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Back to School Checklist: Installing and Maintaining Fire Protection Systems in New School Buildings

By: Lainey Liotta on August 20th, 2019

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Back to School Checklist: Installing and Maintaining Fire Protection Systems in New School Buildings

Commercial  |  BlazeMaster vs. Steel

It could reasonably be argued that fire protection systems for school buildings are among the most noble fire safety applications of all. The safety of children as they attend schools involves all of us – as parents and concerned citizens. Certainly, all of us can remember the regular fire drills that likely began in pre-school and continued throughout our educational progress that built both awareness of fire safety and developed good habits in terms of knowing what to do in a hazardous situation. Backing those practices with a reliable fire protection system is just one more way of ensuring the well-being of students as they prepare for the future.

BlazeMaster® Fire Protection Systems are listed for light hazard occupancies, as defined by NFPA 13. That includes schools, student housing, hospitals, offices and nursing homes, among other applications. BlazeMaster CPVC has been used in numerous new construction and retrofit school building applications – a fact of which we are rightfully proud.

We have a proven track record of providing reliable fire protection with a cost-saving alternative to steel pipe systems in terms of material cost and installation. With school board budgets continuously tightening, there are two other reasons to consider BlazeMaster CPVC – ongoing maintenance and system reliability.


Corrosion Causes Maintenance Issues that Could Lead to System Failure

The combination of water (constant moisture); the chemicals used to treat that water (such as chlorine or chloramines); and oxygen can, over time, cause corrosion that could lead to pinhole leaks in steel pipe fire sprinkler systems. This may not be a major issue initially; chances are you may notice discoloration in ceiling tiles from small drips. That will likely lead to a call for maintenance. Certainly, ceiling tiles will be replaced – minor, yet still a cost. Repairing the system by replacing the section of leaking pipe should be the next step. Yet we have seen some “repairs”  made by adding a hanger that provides a soft elastomer on which the leaking section rests, which slows the leak but doesn’t fix the issue. It’s a bandage, at best, and, at worst, could be a cause of system failure if and when the fire protection system is actually put to the test. 

Corrosion in steel piping fire protection systems is one reason that an entire industry has evolved to help resolve the issue. Nitrogen generators and related monitoring devices and hardware are costly add-ons – and one or several more pieces of equipment to maintain – that replace the system oxygen with an inert gas, thus preventing the chemical reactions that cause corrosion in steel pipe fire sprinkler systems.

The alternative: use CPVC piping, which resists scaling and corrosion, and has none of the pinholing issues steel piping may present. An added benefit, CPVC piping can deliver more water in a smaller diameter pipe to fire sprinkler heads than steel pipe. This is proven by the Hazen-Williams Coefficient, an empirical relationship used in the design of fire sprinkler systems that relates the flow of water in a pipe with the physical properties of the pipe and the pressure drop caused by friction. This not only potentially saves money; it also can allow CPVC piping runs to fit into smaller spatial gaps than steel piping, should this become a design concern.


Chemical Compatibility Issues Addressed by an Industry-Leading Program

Our FBCTM System Compatible Program – the most trusted program in the industry – takes the guesswork out of the equation and assures the specifier, designer, installer, building owner and authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) that approved ancillary products may be used with BlazeMaster CPVC with confidence. More than that, the program provides a list of products that are not compatible with BlazeMaster CPVC. It also goes a step beyond with unmatched technical experts who are ready and willing to examine specific cases to ensure that BlazeMaster CPVC will be fully reliable for a specific application. Nothing is more important than the safety of students in a school fire protection system installation.

To learn more about BlazeMaster CPVC and the advantages it offers over steel pipe, download our Steel vs. CPVC Cost-Savings Report today. 

Steel vs. CPVC Cost Savings Report