#213 – Fire Sprinkler Accidents: The Top 5 Causes of Discharges and Leaks

Preventative maintenance and simple tools can stop or prevent fire sprinkler accidents

Automatic fire sprinklers are a critical first line of defense if a fire breaks out. But there’s a chance that they can be triggered when there’s no sign of a blaze—and a fire sprinkler accident can inflict costly water damage.

This blog examines the most common reasons for accidental discharges of fire sprinklers and system leaks, from unplanned heat sources to vandalism. We also present simple ways to avoid them, including proper maintenance and an inexpensive product that can prevent thousands of dollars in property damage in impact-prone environments: heavy-duty head guards. We also highlight the Shutgun—the fastest, easiest way of shutting accidental sprinkler trips down if they can’t be avoided.

Feel free to browse our selection of heavy-duty head guards and Shutguns.

Minor events can cause major damage when a fire sprinkler accidentally trips

Fire sprinkler heads are automatically triggered by a buildup of heat. A liquid-filled glass bulb bursts or a soldered metal link melts at a given temperature, allowing a plug to drop out, followed by water. In most cases, only one or two sprinklers are needed to control a fire, helping properties escape both fire damage and the significant water damage from fire hoses that can spew ten times the amount of water.

But the simple activation process that makes fire sprinklers so reliable during an emergency can also make them vulnerable to some accidental discharges, a term that encompasses everything from human carelessness to deliberate sabotage. Quick response fire sprinklers release 8 to 24 gallons per minute or more, taking less than 20 minutes to dump hundreds of gallons of water on a property if there is a persistent water supply that’s not blocked or shut off.

Sneak a peek at our Fire Sprinkler Accident Video Hall of Shame to understand how some activities can quickly lead to cringe-worthy sprinkler mishaps. Or watch how quickly dinner goes up in smoke after a fine-dining establishment’s attempt to light a flaming cheese dish accidentally sets off the fire sprinklers. There’s no tip big enough to cover this:

Firefighters responded to 29,700 unintentional sprinkler activations and “26,000 sprinkler activations caused by a system failure or malfunction” per year between 2015-2019, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). And it only takes something as minor as a low-temperature sprinkler placed beneath a skylight on a hot summer day or a painter accidentally bumping a sprinkler’s fragile bulb to trigger a flood that leads to mold, mildew, ruined walls and flooring, and other pricey damage.

Clean-up costs: an estimated $1,000 for every minute a sprinkler is left running.

Is your property at risk of a fire sprinkler accident?

Sometimes, automatic fire sprinkler act so efficiently that it’s not immediately clear there was a fire. This is a very good thing.

And let’s also put the risk into perspective: accidental sprinkler discharges are much less costly or frequent than water damage involving a building’s plumbing or water supply. In fact, NFPA reports that in at least half of reported non-fire sprinkler activations, water is never released at all. Instead, it simply moves into the system’s piping or through a drain and triggers a false alarm.

But if a sprinkler dumps water with no flames in sight, an investigation is warranted to understand why it tripped. Let’s dig into the five most common reasons for accidental sprinkler discharges, as well as leaks in the pipe:

An upright fire sprinkler near a skylight
An upright sprinkler under a skylight. If it has an improper temperature rating, the sun’s heat could set it off. Image source: A.L. Fire Protection

1. Overheating causes fire sprinkler accidents

Automatic sprinklers are triggered by high temperatures—and they can’t tell the difference between “normal” but intense sources of heat and a fire. That means locating sprinklers too close to heat sources such as unit heaters, skylights, or commercial cooking equipment can inadvertently set them off. Even temporary heat-producing sources like construction lighting or television cameras have been known to open the floodgates.

