Earthquake Bracing Fire Sprinkler Systems

A commercial sprinkler system could be rendered inoperable during an earthquake if it is not fitted with seismic bracing. If your sprinkler system installation is not equipped with seismic restraints, you can have a professional perform a seismic retrofit. For commercial properties, earthquake preparedness should include earthquake strapping and bracing systems to protect fire protection systems from being damaged by earthquakes.

Evaluate Your Commercial Property’s Risk of Damage

  • The fire protection system should be properly braced if the facility is located in an earthquake-prone area. Sprinkler system lines are rigid, so they can be torn from their connection points during an earthquake.
  • Fire following earthquakes can cause major damage. Fires can quickly grow out of control if the sprinkler system’s pipes are ruptured. Extensive water damage can also occur when couples, fittings, and hangars for wet sprinkler systems fail as a result of the lateral and vertical movements during an earthquake.
  • New buildings are likely built to modern codes, which will include proper designs to allow for the sprinkler system to move along with the building. Older buildings may lack sufficient bracing to properly protect the sprinkler system during earthquakes.

Finding a Solution

Adequate sway bracing of your sprinkler system will help ensure the system remains operational to contain or extinguish a fire. Sprinkler system pipe and riser bracing will help to keep the system intact and prevent extensive water damage, even if there is no fire following an earthquake. A fire protection engineer can assist you in providing adequate sway bracing for system risers, cross mains, branch lines, etc., in accordance with NFPA 13, “Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.”

If the following items related to the sprinkler system are included in your facility, they should be reviewed and additional bracing or more appropriate bracing should be provided if necessary:

  • Fire pump and controller
  • Sprinkler risers
  • Standpipes
  • Cross mains
  • Branch lines

Other common fire protection items that should also be reviewed and modified if needed include but are not limited to:

  • Water storage tanks
  • Fixed chemical extinguishing system lines and related tanks
  • Foam system lines and related tanks
  • Storage racks with in-rack sprinklers