Avoid the Freeze: Winter Tips for Maintaining Your Fire Protection System


Winter is right around the corner and many factors indicate that it will be severe in terms of low temperatures and inclement weather. Now, before the temperature drops severely, is the time to invest in precautionary measures to ensure your system will operate effectively, regardless of the outside conditions.

Water-based fire protection systems can consist of both wet (water in the system at all times) and dry systems (compressed air in the system until activated). Each system requires additional care and attention during the winter to guard against freezing. The following winter maintenance tips* can help protect these systems:

Wet Systems

  • Maintain a building temperature of at least 40° F
  • Inspect piping in concealed spaces (attics and above suspended ceilings)
  • Consider low temperature alarms in areas vulnerable to heat loss
  • Provide insulation for areas prone to heat loss or those far from heat sources
  • Wrap heat tape around sprinkler pipes exposed to temperatures below 40° F

Dry Systems

  • Maintain a temperature of at least 40° F in the sprinkler valve room
  • Drain all sprinkler low point drains
  • Check for sags in piping that may accumulate water
  • Verify that the air compressor is operating properly to supply dry air to the system

Spending a few extra minutes each day maintaining your system can prevent costly damages from frozen pipes and the potential loss of fire protection when you may need it most.

Contact RCM&D Risk Consulting for assistance in developing a winter maintenance, testing and inspection program for fire protection systems in accordance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.

* Recommendations adapted from NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, available from the National Fire Protection Association.