Obstructions and ESFR Sprinklers

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Obstruction and ESFR Sprinklers - Phase 3" (PDF) Download the executive summary (PDF) 
Author: Garner A. Palenske, P.E., William N. Fletcher, P.E., Jensen Hughes
Date of issue: December 2016

Introduction 

ESFR sprinklers are often installed in warehouses to avoid installation of in-rack sprinklers. Due to the unique discharge pattern of the ESFR sprinkler, obstructions located near the sprinkler can greatly affect the distribution of water and potentially sprinkler performance. The 2016 Edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, provides requirements which are intended to minimize the affect obstructions have on ESFR sprinkler performance. 

The Fire Protection Research Foundation initiated this project to ultimately develop a tool that can be used to provide reliable analysis of the impact of obstructions on ESFR sprinkler performance and provide technical basis for revisions to the NFPA 13 requirements. This tool and existing test data can be used as a basis for the NFPA 13 Technical Committees to develop new requirements and guidance for ESFR sprinklers.  

The second phase of this program focused on open web bar joist obstructions and from that work, the impact of horizontal distance from the sprinkler to the obstruction is better understood. The third phase continued the test program and increased the understanding of the impact of vertical distance and studied the impact of obstruction width.


Previous reports

Phase 2
Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Obstruction and ESFR Sprinklers - Phase 2" (PDF) Download the executive summary for this report(PDF)

Author: Garner A. Palenske, P.E., William N. Fletcher, Aon Fire Protection Engineering Corporation
Date of issue: September 2015

The objective of the Phase 2 research effort was to explore the threshold and tolerance of the early suppression fast response (ESFR) sprinklers to obstructions. This research utilized both intermediate scale testing and full-scale testing.

Phase 1

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Obstruction and ESFR Sprinklers - Phase 1" (PDF)
Author: Garner A. Palenske, P.E., William N. Fletcher, Aon Fire Protection Engineering Corporation
Date of issue: October 2014 

The Fire Protection Research Foundation initiated this project to ultimately develop a tool that can be used for providing reliable analysis of the impact of obstructions on ESFR sprinklers based on existing test data and develop technical basis to the NFPA 13 Technical Committees for new requirements and guidance. The goal of this first phase project was to gather available test data, analyze the knowledge gaps, and develop a research plan for future testing.