Fire Sprinkler Systems
The City of Scottsdale is widely recognized as a leader in built-in automatic sprinkler systems. In 1985, the City passed an ordinance requiring every commercial and multi-family building to be outfitted with a complete fire sprinkler system. The ordinance also requires that single-family residences, built after Jan. 1, 1986, be fully outfitted with an approved fire sprinkler system. Sprinkler systems are also required in major remodeling projects. These systems have been credited with saving a number of lives locally and across the nation. View the original 10-year study. (PDF) View the 15-year data (PDF)
These systems are effective only if they are maintained in working order. The fire department checks the protective sprinkler system to ensure that it is working properly. Homeowners can also assist with keeping the system in working order.
System Maintenance Procedures
For safety and to ensure the proper operation of the fire sprinkler system, remember the following:
- Visually check the sprinkler system monthly. This check is to make certain that nothing obstructs the sprinklers, which would interfere with their water spray pattern.
- Do not hang anything from the sprinkler heads.
- Do not paint the sprinkler heads. No overspray or paint splatters are acceptable.
- Do not hit or tamper with the sprinkler heads.
- Do not change the setting of the pressure relief valve because this has been preset at the factory.
- Test your system or make certain your system is tested periodically to be sure it is working correctly.
- The main drain valve should remain in the closed position..
- In areas with cold or freezing weather, it is recommended that insulation be provided for the sprinkler pipe.
- Make certain that any replacement of the residential sprinklers is by a sprinkler contractor licensed or certified as competent.
- In 2001, Omega Sprinklers issued a recall of its sprinkler heads. Although the deadline has passed to have the sprinklers replaced for free under the recall, owners of Omega sprinklers are encouraged to have their sprinklers replaced.
- Don’t forget to regularly check smoke alarms.
Facts & Myths about Fire Sprinklers
Automatic Fire Sprinkler systems have enjoyed an enviable record of protecting life and property for more than 100 years. However, there are still common misunderstandings about the operation and effectiveness of automatic fire sprinkler systems.
“When a fire occurs, every fire sprinkler head discharges water.”
Fact: Sprinkler heads are individually activated by heat.
Residential fires are usually controlled with one sprinkler head.
A 15-year study conducted in Scottsdale found that 2 or less sprinkler heads controlled more than 92 percent of the fires that occurred in protected properties.
“Water damage from Fire Sprinklers will be more extensive than the fire damage itself."
Fact: Water damage from a home fire sprinkler system will be much less than the damage caused by water from firefighting hoses or the smoke and fire damage if the fire continues unabated.
“A smoke alarm is enough protection from fire.”
Fact: Smoke alarms save lives by providing a warning system but do nothing to extinguish a growing fire or protect those physically unable to escape on their own, such as the impaired, elderly or small children.
Also, battery operated smoke alarms often fail to work because the batteries are dead or have been removed.
“Fire sprinklers are designed to protect property but are not effective for life safety.”;
Fact: Fire sprinklers provide a high level of life safety. The NFPA has no record of a multiple death fire in a completely sprinklered public assembly, educational, institutional or residential building where the system was properly operating.
“Home sprinklers are expensive.”
Fact: Current estimates suggest that when a home is under construction, a home sprinkler system could cost about 1 percent of the total building price – that’s less than most upgrades like carpeting, fire places, covered patios and window treatments.
“Residential sprinkler systems are ugly.”
Fact: The traditional industrial-type sprinklers, as well as sprinklers for home use, have been redesigned to fit in with most decor. Recessed or flush mounted sprinkler heads are now very unobtrusive and commonly installed in many residential and commercial structures.
Need help? Schedule a free safety inspection.
Scottsdale’s firefighters will inspect your sprinklers and advise you of ways to develop a home safety plan. To schedule a safety inspection or for more information about fire sprinkler systems, call the Scottsdale Fire Department Prevention Division at 480-312-1855. Or fill out the request form here.