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Sprinkler Requirements

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Apply for a Fire Permit Online using Citizen Self Service 


  1. The installation of an NFPA 13D fire sprinkler system involves not only the fire sprinkler contractor, but also the plumbing and electrical contractor as well.  It shall be the responsibility of the fire sprinkler contractor to inform all parties of the requirements of the fire sprinkler system.

    It is the responsibility of the owner and/or builder to contact the Community Development Department.  This shall be done as early as possible to facilitate information for hydraulic calculations and to have the new meter(s) installed. An approved set of plans and permits shall be on job site at all times.  No work shall be done until all permits and approved plans have been obtained.  Any deviation from approved plans shall be noted on job plans by installers and approved by AHJ.

  2. Water Supply: The only acceptable riser arrangement is Figure A-2-2 (c).  A separate sprinkler control valve (option reference 3-1.1 exception No. 1) is unacceptable.  An OS & Y type main control valve or a lever type ball valve with a breakaway lock shall be used.

  3. Each unit in a two-unit complex is required to have a separate system.

  4. The use of no smaller than a one inch water meter is required.  The minimum size underground shall be one and one quarter inch.  A one inch meter with one and one quarter to two inch underground piping has shown to be a hydraulically sound combination in calculations to date.

  5. Fire sprinkler calculations by a licensed C16 contractor or fire protection engineer are required with all plans (3 sets).  Allowances for domestic usage (5 GPM minimum), and required fire hose outlet usage, and any other special systems shall be considered in the calculations.  A minimum allowance of 10% below peak demand static pressure is required.  Required sprinkler system pressure shall be 50 psi or less.

    Minimum size pipe to be used shall be ¾” including copper and CPVC.  Minimum size for steel pipe shall be 1”.  An open solenoid valve shall be required on all systems using ¾” pipe.

  6. On systems with a static pressure of 65 psi or less an open-solenoid valve shall be installed on the domestic side of system.  The allowance for domestic usage is not required to be calculated with this device.

    If the landscape sprinklers are supplied before domestic water and fire sprinklers, then an open solenoid valve shall be required on system.

  7. Working plans shall be drawn in accordance with Chapter 6-1, 6-1.1.1 NFPA 13 and Chapter 13D.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  Water supply information shall be listed on plans (Chapter 6-3).

  8. The alarm shall be a horn/strobe type and located so a passerby would be able to easily see and hear it. The preferred location of the horn/strobe shall be on the front or address side of the residence, unless located on a walk street. If the residence is located on a walk street the device shall be placed on the garage side of the residence, with the exact address of the property (including street name/number) affixed next to the device.

  9. Dwellings have smoke detectors in accordance with NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code and/or 1994 Uniform Building Code, are exempt from an interior mini-horn or bell.

  10. A dedicated circuit shall power all bells and mini-horns.  The circuitry shall be approved and inspected by the Manhattan Beach Building Department and shall include a lock on circuit breaker which is accessible to the Fire Department from the outside of the building.  If the circuit breaker is not accessible from the outside of the building, an additional switch shall be provided and located near the fire sprinkler riser.  The water proof cover for this switch shall be a type which will allow a Fire Department tag to be attached making the switch inoperable without removal of the tag.

  11. Location of sprinklers: Sprinklers shall be installed in all areas.  Permissible sprinkler omissions: Clothes closets, linen closets, pantries maximum 28” in depth and 24 square feet overall, and entrance foyers that are not the only means of egress.  Garages shall have no less than 1” pipe supplying sprinkler heads.  Sprinkler heads shall be GBR 7/16”.  If sprinkler riser is located away from garage, then a 4-head sprinkler calculation shall be required.

    Exception No. 4 of NFPA 13D Section 4-6 Attics and Crawl spaces: Fire sprinklers shall be installed in any attic or crawl space containing a force air unit and in any area of the attic or crawl space that is accessible.  A 7/16” orifice maximum with quick response intermediate temperature rating.

    Skylights with more than 20 cubic feet of space shall be sprinklered.

  12. Along with the stock of spare sprinklers the correct wrench or wrenches shall be supplied.  Any other type of wrench (s) will not be accepted.


  14. Signage: A sign shall be placed on the alarm device near the front of the building indicating that the Fire Department or 9-1-1 should be called when alarm sounds.  Signs shall be attached to all valves incorporated in the fire sprinkler system indicating their function.

  15. Maintenance: The owner is responsible for the condition of a sprinkler system and shall keep the system in normal operating condition.  NFPA 13D Section 1-4.

    NFPA 13D A-1-4: The responsibility for properly maintaining a sprinkler system is the obligation of the owner or manager who should understand the sprinkler system operation.  A monthly maintenance program should include the following:



  1. This residential sprinkler system shall be designed and installed per NFPA 13D, and Manhattan Beach Fire Department regulations.

  2. Devices to be used as follows: Approved ball valve with breakaway locks; approved pressure switches; approved rubber check valves; and bell or horn/strobe to meet City Requirements.

