Sprinkler System Maintenance & Testing Guidance

Sprinklers are known to be an extremely effective way of controlling the spread of fire, but like all systems, they must be maintained. Guidance differs slightly for sprinkler systems designed to the minimum standard of BS EN 12845 for the safety of lives, from the requirements of the LPC Rules for automatic sprinkler installations 2015 incorporating BS EN 12845 which covers both life safety and property protection. The FPA would recommend the following guidance when identifying when maintenance and testing needs to be carried out on your sprinkler systems. The correct testing at the required intervals ensures you can demonstrate best practice as well as giving your client the peace of mind that they are protecting both life and property.

Sprinkler maintenance and testing guidelines

Annual inspections of the entire sprinkler system by an independent third party

LPC Technical Bulletin TB203 ‘Care and maintenance of automatic sprinkler systems’ clause TB 203.2.4 confirms that sprinkler systems shall be inspected yearly. These inspections shall be undertaken by an independent third party. That being, not the system owner, building occupier, system installer, or maintenance provider.

25 year inspection of sprinkler heads

It is a requirement of sprinkler systems designed in accordance with the LPC Rules for automatic sprinkler installations 2015 incorporating BS EN 12845, that a sample number of sprinkler heads should be removed and tested by an independent, third party testing laboratory. This should be carried out when the system is a maximum of 25 years old and may be sooner if the system is in poor condition or if recommended by the sprinkler head manufacturers.

The total number of sprinklers within an installation or system requires a select number of sprinklers to be removed and inspected as detailed in LPC Technical Bulletin TB203 clause TB 203.3.8.3, shown below:

Total number of sprinklers within installation or System Number of sprinklers to be removed & inspected
Less than or equal to 5,000 20
Less than or equal to 10,000 40
Less than or equal to 20,000        60
Less than or equal to 30,000 80
Less than or equal to 40,000 100

Sprinklers subject to contamination, such as those in spray booths, may require more frequent attention and replacement. 

Dry pendant pattern sprinkler heads (those with a dry drop pipe section) should be tested every five years or less unless stated otherwise by the manufacturer – 5% or 20 heads of each batch of dry pendant patterned sprinklers installed on the site (whichever is the greater) should be tested as detailed in TB 203.3.6.1.

Multiple controls (also known as MJCs) can be subject to a build-up of corrosion and environmental deposits, and so will also need testing more frequently. These should be tested every five years or less unless stated otherwise by the manufacturer – 6% or three MJCs (whichever is the greater) should be tested as detailed in LPC Technical Bulletin TB 213.

The FPA’s RISCAuthority has recently produced a sprinkler system guidance document, which is echoed and endorsed by the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA). The document is a comprehensive and educational service and maintenance document for sprinkler system owners, users, and specialist maintenance contractors. 

The document has been put together with input from the leading insurer members of RISCAuthority, sprinkler experts, and interested like-minded parties to provide a fully compliant service and maintenance schedule to meet the requirements of LPC Technical Bulletin TB203, with additional information providing practical guidance to assist all users on best practice for sprinkler system maintenance to ensure the sprinkler system remains effective for many years. The document is now freely available for download.

Additional maintenance requirements of your system