It’s a shocking statistic: over 50% of sprinkler system failures are due to being shut off.

And Evolve Mechanical Solutions caught one on our projects…..

This statistic comes from the National Fire Protection Association ‘US Experience with Sprinklers’ by Marty Ahrens.  We see below in in an excerpt from the report that when there is a fire in a sprinklered building its failure is more then likely because the sprinkler systems were shut off:


Recently covered by Global News; the Winters Hotel fire in Gas Town that killed 2 people may have been avoided if the sprinkler system was left on.  In court testimony it was discovered that the sprinkler system was shut down days before due to a fire and never turned back on because the cost of paying the sprinkler companies overtime fee’s.

See link to Global News below:


It’s likely that if the sprinkler shut off valves were supervised this tragedy may have been avoided.

Current NFPA-13 code requires all shut off valves connected to a sprinkler system to be supervised.  What this means is that if a valve is closed whether for maintenance as in the Winters Hotel case or by accident it would have sent a fault single to the alarm panel in the building notifying the occupants and the monitoring agency who would then notify the fire department.

This scenario would have taken place on one of our projects if we hadn’t caught it:

Attached below is a schematic that Evolve Mechanical Solutions produced for construction of a residential homes’ water service.  Our scope of work was to provide a combined water service to the building from the city water main.  In this case a combined water service means that the main water line will carry both domestic water that feeds your sinks, showers, etc. and also for the sprinkler system.

Typically the water service comes up in a water entry room within the exterior of the home unimpeded.  It then separates into two separate and distinct systems:  One for the fire protection serving the sprinklers and the other for the drinking water for the plumbing fixtures.  As you can see below the red shut off valve was added below by the General Contractor without our permission and was not supervised.

This is creating a scenario similar to the Winter’s Hotel because if the valve is closed off, no signal would be sent to the monitoring agency and the sprinkler system wouldn’t work.



The photos below are of the residential project in question.

  • In red we have the combined water/ sprinkler from the city

  • In blue the water continues to the building through a water meter.

  • In purple the water is for the sprinkler system

The Sprinkler contractor and Sprinkler Engineer did a good job locking the unsupervised shut off valves in chains such that they may not be closed.  However the issue here is no one noticed the added shut off valve upstream of the entire system.  This upstream valve is unchained and unsupervised and that if anyone closed it; the sprinkler system would fail and no one would know.



The solution:

Evolve Mechanical Solutions requested the removal of  the unnecessary shut of valve such that there would be minimal risk of sprinkler failure.

The only valves left where the chained, tamper proof one serving the sprinkler system.

As always please hire experienced General Contractors and Trades to do all your work to avoid these dangerous situations.

James Hicks P.Eng.

Evolve Mechanical Solutions



#Fail #Firesprinkler #Fire #Plumbing