Published onApril 5th, 2021
FDNY Sprinkler Inspection Requirements: What You Must Know as a Property Owner or Manager
If you are a landlord or property manager in New York City, you must be aware of FDNY sprinkler inspection requirements. Here are all the most common questions answered, so you can make sure you don’t have any violations when it comes to this important city mandate.
Why are sprinkler inspections required?
Fire sprinklers save lives. Their proper function is checked regularly to ensure they work in the case of a fire. When sprinklers operate properly, they allow occupants to exit safely before the fire gets worse.
They can also extinguish small fires with a minimum of water damage. And stopping or slowing the spread of fire can save your property and adjoining properties that might otherwise go up in flames.
You don’t want to find out in an emergency that your sprinkler system is malfunctioning, so proactive inspections make sense. Failure to perform the required inspections can result in citations and large fines.
What types of properties are required to have sprinkler inspections?
Group R occupancies and converted dwellings
Sprinkler systems are required in many types of buildings in New York City, particularly Group R occupancies. Therefore, these sprinkler systems need inspection.
Converted dwellings also need sprinkler inspection and annual flow testing (see details below):
- Any one- or two-family home built before April 18, 1929 and converted to a multiple-unit dwelling of three units or more
- Any building of up to three stories built after April 18, 1929, originally used as a one- or two-family home and later converted to a three-family home
If you’re not sure whether your property must adhere to FDNY sprinkler inspection requirements, consult with your fire suppression professionals, your plumber, or the city.
How often are sprinkler inspections conducted?
Monthly and annually
There are two sets of inspections consulted on most sprinkler systems: monthly and annually. The details of each are discussed in the section below.
What is the difference between monthly and annual inspections?
Visual inspection versus flow testing
The monthly inspection is a visual inspection to ensure the system appears to be in good working order and hasn’t been tampered with. The visual sprinkler inspection includes checking:
- Control valves, including locks and tamper switches
- Alarm valves
- Dry pipe valves and heated enclosures
- Spare sprinkler heads and spare wrench
- Fire department connections
- Backflow device
- Booster pump and jockey pump
The annual test is more thorough. The monthly checks are all included, as well as evaluation of the following:
- Hangers, piping, and fittings
- Integrity of sprinkler heads
- Number of sprinkler heads (must be adequate)
- Closing and opening of sprinkler control valves
- Dry pipe trip test (if applicable)
- Dry system draining of low point drum drips
- Full flow pump tests (if applicable)
- Internal obstruction assessment (every five years)
- Water flow in supply pipes (see more below)
Who is permitted to perform FDNY sprinkler inspections and flow tests?
Licensed master plumbers and certificate of fitness holders
Licensed plumbers like Sanitary Plumbing or licensed fire suppression contractors are the only entities allowed to perform the annual flow tests. Monthly sprinkler inspections may be conducted by those who have earned a certificate of fitness by the City of New York Fire Department. At Sanitary Plumbing, we have professionals who are certificate of fitness holders and can perform monthly visual inspections of your sprinkler system for you.
How can property owners and managers prepare for sprinkler testing?
Routine maintenance and the installed testing port
First, you want to ensure routine maintenance is conducted on anything related to your fire suppression and sprinkler system. Also, be careful painting around sprinkler heads, and secure your equipment to prevent tampering.
Additionally, your building must have an inspector test valve installed. This is a testing port to permit a check of the water pressure in the sprinkler system. Water pressure must be 15 psi at the uppermost floor of the building so that even the highest levels have adequate sprinkler pressure.
The FDNY must witness this flow test every five years. You will receive a notice from them reminding you that your five-year test is coming up. We can help you schedule this with the city if you like.
Are there other testing requirements?
Quarterly inspections for some sprinkler models
There are some sprinkler models that indicate quarterly inspections in accordance with NFPA 25 (the National Fire Protection Association’s Standard #25), which governs the fine points of sprinkler inspections. Quarterly inspections are similar to monthly ones but conducted on a more detailed level. If you’re not sure if quarterly inspections are required for your property, you can inquire with your fire suppression system manufacturer or ask the city. We can also check for you to make sure you’re not missing any mandated inspections.
Are there sprinkler requirements for building renovations and construction?
NYC Plumbing Code
Yes, the New York City Plumbing Code requires that sprinkler installation follow certain rules and regulations. If you are conducting renovations or building new construction, consult with the city to ensure that sprinkler components are installed and inspected as determined by the city. As licensed master plumbers, we are happy to assist you with projects at this stage.
Be Proactive About FDNY Sprinkler Inspection Requirements
Call Sanitary Plumbing today
Many of our customers call because they are confused about FDNY sprinkler inspection requirements, they received a notice from the city, or they need to schedule an inspection or flow test. We would be pleased to help you with any of these, and we recommend a proactive approach.
Call Sanitary Plumbing today at 212-734-5000, or use our easy online form. Rather than waiting until the last minute, schedule your appointment as soon as possible. You will avoid fines and have the opportunity to fix anything before it has more serious consequences.