FOCUS on LS.02.01.35 - Sprinkler obstructions

LS.02.01.35 EP 6 requires that there are 18 inches or more of open space maintained below a sprinkler deflector to the top of any storage. When it comes to the proper activation of automatic sprinklers, it is essential to ensure that there are not any obstructions within 18 inches of the sprinkler head to allow for the proper distribution of water.  The figure below (used with permission from NFPA) indicates the distribution of the water from a sprinkler head.

Distribution pattern from a standard spray sprinkler

NFPA 13 Figure A.8.5.5.1 Obstructions to Sprinkler Discharge Pattern Development for Standard Upright or Pendent Spray Sprinklers.

Reproduced with permission from NFPA 13-2016, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, Copyright © 2015, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA. This reprinted material is not the complete and official position of the NFPA on the referenced subject, which is represented only by the standard in its entirety.

ISSUE

Storage within 18 inches of the sprinkler head will reduce the distribution of the water and hinder the effectiveness of the automatic sprinkler system to control and contain the fire.  During 2014, the Joint Commission recorded 478 survey findings regarding obstructions within 18 inches of a sprinkler head.

Obstruction of sprinkler system

IMPACT

Storage or obstructions within 18 inches of the sprinkler head impacts the ability of the sprinkler to properly distribute water to a fire.

MITIGATION

The image below indicates the proper allowances for storage around sprinklers.  It indicates that perimeter shelving and storage items directly next to the wall are allowed to be within 18 inches of the ceiling since these items will not impact the ability of the sprinkler head to distribute water.  Storage or shelving within the room, i.e. not in contact with a perimeter wall, have the potential to impede the sprinkler system’s ability to properly distribute water and therefore cannot be within 18 inches of the sprinkler head.  Using this following image can help depict this properly.

The proper allowances for storage around sprinklers

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