Fortunately, there’s a simple solution for avoiding accidental sprinkler trips in places that run hotter than normal: sprinklers calibrated so their thermal element won’t activate until higher temperatures are reached. The 2019 edition of NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems lays out specific scenarios where higher-temperature-rated sprinklers should be installed to avoid accidental discharges:

From the 2022 edition of NFPA 13 The following practices shall be observed to provide sprinklers of other than ordinary temperature classification unless other temperatures are determined or unless high-temperature sprinklers are used throughout, and temperature selection shall be in accordance with Table (a), Table (b), and Figure

(1) Sprinklers in the high-temperature zone shall be of the high-temperature classification, and sprinklers in the intermediate-temperature zone shall be of the intermediate-temperature classification.

(2) Sprinklers located within 12 in. (300 mm) to one side or 30 in. (750 mm) above an uncovered steam main, heating coil, or radiator shall be of the intermediate-temperature classification.

(3) Sprinklers within 7 ft (2.1 m) of a low-pressure blowoff valve that discharges free in a large room shall be of the high-temperature classification.

NFPA 13 Table 01
Source: NFPA 13

(4) Sprinklers under glass or plastic skylights exposed to the direct rays of the sun shall be of the intermediate-temperature classification.

(5) Sprinklers in attics (peaked or flat) shall be of the intermediate-temperature classification.

(6) Sprinklers in enclosed show windows shall be of the intermediate-temperature classification.

(7) Sprinklers protecting commercial-type cooking equipment and ventilation systems shall be of the high- or extra-high-temperature classification as determined by use of a temperature-measuring device.

NFPA 13 Table (b) 2
Source: NFPA 13

(8) Sprinklers protecting residential areas installed near specific heat sources identified in Table (b) shall be installed in accordance with Table (b).

(9) Ordinary-temperature sprinklers located adjacent to a heating duct that discharges air that is less than 100° F (38° C) are not required to be separated in accordance with Table (a) or Table (b).

(10) Sprinklers in walk-in type coolers and freezers with automatic defrosting shall be of the intermediate-temperature classification or higher.

(11) Sprinklers in closets containing ventless clothes dryers shall be of the intermediate-temperature classification or higher.

Keep this in mind, as well: If new heat sources are added to a property, fire sprinklers may also need to be adjusted.

2. Freezing temperatures cause leaks

This one doesn’t always involve an accidental sprinkler head activation, per se. But it can certainly put a lot of water on the floor. Most sprinkler systems are wet pipe systems, meaning water constantly fills their pipes. And if even a small portion of the system is exposed to freezing temperatures during an unexpected cold snap or a power outage that leaves a building without heat, ice can form in the piping.

Frozen water expands by about 10 percent, exerting thousands of pounds of pressure that can break fittings, crack pipes, and force valve caps open. When the temperature finally warms and the ice melts, leaks or even full-blown system trips can result.

Adding a listed anti-freeze solution to the pipes, using electric heat tracing, or increasing insulation can help avoid damage if sections of pipe are exposed to freezing temperatures. But if heating is interrupted to a wet sprinkler system for more than a few hours and the ambient temperature plummets toward 40° F—the temperature when ice crystals begin to form—draining the water from the sprinkler pipes might become necessary.

It’s wise for property owners to check the area that houses the sprinkler system for improperly sealed doors and windows, cracks, loose siding, or other defects that could let wintry weather in and lead to frozen pipes.

Frozen pipes
Ice crystals start to form in fire sprinkler pipes at 40° F, long before obvious freezing like this occurs.

Dry sprinkler systems are installed to maintain reliable automatic fire protection in places regularly prone to freezing temperatures. They avoid the frozen pipes that render climate-exposed wet systems useless in cold weather by relying on pressurized air or nitrogen to hold back the water supply at a dry pipe valve located in a heated space.

But even dry sprinkler systems risk damage caused by freezing if water pools in their pipes from condensation or someone fails to adequately drain the system after annual testing. And if ice causes the pipes to crack, the change in air pressure can trip the dry pipe valve.

NFPA 13 mandates precautions to ensure that dry sprinkler systems are drained of water before cold weather starts. These range from only using sprinkler heads listed for dry applications to requiring installers to slope dry sprinkler piping at a specific pitch.

