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living with sprinklers


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Hi all,

so a few months back, I moved into a new shop. location is great, It's in an old warehouse building, and it's about quadruple the space of my old shop (this one's almost 2,000 sq ft), and rent isn't awful. It has a separate room which I plan to make into a clean room, and it's wired for three phase. Metal ceilings, and concrete walls/floor, and it has HEAT! the one downside-it has functioning sprinklers.

So, I've been in the process of building a masonry style forge and now am at the point where I need to vent the durn thing. The sprinklers I have been told have pressurized air running through them. at each terminal is a small pewter (?) pin which must melt to set them off. I have been told that only one terminal would be set off if it was the only one to melt. I realize that it takes well over 300 degrees for pewter/lead to melt, and I'd probably be dead by the time that they did, but I'm still paranoid. is there any way to get around them?

I have thick insulated double walled pipe stack, and I plan to be at least 3' away from it; however my forge is directly below one sprinkler head and I am worried that the hot air will cause it to set off. would making an enclosed style (medieval) forge be an idea to avoid this, or am I just crazy? I was also thinking about making a fire wool/fire brick box to place around the head.

thank you for any suggestions,

Aaron

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A friend of mine built a house that had to have sprinklers in it and the one that was over his living room flooded his house in the summer with a few inches of water. Twice. There was not enough attic ventilation and the heat in the houses attic set of the sprinklers. I think the first time was a 140F head and he replaced it with a 165F head. I think that was as high a temp that could be bought. It is now plugged with a pipe plug. I suggest you get on a ladder and read the temperature rating on the head in question and if you are worried change it to a higher temp if possible. Do not do this without your landlord. The sprinkler systems I am familiar with are filled with water not air, When the head melts and opens you want water to put out the fire not air to fan the flames. You could also put a remote thermometer up near it and watch the readings as you run the forge on a hot day. Thats my opinion now.
Rob

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I've got 4 working sprinkler heads in my 400 sq ft workshop (with quite high eves). They're quite ancient looking things with what appears to be a tube of red glass (maybe wax) that is designed to melt at a given temperature. There's obviosly no adjustment to them. I've been in the workshop now nearly 10 years with no problem. I often use a gas forge with three 3/4" burners running. I do have a very large extractor fan than not only sucks out fumes but probably sucks out a lot of heat that would otherwise build up under the roof


Having gone from not wanting them there in the early days, I'm quite glad they're there now. The last thing I'd want is the workshop burning down .... a few wet tools (including the electronic/electrical stuff) is probably a reasonable trade off

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A friend of mine built a house that had to have sprinklers in it and the one that was over his living room flooded his house in the summer with a few inches of water. Twice. There was not enough attic ventilation and the heat in the houses attic set of the sprinklers. I think the first time was a 140F head and he replaced it with a 165F head. I think that was as high a temp that could be bought. It is now plugged with a pipe plug. I suggest you get on a ladder and read the temperature rating on the head in question and if you are worried change it to a higher temp if possible. Do not do this without your landlord. The sprinkler systems I am familiar with are filled with water not air, When the head melts and opens you want water to put out the fire not air to fan the flames. You could also put a remote thermometer up near it and watch the readings as you run the forge on a hot day. Thats my opinion now.
Rob


The air is temporary, it keeps the lines dry until a head is activated... this is called a dry system. The main advantage is that the air will NOT FREEZE in winter... so all the small lines can be strung through attics without the danger of freezing and flooding. As soon as a head is activated the system loses air pressure and fills with water.
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Down here in sunny California near the coast we don't get cold enough to use that type of system I guess. Good to know there is freeze protection where it is needed.
Rob


When it drops to -40 around here, my sprinkler contractors are kept very busy with calls for burst pipes, even with the freeze protection.
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It's been a long time since I did any fire protection design but I think you can get an ultra high temperature fusible link head installed that melts at around 600+ degrees Fahrenheit at the ceiling. Thats pretty hot at the ceiling. How high are your ceilings? Another question I have for you is there anywhere else in this space for you put the forge that's not directly under a head? Not all heads melt at low temperatures, if my fading memory servers me correctly fusible links start at around 100F and work their way up to serve a wide variety of conditions. Yes, there have been instances of heads going off prematurely but its not the worst thing that can happen, that's having a head not go off at all when needed. Sprinkler systems have been proven to save lives and property in homes and that's no lie. It's a lot better to get them installed during initial construction than as a retrofit. SPRINKLERS SAVE LIVES and property! :blink:

