Brass Extension Nipples

From NFSA TechNotes April 11, 2017

Is it permitted to use brass extension fittings as part of a drop to extend the sprinkler deflector below a lay in ceiling in accordance with NFPA 13-2010?

Answer: While NFPA 13-2010 does not include specific criteria regarding the use of extension fittings, the answer is “yes, if the requirements of NFPA 13-2016 can be used.” This would require use of the equivalency provision of NFPA 13-2010, section 1.5.
New language was added to the 2016 edition of NFPA 13 to provide requirements for the use of extension fittings. NFPA 13-2016, section 6.4.8 allows the installation of a single extension fitting up to 2 inches without inclusion in the hydraulic calculations, provided that the internal diameter of the extension fitting has the same nominal inlet diameter as the attached sprinkler. This requirement would be applicable for extension fittings used with k-8.0 and smaller sprinklers in light and ordinary hazard occupancies only. Installation of multiple (two or more) extension fittings would not be permitted for larger dimensional needs. If needed, extension fittings having lengths greater than 2 inches could be used if specifically listed. However, these extension fittings would be required to be included in the hydraulic calculations.

Loss of Fluid in Glass Bulb Sprinklers

From NFSA TechNotes Issue # 369 March 15, 2017

What would cause the loss of fluid in glass bulb sprinklers?

Answer: There can be several causes for the loss of fluid in a glass bulb such as damage during shipment, handling and installation in the field. From a manufacturing standpoint, UL adopted a revision into its sprinkler standards in 2003 to require glass bulb integrity testing after the sprinkler has been fully assembled and subjected to the production leakage test. This requirement became effective September 26, 2004.
This was also addressed in NFPA 25-2017 under section 5.2.1.1.1(4), which states:

“5.2.1.1.1 Any sprinkler that shows signs of any of the following shall be replaced:
(1) Leakage
(2) Corrosion detrimental to sprinkler performance
(3) Physical Damage
(4) Loss of fluid in the glass bulb responsive element
(5) Loading detrimental to sprinkler performance
(6) Paint other than that applied by the sprinkler manufacturer”

It is also advisable to contact the sprinkler manufacturer regarding such issues.

Replacing Sprinklers After a Fire

From NFSA’s Tech Notes #367 February 14, 2017

Is there a standard for replacing sprinklers after a fire? How many sprinklers would have to be replaced beyond the limits of the fire area?

Answer: NFPA 25 contains annex language addressing this situation. Annex section A.5.2 of the 2017 edition of NFPA 25 (similar language in earlier editions) reads as follows:

“A.5.2 The provisions of the standard are intended to apply to routine inspections. In the event of a fire, a post-fire inspection should be made of all sprinklers within the fire area. In situations where the fire was quickly controlled or extinguished by one or two sprinklers, it might be necessary only to replace the activated sprinklers. Care should be taken that the replacement sprinklers are of the same make and model or that they have compatible performance characteristics (see 5.4.1.2). Soot-covered sprinklers should be replaced because deposits can result in corrosion of operating parts. In the event of a substantial fire, special consideration should be given to replacing the first ring of sprinklers surrounding the operated sprinklers because of the potential for excessive thermal exposure, which could weaken the response mechanisms.”

Each fire event is different and it is important to perform a thorough inspection of the premises that were subject to a fire event before determining which sprinklers must be replaced. Any sprinklers that are loaded or covered with soot would need to be replaced. Also, great care must be taken to ensure that sprinklers that have been exposed to elevated temperatures are replaced. Even if the sprinklers did not activate, if they were subject to elevated temperatures, the operating elements could be weakened and the sprinkler may not operate properly.

National Ladder Safety Month – March 2017

Every step matters: From step stools to extension ladders, make sure you’re putting the right foot forward.
Every year over 300 people die in ladder-related accidents, and thousands suffer disabling injuries. Mark your calendar to join the American Ladder Institute (ALI) in celebrating the first-ever National Ladder Safety Month, designed to raise awareness of ladder safety and to decrease the number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities.

