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Antifreeze in Residential Fire Sprinklers – Safely Alert Issued by NFPA

Antifreeze in Residential Fire Sprinklers – Safely Alert Issued by NFPA


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) today issued a safety alert recommending that residential fire sprinkler systems containing antifreeze should be drained and the antifreeze replaced with water. The alert follows a research study and an initial set of fire tests conducted after a fire incident raised concerns about antifreeze solutions in residential sprinkler systems. The incident involved a grease fire in a kitchen where a sprinkler with a high concentration of antifreeze deployed. The fire resulted in a single fatality and serious injury to another person.

“Fire sprinklers are one of the most effective ways to save lives and property from fire,” said James M. Shannon, president of NFPA. “Until we can provide further information based on additional research that is currently underway, we are urging the public to continue the use of sprinklers but to follow our interim safety guidelines by removing antifreeze if it is in their sprinkler systems.

According to NFPA, the home is the place where most fire fatalities occur, and when home sprinklers are present, the risk of dying in a home fire decreases by 83%.

Shannon said based on testing conducted, 70/30% glycerin and 60/40% propylene glycol antifreeze may provide an unacceptable risk of harm to occupants in certain types of fire scenarios, in particular kitchen grease fires. There were successful tests where kitchen grease fires were extinguished or contained with a 50/50% glycerin solution but it was felt there should be additional testing to more fully understand if there is a risk associated with 50/50% glycerin solution.

NFPA offers the following interim guidance on residential sprinklers

Fire sprinklers are extremely effective fire protection devices, significantly reducing deaths, injuries and property loss from fire.

These systems should not be disconnected.

Until the results of further testing on antifreeze are available, NFPA recommends the following:

* If you have, or are responsible for, a residential occupancy with a fire sprinkler system, contact a sprinkler contractor to check and see if there is antifreeze in the system.
* If there is antifreeze in the system, as an interim measure, drain the system and replace it with water only. Problems associated with freezing of sprinkler pipes can be mitigated by alternative measures such as insulation. NFPA hopes to provide further guidance based on additional testing before the winter freezing months.
* If you are putting in a new residential sprinkler system, design and install a system that does not require antifreeze.

“We are providing this safety alert as interim guidance based on the information we have right now,” said Shannon. “As soon as more information is available, we will update the public.”

NFPA also reminded the public about basic fire safety tips for kitchen fires. All consumers should take important fire safety precautions regarding kitchen fires.

* Have and maintain smoke alarms in your home.
* Pay attention when you are cooking.
* Should you have a grease fire on your stovetop, smother the fire by sliding a lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until the pan cools completely.
* Never put water on a grease fire or use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire.
* Never attempt to carry a flaming pan across the kitchen.

The NFPA Safety Alert Regarding Antifreeze in Residential Sprinklers and more information on this topic can be found at

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4 Responses to “Antifreeze in Residential Fire Sprinklers – Safely Alert Issued by NFPA”

  1. Commercial Construction Design Build Inland Empire Riverside…

    Thanks a lot. This is very interesting and I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Lets talk altitude, such as Truckee. California legislation is about to require that all new houses are sprinklered. This costs a lot, especially at a time when few can afford to build. Many subdivisions do not have the infrastructure to support sprinkler systems, thus fire pumps and storage tanks will be required. Assuming this works, now there is little option but to use a dry system, as a wet system purged of glycol will freeze. Keep it insulated? I think not. Make it R-1000 and without supplemental heat it will eventually freeze. Keep a summer house warm in the winter? That has to hurt the carbon footprint folks. Assume dry systems only? Why not? They cost even more, are subject to compressor failure, and during these occasional long power outages, compressors will bleed dry, systems will lose pressure, pipes will fill with water, potentially freeze, and ruin the interior of the house. I doubt the added remodel expense was the intended consequence to this legislation, so I think we can assume the main fallout will be even fewer housing starts. Nice job Sacramento. Phil.

  3. Well, this is a very informative post for everyone. Following safety guidelines strictly, can keep our life 100% safe. We should always follow some basic rules for fire protection, which I’ve mentioned below. Building Fire control is 90% in our hand.

    1. Install Smoke Detectors at your home and work places
    2. Always be careful while cooking
    3. Drop and roll: if fire catches your clothes then never run. STOP running and roll over to reduce the flame
    4. Use safety guard for electric devices.
    5. Match box is always for adults’ use.
    6. Do not use elevators in fire affected building. Always use stairs.
    7. Consultant with a Fire Safety Expert.

  4. I don’t think Phil understands how Fire Sprinkler Systems work.

    First if you lost power and the dry system is installed correctly, it should last DAY’s without the compressor working as they should not leak.

    Also you should have Low Pressure Switch, that gets hooked up to an alarm system and sends in a low pressure alert to the central station.

    Also if the pipe fills with water that would trip the High Pressure Switch… Again the central station would be notified…

    See I am all for Residential Sprinkler Systems and they don’t add to much cost to a home.

    In fact it lowers your insurance and can SAVE your life.

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Ryan J. Smith