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There are two basic types of sprinkler systems, dry stand pipe and wet stand pipe. As you can figure out by their names one is dry and filled with air and it works by sensing when a head pops all the air is released and the main valve floods the system and you get water to the head. In the wet system all of the pipes in the system are charged with water all of the time and it just sits there happily turning black and if there are any small leaks in the system they will sit there and leak. Every month your supposed to have it checked and there is a valve for that that has the flow equal to one head going off, not so with a dry system, if they did that it'd charge the whole system so it's checked at the main to make sure all is well. There is much, or was when I was doing it, on the advantages of wet vs. dry. Some fire districts wanted wet and some grudgingly allowed dry, I liked dry because it didn't have a ton of water just sitting there over everyone's heads all the time. <_<

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well my ceilings are between 12' and 14' high, I have not measured exact yet.

Where can I get a new higher temp melting pin from, and how do I install it? Also, where can I get one of these insulated boxes from? or do I just make one from fire wool and firebricks?

Also, am I correct to assume when the sprinkler system does go off, it just sets off one head? or at least ONLY the head(s) that have melted pins in them?

Aaron

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well my ceilings are between 12' and 14' high, I have not measured exact yet.

Where can I get a new higher temp melting pin from, and how do I install it? Also, where can I get one of these insulated boxes from? or do I just make one from fire wool and firebricks?

Also, am I correct to assume when the sprinkler system does go off, it just sets off one head? or at least ONLY the head(s) that have melted pins in them?

Aaron


I believe you replace the whole head to change temperature.

In SOME cases installing a small heat shield to prevent radiant heat from directly affecting the head is all you need. Talking with a fire inspector may help.

Only the heads that are affected go off, the rest is Hollywood.

I am not an expert, just looked at this stuff a few months ago.

Phil
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I was planning on having a neighbor, who happens to be a fire fighter come in and give advice, but is a fire inspector really needed? the reason I ask, is then I would probably have to get everything up to code, and that's probably a lot more than I am able to spend on getting this all functional....

but I know tis best to do things the right way first and save yourself the hassle or catastrophe later.

Aaron

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If you live in a municipality then the shop will be inspected at some point, and if the fire inspector is unhappy you will be shut down. Getting someone on board who can help keep you in good graces with the fire inspector should save money and aggravation in the long run.

Your friend the fire fighter may be able to bring the knowledge, but if he doesn't know for sure, get the correct answer before moving on. Other members of IFI have had trouble with fire inspectors in the past.

Phil

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Don't forget the seldom used "Deluge" system. In this case all the heads are open and the system is actuated by a sensor. An entire zone will open all at once. Now if Hollywood showed the hero/villain heating the sensor they might get it right. But as usual in the land of make believe " who needs the reality". Or as I say to the kid when he spots some totally idiotic scene, "because it's in the script".

On the serious side, contact (or your landlord) his property insurance Risk Engineer or a sprinkler contractor. They can give you several methods to avoid setting off the head. There are sprinkler heads on boiler fronts and in foundry's so it not a hard problem to solve.

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You have not said if you live in a city or rural area. In rural areas I believe that when a building is built, adding a fire protection system may lower insurance rates if the fire protection provided is rated low by the NFPA. In most larger cities that have a higher fire rating system and building are required to have fire sprinklers installed, they are done according to strict guidelines and area inspected before the city oks the building to be put into use.
In either of the above or to remain safe and compliant you should keep the sprinkler systems intact and in good working order. inluding replacing heads that need to be. Making sure plumbing is functional and according to local codes. It may indeed also mean that if you do anything to the system that makes it not in compliance you may be cited, or in a worst case senario, like after a fire, the insurance company may deny part or all of the claims you make to recover your losses. Any way you can devise something that would prevent heat from reaching the sprinkler head,(s), would give them a way of looking closely at your claims. One of the thoughts above about installing heat sensors so you could monitor ceiling temps is a great idea. A well made and prperly vented forge that meets local laws should take the heat outside other than the radiant heat coming from the front of the fire and the metals that you pull out of the forge. If the temps get up at ceiling level a ventilation system may take care of the problem.

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