department operations in buildings containing sprinklers.
Why should you pre-plan? • Opportunity to establish working relationship with occupant and/or other personnel. • Opportunity to survey site and gather information. • Provides chance to develop/ modify a plan. • Reduces number of surprises encountered during actual emergencies.
What to Look For • Things to note: • Size of buildings • Nature of occupancy • Presence, type, and condition of: • Sprinkler system(s) • Standpipes • Fire detection and alarm systems
What to Look For (cont.) • Water supply • Required/ available fire flow • Location(s)/ reliability of supply • Location and condition of Fire Department connection. • Obstructions • Thread compatibility • Location, type, and operation of sprinkler control valves.
What to Look For (cont.) • One- and two-family dwellings equipped with sprinklers do not have FDCs. • FDCs can be found in: • Industrial occupancies • Commercial occupancies • Multi-family dwellings • Healthcare facilities
Fire Department Connections • FDCs supply: • Sprinkler systems • Automatic • Non-automatic • Standpipe systems • Both sprinkler and standpipe systems • Known as combination systems • May be wet or dry systems
Fire Department Connections • Connection usually by-passes control valve. • System can be used regardless of position control valve is in. • Location: • Should be one located near main entrance of building. • Others may be located at various locations around building. • For use by additional companies. • When system is divided into zones.
What You Are Looking For • FDCs should be clearly marked. • FDC stands for Fire Department Connection • FDC does not mean: • Parking for the “First Due Cop” • Parking “For Da Chief”
What It Can Tell You Kind of system it supplies. If trusses are present. Where trusses are located. Type of construction. If water is flowing.
FDC Problems • Missing caps • Defective/ incompatible threads • Debris in connection • Tight caps • Frozen female swivels • Broken/ jammed clappers • Can use spare male cap to close one side of connection due to clapper valve malfunction.
Why They Should Be Augmented • Water supply may be insufficient • Water supply may be overtaxed when large number of sprinkler heads open. • Increase overall water flow at each sprinkler head.
Why (continued) • “Fixed extinguishing systems may reduce the need for interior attack lines but increase the need for system support. Standpipe systems may allow firefighters to carry hose packs into the building rather than lay long attack lines from an engine outside.” (Goodson and Sneed 240)
Why (continued) • They can make our job easier. • May reduce risk to occupants and firefighters. • Someone wise once said: • “Ninety-six percent of fires in sprinkled structures are controlled by the sprinkler system.” ( Dave Walsh – November 3rd, 2009)
Water Flow • “Sprinkler heads are designed to operate at a minimum of seven psi pressure.” (Crapo 79) • At seven psi, a sprinkler with ½- inch opening should flow fifteen gpm. • As pressure increases, so will the flow. • To calculate gpm from sprinkler head: • ½ residual psi + fifteen • ½ (30)+15 = 30 gpm • ½ (40)+15 = 35 gpm • ½ (50)+15 = 40 gpm
Water Flow • “The recommended course of action for a sprinkler system is to pump a set pressure, usually 150 psi is recommended.” (Crapo 178) • Use set pressure instead of flow calculations because there is no way to determine: • Number of activated heads • Location of activated heads • How much water is flowing
Water Flow • Do NOT over pump the system. • Too much pressure in system will cause water to exit the sprinkler head at too high a velocity. • This will cause water to atomize. • Droplets will be too small and light to penetrate to seat of the fire.
Non-Automatic Sprinklers • Usually found in cellars and sub-cellars of older commercial buildings. • Depend solely upon FD for water supply. • May contain: • Fusible links • Open sprinkler heads • Perforated pipes
Combination Systems • Sprinkler heads and standpipes use common riser. • If conducting interior operations: • Connect first supply line to standpipe • Connect second supply line to sprinkler system • Safety of personnel should always be TOP PRIORITY!!
