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July 2004: Pre-planning the Installation of a Fire Sprinkler System

One of changes in the 2002 Edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems that often goes unnoticed or enforced is the requirement of a building owner or their authorized representative to submit certain data to their sprinkler contractor/installer prior to the design of the fire sprinkler system.

The new section in NFPA 13 is as follows:

"4.3 Owner's Certificate.

The owner(s) of a building or structure where the fire sprinkler system is going to be installed or their authorized agent shall provide the sprinkler systems installer with the following information prior to the layout and detailing of the fire sprinkler system:

(1) Intended use of the building including the materials within the building and the maximum height of any storage

(2) A preliminary plan of the building or structure along with the design concepts necessary to perform the layout and detail for the fire sprinkler system

(3) Any special knowledge of the water supply including known environmental conditions that might be responsible for microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC)"

The National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) has developed a form to compile this information (see excerpt below).

The form includes the basic general construction and occupancy details that are needed by the sprinkler contractor/installer prior to the design of the fire sprinkler system. In nearly all cases, the sprinkler designer must perform a site visit and walk-though to confirm all of the details. Sometimes however, certain items can be missed (i.e., commodity classification, mixed storage areas, planned storage arrangement, etc.) or not thought out properly (i.e., coordinating with other trades, obstructions to ceiling/ESFR sprinklers, future plans for building/area, etc.). The owner should make every effort to provide complete and accurate information about the property to ensure the sprinkler system is properly designed for the proposed facility. Some details may appear to be minor or unimportant to the building owner, but could prove to be very costly in the future if they require upgrades, retrofits or extras after the original installation is completed.

If you plan on having an automatic sprinkler system installed at your facility, a complete survey of the facility should be performed and the system design data should be specified by a property loss control professional. Our engineers at Risk Logic can help to ensure that all of the important details are provided on the Owner's Certificate and the system is designed for the current and planned future use of your facility.