System Shutdown Policies

Temporary/Seasonal Shutdown Policy

According to State adopted NFPA 25, 2014 edition, section 4.1.1 it is the owner’s responsibility to have the fire sprinkler system maintained and operable. It is also illegal to shut one off, except for short-term maintenance/repairs although under specific conditions a temporary/seasonal shutdown may be allowed as outlined below:

In Maine seasonal occupancies are common, and the cost of heating an unoccupied building during off-season may be very high. Although an approval letter from our office is not required, if you wish to have one for your records, then send a written request, along with a statement that you have done the things listed below. Here is a summary of how to handle a seasonal shutdown.

  1. Obtain a written acknowledgment from your local fire department.
  2. Obtain a written acknowledgment from your insurance carrier.
  3. Notify your alarm company if the building has a monitored alarm system.
  4. Make sure that the building remains locked and unoccupied during the shutdown. This includes keeping out work-crews, carpenters, painters, etc. (It is acceptable for the owner or owner’s representative to do an occasional walk-through inspection).
  5. Have a licensed fire sprinkler contractor or inspector shut the system down and prepare it for inactivity.
  6. At the time of reactivation have a licensed fire sprinkler contractor or inspector reactivate the system and do the required thorough annual inspection at that time.

Permanent Shutdown

According to state adopted NFPA 25, 2014 edition, section 4.1.1 it is the owner’s responsibility to have the fire sprinkler system maintained and operable. It is also illegal to shut one off, except for short-term maintenance/repairs although under specific conditions a permanent shutdown may be allowed as outlined below:

Existing systems must be inspected, tested and maintained according to NFPA 25, 2014 edition, as stated in Section 4.1.1.1.1.Then both NFPA 1, 2009 edition, section 4.5.8.2, and NFPA 101, 2009 edition, section 4.6.13.2 reinforce this by stating:  “No existing life safety feature shall be removed or reduced where such feature is a requirement for new construction.”  This is a more stringent requirement than in previous editions.  Therefore it must first be determined whether or not the fire sprinkler system is required for new construction.

If the fire sprinkler system is required for that occupancy use in new construction, then the system must not be removed. 

If the fire sprinkler system is not required for new construction, then the next 3 points must be met before it can be removed:

  1. Permission to remove a system must come from all of these: insurance carrier, the Local Authority Having Jurisdiction, and the State Authority Having Jurisdiction.  Obtain the approval first from the insurance carrier, then from the local fire department/code enforcement officer, and then from the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
  2. Permission will not be granted if local or state-adopted codes require the fire sprinkler system.  It is the owner’s responsibility to prove that the system is not required by local and state-adopted codes.  For local approval, check with the local authorities to see if they might want to do a local plan review or inspection.  State approval can be applied for through a plan review process.  Call 207-626-3884/3885 to schedule the plan review.  They will also explain when a design professional is required.
  3. If permission is granted from all 3 sources listed in item 2 above, then all fire sprinkler heads, the fire dept connection and a section of the system riser must be removed so that there is no false sense of security.  The rest of the system components may remain in place.  There needs to be a follow-up inspection by the local authorities to see that this has been done correctly, or if they don’t care to do it, then check with us at 207-626-3889 for the state to do the follow-up inspection.

Permanent shutdowns are permitted for buildings that are scheduled for demolition once the buildings become vacant and secure.

Although an approval letter from our office is not required, if you wish to have one for your records, then send a written request, along with a statement that you have done the things listed above. 

Policy for Indefinite Shutdown

Sometimes a building is going to be vacant for an undetermined length of time, such as when it is up for sale or going through bankruptcy proceedings.  In such cases the occupancy use of the building may or may not change but the intent is that there will be occupancy once again in the future.  Such situations may present a financial burden to the client in the interim and so the request comes to shut the system down. 

Section 4.6.13.2 in the 2009 edition of the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code states, “Existing life safety features obvious to the public, if not required by the Code, shall be either maintained or removed.  The annex note states: “Also, before taking any life safety features out of service extreme care needs to be exercised to ensure that the feature is not required, was not originally provided as an alternative or equivalent, or is no longer required due to other new requirements in the current Code. Section 4.6.13.2 does not permit the system to be removed if it is a requirement for new construction. Where the future occupancy type may be in question, it is often difficult to determine if the fire sprinkler system is required.  Typically the best approach is to do a “Temporary Shutdown” for a year, and then reassess the situation. If someone wants to shutdown a fire sprinkler system permanently, then see our “Permanent Shutdown Policy”.