  3. Only new listed residential sprinklers shall be employed in the installation of this sprinkler system.

  4. This residential sprinkler system shall be tested and inspected at both the rough and final inspection, prior to occupancy being granted.  The jurisdictional fire prevention office will be notified a minimum of one working day in advance of the requested inspection.

  5. All new systems shall be hydrostatically tested at 200 psi for two hours.  When a fire department connection is provided, hydrostatic pressure tests shall be provided in accordance with NFPA 13.  The hydrostatic and rough sprinkler inspection may be conducted as one fire department inspection.

  6. A final sprinkler inspection and test will be conducted only after the electric meter/meters have been installed.
  7. A stock of three spare sprinklers of each style type and temperature rating with a sprinkler wrench shall be located at the main riser.  The correct wrench (s) shall be supplied for each different sprinkler used.  No other wrench (s) will be accepted.

  8. All valves shall have a permanently affixed sign indicating its function.

  9. Pipe shall be hung from structure members.  Plastic pipe requires hangars located at four feet on center as per the Uniform Plumbing Code.  In addition, comply with all other hanging requirements that the manufacturer indicates in its technical data information.

  10. The spacing and location of sprinklers shall conform to the manufacturer requirements and those contained in NFPA 13D.

  11. Alarms shall be of sufficient intensity to be clearly audible in all bedrooms over background noise levels with all intervening doors closed.

  12. Maintenance: The owner is responsible for the condition of a sprinkler system and shall keep the system in normal operating condition (N.F.P.A. 13D Section 1-4).

Attention Contractors!

Here’s a list of points for residential fire sprinkler inspections that, if covered, will get you passed every time.

Rough Inspection:

  1. Be sure that you have an approved set of plans before you do anything else. If you call for an inspection, we generally check to see if you’ve got a permit - if you don’t you’re subject to double billing and won’t get the inspection until the permits in place.

  2. Have the system pumped up and ready to go - check it before you call for the inspection. It’ll take you about 10 seconds and it saves everyone time.

  3. Be sure the inspector can access the riser assembly easily. If access involves climbing through a maze of scaffolding and debris, it becomes hazardous and we may pass due to safety concerns.

  4. Nothing is perfect, but if you get the above items covered, you should be good to go.

Final Inspection:

  1. Perform your own system check before the inspector comes out
    • Make sure there’s a dedicated and labeled breaker that has a breaker lock in place.
    • Check to make sure all sprinkler heads have at least 6” – 8” clearance so they can do their job.
    • Be sure you have a red box with extra sprinkler heads mounted in the garage.
    • Have an “Inspector’s Test Valve” and have it labeled as such - it needs a flow restrictor fitting too at the test discharge.
    • Make sure the Horn/Strobe device is installed on the FRONT/ADDRESS side of the building [per approved plans] and flow the system from the test valve to make sure the device activates within about 90 seconds.

Be sure the inspector can find the electrical pane - more and more places are having multiple sub panels.

Have the job card on site and in an obvious place, otherwise you’ll be making a trip to Fire Station 1 to get signed off.

One last item: exterior “Silence” switches are NOT required in Manhattan Beach. If present, they’ll be required to be removed before the system will pass inspection.

Hopefully you’ll find this information helpful. If you folks meet these basic items, the inspection process will be a breeze and we’ll all have smooth sailing!!!!

Thank You,

The Office of the Fire Inspector
Manhattan Beach Fire Department
(310) 802-5206


The following document is the check sheet utilized by Manhattan Beach Fire Department while completing residential sprinkler inspections.


  • Locate or advise of proper HORN/STROBE location. Should be located on the address side of structure, however if garage is located on alley side of property HORN/STROBE should be located on alley side of structure with the exact address posted.
  • If electrician has not roughed in the HORN/STROBE Give correction notice for proper placement of HORN/STROBE if needed and make note on job card and in Permits Plus.
  • Check main from water meter, must be a minimum 1 ¼ “
  • Copper sprinkler feed should be 1”  with no shut off
  • Copper into structure shall be minimum 1”
  • To orange cpvc or copper sprinkler piping minimum 1”
  • Check that piping is secured with hangar brackets at minimum of every four feet per the Uniform Plumbing Code.
  • Inspectors test valve (Flow switch) may be exterior or on interior of garage (does not need to be hooked up to water supply until final).
  • Sprinkler gauge must be pressurized to a minimum of 150 psi (Hydro test). Release some pressure to insure gauge is working properly.
  • Check sprinkler locations, no obstructions and pennant heads
  • Visually inspect piping for possible leaks.
  • Initial Job Card (Rough #275)
  • Completed inspections shall be entered into Permits Plus and Completed Inspection Folder


  • Verify proper HORN/STROBE placement.
  • Flow INSPECTORS TEST VALVE (should be identified), Must have visual and audible alarm within 90 seconds.
  • Horn/Strobe shall have a dedicated electrical circuit, identified and provided with a breaker lock.
  • Insure there is not an on/off switch connected to Horn/Strobe, usually located by test valve.
  • Shall have minimum of 3 spare sprinkler heads mounted in garage.
  • Address shall be mounted on final inspection, may be permanent or temporary.
  • Initial Job Card (Final #480)

Description: Fire Sprinklers, General Information
Reference: 1994 Uniform Fire Code

The purpose of the following information is to provide a reasonable understanding of the relationship between sprinkler systems and the various occupancy hazard groups.  Most systems installed at this time provide a specific water density as required by the degree of hazard of the activities performed within the building.  That is to say that a specified density in G.P.M. per square foot is provided by selection of pipe sizes on a pressure loss basis, providing reasonable uniformity over a prescribed area.  The advantage of such a system, referred to commonly as a calculated system, is that it results in smaller pipe size being used in most cases, thus reducing costs of the system.