What is National Ladder Safety Month?
National Ladder Safety Month is the only movement dedicated exclusively to the promotion of ladder safety, at home and at work. During March 2017, National Ladder Safety Month will bring heightened awareness to the importance of the safe use of ladders through resources, training and a national dialogue.
ALI, the only approved developer of safety standards for the U.S. ladder industry, is the presenting sponsor for National Ladder Safety Month.

The “why”: Every life saved is precious
ALI believes ladder accidents are preventable, but without better safety planning and training and continuous innovation in product design, we will continue to see far too many fatalities. Please join ALI and its members in sharing this message with the world.

The goals of National Ladder Safety Month are to:
Increase the number of ladder safety training certificates issued by ALI
Increase the frequency that ladder safety training modules are viewed on www.laddersafetytraining.org
Lower the rankings of ladder-related safety citations on OSHA’s yearly “Top 10 Citations List”
Decrease number of ladder-related injuries and fatalities
Increase the number of competent ladder inspector trainings
Increase the number of companies and individuals that inspect and properly dispose of old, damaged or obsolete ladders

Sign up to receives more information from ALI on how you can participate in spreading awareness about ladder safety at work, ladder safety at home, and proper ladder inspection and disposal.

Learn More About National Ladder Safety Month

OSHA Record-keeping Changes – Updated 4/22/17

REVISED – OSHA Website on 4/22/2017:

Electronic Submission of Records: OSHA is not accepting electronic submissions of injury and illness logs at this time. Updates will be posted to this webpage when they are available.   https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/

Every Construction Company with 20 or more employees is required to electronically submit their 2016 300A by July 1, 2017.

What does the rule require?
The new rule, which took effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms. Analysis of this data will enable OSHA to use its enforcement and compliance assistance resources more efficiently. Some of the data will also be posted to the OSHA website. OSHA believes that public disclosure will encourage employers to improve workplace safety and provide valuable information to workers, job seekers, customers, researchers and the general public. The amount of data submitted will vary depending on the size of company and type of industry.

How will electronic submission work?
OSHA will provide a secure website that offers three options for data submission. First, users will be able to manually enter data into a webform. Second, users will be able to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. Last, users of automated recordkeeping systems will have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface). The site is scheduled to go live in February 2017.

Senate Bill 305

Click here to view or download Senate Bill 305 As Passed

A memo from the late David Hendrick:

Georgia Senate Bill 305 regarding the safety and fire inspection process passed both the Senate and the House and was signed by Governor Deal. This legislation never received a negative vote throughout the committee process or through the votes before the full Georgia Senate and House of Representatives.

This legislation addresses unwarranted or unsubstantiated changes that are sometimes required by fire inspectors in the field after project plans have been submitted, approved and constructed per code requirements all the way to the final inspection process. When signed into law and becoming effectual on July 1, 2014, this amendment will require fire inspectors to provide written notification substantiating where a violation of the code has occurred before they can require changes in construction, or modifications in a previously approved design. Under the law, if a state or local code official or building inspector determines that the in-place construction or plans for any building required to meet the state minimum fire safety standards do not comply with applicable codes or standards, such inspector or official may deny a permit or request for a certificate of occupancy or certificate of completion, as appropriate, or may issue a stop-work order for the project or any portion thereof as provided by law or rule or regulation, after giving written notification and opportunity to remedy the violation. Most importantly, the “written notification” must be in writing citing the specific sections of the applicable codes or standards that have been violated and describing specifically where and how the design or construction is noncompliant with such codes or standards.

 

Hopefully, this legislation will reduce arbitrary and subjective determinations by inspectors and code officials that often have required significant last minute additional work and modifications, not to mention cost and delay, based upon unsubstantiated and, ultimately, even incorrect “judgment calls.” This would allow expeditious and focused challenge of any such notification believed to be based upon an incorrect application or interpretation of applicable codes. Moreover, it would allow for an opportunity to “remedy” and cited violation before more drastic measures could be taken.