Preaction fire sprinkler systems have similarities with dry systems, but go even further to prevent accidental discharges. They typically require two separate events before releasing water, such as the activation of the sprinkler head and separate detection of flame, heat, or smoke.

Interested in learning more about dry sprinkler systems? Read part one in our dry sprinkler series.

3. Fire sprinkler manufacturing defects and mechanical damage

The odds of a manufacturing defect leading to unwanted fire sprinkler discharges are astronomically low: about 1 in 16 million. But that doesn’t mean they don’t occur.

After the failure of a dynamic O-ring water seal was linked to a deadly nursing home fire, the now-gone Central Sprinkler Co. recalled more than 35 million sprinkler heads between 2001 and 2007—one of the largest replacement programs in the history of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Fire sprinkler manufacturers regularly test sprinklers before they are sold, usually at two or three times the expected operating pressures. An acceptance test is also performed right after systems are installed to ensure that they work as expected.

But unfortunately, damaged or defective fire sprinklers do occasionally make their way into service, and it’s usually because of damage that occurs after they are manufactured. Quick-response sprinklers are especially vulnerable to damage during shipping and installation, as the components that heighten their sensitivity also make them a little more fragile.

Regular inspection and testing are key to catching damage to your sprinkler system that could cause it to malfunction. But if all other potential reasons for a fire sprinkler accident have been ruled out, it may be time to contact your sprinkler’s manufacturer for professional analysis.

Mechanical damage is a leading cause of accidental sprinkler discharges and includes something as simple as over-tightening a sprinkler head. The components of a fire sprinkler system are joined together like a tightly coiled spring, and the impact from something like an errant basketball can knock them apart and pop open the sprinkler. If the entire sprinkler head is ripped off—say, by a forklift—water will gush even faster, potentially dumping hundreds of gallons in minutes.

But smaller, unseen impacts can be just as serious, setting the stage for the sprinkler to unexpectedly release weeks or even months after the damage is done. Careful handling is essential during installation, and the importance of using the proper fire sprinkler wrenches can’t be emphasized enough. Manufacturers create specific wrenches for specific sprinklers. And using an alternate wrench either won’t work at all or vastly ups the possibility of slippage damaging the sprinkler’s operating mechanism or causing parts to loosen over time.

Heavy-duty fire sprinkler head guards can prevent accidental damage in impact-prone environments, such as gymnasiums, warehouses, construction sites, and recreational centers. NFPA 13 requires listed head guards for impact-prone sprinklers. But while standard sprinkler cages can defend against small or slow-moving objects, they are no match for hard hits.

Heavy duty sprinkler head guard

Heavy-duty head guards can completely repel many hard impacts or slow even-harder ones by creating a “crush zone.” They can be installed over existing fire sprinklers and cages via two jig-assembled clamps that attach directly to the sprinkler system’s piping, further boosting their strength vs. standard head guards, which attach to the head. These head guards come in bright colors that make the sprinklers hard to miss, as well as standard choices like white and black.

Since they are not “listed,” they typically shouldn’t protect NFPA-compliant fire sprinkler systems alone without approval from the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). But as a complement to smaller, existing cages or a temporary solution on a job site, they can save property owners from the incredibly costly water damage of a fire sprinkler accident.

4. Significant corrosion will cause leaking pipes

Corrosion has long kept the fire protection industry up at night with the potential to cause extensive damage. While dry sprinklers suffer the highest risk, any system that mixes metal, water, and oxygen creates a scenario for electrochemical corrosion to occur. And when it does, its orangey-red rust eats away at the metal pipes from the inside, boring holes the size of pins or even pennies.

At the right temperatures, this “corrosion triangle” also creates an ideal breeding ground for microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC), obstructing pipes with a crust of tubercules, creating holes, and degrading flow characteristics if loose scale or rust plugs sprinklers and valves.

