On 31 May 2013, IMO revised guidelines for periodical inspection and testing of fire protection systems and appliances on board ships, entered into force.

These guidelines have been introduced by MSC Circular No. 1432 (MSC.1/Circ.1432), which replaces an earlier MSC/Circ.850.
The provisions of the new circular apply to all vessels and provide the minimum recommended level of maintenance and inspection for fire protection systems and appliances to ensure the reliability of their operation during the service of the ship. The guidelines are also intended to be used in the preparation of ship’s maintenance plans for testing and inspection of fire protection systems and appliances, as required by SOLAS regulation II-2/14.

In revised guidelines, in chapter on annual testing and inspections of sprinkler and water mist systems, item 7.5.17 has been added:
“test a minimum of 2 automatic sprinklers or automatic water mist nozzles for proper operation”.

In order to assess proper operation of sprinklers/water mist nozzles, we present guidelines for performance of  such a test.

Sprinklers/ water mist nozzles located at the highest possible deck are to be chosen for the test. During the test:
– start the sprinkler/water mist nozzle, at a nominal pressure (pilot pressure);
– check the uniformity of the space floor coverage by spraying water;
– measure the intensity of the discharge of water (an average application rate) from the sprinkler/water mist nozzle (required value: 5 liter/min per m2 of space floor– for the classical low pressure system, or the value specified in the type approval certificate of the sprinkler system – for high pressure water mist system, hi-fog type.

In case of negative test results of one sprinkler/ water mist nozzle, operation test of additional 10 sprinklers/water mist nozzles, taken from different sections, is to be performed.

At the time of sprinkler/ water mist nozzle tests, ship spaces should be protected against flooding by water.