Avoiding Fire & Sprinkler Code Violations
Staying compliant with local fire codes is paramount to business and property owners. Even the smallest uncorrected violations could mean fees or—at the very worst—premises liability suits.
The New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board (NJFSAB) has compiled a list of common fire code and fire sprinkler code violations for building and property owners to use. It’s important to note that while code violations must be taken seriously, they are often easily remedied.
Fire Code Violations
- Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguisher violations are by far the most common fire code violations. They can include the wrong class of extinguisher for the area, an extinguisher that is not full or an extinguisher that has expired.
- Blocked Passageways/Doors
These violations are the easiest to remedy, but they could also be the most disastrous if left ignored. A blocked means of egress could be catastrophic in the event of a fire, so making sure exits are clear and well-marked is paramount.
Standard signs by exits are no longer sufficient. Property owners must install properly illuminated exits signs at all exits. Property owners should also be cognizant of where their local municipality requires these signs to be installed, since some may require installation at the ground level.
Fire Sprinkler Violations
- Expired Gauges
One of the most common violations is expired gauges. While gauges are not critical to the operation of a fire sprinkler system, they are an indicator that can alert the owner or contractor before something goes awry. Gauges on a fire sprinkler system that are older than five years and have not undergone recent calibration tests must be swapped for new ones. While it is possible to recalibrate gauges, replacing them is the easiest and most simple option. Not sure how old your systems gauges are? Most contractors will put the dates the gauges were installed on the gauges themselves.
- No Spare Fire Sprinkler Heads and Fire Sprinkler Wrenches
When a fire sprinkler head activates to contain a fire, NFPA 25 mandates that property owners must have spare heads and fire sprinkler wrenches readily available to replace the used head. NFPA included this measure to ensure that a fire sprinkler system can be put back in working order as quickly as possible.
- Obstructed Pipes
This is by far the most critical violation, one that must be remedied as quickly as possible. NFPA 25 mandates that fire sprinkler system pipes be checked internally every five years for blockages. Obstructions may occur over time as the result of debris settling at the bottom of the system, or in the case of dry systems, moisture seeping into the pipes. To read the NJFSAB’s piece on corrosion and what to do when it occurs, click here.
What to do if you Receive a Fire Code Violation
While there are numerous fire and fire sprinkler code violations, it is important to not get lost in the chaos. Most code officials went into the industry to protect lives, not to hand out punitive citations. Many will be more than willing to advise you about the violations and remedies to fix them. So, if you have questions about violations you may have received, do not hesitate to ask them.
Violations are more common than you may think. Try not to view a violation as a “black eye” on your business reputation and keep this in mind when speaking to code officials who see their fair share of conflict on a day-to-day basis.
Regarding fire sprinkler code violations, the NJFSAB maintains that these are best handled by the contractor who installed the system or the person/company currently contracted to conduct maintenance on the system. This is not a do-it-yourself project. Tampering with your fire sprinkler system in any way could affect its overall ability to function.
NJFSAB and the contractors it represents are happy to advise you on any questions you may have about fire code and fire sprinkler code violations in New Jersey. Please contact us at 866-226-6006.