A Potter Corrosion Solutions report promoted by the NFPA asserts that 73 percent of dry sprinkler systems suffer significant corrosion issues after 12.5 years. If discovered in time, it’s possible to fix the failing pieces of pipe. But pinhole leaks that are discovered in a section of pipe can be just a minor symptom of a rotting system hidden behind walls or within the ceiling. Left untreated, corrosion will weaken sprinkler system parts enough to cause leaks and unintentional activations of dry systems.

Regular inspection and testing of sprinkler systems are critical to catching corrosion at its earliest stages and preventing costly damage—or worse, system failure during a fire. A growing trend toward stripping the pressurized air from dry sprinklers and replacing it with nitrogen is also dramatically increasing the lifespan of dry piping.

Nitrogen is an inert gas, meaning it doesn’t undergo the same chemical reactions that lead to electrochemical corrosion. Creating an oxygen-free environment in sprinkler pipes enables them to last an average of 5.3 times longer regardless of whether water is present, according to Potter Corrosion Solutions research.

A prison hallway
Ongoing vandalism to sprinkler heads is a primary reason prisons delay installing fire protection systems.

5. Deliberate sabotage of fire sprinklers

From insurance fraud to vandalism to not-so-funny pranks, deliberate sabotage is the final leading cause of accidental sprinkler discharges. Headlines are filled with tales of sprinklers that caused mayhem after they were intentionally set off, and some environments such as prisons and mental health facilities are especially prone to deliberate sabotage.

A 15-year-old student was charged with first-degree criminal mischief and falsely reporting an incident in connection with the activation of a fire sprinkler in a bathroom at his Danbury, CT high school. A Minnesota Security Hospital patient faced felony property damage charges after breaking off two fire sprinkler heads and causing $2,800 in water damage. And at least 21 inmates over 16 months at the Vanderburgh County Jail in Indiana were accused of vandalizing fire sprinklers in their cells, flooding floors and forcing evacuations.

In fact, the risk of ongoing vandalism to sprinkler heads is a significant reason prisons delay installing fire protection systems, fearing the substantial costs of clean-up. But choosing to go without creates an even bigger risk in an environment where inmates trapped behind bars may be unable to escape a raging fire. About 600 fires occur in prisons and jails every year, and one out of four is intentionally set.

Placing fire sprinklers in hard-to-reach spots and using institutional sprinkler heads can deter acts of sabotage by reducing access to fragile parts. But these and other facilities also need a way to shut the water off fast when a sprinkler discharges and there’s no fire.

A Shutgun

Shutguns avoid costly damage from accidental or malicious sprinkler trips

Improperly triggered fire sprinklers can happen—and waiting for the fire department or maintenance to turn the water off can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in water damage. Fortunately, an inexpensive tool can help you immediately stop the deluge while restoring the sprinkler’s ability to fight fires. And it’s so simple to use that you don’t need to be a professional to operate it.

The Shutgun seals the opening in an activated or damaged fire sprinkler and stops the flow of water at the source. The device also includes a heat-sensitive element that detaches when exposed to high temperatures, allowing the sprinkler head to function as usual in a real fire emergency. While the system will still require repair after an accidental discharge, using a Shutgun may leave your property as fire-safe as it was before the sprinkler accidentally activated, and with much less water damage.

Shutguns can be easily operated with one hand, enabling you to keep a firm grip on a ladder while you stop the water from gushing. The sheared head model can rectify more serious situations, forming a seal over the top of severely damaged sprinkler heads. Other Shutguns specifically shut down the flow of water from concealed sprinklers and institutional sprinklers.

Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on using a Shutgun:

Buying the right Shutguns for your property to potentially save thousands after a fire sprinkler accident is easy math.

Browse our selection of Shutguns and accessories.

Or check out our inventory of heavy-duty head guards and standard head guards.

