Fire Protection System Impairment Program School District Fire Protection System Impairment Program Introduction

Дата канвертавання27.04.2016
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Fire Protection System

Impairment Program

School District Fire Protection System Impairment Program


There are times when it may be necessary to disable sprinkler, fire suppression and/or fire alarm systems on campus. The probability of a fire or explosion causing major damage is increased whenever a system, alarm or device is impaired.

An impairment is defined as a shutdown (in whole or in part) of a fire protection system. Fire protection systems include sprinkler systems, standpipe/hose systems, fire pumps, fire protection water supplies, fire mains, fire alarm systems, and special extinguishing systems (i.e. clean agent, wet/dry chemical, foam/water, etc.).
Many large losses in protected properties might otherwise have been small had it not been for an impaired fire or explosion protective system. When an impairment is planned or occurs accidentally, precautions must be taken to minimize the duration and extent of the impairment, ensure prompt restoration, provide temporary protection and supervision, and reduce hazards in the affected area.

The purpose of the procedure is to provide guidance on when and how these systems and their components are to be disabled and re-enabled.


Employees and contractors shall follow this procedure whenever it is necessary to disable a fire protection system. This procedure applies to all sprinkler systems, fire suppression systems and fire alarm systems and their components. This includes planned or emergency outages of the system or devices. Sprinkler impairment requirements can be found in the International Fire Code Section 901.7.

Types of Impairments

There are three types of impairments: Planned; Emergency; and Hidden.

A Planned Impairment is a scheduled impairment. It may occur during routine preventive maintenance, during facility renovation or new construction. Emergency Impairments, sometimes called unplanned impairments, occur when an unexpected event impairs the normal function of the protection system. Emergency impairments are the result of a fire accident or damage incurred to the sprinkler system, such as a ruptured or leaking pipe or an interruption of the water supply. A Hidden Impairment, or concealed impairment, is one which is not known to exist and is, therefore, the most serious type. It occurs when a fire protection system is inadvertently left out of service upon completion of work, a system is shut down without proper notification, or a system is maliciously shut down.

Assignment of an Impairment Coordinator

The International Fire Code 901.7.1 requires the assignment of an Impairment Coordinator by the property owner. The Impairment Coordinator:

  • Authorizes the shut down of the fire protection system.

  • Ensures that the impairment procedures are being followed and completed.

  • Verifies that steps to restore systems to service have been followed and that the systems are restored to service as soon as possible.

The Sprinkler Impairment Tag

The Sprinkler Impairment Tag helps you plan and manage impairments and restore full fire protection. Hang the tag on the control valve or other impaired device. The tag acts as a reminder that authorization is needed before the system can be shut down and to indicate that a system, or portion thereof, has been removed from service. The head custodian/building engineer in each building should be familiar with the procedure involved.

Before a Planned Impairment:

  • Determine the expected duration of the impairment, and the area of the building involved.

  • Inspect the areas or buildings involved and determine the increased risk.

  • Get authorization from the District’s Impairment Coordinator to shut down the sprinkler system.

  • Notify the public fire service so they can be ready to handle any emergency that might occur.

  • Notify the alarm company that the sprinkler system will be out of service.

  • Assign a fire watch to patrol area where protection is out of service.

  • Plan to have temporary fire protection on hand: extra fire extinguishers or charged fire hose lines if applicable.

  • Shut down any hazardous operations involving flammable liquids or spark generating equipment.

  • Relocate combustible materials from an impaired sprinkler area to an area protected with sprinklers, if possible.

  • Expedite the work. Workers, materials, equipment and tools should be ready before any system is shut off.

  • Attach the impairment tag to the affected sprinkler control valve or control device.

  • Notify employees in area that fire protection systems will be shut off.

  • If the impairment is prolonged, consider setting up temporary sprinkler protection, by running a hose from the hydrant to the 2-inch drain of an active sprinkler system.

  • Determine how to quickly return the sprinkler system to service in case a fire occurs during the impairment.

  • Lastly, shut down the affected fire protection system and begin work.

During the Impairment

  • Prohibit all hot work including cutting and welding. If hot work is essential to complete the work, discuss in advance with the fire marshal or the District head of Facilities or Maintenance.

  • Patrol area where protection is out of service. If the impairment occurs for more than one work day or if the alarm notification system is also impaired the building has to be occupied 24 hours.

  • Prohibit smoking.

After the Impairment

  • Open all valves that were secured during the impairment.

  • Remove Impairment Tag once valves are open.

  • Lock sprinkler control valves in the wide open position.

  • Conduct a 2-inch drain test in the wide open position.

  • Ensure the fire protection system is placed back to “automatic” service.

  • Reset alarm system and notify the alarm company.

  • Notify the public fire department.

  • Notify the district’s Impairment Coordinator.

  • Notify affected employees that fire protection system is back in service.

  • Keep completed impairment tags on file for one year.

Emergency Impairment

  • For unplanned impairments such as a sprinkler pipe leaking or breaking up after a freeze, immediate action must be taken to control a major loss.

  • Stabilize the situation and immediately follow the procedures outlined in “Before a Planned Impairment”.

  • After repairs have been completed follow the procedures in “After the Impairment”.

Hidden Impairment

The hidden impairment can be prevented by:

  • Locking all sprinkler control valves in the open position with a sturdy lock and chain.

  • Inspecting all sprinkler control valves weekly to assure that they are locked and in the open position.

  • Inspect, test and maintain all fire alarm and fire detection devices regularly.

If the protection system is found impaired, the conditions should be immediately reported to the district’s Impairment Coordinator.

Employee Training

The following District personnel are to be trained in the Sprinkler Impairment procedures.

  • All Facility and Maintenance Department managers and supervisors.

  • All Maintenance Department personnel that work with the sprinkler and fire protection systems.

  • The head custodian and the lead custodian on each shift at every building site that has a sprinkler system.

During the training, the Sprinkler Impairment Tag is shown and trainees are instructed on how to follow the steps on the permit. A copy of the procedures is to be issued to each person and a signed receipt is required that verifies they have read the procedures and understand how the system works.

Contractors Must Follow Sprinkler Impairment Procedures

All contractors that work on the fire protection system or need to shut off the fire protection system during construction, remodeling or short duration repairs must follow the Fire Protection System Impairment procedures outlined in the district’s program. A copy of the procedures is to be issued to the contractor(s) and a signed receipt is required that verifies they have read and will comply with the district’s procedures.

Contractors must coordinate with the Facilities Department or the head custodian at the building site before closing a sprinkler valve to ensure that all Fire Protection System Impairment steps are followed and action to mitigate fire losses are taken. The fire protection system must be restored to full service as soon as possible to provide fire protection to the building.

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