Discussion surrounds those permitted to install home fire sprinklers

In case you missed it, Alabama's governor recently signed into law a bill allowing plumbers to install home fire sprinklers. Granting this group access in Alabama and elsewhere has initiated discussions on who should be permitted to perform these installations. 

Addressing this issue in the latest edition of NFPA Journal is Matt Klaus, NFPA technical services lead for fire protection engineering. Klaus notes that NFPA 13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes, leaves it to the authorities having jurisdiction to decide licensing requirements and who is permitted to install fire sprinklers. 

Here is an excerpt of Klaus' column: 

Ultimately, there are two different schools of thought on this issue. The first is that, because many states only permit licensed sprinkler contractors to install systems designed to NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, or NFPA 13R, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies, this concept should be applied to NFPA 13D as well. The other side of the argument is that plumbers, who are already on-site installing domestic systems, should also be permitted to install NFPA 13D systems.

The idea of allowing plumbers to install NFPA 13D systems is based on a few principles that have been discussed by the technical committee for residential sprinkler systems.

The first is the simplicity of the NFPA 13D system when compared to larger commercial systems. Sprinkler systems designed and installed to NFPA 13 can be fairly complex and employ system components or installation practices that are unique to fire sprinkler systems. NFPA 13D systems, by comparison, are rather simple. NFPA 13D contains few requirements for system attachments beyond a control valve, piping, a drain connection, and the sprinkler itself.

Another reason why plumbers are often deemed qualified to install these systems is their familiarity with the material used in home sprinkler systems. Unlike NFPA 13 and NFPA 13R, NFPA 13D permits the use of copper and polyethylene PEX tubing to be used throughout the system. These materials, along with CPVC, which is used in all three types of sprinkler systems, are used on a daily basis by many plumbers for supplying domestic fixtures. The plumbers' general familiarity with these materials and their joining methods can create efficiencies in the installation.

Those efficiencies lead to the final argument for allowing plumbers to install the systems: cost.

Visit the NFPA Journal site and read Klaus' full column. Also, let us know your thoughts on this discussion by replying directly to this post. 

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