Dangerous Heavy Metals, Sediment and Harmful Bacteria
When water sits in the metal pipes used for fire suppression sprinkler systems in commercial and industrial buildings, the sediment in the water causes metal from the pipes to leech into the water. Diluted in water, these heavy metals - which include lead, zinc, mercury and cadmium - are very dangerous, even at low concentrations (only 1 or 2 micrograms, in some cases). Additionally, the sediment in the water poses further environmental aquatic risks. Harmful bacteria's Enterobacter and Bordetella Bronchiseptica are opportunistic human pathogens were found in samples of fire sprinkler polluted water.
The National Fire Protection Association Standard 25 requires quarterly testing of fire sprinklers. During these tests, some polluted water must be drained from the sprinkler system. And every five years, the entire system (often hundreds of gallons) must be flushed. This polluted wastewater is also discharged in its entirety during tenant improvements and repairs to the fire sprinkler system.
Some fire protection professionals transport the water to a safe disposal site. This has proven to be time-consuming, costly and not feasible. This process is so difficult that fire sprinkler wastewater is often discharged onto parking lots or diverted into landscaping, where it can find its way into storm drains, other receiving waters, or percolate into the ground water table. Fire suppression discharge has contributed to the contamination of our oceans, rivers, waterways and soil.
Test Results from State Approved Labratories
Heavy Metals in PPM, Test 1
Heavy Metals in PPM, Test 2
Fire Sprinkler Obstructions
In addition to dangerous heavy metals, foreign matter can enter the fire sprinkler system from the water source. Degradation of the metal pipe, microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC) bacteria can enter the system and attach to metallic components and begin to rapidly colonize and reproduce creating internal tubercles, which can break off. All these obstructions can find their way to the fire sprinkler heads making the fire sprinkler system inoperable.
NFPA 25 14.3.3 requires a visual assessment of the last branch line sprinkler head and cross main for obstructions. NFPA 25 14.3.3 states when foreign matter is discovered a thorough flushing of the cross main is required.