Will Your Deluge System Perform When You Need It?

Too often, power generating plants simply assume that their fire protection system is fully functional. In the event of a fire, it quickly becomes apparent when certain aspects of a system are underperforming or are completely nonfunctional.

This video illustrates a deluge system that has an inoperative nozzle that is trickling water instead of projecting an effective, targeted blast. This system, which protects one of the power generating plant's valuable transformers, underwent a flow test, which subsequently revealed the malfunctioning nozzle. Had the system been triggered by an actual fire, the consequences could have been disastrous.

Transformers are powerful, volatile pieces of equipment that require robust, effective fire suppression solutions to mitigate the risk of high-intensity fires. Factors such as high voltage, large quantities of flammable transformer oil and the common presence of deteriorated insulation elevate the risk of fire, making it essential that sprinkler systems are operating at full capacity. Any sprinkler equipment malfunction can result in failure to control a fire which can lead to catastrophic oil tank ruptures, and potential ignition of adjacent transformers.

Impediments like the ones highlighted in this video are often a result of blockages, which are caused by factors such as corrosion or debris within the pipe. When deposits of debris such as corrosion nodules, rust and slime accumulate within a pipe, the diameter through which water can travel is reduced, constricting water flow. As layers of deposit develop, the friction within the pipe increases, reducing the flow that is expelled from the system. Another potential problem occurs when this debris travels to the sprinkler head and becomes lodged, inhibiting the spray or possibly blocking the flow completely.

Unfortunately, because the problem originates internally within the pipe, these obstructions usually go undetected without proper inspection and testing. In accordance with NFPA 25, an internal pipe inspection should be conducted every five years to identify the presence of potential obstructions. These inspections can be complicated and require specialized equipment in order to be effective. An internal pipe inspection should be conducted by a knowledgeable professional who can reveal these issues so that they can be rectified before a sprinkler system is needed to control a fire.