The Evolving Fire Sprinkler Industry

Posted by Jennifer Combs on Feb 13, 2018 12:32:14 PM

Prevent dry pipe fire sprinkler system corrosion-related leaks

Every industry is constantly changing including the fire protection industry. There was a time when the name “Atari” was synonymous with top-of-the-line gaming. Atari was born in 1972, just before the creation of the first microprocessor-based PC.  The industry has undergone dramatic changes since that first gaming console. Current day technology is smaller, faster, and lighter. In some consoles, like the Nintendo Switch, everything you need is included in the device itself – no need for heavy TV screens or multiple wired connections, making it far easier to set up and use.

Just as the gaming industry has evolved, the fire protection industry has its own set of milestones and improvements: from the way we join pipe, to new types of valves, “smart” monitoring capabilities, and now even the supervisory gas used to pressurize a dry pipe system.

For decades it was standard practice to use an air compressor to provide supervisory gas pressure for a dry pipe system. Air compressors are simple to install, easy to maintain and perform the function of holding back the control valve perfectly. However, the increase in the number of dry pipe systems being installed showed the industry a major issue with air compressors. Pinhole leaks!


Dry pipe fire sprinkler systems develop corrosion-related leaks in a very simple process:

  1. Water is trapped in the fire sprinkler piping from hydrostatic testing, trip testing, or condensate from the air compressor – corrosion cannot occur without liquid water
  2. The air compressor provides an unlimited supply of oxygen gas (around 21% of the air we breathe!) to the piping network
  3. Oxygen gas very quickly dissolves into the trapped water at the air/water interface
  4. Dissolved oxygen in the water reacts with the iron or zinc at the pipe wall
  5. The oxygen corrosion reaction produces two (2) results
    1. Pit in the pipe wall where metal is removed
    2. Corrosion by-product deposits accumulating at the bottom of the pipe

Corrosion and pinhole leaks weren’t going away, and the fire protection industry needed to innovate to stay ahead. Because even the most perfectly pitched dry pipe sprinkler system has areas of trapped water, removing the water wasn’t an economical option. Air dryers came along, but they arrived with their own set of issues – maintenance costs and requirements were burdensome and easily overlooked.


ECS Addresses Need In The Fire Protection Industry

Once ECS addressed the root cause: the oxygen itself - this led to a new way to maintain supervisory gas pressure while eliminating pinhole leaks by utilizing nitrogen gas.

After years of research, FM Global has come to recommend the use of nitrogen gas in dry and pre-action systems to eliminate the risk of oxygen corrosion as well.

Working with contractors, engineers, and property owners/managers ECS eliminates corrosion in dry pipe fire sprinkler systems:

  • By promoting the removal of the oxygen gas from the air-filled fire sprinkler piping before it has a chance to react with the pipe metal.
  • Deploying solutions to maintain the inerted atmosphere within the piping using nitrogen as the pressure maintenance gas.  

ECS Advantages:

  • No External Equipment Needed – Storage Tanks or Dryers
  • All ECS Equipment is Installed in the Riser Room
  • Easiest Installation in the Industry
  • Quiet Operation for Wall-Mount Units
  • 72-Hour Lead Time on All ECS Products
  • Sprinkler Systems Maintenance and Parts

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Jennifer Combs

Written by Jennifer Combs