Questions about accidental sprinkler discharges, Shutguns, heavy-duty head guards, or other QRFS products? Call us at +1 (888) 361-6662 or email support@qrfs.com.

This blog was originally posted at blog.qrfs.com. If this article helped you learn how to avoid and shut down accidental sprinkler discharges, check us out at Facebook.com/QuickResponseFireSupply or on Twitter @QuickResponseFS.

35 thoughts on “#213 – Fire Sprinkler Accidents: The Top 5 Causes of Discharges and Leaks”

  1. I’m a tenant and I turned over my mattress accidentally ripping the fire sprinkler right off shouldn’t the landlord be equipped in handling it before it causes so much damage

  2. My fire sprinkler burst two days ago just by me whipping by it to get the dust off a wall. My landlord is now trying to charge me for water damage. I guess i’m wondering how can i find out if they checked them before i moved it like do they keep record on the testing that they do on them? On top of that the room it went off in stays very cold. I would say its a feet away from my vent that is currently pushing out heat. I’m not understanding how can it burst the way it did without it being touch?

    • Drea — if you were “whipping by it” maybe it was touched? If you hit the fragile glass bulb that holds the water back it and it breaks the water will discharge. An inspection or testing would not prevent that, though the landlord should maintain records of such maintenance. If the sprinkler is too close to a heat source, it could go off, but the temperature would have to be pretty high on the air coming out of that vent. If you are certain you didn’t touch the sprinkler, we’d recommend asking a local fire sprinkler contractor to look at some of the other sprinklers in that space to see if anything is wrong with them, as well as assess the distance from the heating vent. Best of luck!

  3. I have a sprinkler over my bed… went out of town for a week and upon return noticed all my sprinklers (11) looked open, didn’t think anything of it. When I went to undo the whole bed for washing, the whole mattress had rust stain damage on it. It was hot that week, I have a huge attic over the bedroom. Would you say the bedroom could’ve heated to the point that it set off the sprinkler?

    • Irene — if 11 sprinklers all set off AND the system is working properly (is charged with appropriate water), you should notice a lot more water damage beyond stains on the mattress. The minimum temps at which standard fire sprinklers set off are about 135F (57 C)—and most commonly at 155F (68C)—so unless your home got very, very, very hot, it would also be unlikely for them all to activate. Select sprinklers that are right under a skylight or near a heater, perhaps. An easy way to check is to look if the glass bulbs are missing. If so, yes, something set them off or they were tampered with.

  4. I have a friend who is a roofer. he was repairing a roof, which necessitated him nailing down the plywood base. he nailed into a beam and pierced a sprinkler water line. Someone drilled a hole in the beam so that a water pipe could be passed through it. there was no nail block. how common is it to install water pipes in roof beams? And there was no local water cutoff. the fire departhent had to go to a valve in the street to shut the water off. the result was a mess.

    • Walter — We’re having trouble picturing whether the hole was drilled lengthwise through the beam to insert the pipe or straight down to expose a sprinkler head. Lengthwise, in particular, would be pretty odd.

  5. Hello,

    I have a question about the inspection of a sprinkler system.
    I understand it is impossible to check all the sprinkler system heads but would you be able to test the system during the inspection and if a sprinkler is rotten would it send some type of signal to the main board?

    • Raffaella — first, many common sprinkler systems aren’t “networked” to a fire alarm control panel (this is more common in systems that have separate initiation and/or fire detection systems, like preaction or deluge systems). In addition, most sprinklers operate by a very “manual” process; the heat causes a temperature-sensitive bulb to break or a metal link to melt, which releases the pressurized water that those parts hold back in wet systems, or releases the pressurized gas and then water in dry and preaction systems. So, there isn’t an automatic signal or electronic test that can check whether this temperature-sensitive part is compromised (or if other performance characteristics are compromised), whether an issue is due to it being covered in paint, the loss of fluid in the glass bulb, the seal being covered in paint, caulk, or grime, or corrosion has sealed it shut, for example. This manual activation process is a very reliable and time-tested technology, but it requires a visual inspection to spot many of these issues.

