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SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

CODE PIPES & HEADS W R I TT E N BY S H AW N B E R G E R O N

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hen we were last together in the Winter 2016 issue of Artisan Spirit Magazine I warned you that I was going to provide further enlightenment on the details of sprinkler systems, and as promised here we are again. Every distiller wants to know more about making their distillery a safe place so let’s keep going down the path towards sprinkler system wisdom. You will recall from my past writings that while there are several different types of sprinkler systems, only a system that is designed and installed according to the requirements of NFPA 13 will be correct for your distillery. NFPA 13 is the National Fire Protection Association’s Standard for the Installation of Automatic Sprinkler Systems. This can be an intimidating document, but like all codes and standards, when in the hands of the knowing it can help to protect lives and property and it’s not overly mysterious. After setting up your reliable and sufficient water supply we must have a way to distribute water inside your distillery and 13 offers several approved piping materials that help us do that. These materials range from ones that have been used for centuries — steel and copper — to the latest thermoplastic nonmetallic materials. The different materials each have benefits and drawbacks so careful consideration should be applied and a conversation

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should take place between you, the system designer and your sprinkler installer. Also, keep in mind an entire sprinkler system is not limited to only one type of pipe material, so your sprinkler designer may choose a more cost effective and resilient material where the piping is exposed in the storage area, but your interior designer may choose a material that is bright and shiny (and expensive!) where it’s going to be ogled by customers sipping samples and plunking down their hard-earned cash in the tasting room. The first piping material option is usually plain old black steel. This is the stuff used to make pipe clamps in your workshop or for compressed air piping at the local gas station, but because it’s for your sprinkler system this pipe needs to be special. Sprinkler system piping is required to meet specific ASTM standards, but as with most things in life even the quality of your sprinkler pipe can vary, and the wizard-like folks in the laboratories of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) make sure any variations will not be detrimental to the performance of your sprinkler system. How important are these ASTM requirements, those weird

sometimes cryptic markings on the pipe? They’re so important that most regulatory agencies require and look for those markings to make sure your pipe is correct, and if the pipe is not appropriately marked some of these inspector types will make your installer either have individual pieces of pipe tested and certified, or worse, removed and replaced with pipe that have the appropriate markings. Make sure this is addressed early, as either “test and certify” or “remove and replace” is going to make your project take several steps backwards, something that’s bad yet completely preventable, almost like they taught you in sex ed. In addition to using the appropriately approved steel pipe your designers are going to usually opt for one of two joining methods. What’s a joining method? It’s how the pipe joins together … no trade mystery here. The first method is one that’s been around for centuries and everyone has seen it: the old threaded fitting. In your sprinkler system generally only the smaller pipe sizes use the time-tested threaded method. Does this method work? Darn right it does and

THREADED JOINING METHOD BERGERON TECHNICAL PHOTO

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Artisan Spirit: Spring 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

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