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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Question

We are a janitorial company and one of our costumers is a health care provider. They are asking us to dust the fire sprinklers in all their buildings. The contract does not say anything about who's responsible to perform this task. I was trying to search on the safety issue with some people with experience in the construction industry and they all say that there's a potential risk to activate a sprinkler head while the cleaners are dusting them. You can imagine the consequences if that happens and all damages that we then would have to pay. Our insurance does not allow to have any cleaner climbing on any ladder, so this task have to be performed with the use of an extension. Are the janitorial companies responsible for cleaning the fire sprinklers? Isn't this more their maintenance department's responsibility?


Answer

This would fall under the category of high dusting and could be accomplished by using an extension wand duster, as you note. Perhaps a soft lamb's wool would work well.
As to the danger of activating a sprinker head by passing a soft duster over it, I would say it is minimal. Firstly, the head is activated by heat, not touch. Secondly, the head is set to shut off when the heat dissipates. It would seem you have some safety provisions built in.
Now to be certain, why not call the local fire department and get first hand information about your concern? They will be able to tell you for sure if you have reason to be worried about an accidental water release due to dusting.
Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor
lekrafft@juno.com