September 2014 Luncheon Seminar – Nitrogen Inerting for Corrosion Control in Fire Sprinkler Systems

September 2014 Luncheon
The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on September 8, 2014, was held at the Parthenon, at 314 S. Halsted in Chicago. The speaker was Jeff Kochelek, Chief Executive Officer with Engineered Corrosion Solutions.

Jeff gave a very interesting and detailed presentation with an overview of various assessment parameters used to manage and control corrosion-related risk in water-based fire sprinkler systems. He reviewed, the process to identify and recognize likely locations for corrosion to occur; reviewed the options for corrosion control; described Wet Pipe Nitrogen Inerting (WPNI) process, and Dry Pipe Nitrogen Inerting (DPNI) process.

A large part of Jeffs discussion was on the 6 myths regarding corrosion in fire sprinkler systems. These are listed below with a short description see the ECS website for more complete details:

  • Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion is the primary cause of pin-hole leaks in fire sprinkler systems. Oxygen gas is the primary cause as it removes metal from the pipe walls and creates insoluble by-products. Bacteria is always present but there is little correlation between the level of contamination and corrosion related leaks.
  • Galvanized Steel Piping Performs Better than Black Steel in Preventing Corrosion in Dry Systems.Galvanized piping in dry pipe systems can begin leaking 3-4X faster than black steel piping under similar conditions and costs more. Corrosion is very localized, as compared to black steel piping which is more dispersed.
  • Once a Fire Sprinkler System Starts to Have Frequent Pin-Hole Leaks, It Must be Replaced to Stop the Leaks.
  • Bad Water Causes Fire Sprinkler System Leaks.When systems are replaced, it is usually found that only 20% of the piping is significantly damaged by corrosion. Its more cost effect to remove the damaged piping and institute a comprehensive corrosion management system.
  • Pipe Material Defect Causes Weld Seam Failures.Almost all fire supply water comes from municipal sources is for the most part very fresh and clean. Water chemistry does vary but in general it is the introduction of oxygen into the piping that causes increased leaking, not the quality of the supply water.
  • The Quality of Fire Sprinkler Piping and Fittings Has Declined.Failed piping that shows evidence of material defect from the manufacturer is very rare. Corrosion at weld seams is often recognized as the cause of leaks but is not the result of defective piping. When wet pipe systems are drained and refilled frequently they will develop more leaks. When pressure maintenance compressors run more frequently on dry and preaction systems they will develop more leaks. Removing the oxygen and preventing its introduction by inerting the systems with nitrogen can completely stop corrosion.
  • See the link for a more detailed discussion on this topic. Many of us attending found this presentation useful, as it helped demystify some aspects of sprinkler piping corrosion problems.

    Go to the website,, for several white papers on the subject, product specification sheets, FAQs for General Fire Sprinkler Corrosion, FAQs for Wet Pipe Nitrogen Inerting (WPNI), FAQs for Dry Pipe Nitrogen Inerting (DPNI), Installation Schematics, Case Studies, etc.

    (submitted by K. Mniszewski)

14th Annual IFPA-SFPE Combined Fire Prevention Product Show – A Big Success

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The Annual Product Show done jointly with the Illinois Fire Prevention Association was a big success. Held on March 11th, at Medinah Banquets in Addison, the show featured two presentations by Cecil Bilbo on NFPA 13 Storage Updates and Hans Stewart on NFPA 20. The show format and layout was changed this year which was well received by both exhibitors and attendees. Instead of a sit-down buffet dinner in a separate room that attendees had to pay for, a selection of hot and cold hors d’oeuvres was set up in the exhibit space and free to all attendees. At over 125 registered attendees and 52 exhibitors, this was largest and most well attended show we have had in years. Thanks to all that made this a success!

A few photos from the event are shown above.

Two professional development classes were held prior to the show. They included:

  • Changes in the 2013 edition of NFPA 20, presented by Hans Stewart, director of Global _ for AC Pump Systems; presentation printouts are attached as IFSA0314.pdf.
  • NFPA 13, Changes to the Requirements for Storage Protection, 2013 edition, presented by Cecil Bilbo, Academy of Sprinkler Technology, Champaign, IL; presentation printouts are attached as (not available yet -will add when received)

(submitted by William Sedlak/Kim Mniszewski, 3/14/14).

February Luncheon Seminar – Fike Video Image Fire Detection

The Chicago SFPE chapter meeting on February 11, 2014, was held at the Parthenon, at 314 S. Halsted in Chicago. The speaker was Rick Jeffress, a Sale Manager with Fike.

Rick presented product updates and application news for the Fike video image fire detector. This is actually an IP (internet protocol) camera application that utilizes on- board video analytics to detect flame, smoke, reflected fire light and motion. An algorithm is for each mode is independently controlled and can be enabled/disabled based on the hazard or environment. The detection events are instantly reported to the Video Management System (VMS) over a standard Ethernet network connection and/or directly to any fire alarm system through onboard configurable relays. Spyderguard software detection/exclusion zones and alarm verification, combined with Signifires unique algorithm sensitivities, allow for endless configuration options to suit specific fire, smoke and intrusion detection requirements.

Application examples showed unique benefits for large and difficult facilities. Depending on the lens field-of-view used, the area of coverage can be as much as 7800-17000 sq ft per camera. Thus, a few cameras can cover a huge area.

Comparative testing (see article regarding Dan OConnors presentation in 11/10) with other fire detection technologies has shown that using UL test fires, this technology was 88% effective compared to a 100% using aspiration detectors.

A PowerPoint presentation (4MB pdf file) is available for your convenience in reviewing his entire presentation. Note that videos are not enabled in this rendition.

(submitted by K. Mniszewski, 2/19/14)