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Does this Meet Code 15

System Readiness

Inspectors are becoming quickly over worked and rely on qualified contractors to complete system maintenance, inspection, and repair.  The AHJ relies on reports provided by contractors (system experts) which should state the system meets the minimum code requirements.

Lets take a look at these pictures and ask the question 


The cover was removed during investigation to find the system was activated

The question is “does this meet code?”

Lets add the follow up as an inspector, what do you note in your report and what are your instructions to the owner/occupant of the protected property?

{ 18 comments… add one }

  • R. Bugera April 17, 2011, 5:39 pm

    No, Not only does it not meet code but the system would not activate if there was a fire.

    1. There is no CO2 cartridge in place.

    2. The copper tubing is disconnected from the control head.

    The owner would be advised and shown the problems and our company (not sure how others would handle it) would reconnect the tubing and install a new CO2 cartridge immediately. We would note the problem and the fact it was corrected in our report.

    If the owner objected to the corrections then we’d advise him/her that they should not be using any of their cooking appliances until the problem is rectified. We would then note the owner’s refusal on our report and expedite it to the local fire marshal/codes enforcement officer for them to follow up on.

    • Harry B April 21, 2011, 6:32 pm

      This is an iminant hazard , buisness to close until system is put back into service per code

  • Michael O'Brian April 18, 2011, 7:56 pm

    Inspector Bugera, quick on many of the issues, nicely done, would you allow them to continue to cook?

    • Harry B April 25, 2011, 8:58 am

      Depending on the type of est . I would decide whether to allow them to operate .All gas operations would cease(lock out ).One other thing to take into consideration .Is this the 1st time this has happened at this location or are they a repeat offender??
      But fines would still be imposed

      • Mike A June 1, 2011, 3:42 pm

        As a Fire Inspector I have seen a lot, but nothing like this. To answer the question – No, I would not allow them to cook. I would inform the owner/manager of the problem and tell them they are shut down until it is fixed. This I have done many times.

  • R. Bugera April 18, 2011, 8:02 pm

    Unfortunately i wouldn’t be able to stop them. I’m a private contractor and we don’t have the authority to disallow them from conducting business. That would be up to the local fire marshal or codes inspector to act on upon receiving our report.

  • R. Bugera April 18, 2011, 8:15 pm

    I should also mention… if i DID have the authority to prevent them from cooking, i absolutely would. With the fire system disabled, they are running a risk of fire if they cook. If a tech from a company like mine left the system in the condition shown in the photos, they put their company into a bad position as far as liability goes.. if a fire did occur and the system didn’t function, that company would be liable for it. If I ever had a tech do something like that I’d terminate them instantly.

  • John Drucker April 18, 2011, 8:22 pm


    Inspector Bugera identified two critical issues the cartridge and the pilot line, both of which would prevent agent discharge.

    However the caption noted “The cover was removed during investigation to find the system was activated”. The photo of the control head appears however to indicate the system in the set position. PC control heads are equipped with a tell tale, a small yellow or white indicator. The one in the photo appears to be in the left or set position.

    Lastly, your observations are correct, when it comes to system maintenance, unlike acceptance testing, contractors essentially get to self certify. Question is are inspectors reading the reports ?

    John Drucker
    Fire Protection Subcode Official
    New Jersey

  • J. Holbrook April 18, 2011, 9:00 pm

    As a qualified contractor I see this all the time. Well, maybe not with the suppression systems but, definately with fire sprinkler systems. Fire pumps turned off, jockcey pumps turned off or not working, tamper switches or waterflow alarms not working. I could take you to a dozen places right off the top of my head with deficiencies or life safety issues that will never be resolved. The one part I hate about my job as an inspector is the politics. The AHJ, fire marshal, the customer, and the company. To my knowledge out of a five county area in south Florida which has many juridictions I know of only two that get our reports. We keep records that way in the event someone asks for them, then we fax them over.

    As for the fire suppresion photos. I will say in that situation our company would send a guy over right away to make the needed repairs. I also agree with the comments R. Bugera made as well. I just wish our company was as proactive and expeditious in repairing known deficiencies. After all, it is about life safety.

  • Michael O'Brian April 18, 2011, 11:25 pm

    John, I can say that its my understanding there were some issues

    Holbrook, well I think that is why we are seeing some changes in the major NFPA standards to send those to the Inspector. Our inspectors are trained to ask for the last reports and review them…. Its lead to some discoveries, but if all you did was look at reports, you would not catch this.

  • Archie Koenemund April 19, 2011, 9:50 am

    If this was found by an inspector or reported to an inspector, the contractor responsible would have their Certificate of Fitness rescinded thus, not allowing them to do any work.
    It’s sad that an AHJ has to resort to these measures in this day of a very poor economy but, it needs to be done so that the people responsible learn a lesson.

