Fire suppression systems are the first line of defense against heavy-duty mobile equipment fires and the associated risks. And, to ensure these systems work as intended, regular maintenance is a requirement. Failure to properly maintain a fire suppression system can result in excessive wear and tear on components, which can ultimately render a system ineffective. So, what does fire suppression system maintenance involve? Let’s explore four key recommendations. These recommendations come directly from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and system manufacturers.
1. Pre-Shift Inspections
Heavy-duty mobile equipment operates for long hours while performing work under some of the harshest conditions. For this reason, fire suppression system manufacturers strongly suggest pre-shift inspections to uncover any immediate issues prior to powering on the machine. Something as simple as removing debris build-up or verifying no visible damage to key system components can make a great impact in mitigating fires and ensuring an effective fire suppression system.
Ask your system manufacturer for a complete checklist of components to be inspected and then have your operators complete and sign-off on this checklist before every shift.
2. Monthly Inspections
Monthly inspections are a standard set by the NFPA for fire suppression systems. A certified service technician performs this inspection with the goal of identifying any corrective action to be taken prior to a potential component failure. The NFPA provides guidelines for assessing fire suppression system components, including the actuators, nozzle blowoff caps, and an overall assessment for any physical damage.
3. Semiannual Maintenance
Another NFPA standard, complete system maintenance is to be performed at least every six months. However, you should ask your fire suppression system manufacturer for any additional guidelines regarding maintenance timing recommendations specific to your system. For example, AFEX recommends maintenance every 3-4 months or every 1,000 – 1,200 operating hours, whichever comes first.
Again, the NFPA provides guidelines for performing this semiannual maintenance. If the maintenance reveals any components with corrosion, pitting, etc. above the manufacturer’s limits for the age of the system, the component should undergo hydrostatic testing or complete replacement.
4. Regular Interval Testing and/or Replacement
In addition to routine inspections and maintenance, certain system components do require regular testing and/or replacement at certain time intervals due to the normal wear and tear associated with aging. Your fire suppression system manufacturer will outline components that require hydrostatic testing or a complete replacement, along with the intervals each should be completed.
As you perform or oversee the completion of these four maintenance recommendations, please ensure documentation is completed each step of the way. Documentation is a requirement by the NFPA for visibility and accountability in the event there is a fire incident. Please reach out to your system manufacturer for any maintenance templates that may be needed.