The Painted Head: A Multifamily Fire Protection Nightmare

by Rachel

So you had all of your fire system inspections last year and made all the necessary repairs. This year you know your systems are in good shape and you expect a good and clean inspection report. Nevertheless, when you receive your report from the most recent fire inspection it has a list of deficiencies a mile long! How could this be? Everything was fixed last year!

 

This happens more times than we can count. It’s frustrating and we get it. The fact is, a LOT of things happen over the course of a year that might go unnoticed without performing the annual inspection. Parts go bad and things get damaged; however, the number one issue we observe on multifamily properties is painted sprinkler heads.

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We hate those words almost as much as you do. In a perfect world we would come out to your property, perform the annual fire inspection, hang a shiny green tag and tell you that everything is A-OK. Unfortunately, that often is not the case. The truth is, our inspectors spend hours walking through apartment units counting hundreds or even thousands of the painted sprinkler heads that have popped up just since the previous year’s inspection.  After we find these and after we hang a yellow tag on the system, we know you are going to be disappointed and maybe even downright mad.  

 

This problem is easily solved with better communication and collaboration. Simply placing a plastic bag over each sprinkler head before any sanding or painting takes place will save you thousands of dollars in repairs.

 

We’re on your team! We want to keep you safe and compliant. So, here are a few tips to put an end to painted sprinkler heads:

  1. Communicate with your staff and all contractors the importance of protecting the fire sprinkler heads in your buildings
  2. Explain the cost associated with replacement of fire sprinkler heads
  3. Write and enforce a procedure that anyone doing work in your units must follow, whether it’s painting or other work that might cause construction dust
  4. Have contractors working in the unit open windows when painting (spray) or sanding
  5. Inspect the heads in the unit(s) before and after someone performs work and document any changes

By implementing a few of these tips, hopefully you can avoid the most common problem that quickly becomes a nightmare for managers of multifamily properties.

 

If you’d like to learn more about multifamily fire protection systems and fire inspections, join us for our April 21 Lunch and Learn. Click Here for more details.

 

This post contributed by Ron Goss in the Multifamily Service & Inspections Division at Century Fire Protection.

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