Deputy Fire Chief for the Covington Fire Department (CFD) Tony Smith said debris in commercial sprinkler systems around the city is preventable through the addition of locking caps. The change in caps could prevent thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to a building.
Currently, the city’s ordinance requires new commercial buildings to have an automatic fire detection or fire suppression system installed. The ordinance change would require that fire suppression systems be equipped with a rapid entry key locking cap approved by the CFD.
“You all are familiar with the little fire protection devices that come out of your buildings and those mostly have these plastic caps on them,” City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said. “Those plastic caps are pretty easy to remove, pretty easy to get broken and so what happens is when those things get broken or they get pulled off, people begin to stick trash in them.
“That makes it difficult when the fire department rolls up to need to connect there for an emergency. They’ve got to clean this out and oftentimes it’s not an easy fix to get it cleaned out.”
The proposed ordinance change would require locking caps, instead of the plastic caps, on all new commercial buildings within the city limits. The locking caps would prevent breakage and removal without a special key.
Smith said the price difference on the locking caps and the plastic caps varies depending on the sprinkler system used but is between $200 and $300.
“Just an example of some possible savings: If any of those pieces of trash actually went down the pipe and got past the elbow, in other words, got past where you could actually physically see it, then what you’d have to do is break that pipe apart and the sprinkler company would actually have to flush that pipe to try to blow it out the other side,” Smith said. “What that does, if we don’t know its there and we push water in, all we’re doing is clogging the system so we’re not able to add water to the sprinkler system in order to extinguish the fire.
“You’re talking about a several thousand dollar repair so a couple hundred bucks is pretty reasonable I believe.”
Smith said he would reach out to existing commercial buildings to explain the benefits of the locking caps, but it would not be a requirement.
The Covington City Council unanimously approved the first reading of the ordinance change Monday night. The second reading of the change will come before the council at its March 20 meeting before it is officially put into place.