A fire tank system is one of the safest ways to store water to suppress a fire. However, it does require regular checks and maintenance to ensure it is fit for purpose. A damaged or leaking water tank can impact the reliability of a sprinkler system, which is why it is imperative to ensure tanks are inspected on a proper basis. The implications of failing to adequately maintain life-saving fire equipment can be extremely serious.
The safety of sprinkler tanks is covered by legislation and something you should be aware of. Regulations ensure fire tanks almost never fail. To ensure stringent compliance with all legal requirements, you should undertake both in-house and expert inspections at regular intervals. As we have previously outlined before on our blog, there are differing opinions on how often you engage the services of an independent specialist. For the record, we recommend one is undertaken every 12 months – or before, if a problem is suspected.
A check by someone trained to inspect a fire tank system will identify any issues. A written report should outline measures that need to be taken. Inspections are a cost-effective way to safeguard your life-safety water supply. For example, an undetected leak can prove costly and waste a precious resource. It can also significantly lower water levels in a tank, highlighting the need for regular checks. Modern tank inspections do not require a vessel to be emptied – making them very straightforward and insurer-friendly.
Fire sprinkler tank maintenance
When the word ‘maintenance’ crops up in the same sentence as a fire tank system, don’t assume it means a quick whip around with a paint brush. Quite often, fire sprinkler tank maintenance involves relining or refurbishment. Why? Because many materials traditionally used in the manufacture of fire tanks, whilst extremely robust, can eventually corrode. It is excessive corrosion of tank walls that most often leads to leaks. The bigger the tank, the bigger the risk of major flooding and water damage.
Other problems associated with corrosion can include poor water quality that falls below legal standards. Even water stored solely for the purpose of fighting a fire can carry Legionella, the bacteria that can cause a type of pneumonia. Harmful pathogens are known to breed in areas behind outdated rubber tank linings and that is why risk assessments for Legionella are important too. Tanks which were installed without a coating or lining are most at risk from corrosion and should be checked regularly.
We provide a range of services to remedy problems in their early stages. However, they can only be carried before a tank is deemed beyond serviceable. If an inspection report states a tank should be decommissioned, we can only replace it. With conventional GRP fire tanks holding tens of thousands of litres of water, you can understand the need for planned maintenance as well as vigilance.
Sometimes, a sprinkler system will be activated on purpose to check that it doesn’t just work but has the capacity to store enough water. Such examples includes tests carried out in underground tunnels and major new developments. In these cases, great care is taken to avoid serious damage. In this information, the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme, WRAS, explains how water supply regulations impact LPCB fire tank systems.
Relining or replacement?
As stated above, we cannot repair a fire tank system if an expert has deemed it beyond refurbishment. However, if a written report recommends remedial action we can repair and / or re-line a sprinkler tank. The methods we use are outlined on our website and give a clear overview of how the different processes are carried out. The good news is, once the work is completed your tank will last for many more years. A robust, cost-effective remedy will offer peace of mind and keep corrosion in check.
We don’t use butyl rubber in our linings. Instead, we reline tanks with EPDM. It is better quality and offers more protection from problems commonly found with traditional sprinkler tank linings. All refurbishment work and relining will require a sprinkler tank to be drained – a process that your insurance company is likely to want to know about and something that should only ever be undertaken by professionals.
This type of work demands recognised skills and safety equipment. Potential dangers for those not trained include falls from height and many other risks. Look out for recognised trade accreditations to ensure you engage a firm with the necessary expertise. Look for links to the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, CHAS, Constructionline and Safety Schemes In Procurement. It is worth remembering that bosses who instruct untrained staff to work at height face significant fines if a worker subsequently falls. Planning, Building and Construction Today reported earlier this month how a building company was fined £20,000 after a self-employed man fell through a skylight.
Experts in fire tank system maintenance
Here at Nationwide Water Solutions, we provide a range of recognised services to ensure your fire tank system is in good repair – today and tomorrow. As well as carrying out recommended works, we undertake inspections using the latest technology. Our ultrasound equipment can measure the thickness of sprinkler tank walls and detect weaknesses that mere images would not show. In addition to carrying out all checks underwater, we supply photographic evidence with comprehensive written reports.
The publication of the report following the first phase of the Grenfell Inquiry is likely to lead to legislative changes, which could include making high-rise building owners furnish fire and rescue services with details about a property’s layout. Once we have read through the full recommendations outlined in the report, we will update you. Whatever the final outcome of the inquiry, one things is for sure – sprinklers and fire tank systems will become much more commonplace.
We will continue to work with our partners in industry and the public realm to ensure that the services we deliver meet and exceed standards to ensure sprinkler systems are well-maintained and carry on saving lives as well as material assets. Building safety regulations are likely to impact fire safety more than ever. You can trust us to deliver the very highest standards – from installing a new fire tank to maintaining an existing one.