Since the introduction of MSC.1/Circ.1516 - Maintenance and inspection of fire protection and appliances there has been quite some debate with respect to the application of this on board yachts.
The function testing of automatic sprinklers involves the glass bulb being broken to release the water, after which either the sprinkler head is reset and the bulb replaced, or the entire sprinkler head is replaced. This is because there have been failures in hi-fog nozzles, where the spray was not consistent and found out ports were blocked (due to poor water quality, corrosion, dirt, etc.).
It is recommended for yachts that will be subjected to these surveys to approach the manufacturer of the system to do this test and provide an appropriate test kit (such as a funnel to collect the water) so there is no risk that the expensive furniture will be damaged. The manufacturers should be aware of the new requirements for this test as laid out in the MSC and be capable of carrying out the test.
Noting the severe damage it may cause to the accommodation (not to mention owners not being happy), alternatives might need to be agreed with the Flag State or Class when acting on their behalf.
One of the more commonly accepted alternative approaches is to identify the number of sections on board, and once these have been identified, two nozzles are removed from each section and bench tested or tested by manufacturer (to the same system pressure as on board). Flow water through identified section pipework can be verified via a hose or Tee connection if fitted. This ensures the fitted nozzles are tested appropriately and will confirm that water is flowing through the pipework.
Another alternative would be to simply include a test section with dedicated valve in the water mist piping system. This section would need to terminate somewhere discrete, where the discharge of water does not cause such an issue (inside a deck locker for example). This would subsequently provide a dedicated means of testing nozzles on board a yacht, away from interior spaces. However, the fitting of a test section with dedicated valve is best carried out during new construction or refit.
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