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Disabled American Veterans

Don't Let Dirty Fire Sprinkler Heads Be The Elephant In Your Facility!

James Middleton, the inventor of the patented SprinklerVac vacuum accessory, is a retired disabled veteran that served almost 22 years in the USAF. He has AS degrees in Logistics and Occupational Safety and Health as well as a Bachelor's degree in Occupational Safety and Health from Columbia Southern University (Summa Cum Laude). He has worked in Occupational Safety and Health since 2001 and has inculcated and inspected safety programs around the world as part of the Air Force and sister services' missions.

After retiring, he went to work in the hospital environment where he ensures the fire and life safety for employees and patients. Due to his years of study and experience, he is well versed in instituting compliance requirements according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidance, the Joint Commission accreditation guidance, as well as OSHA, ANSI, the NEC (NFPA 70E), etc. That’s enough of trying to earn your trust by covering James’ education and experience. Let’s talk about why the SprinklerVac is needed in hospitals, restaurants, hotels, office complexes, in pre-occupancy clean up following renovation or new construction projects, and other work environments.

As part of inspecting facilities for fire and life safety, it is integral to inspect the fire systems. Often, one will look up and notice cob webs, dust, gunk and other filth all over the facility fire sprinkler heads. The NFPA 25 calls this condition "loading." "Loading" can impede the immediate flow of water in a fire situation, could spread the fire due to the combustibility of dust, cob webs, etc. and depending on the occupancy, can cause health concerns in a non-fire situation. Annex A of NFPA 25 states that severely loaded or corroded fire sprinkler heads require immediate replacement. However, it also offers an option to the facility owner or manager. It states that "in lieu of replacing sprinklers that are loaded with a coating of dust, it is permitted to clean sprinklers with compressed air or by a vacuum provided that the equipment does not touch the sprinkler.”

How does one safely clean a sprinkler head? For good reason, many worry that if they clean them and strike the colored bulb inside the fire sprinkler head, this will cause water to flow. They are exactly right; water will flow from that single sprinkler head to the tune of 25 gallons a minute possibly leading to damaged equipment, clean up and repair/replacement cost!

James has seen some facility managers use canned, compressed air to clean their fire sprinkler heads. Canned compressed air requires a liquid propellant to release its contents. The problem is that it releases propellant which boils at a very low temperature and rapidly cools any surface it touches. This can freeze the sprinkler’s glass bulb causing it to burst and activate the sprinkler. Even if it doesn’t freeze the bulb, the propellant sticks to the sprinkler head surface allowing for most dust to accumulate which causes severe loading. Some propellants are flammable as well which could help encourage the spread of a fire.

As for vacuuming the fire sprinkler head, James found there was no touchless vacuum attachment available on the market. The facility manager that decides to vacuum a sprinkler head is left to choose from vacuum attachments that are small, do not clean the head completely or require them to be in such close proximity to the head that they touch it. This too can bust the glass bulb and activate the water flow.

Dirty fire sprinkler heads is not only a fire and life safety issue. It is also a general cleanliness and infection control issue. This is regularly seen in hospitals, restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and other environments. Who wants to be treated in a hospital that has dust hanging from the ceiling, eat in a restaurant that is not clean, sleep in a dusty room or work in such an environment? Unclean environments can cause health issues for patients, patrons and employees.

Too often, dirty fire sprinkler heads become the “elephant in a facility.” Lack of a safe option leads facility owners and managers to let the glaring problem stare them in the face daily. This avoidance leads to non-compliance with the NFPA as well as an unclean environment. The longer they avoid the issue, the more chance that their fire sprinkler heads will become severely loaded and/or corroded. To change a sprinkler head out, one must purchase system compatible sprinkler heads, schedule downtime of the fire sprinkler system, shut the water off, remove and install the head, test the system and finally restore the system. This can lead to lost revenues in patient treatment, restaurant sales, hotel rooms rented and employees not working. Additionally, transfer of occupancy, following renovation or new construction, can be postponed until sprinkler heads are properly cleaned. This means the builder's payment may be withheld until the sprinkler heads are cleaned and clear another pre-occupancy inspection.

THAT IS OF COURSE, UNTIL NOW! The patented SprinklerVac was designed to comply with the NFPA by offering a touchless vacuum option. The “elephant trunk” end of the attachment was uniquely designed to facilitate several lengths and sizes of fire sprinkler heads to include those with protective cages around them or with longer escutcheons. In addition, James wanted to provide even more security to the user. So, he designed it to be clear. Clarity gives the user the ability to safely position the attachment over the sprinkler head lending to its touchless capability. Not only will the user be able to ensure their fire sprinklers are inspected and maintained properly, but they will be able to ensure the health of their patients, patrons, hotel guests, employees and others. Moreover, in post construction/pre-occupancy cleanup, this attachment can be used to clean construction dust off newly installed fire sprinkler heads.

Don’t let dirty fire sprinkler heads be the elephant in your facility. BUY THE AMERICAN MADE, PATENTED, SPRINKLERVAC VACUUM ATTACHMENT TODAY! The only elephant that should be in your facility is the trademarked elephant logo that represents SprinklerVac!

Note: The SprinklerVac can also be used to vacuum your facility smoke detectors as in the below picture!

*******James would like to thank God, his family and PRE plastics for their unwavering support in making the idea a reality.*******