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No Sprinkler Left Behind

February 4, 2013

Sprinkler Riser tagGiven the great track record of automatic fire sprinklers, WSRB has launched an effort to extend credit to all deserving sprinkler systems.  If we can verify that a system appears to be properly designed, is inspected, maintained, and tested according to code, and that the system is operational, we will attempt to evaluate the system and classify the building as sprinklered even if the documentation we have traditionally asked for is not available.

WSRB, like the insurance industry in general, has always been heavily involved with the use of automatic fire sprinkler systems to protect high-hazard and high-value risks.  As a source of expertise for our subscribers, we have verified design and installation of these systems in order to provide advisory rating credit for each specific system.  This has traditionally involved reviewing plans, calculations, and other supporting documents to develop a Mechanical Grade which relates to the amount of rating credit we recommend the system should receive.

Over the years, as the fire protection industry has recognized not only the property protection value of these systems but also the life safety value, the number of disciplines and amount of expertise has increased.  Public fire officials are better trained, the Fire Protection Engineering discipline has grown, and there are typically state licensing requirements for those involved with the design, installation, and maintenance of sprinkler systems. All of these have led to more reliably designed and installed automatic fire sprinkler systems.  Studies show that these systems are up to 97% effective in controlling fires as intended.  Those that don’t work are usually those that are not kept operational (turned on), not maintained properly, or were not designed for the occupancy of the building which was present when a fire occurred.

We will continue to try to get plans, calculations, and initial testing documents in order to have more confidence in these systems. Receipt of this material will allow a system to potentially qualify for more credit.  However, the absence of documentation will not automatically disqualify a system from being eligible for fire insurance rating credit. If the system is turned on, is properly maintained, and is designed appropriately for the current occupancy we will attempt to evaluate the system for fire insurance rating credit.

High-hazard occupants, especially those protected with special application sprinklers, or buildings where sprinkler design information may be incomplete (which is sometimes the case in apartment or condominium complexes or motels) will still require additional information such as plans in order to verify the sprinkler heads match the design of the system and the occupancy of the building.  In rural and some other areas, we will also need to be able to verify the water supply available to the system.

 

To order a sprinkler inspection log into www.wsrb.com.

 

Article by: Robert Lacy, Assistant Vice President – Field Operations

Find out more about the Commercial Property Inspections we offer!

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