Fire Systems

What and Where?

The backflow preventer on a Fire Suppression System is a bit unique from other preventers.  First off, it's often huge -- four, six, even eight inches in diameter.  It's typically painted red and blue as illustrated in the picture to the right.  It's almost always installed in the deepest darkest recesses of the building.  And is wired to a fire alarm monitoring company to detect activation and/or tampering.


Fire Suppression Systems don't often do a whole lot.  They sit, year after year, at the ready to provide water for saving a building from destruction.  They are rarely called into service ... thankfully.  However, the water that sits in those pipes is stagnant.  It gets rusty.  It leaches other chemicals out of the very pipes it's sitting in.  In addition, many fire systems utilize additive chemicals, such as antifreeze and retardants, downstream of the backflow preventer.  It is NOT water we want getting back in to the public water system.


In order to test a Fire System backflow preventer, the alarm monitoring company must be contacted to put the system in "test mode" for a period of time while the test is being performed.  This is because the test itself will likely trigger a fire alarm.  The Fire Alarm panel (a nice red box near a front door or near the backflow preventer) will often start making obnoxious noises during the test. 


To perform this preventer test, someone with authority will have to call the fire alarm monitoring company to put the alarm system in "test mode".  This usually requires authentication -- a password, an owner name, an authorized person, etc.  I will also notify the local fire dispatch center as an additional precaution. 


A Fire System backflow preventer can be tested at any time as it should always be active and in service.


Because of the size of the backflow preventers used in Fire Systems, I am not always able to perform necessary repairs personally.  The issue is simply the specialized expertise and tools necessary to maintain preventers of this size.  There are local fire system companies that specialize in the installation, maintenance and repair of these preventers, and I can provide references if I am unable to personally perform repairs.  After repairs are made, I will return free of charge to retest the preventer.