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Obstructions + ESFR Sprinklers – NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation Project

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Aug 18, 2016

Obstructions for the Fire Protection Research Foundation (NFPA’s research arm). Obstruction of ESFR sprinklers is a major issue that costs building owners millions of dollars each year. The goal of the project is to establish scientifically-based solutions to the issue. This is the most significant sprinkler fire testing project since Chet Schirmer’s work in the 1970s.

Phases One and Two

The first phase of the project was to complete a literature search and develop a test plan. The second phase included conducting full-scale fire testing. The findings of the first two phases are found in the published report on NFPA’s website which followed with a report.

Phase Three

The first two weeks of August 2016, Garner Palenske, P.E. and William Fletcher, P.E., of the Jensen Hughes San Diego office, performed additional testing at Underwriters Laboratories (UL), as part of the third phase of the research project. The purpose of this phase is to further explore the threshold and tolerance of the ESFR sprinklers to obstructions. This extended research includes analyzing vertical obstruction separation, consideration of obstruction width and shape, and expanding the understanding of miscellaneous obstructions.

The project included Actual Delivered Density (ADD) testing for miscellaneous obstructions and full-scale testing for vertical distance and obstruction width. The final test report is available on the NFPA's website. Data was forwarded to the NFPA 13 sprinkler committees for inclusion into the sprinkler standard, NFPA 13.