    I’ve run across many contractor’s who operate like that. It’s a damn shame that the work ethics and integrity have gone out the window in todays world

  • Arsnman4 April 19, 2011, 10:43 am

    First observations indicate that the pilot line has been disconnected which should first raise question. The required visual means for identification of system actuation should then be evaluated before requesting facility personnel to manually open the control head cover. Once opened, one should notice that the inert gas cartridge is missing and the actuation control indicator is in the “set” position as previously mentioned. These primary steps would verify suspect readiness.

    Once discovered that the system was deficient, steps to identify on record could be requiring the responsible person/building owner for the system to have it serviced immediately and that all cooking operations must be discontinued until verification inspection by the proper jurisdictional authority. All cooking should be documented as ordered to be halted since the inspector could not reasonably discern the establishment would follow instruction and documentation would be noted.

    Mike brings up an excellent point on strictly evaluating maintenance and service reports. One must also visually inspect the system and all other related components of system readiness including nozzle locations and cooking equipment placement.
    We would also be in touch with the last firm of record who left the system in deficient condition.

  • val Martin April 24, 2011, 2:03 am

    The owner of the facility cannot be forced to close. They can actually continue to cook by steaming, boiling or baking. Fire suppression systems are only required for facilities that create “grease laden vapors”. As an AHJ, I would feel better shuttering the place, but they can still sell all other sorts of food. I don’t want to be caught up in some type of civil liability suit seeking damages down the road.

  • Ron MacDonald April 27, 2011, 7:56 am

    Interesting enough, While following up on a Special Inspection I found this exact situation with the copper tubing disconnected. The systems 6 months maintenance had been way overdue. The owner had denied tampering with the system. I advised the owner that he was to contact his service contractor immmediately and cease the use of the cooking equipment. He was very fortunate that the systems contractor made a special trip to make any nessasary repairs within a few hours. Also a ticket was issued for not maintaining systems maintenance as required by the Fire Code.

  • Dave April 27, 2011, 10:11 am

    Preventing a problem is job one. I know the following is a bit off course but this could be the result in speaking of civil liability suits, all too often the courts have to settle the code problems not found or corrected by every actor in this play of life. The designer, installer, the inspector, AHJ, and the system owner. Example a food service owner had a small fire in his business in a local food court (lots of smoke) and all the food service businesses had to close (by health department) for up to a day, clean up, and throw out all exposed food before they could reopen (high trafic area, big bucks lost), because one one business owner didn’t follow the codes. The loss to the other businesses may be covered by their insurnace but the offending owner (his insurance company) will probably be sued by the other insurance providers and rates will be raised.

    Public education for all the business owners in the food court after this type of situation can help the general safety & assist in enforcing the codes if the AHJ uses this situation. in a positive way. We all have to work toward full compliance and zero incidents

  • Arsnman4 April 28, 2011, 9:42 am

    I agree Val and should have clarified the cooking directive better. I would only require through documented order and citation the prohibiting of cooking using grills, fryers, woks, broilers and any grease production medium.

  • Fireguy66 June 28, 2011, 7:17 am

    The problem with a situation like this is the fact that there is not way to prove who disconnected the pilot line. Since the pilot does not have the capability of having a tamper seal on it any good lawyer can and has argued that it was done after the inspecting company left it per the inspection report and the customer signed off on the report that the system was returned to operation, even if the customer did not personally verify it.
    This is a problem with all fire protection equipment.
    There is no way to prove who had their hands on it last, since the equipment is owned by the customer they are given keys and passcodes to their equipment and as the owner it is their right to have.
    So to regulate strickter requirements on the “professional” is nonsence if you do not also tighten the requirements on the “owners”.
    An inspection report is just a snapshot of the facts at a point in time, after a “professional” has left the customers location there is no possible way to say who left a system inoperable. It is always easy to blame the “professional”, I have delt with many customers that only have their equipment inspected when the fire department “catches” them out of compliance. If the fire inspector would show up on a more frequent basis the customer would realize that they cant save some money by not having an inspection.
    Then there are some even less than honest customers that will do anything to prevent the fire system from “going off”.
    Any way just a random thought for the AHJ’s out there.

    By the way to any “professionals” out there, if this was an oriental restaurant what would you think happened???

  • E Parrrish October 20, 2011, 4:56 pm

    Totally agree with fire guy66. There is no way to tell if system has been tampered with. I would caution the AHJ not to assume this is the fault of the system technician and start pulling certifications unless they have a very good lawyer. The system service contractor cannot be held responsible for something that happens after they leave.This is one reason i am a big advocate of systems located in hood cabinets. It makes it less accessible to the disgruntled employee that may want to burn the place down.

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