Connected fire sprinkler systems can minimize building closures

A connected solution monitors the status of your fire sprinkler system and helps keep your campus running smoothly.

What does it cost your campus in terms of time, budget or reputation when a building has to be closed for unscheduled repairs? If you operate multiple facilities, these issues are often magnified.

If your fire sprinkler system has been the cause of unexpected repairs, have you thought about what you could do to expect the unexpected? What would it mean for you to avoid a weekend emergency in the middle of the night due to a frozen pipe that led to a leak? What would it mean for your facility’s efficiency to be able to schedule fire sprinkler system repairs while avoiding the much greater costs of a system failure?

There are a few strategies you should consider to keep your system healthy and maximize the uptime of your plants.

3 Strategies to Maximize Build Time

First, be sure to keep up with your quarterly fire sprinkler system inspections. These inspections are your first line of defense and are required by NFPA 25 “Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems”. NFPA 25 sets the basis for maintaining the integrity of your system.

Second, consider ways to reduce the risk of corrosion damage. Corrosion in fire sprinkler systems leads to clogging problems, decreased fire sprinkler performance, damage from water leaks, and reduced service life. All of this can result in significant risks to life safety, structural integrity and business continuity.

Find out how to improve safety in your school and university. Attend campus safety conferences this summer, in Bethesda, Md., Fort Worth, Texas, and Los Angeles. For more information and to register, visit CampusSafetyConference.com.

If you have a dry pipe or preaction sprinkler system without water in the pipes, you can use nitrogen as the system air instead of oxygen to reduce corrosion. For your wet piping systems, you can consider a venting solution that removes trapped oxygen from the piping to reduce corrosion or you can displace the oxygen with nitrogen to further fight corrosion and extend service life. system life.

Finally, consider a solution that really helps you expect the unexpected by predicting and preventing problems with your fire sprinkler system. Adding connectivity to your fire sprinkler system and integrating it with the IoT (Internet of Things) can help you better understand the health of your system and resolve issues before they arise. turn into blockages, leaks or other problems.

A connected solution can keep you informed — in real time — of the status of your fire sprinkler system. Sensors placed at strategic points in the system can continuously measure temperature, pressure and the presence of water. The data is sent to the cloud and can then notify the right people to act at the right time.

Some solutions use LoRa (long range) wireless technology, which is a common wireless protocol ideal for campuses. It allows wireless signals to travel long distances and through building materials on a quiet frequency band that minimizes wireless interference.

Why preventing fire sprinkler system failures is so important

Preventing fire sprinkler system failures solves problems common to different types of campuses, whether it’s a hospital, retirement home, or college campus.

Common benefits include:

  1. The ability to be where you are needed: With a connected solution, you can respond where and when you need it most and know how to prioritize what needs to be done.
  2. Get a complete view of system status across campus (or even a view across multiple campuses): Know where to focus your time and budget when prioritizing ongoing repairs and maintenance.
  3. Partner with your insurance company to reduce insurance premiums: If you can reduce your campus risk profile by avoiding fire sprinkler system failures, what would that be worth to your insurance company and for your business?

A connected solution can also bring benefits that help support your campus mission. Here are some examples of what proactive maintenance of sprinkler systems can mean for different types of campuses:

Hospitals

A continuously operating sprinkler system means disruption to patients and minimized logistical challenges, since the system can be installed and configured while sprinkler systems are active and buildings are occupied. Once the system collects data, you have the capabilities to predict and prevent fire sprinkler system repairs or failures, reducing the occurrences when patients need to be moved.

Proactive maintenance also helps to stay focused on a hospital’s mission, which is to help patients. A freeze or leak in your fire sprinkler system could destroy sensitive equipment such as MRIs and X-ray machines, delay patient care and incur replacement costs.

A connected system can also help keep support facilities available – for example, parking spaces for patients, staff and visitors can sometimes be scarce; keeping them operational helps increase your operational efficiency and is one less concern for patients and their families.

Finally, a common pain point can be awnings over entrances to emergency rooms and surgery centers. These areas can be prone to fire sprinkler system issues that can shut off critical entry points, causing disruption and confusion for patients and staff. A connected solution is designed to alert of a potential problem to keep the sprinkler system operational, so those critical entry points remain available.

life support

Assisted living facilities are also spaces where it is important to minimize disruption. For example, facilities that provide memory care can give families peace of mind by actively working to reduce the instances where residents need to be relocated. Knowing that a facility is taking precautions to minimize unnecessary disruption, such as responsive maintenance of the sprinkler system, can help assure families that their loved ones are receiving the best possible care.

With the tools to anticipate potential water damage, you can also help prevent damage to sensitive equipment, as well as resident property, which is often of immeasurable personal value to them and their families.

Bethesda Senior Living Communities (BSLC) rolled out a connected solution in 2017 in partnership with Johnson Controls. Prior to installation, they had seen two to four incidents a year due to small air leaks, freezes, or compressor shutdowns. The system has been implemented in fire sprinkler systems at 18 sites, and BSLC has significantly reduced incidents. They experienced only two freezing interruptions over the next four years.

Higher Education

As a member of a college or university facilities management team, you can support the campus master plan and help keep projects and long-term plans on track by understanding health of the existing fire sprinkler system infrastructure. To protect world-class learning environments and technologies as your school refines, improves, and even reinvents the learning experience, the right support structure is needed to keep behind-the-scenes operations running smoothly. This includes minimizing disruption to spaces that are often the public face of your campus.

fire sprinklers

Quarterly fire sprinkler system inspections are your first line of defense and are required by NFPA 25 “Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.” Photo courtesy JCI

Quick renovations to your existing sprinkler system can happen while classes are in progress or during breaks when fewer students are in residence. By being able to predict and prevent sprinkler system issues, you can anticipate problems before they become disruptive – helping to keep classes in session, students in housing, and much more.

Finally, connected fire sprinkler technology can help protect and support one of your school’s sources of revenue: stadiums. Stadiums aren’t just the venue for sports games, they can generate significant revenue for your school. A fire sprinkler system failure can mean that a major game or event is cancelled. This can be avoided by implementing a proactive and connected solution.

Is a connected solution suitable for your campus?

If you’ve had a significant incident with your fire sprinkler system in the past, you can probably recognize the benefits of avoiding the problem altogether.

Consider a connected solution to help you monitor your sprinkler system if:

  • You live in an area that may experience frequent or unexpected cold temperatures – even in the southern United States, temperatures can suddenly reach freezing point, leaving people unprepared and causing significant damage
  • Your properties include aging systems, where corrosion is more likely
  • You manage multiple campuses and therefore have a higher risk of a problem on one of them
  • You have had several system failures in the past and you are seeing an increase in insurance premiums and/or you risk losing your coverage

Aaron Jerabek is Global Product Manager, Connected Devices and Services for Johnson Controls. For more information, visit www.johnsoncontrols.com/CFSS.