      There is an emerging class of “electrically operated sprinklers” that are always networked to a control panel and have the capability to test whether the activation mechanism is working. But they are designed for “high-challenge” fire environments, and that capability still wouldn’t identify certain issues, such as corrosion build-up on the sprinkler. Thus, a visual inspection remains important and mandated in those systems as well.

      Nevertheless, technology is always evolving, and more aspects of fire protection systems are gaining remote/electronic ITM capabilities, such as checking the status of valves. So, perhaps someday this might be possible.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Sprinklers that go off won’t be sent to the Alarm Panel (Motherboard) Instead sprinkler heads are inspected every so often. We do have routine inspections that would check for basically any leak in the system.

  6. One morning I saw that one of my sprinkler heads in the ceiling was dropped way down. There was no fire, head never touched. No water coming out. Can you tell me what hapoened? What do I do? I live in a condo. The management hasn’t taken care of it.

    • Joan — We can’t visualize what you mean by “dropped way down”—hanging loose from the pipe or detached from it?—nor do we understand what you mean by “head never touched [what].” Please clarify and we’ll try to assess. Thanks.

    • It sounds like to me is the sprinkler head came down out of the ceiling/wall and you could now see the exposed piping it was attached to? This is likely because a support hanger or retaining strap came loose and allowed the piping to fall. This should be depressurized and repaired immediately.

  7. I live in a apartment and was dusting the ceiling and i touch the sprinkler head knocking off the middle peice, which set the complex fire alarm off. Thankfully the water did not emit. Is it going to be ok until the staff check the sprinkler head?

    Thanks ,


    • Wendy — we can’t speak to whether it will be ok, and we’re not sure what you mean by “the middle piece.” If you mean the temperature-sensitive glass bulb or meltable metal link, that holds the water back in wet and dry sprinkler systems, which means water should have flowed. If you mean that piece and nothing happened (and it’s one of those systems), then there is arguably a bigger problem in that the system doesn’t work! If it is perhaps a preaction system (might be, though these are way less common), the system may require a separate initiation (like a smoke or heat sensor detecting a fire) to go off. In any case: you should get this looked at as soon as possible—and verify what type of system it is, what you damaged, etc. Best of luck!

  8. I accidentally tapped the sprinkler in my living room while dusting and of course, a huge water mess. Luckily, the fire department came swiftly to turn it off as it was a Sunday, and staff was slow to respond. I now have an air dehumidifier, fans, and drilled holes in the wall..all to dry up things. I’m wondering/dreading what the damage report will look like.

    • Rachelle — The bill can vary based on how much water sprayed (how long) on what. It may be a good idea to contact a professional flood/water damage remediation specialist to get a quote. One factor with fire sprinklers is that if it’s a wet system, the water sits in the pipe and often becomes stagnant, so it’s not exactly clean and fresh water. A qualified pro can help make sure everything is properly cleaned up in addition to avoiding any future mold growth, etc.—and moving pretty quickly to address these issues can be important. We’re sorry it happened and best wishes!

  9. Hi, We used an electric heater in a closed space bedroom, our sprinkle dint go off but there was a major water leak in the building. is there a possibility that the water leak was because of the heat damage to the sprinkle without setting it off?

    • Flor — When sprinklers go off, heat breaks the temperature-sensitive glass bulb or melts the metal link holding the water back in the supply pipe. And a heater probably wouldn’t generate enough heat to do that (most activation temps for residential sprinklers are 155°F) unless it was very close to the element. So, it’s unlikely, but you should contact a local fire protection and/or plumbing pro to see if the water leak had anything to do with the sprinkler pipe, etc. Thanks for reading!

