That funny looking thing that sticks out of the side of a commercial building is most likely a Fire Department Connection (FDC). Hopefully, it has a cap on each outlet and it is easily accessible. Why should you care? Allow me a few minutes to explain.
A building’s fire protection system is of little value without an adequate and reliable water supply. Yet, one of the least understood components of that water supply is the FDC. Although there are a few exceptions, FDCs are required to be installed on nearly all sprinkler systems according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines.
Under normal circumstances, the water supply for a fire protection system is provided by the municipality. In cases where there is insufficient water pressure to afford protection provided by the sprinkler system, the supply may be augmented by a fire pump (a topic for another article). In these situations, the reliability of the water supply is pretty good—providing no valves have been shut off and everything is in working order.
In abandoned buildings, the supply may not be as reliable. The water may be shut off or the system may be inoperable due to freeze-ups or other pipe breakage. We’ve even seen situations where the main valve in the street has been shut off, impeding the water supply to the building. Even though shutting off the water supply may be prohibited by existing fire codes, we know from experience that it does happen.
Environmental events such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados and similar events can interrupt municipality-provided water either due to a loss of power or damage to the water supply piping. If these events were to occur, the only possibility of providing water to the sprinkler system would be through the FDC.
To summarize, providing “supplemental” water to the sprinkler system through the FDC provides an extra protection to increase the overall system reliability.
Questions about your fire protection system? Contact us today at 508.644.2221 and visit our website at www.PipingSystemsInc.com. Piping Systems, Inc. – More than just Piping.
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