The legislation evolved in close coordination of the State Fire Marshal Dwayne Garriss and Senator Tippins and its House sponsors, Representatives Bill Hitchens and Alan Powell.

Vane type waterflow switches cycling on and off

From Mike Henke at Potter Electric Signal

Click Here to Download Mike’s Letter

Vane type waterflow switches should be tested using the inspectors test valve to indicate water flow equivalent to that of a single sprinkler.

In some instances the waterflow switch will “cycle” on and off during this test. This is usually an indication of excessive air trapped in the sprinkler system.

This phenomenon has increased with the use of backflow preventors and inspector test valves in close proximity to the flowswitch instead of at hydraulically remote locations.

Without a valve at the far end of the sprinkler system being open when the system is being filled, the air in the piping cannot vent as the water enters. All of this air compresses and can result in sprinkler pipes being partially filled with water.

In addition to excessive amounts of oxygen leading to increased corrosion, it can also cause the waterfliow switch to cycle on and off, delayed operation of the flowswitch or false alarms. When the inspectors test valve is opened, the trapped compressed air expands pushing system water out of the test valve. When the system pressure drops enough, the backflow or check valve opens allowing fresh supply water to enter the system. The supply water flows past the waterflow switch, moves the paddle and starts the retard action. The incoming supply water also compresses the air in the system causing pressure to build up. When the system pressure equals the supply pressure the backflow will close and the flowswitch resets. Then the entire cycling process starts all over. While there may be a steady stream of water flowing out of the test valve, there is not a steady stream of water flowing past the flowswitch.

The delayed flowswitch operation occurs because the cycling keeps going until eventually it takes long enough for the backflow to close that the flowswitch finally goes into alarm or in the event of a real fire, another sprinkler opens and now it flows enough water that the backflow stays open.

False alarms can occur because when you open the ITV you bleed of any pressure that may have built up in the system. Now when the city turns on their pumps late at night to build up pressure for the morning water demand of the city, this water flows into the system and trips the flowswitch because the pipes are only partially full and the system pressure is lower than the supply pressure because the system pressure was vented through the ITV the day before.

Potter makes an automatic air vent, model PAAR-B or PAV, that can be used to automatically vent air from the system or remote valves can be installed for venting the system as it is being filled.

Color Loss in Glass Bulb Sprinklers

Cold environments can be challenging for any equipment and mechanical component. However, when there is concern about a sprinkler, life and property safety could be at risk. It has been noticed that glass bulb fire sprinklers could lose the color of the liquid inside the glass bulb when subjected to cold temperatures, such as those found in coolers and freezers. Typically, this scenario has been found on inspection of the fire sprinkler system during the normal procedures outlined in NFPA 25, Standard for Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.

 

The UL/FM/NFSA Standards Review Committee discussed this topic and conducted testing on glass bulbs. Glass bulb samples from multiple manufacturers were subjected to different levels of cold temperatures by both Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and FM Approvals. It was noted that a limited number of the samples with a temperature rating of 155°F (red) lost their color at low temperatures. However, these bulbs would change back to the red color upon warming to room temperature. The fading of color could also be seen in 175°F (green) colored bulbs, but they did not reach a clear liquid. Again, the color returned when exposed to warmer temperatures.

 

If the inspector cannot see color in a glass bulb sprinkler from the floor level and suspects that sprinkler is empty of liquid, is this a deficiency in the fire sprinkler system? Yes, by the letter of NFPA 25 when the inspector cannot verify that there is fluid in the bulb of the sprinkler it would be a deficiency. The initial reaction has been to replace the sprinkler(s). However, with knowledge that cold environments can impact the color of a glass bulb sprinkler, the scenario may warrant further investigation. It should be noted, as described above, that there may not be anything wrong with that sprinkler. The glass bulb sprinklers located in cold environments may still have their liquid and can operate as intended. If further investigation reveals that there is fluid and only color is lost, that sprinkler may remain in service. Should the investigation reveal a loss of fluid in the glass bulb element, the sprinkler would have to be replaced in accordance with Section 5.2.1.1.2(4) in the 2014 Edition of NFPA 25.