  10. Hi! Do you have any statistics on leakage % of screwed sprinkler pipe vs coupled? Currently installing some in rack sprinklers (32m high) and install is becoming challenging. Customer wants to go with a screw type connection to make install easier however we have been told they are more prone to leaks. About 1-2%. Is this true? We have 11000 connections going in which would have 22000 threads. I am trying to find evidence to back up the claim and warn them of the potential consequences of not only leaks but maintenance also.

    • Dave — We do not have any statistics like that handy. But here are some considerations/info and potential sources:

      1. All major connection types, such as threaded (“screwed”), wafer/flanged, and grooved, will work adequately with proper manufacturers/materials.

      2. As fire protection PE Joe Meyer points out, threaded (screwed) pipe does have some disadvantages for larger connections and is not commonly used for them:

      “To create threaded pipe, a plain-end pipe is cut with a threaded machine decreasing the thickness of the pipe wall. As a result, the areas remaining below and adjacent to the thread become weaker and more susceptible to corrosion breakthroughs with the thinner wall of pipe.”

      3. Grooved pipe is often the most convenient and best option; it’s durable, connects easier than wafer/flanged/welded, and you can decouple one half of a connection without the whole connection falling out of place. There is some rundown of the differences in our blog regarding control valves with these connections.

      4. We don’t have exact stats, but Victaulic (a famous innovator and maker of grooved pipe) might—we know they compile stats on grooved vs. wafer/flanged (installation time benefits, etc.). So, you could try contacting them and asking if they have any hard numbers.

      Thanks for reading and best of luck with the project!

  11. After a head breaks is it acceptable to open the main drain after closing the main valve and reduce the line pressure so the water flow is less out of the head. I have heard this can cut the flow time in half or more and reduce damages.

  12. “Are shotguns also effective in storage areas, for example? I’m referring to the blocking time in relation to the high ceiling….

    • Michel — Their effectiveness simply relies on whether you can access the sprinkler (e.g., with a ladder that is sufficient and handy in the case of a high ceiling). A user must be close enough to apply the tool. Note that water will be spraying until the Shutgun is in place, so perching precariously on something at a high elevation may be an issue. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  13. Hi,
    Question: I’m hoping to add 1/2 decorative wood panelling to my ceiling. I have a pendant head sprinkler in the dropped ceiling portion of my concrete mid-rise building. I would simply cut out to allow the head and escutcheon to remain in place. Will the 1/2 material affect the sprinkler head function? Would it typically be a code violation?
    Thank you!

    • Robert — If we understand your question properly, you are worried about whatever paneling you are adding obstructing the sprinkler? The obstruction rules depend on how big it is and how far the item is from the sprinkler. The goal is too avoid disrupting the spray pattern. Unfortunately, the rules can be complex and we can’t definitively comment on your specific situation in this format. You can read this blog to learn about some of the principles; nevertheless, we advise you to contact a fire protection professional to evaluate what you want to do and ensure it is compliant. Thanks for reading.

  14. QRFS Team,

    Thank you for the incredible information provided in this article!

    I work at a hospital which recently had a sprinkler head failure resulting in the discharge of many, many gallons of water. The failure unfortunately occurred late in the night and our fire sprinkler service provider took hours to respond to isolate the water source (and our local FD wasn’t much help in turning off the source of water); so, water discharged from the system for ~3 hours in total.

    I personally was exposed to the stagnant water, attempting to clean up the pooling water to avoid water damage, for 1-2 hours or so and was completely drenched.

    Are there any concerns for personal safety being exposed to water like this for an extended duration? While I understand this may be outside your scope, I have been unable to locate any useful information online and am just trying to seek some initial insight to hopefully put my mind at ease.

    Thank you very much.

    • Jake — Thank you for the comment and kind words, and sorry you had to deal with that situation. Unfortunately, we can’t comment on the effects of being exposed to stagnant water, other than to say “if you didn’t drink any of it, that’s a good thing” and point you to this article about some of the reasons sprinkler water can be discolored. Otherwise, a physician is your best bet regarding stagnant water!


Leave a Comment