lock and key

Sign in to your account.

Account Login

Forgot your password?

Fire Sprinkler Bracing and Anchorage May Be Required

Fire Sprinkler Bracing and Anchorage May Be Required

Most people only think of strengthening walls and roofs when considering a commercial seismic retrofit.  It is important for commercial property owners to remember that a building has more vulnerability in an earthquake than just the roof and walls. Here are several important points to consider regarding commercial buildings and earthquakes:

  1. Un-reinforced masonry buildings experience catastrophic damage in earthquakes more frequently than all other construction methods combined.
  2. Damages and loss associated with earthquakes usually do not occur until after the tremors have ended.
  3. Loss related to flooding caused by broken sprinkler systems is often preventable.
  4. Most properties constructed more than 25-30 years ago probably need strengthening and will benefit from a seismic retrofit.

The earth movements that come from strong seismic activity test the strength of water pipes and sprinkler systems in commercial buildings. When water piping systems perform reasonably well in previous earthquakes, many commercial property owners do not consider the water pipes to be an area of risk. The risk is great, however, because one or many pipes could break when the ground shakes and rumbles, immediately causing flooding inside of the building. Since sprinkler piping is heavy and positioned overhead, there is always the risk that the pipes will become a falling hazard, causing further damage to the building and more importantly, causing injury to employees, tenants and customers who are located in the building during the earthquake.  Because of these concerns, any building that is going through a seismic evaluation for retrofitting should have the fire sprinkler bracing and anchorage fully inspected.

A thorough inspection to determine whether seismic retrofitting is necessary typically includes a verification that the following are adequately in place:

  • roof-to-wall anchors
  • continuity ties and roof-to-wall connections on un-reinforced masonry
  • steel bracing frames, as necessary, on concrete tilt-up walls
  • additional shear walls
  • wall strengthening
  • bracing for fire sprinklers and water pipes
  • drag lines
  • bracing for hanging equipment
  • protection of supply lines or storage tanks

Earthquake damage to fire sprinkler piping can take place inside, outside or under the building. Vertical pipes running between stories can break, as can the hangers that support the weight of the pipes running along ceilings. During an evaluation, each joint and coupling should be evaluated to see if it is adequately anchored.

It is important to remember that fire sprinkler systems are safety features that can save lives in a commercial building and as such, they have their own regulations and specific codes for strength, location, and spacing over and above ordinary plumbing pipes. Most fire sprinklers go unused for most, if not all, of the lifetime of the building. Yet, they are required to be in place and kept in working order in case an unfortunate event occurs and they become necessary.  To ensure the adequate bracing and anchorage of fire sprinklers in a seismic retrofitting, it may be necessary to make changes to the duct work, location of the pipes and the hangers in order to reduce future risk.

The professional team at Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit conducts seismic evaluations and retrofitting for commercial and industrial buildings.  Their thorough inspection process includes a detailed evaluation of fire sprinkler bracing and anchorage systems. The experts at Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit have many years of experience conducting repairs and renovations on occupied buildings. To get more information on seismic retrofitting your commercial property, call Saunders Commercial Seismic Retrofit today at 949-646-0034.

Southern California Office

(949) 646-0034

Leave a Reply