Effective Fire Stream • Three critical factors of effective fire stream: • Must flow sufficient gpm to absorb BTUs being generated. • Water must be applied at the correct point(s). • Water must be applied in correct form. • Water allowed to vaporize will absorb 7.7 times more heat than water that does not vaporize.
One Meridian plaza high-rise fire Case Study
One Meridian Plaza • Occurred February 23rd, 1991 in Philadelphia, PA • Fire started on 22nd floor. • Incident Commander had little pre-plan information • Less than half of building had sprinklers. • Service floors below grade • Floors 11, 15, 30, 31, 34, 35, and 37 • FD attempted standpipe operation, but did not produce effective fire streams due to PRVs.
One Meridian Plaza • Fire burned floors 22 through 29 and killed three firefighters. • Fire was stopped at 30th floor by activation of ten sprinkler heads. • If each head delivered max flow of 25 gpm, ten heads delivered 250 gpm. • Same flow as one 2 ½- inch hose line
SOGs • “Departments protecting properties with fire protection systems should have SOPs addressing operations in these buildings.” (Cote 1:7-338) • Fire department operations could have negative impact on sprinkler system water supply. • Sprinklers cool fire gases • Fire may not vent itself prior to FD arrival • Fire gases and smoke may drop to floor • SCBA will be necessary
SOGs • Fire departments can refer to NFPA 13E – Recommended Practice for Fire Department Operations in Properties Protected by Sprinklers and Standpipe Systems for guidance when developing their own SOGs.
SOGs (example) • Upon arrival, first-in engine company should: • Locate FDC • Locate nearest suitable water supply • Connect either two 2 ½- inch or one 3- inch hose line to FDC • Wait for confirmation prior to charging system
SOGs (example) • Interior crews should: • Locate fire • Determine if charging system is necessary • Check sprinkler control valves, if accessible • Make sure fire pump is running, if applicable
Control Valves • “The sprinkler system control valve should only be shut down on orders from the Incident Commander once it is determined that the fire has been controlled and hose lines are in position.” (FDNY 4)
Control Valves • Four types: • Outside Screw & Yoke (OS&Y) • Post Indicator Valve (PIV) • Wall Indicator Valve (WIV) • Butterfly Type Indicating Valve • OS&Y and PIV are most commonly encountered. • May also be found in standpipe systems. • Used as section or zone control valves.
Control Valves • FD personnel with portable radios should use control valve to shut system down: • After fire is declared under control • After given orders by IC • After hose lines are in place • To reduce water damage
What We Talked About • Why pre-incident planning is important • What to look for when pre-planning • FDCs • Why FDs should augment sprinkler systems • Importance of establishing SOGs for ops in buildings with sprinklers. • When/ how to shut sprinkler systems down.
Thanks for your time & attention Stay safe and have a great day!!!
Works Cited • Cote, Arthur E., P.E. ed. Fire Protection Handbook. 19th ed. 2 vols. Quincy: National fire Protection Association, 2003. • Crapo, William F. Hydraulics For Firefighting. Albany: Delmar, 2002. • Goodson, Carl, and Marsha Sneed, eds. Fire Department Company Officer. 3rd ed. Stillwater: Fire Protection Publications, Oklahoma State University, 1999.
Works Cited (cont.) • Murnane, Lynn, and Tom Ruane, eds. Fire Detection and Suppression Systems. 3rd ed. Stillwater: Fire Protection Publications, Oklahoma State University, 2005. • New York. Fire Dept. Engine Company Operations, Chapter 10, Sprinkler System Operations. New York: Fire Department City of New York, 1997. • Norman, John. Fire Officer’s Handbook of Tactics. 3rd ed. Tulsa: PenWell, 2005.
Works Cited (cont.) • Routley, J. Gordon, Charles Jennings, and Mark Chubb. Highrise Office Building Fire, One Meridian Plaza, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Quincy: National Fire Protection Association, 2001. • Walsh, David K. Class lecture on sprinkler systems. Dutchess Community College. 3Nov.2009.