 

As there is concern that a floor inspection, as required by NFPA 25, would not differentiate between glass bulb sprinklers that are empty versus those that are faded, the UL/FM/NFSA Standard Review Committee suggested language to make inspectors aware. During the NFPA 25 First Draft meeting, the following first revision language has been included in the annex under Section A.5.2.1.1.1:

 

“….Glass bulbs in sprinklers exposed to sunlight or installed in cold environments such as walk-in coolers and freezers may lose their temperature classification color due to the environment. This loss of color should not be confused with loss of fluid in the glass bulb. Tests have shown that this loss of color in the bulb does not affect the operation or any other performance characteristics of the sprinkler and these sprinklers may be allowed to remain in service. The tests also showed when sprinklers installed in cold environments were subjected to temperatures above 60F, the fluid color returned….”

 

In conclusion, the color in glass bulb sprinklers is a simple way to confirm that fluid is in the bulb. Should the color be absent, additional review of sprinklers in cold environments might show the fluid is still present. Where this is the condition, the sprinkler should be expected to operate as intended.

New OSHA Rule on Reporting Requirements

Important OSHA News: New OSHA Rule on Reporting Requirements

Effective January 1, 2015, OSHA will require that notification be provided to it in the following circumstances:
• Notification must be provided to OSHA within eight (8) hours of any fatality which occurs within 30 days of the work-related incident
• In-patient hospitalization of one or more workers requires notice to OSHA within 24 hours
• Amputations or loss of an eye must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours
Under the current reporting requirements, employers are only required to report work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalization of three or more employees. There is no current requirement to provide notice to OSHA of a single hospitalization, nor is there a current requirement to provide notice to OSHA of an amputation or loss of an eye.

OSHA announced these reporting requirement changes in a press release issued September 11, 2014.

OSHA has also expanded the available methods of reporting to it. While OSHA will continue to maintain its confidential number (1-800-321-OSHA) and allow for reporting to a local OSHA Area Office, it has also creating a web portal in order to allow employers to make reports electronically. As of October 15, OSHA’s website stated that the electronic reporting form was still under development.

Obstruction Investigation

An Informal Interpretation by the AFSA:

Obstruction Investigation

 “Is an obstruction investigation required every 5 years or whenever one of the 14 conditions exist?”

We have reviewed NFPA 25, 2011 edition as the applicable standard. Our informal interpretation is that an obstruction investigation is conducted when any of the 14 conditions in Section 14.3.1 exists.

The internal pipe inspections and obstruction investigations are two separate tasks. The internal inspection of piping has a frequency of every 5 years in Section 14.2. The obstruction investigation has no time limit and is initiated when any of the listed 14 conditions are present. For example, there were some systems installed for only a few months that have experienced pinhole leaks. This is a condition listed to initiate an obstruction investigation and obstruction prevention program. These 14 conditions can show up at any time. A system that does not exhibit any of the 14 conditions listed under Section 14.3.1, an internal inspection of piping or “visual” inspection shall be completed every 5 years by opening a flushing connection at the end of one main and by removing a sprinkler toward the end of one branch line. This would include each system if drained for another inspection procedure. The Handbook commentary clarifies that the inspection required by 14.2.1 should be coordinated with the internal inspection requirement of system control valves, such as required by 13.4.1.2 for alarm valves. Subsection 14.2.1, is not intended to place an additional burden on the property owner by requiring an additional inspection every five years. If the system is drained for another 5-year inspection, then the internal inspection of that particular system can be completed.