We have worked on a few projects in rural Maine where sprinklers were installed as part of the life safety strategy. Many of our renovation projects used what is called a Maine Life Safety System. This sprinkler system makes installing sprinklers where there is no municipal water supply relatively easy. The above photo shows a Maine Life Safety installation at an island school we renovated. The required stored water easily fits in a corner of the basement. The pump is right there.
For new construction projects, Maine Life Safety systems are not usually allowed, if ever. Much larger sytems- some variety of NFPA 13, will be a part of the project. For areas with limited water, such as on a well, the water storage requirements could be large.
I enumerate a couple key issues that have come up recently. I am not a sprinkler system designer, so what follows should not be taken as authoritative regarding sprinkler system design. My intent is to alert designers of issues that must be addressed during building design. Sprinkler systems take up space, and require water and a source of power. I would advise, as part of the basic building programming, a discussion with a sprinkler system designer. Sprinkler systems are often design-build, but the design portion should happen during building design, not during construction.
Rural areas without municipal water will require water to be stored on site. Water storage takes up space. This space needs to be included in the building, or available underground.
Fire pumps need a room of their own. They cannot be located in a room with mechanical, electrical or plumbing equipment. The room must be rated, and typically would need an outside door, or be located off a rated room. On a recent project, that room was about 36 square feet.
Water storage, power supply, back-up power, and a dedicated fire pump room all need to be part of a building’s program. For rural area sprinkler systems, these components can be significant. In addition to our own recent project, we have heard anecdotes about other projects where OSFM requirements were not fully anticipated during design, resulting in more re-work than anyone really wanted to do.