Can I have sprinkle(r)s on that?

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

Over the years, I’ve found that folks sometimes have a tough time wrapping their heads around instances in which sprinkler systems are impaired enough to require implementation of Interim Life Safety Measures.

I will freely admit that in some instances, it is in the eye of the beholder (or the interpretation of the AHJ—pick your poison), but the determination really starts with having a good working knowledge of how sprinklers (and fire suppression systems in general) work and what types of conditions really put a hurt (so to speak) on the system’s capacity to extinguish or suppress a fire.

I don’t know that I’ve found a completely one-stop resource for this, but I’ve found some materials that I think are worth your time in investigating.

First up, a shout-out (so to speak) to Jonathan Hart, a technical lead, principal engineer at NFPA. Mr. Hart has several blog posts dealing with some of the nuances relating to suppression systems, including no churn tests of fire pumps, sprinkler system impairments, and visual inspection of sprinklers. I’ve found his presentations of information to be really helpful in clarifying the intricacies of NFPA 25 Standard for the Inspection, Testing & Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. You can find Mr. Hart’s blogs, and all sorts of other materials at the NFPA website: Make sure you sign up for their monthly newsletter!

Another resource that I think you’ll find of interest is the blog at Meyer Fire (; depending on your level of interest/expertise, Meyer Fire is (I guess) best described as a gathering point with a stated intent of “helping you shine in fire protection,” but I find the articles posted on the blog to be pretty fascinating (but that might be a “me” thing).

At any rate, I encourage you to check it out and at least subscribe to the blog; it seems that lately it’s not enough to know that you are in compliance with whatever code or regulation is in play—you have to know “how” you are in compliance, so if a surveyor begs to differ, you can have an informed discussion and hopefully prevent a finding. And that’s a very good thing, indeed.

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as The Greeley Company) in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at