Older systems were based only on the pipe schedules contained in N.F.P.A. Pamphlet No. 13,  for the various hazard groups, and were not calculated throughout on a pressure loss basis.  These systems are commonly called “Pipe Schedule Systems.”  There are few of these systems installed any longer.

Due to the required relationship between occupancy hazards and density, along with other requirements mentioned below, it is necessary to emphasize the fact that once a building is provided with a sprinkler system, the activities permitted in that building are limited to the hazard group for which the system was designed and any activity of a less hazardous nature.  No change of use of any building shall be made without a Certificate of Occupancy as required by the Uniform Building Code, Section 109.

Occupancy requirements for sprinkler system design are primarily based upon the hazard classifications as specified in N.F.P.A Pamphlet No. 13, 1994 Edition, Chapter 1, as Light Hazard, Ordinary Hazard, Groups 1, 2 and Extra Hazard, Groups 1 and 2.  Tables 5-2.2 and 5-2.3 chapter 5 establish minimum water supply and sprinkler density requirements for Light and Ordinary Hazard Group 1 and  2.  Extra Hazard Occupancies are referred to in appropriate N.F.P.A. pamphlets such as N.F.P.A. No. 30 for flammable liquids storage buildings.

The densities required, head spacing requirements, area of operation, total area covered by one system, head temperatures, etc. all vary dependent upon several factors, such as the height of storage, class of commodity stored, type of packaging, whether solid pile or rack or pallet storage, configuration of racks, single, double, or multiple-row, rack shelves open or solid, aisle spacing, and head temperatures.  The tables governing the above factors for solid-pile high-piled storage, with or without pallets, are found in N.F.P.A. Pamphlet No. 231.  Tables governing rack storage are found in N.F.P.A. Pamphlet No. 231c.

HIGH-PILED STORAGE is defined as combustible materials in closely packed piles more than 12 feet in height or on pallets or in racks more than 12 feet in height.  For certain special-hazard commodities such as rubber tires, plastics, some flammable liquids, idle pallets, etc. the critical pile height may be as low as 6 feet.  (See Uniform Fire Code Standard 81-1)

Buildings used for High-Piled Storage shall have sprinklers installed in accordance with Uniform Fire Code Table 8102.  However, sprinkler systems are also required based upon the type of construction and floor area, occupancy classification, and various other factors.  (See Uniform Building Code 3802). 

Protection area per sprinkler head limitations are set forth in N.F.P.A. Pamphlet No. 13, 1994 Edition, paragraph 4-2.2.  The total area of protection by any one system for Light, Ordinary, and Extra Hazard Occupancies is found in paragraph 4-2.2.1.

As you can see, the design criteria is somewhat complex and to a great degree dependent upon the storage methods and activities, etc. actually taking place within the building.  In some instances, it has been necessary to modify the usual requirements for one reason or another.  For high-piled and rack storage, N.F.P.A. Pamphlet No. 231 and 231c densities are used.  The requirements as shown in the N.F.P.A. pamphlets are also contained in the 1994 Uniform Fire Code Standard No. 81-1.

During installation of sprinkler systems, piping from the city vault throughout the system is  pressure tested at 200 PSI for 2 hours.  Underground piping from the vault to the riser flange is flushed to prevent dirt and foreign objects from getting into the system.  The final test consists of checking the flow alarm, inspector’s test, and a flow test.  By opening the inspector’s test valve, the local alarm bell should sound within five (5) minutes.  If it does not, repairs should be made immediately.  The flow test is done by first observing the static pressure on the upper gauge, if there are two, mounted below the alarm check valve.  Then the 2-inch main drain is fully opened, and the lower gauge, if there are two, residual pressure checked.  If the pressure drop between the two readings is excessive (maximum loss 12-15 PSI), there is a problem.  Either there is an obstruction, or a valve in the underground may be partially closed.  Yearly inspections by the fire personnel should include the same checks as made for a final test.

If additional information is desired, contact the Fire Prevention Division of the Manhattan Beach Fire Department.

Description: Testing Procedures for Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems

Reference: 2000 Uniform Fire Code; 2001 California Fire Code; California Code of Regulation, Title 19; California Health and Safety Code; California State Fire Marshal Regulations


Test frequency: Once every 5 years.
Test procedures to be followed by a Certified Tester

Note: These are the minimum procedures which a tester shall follow to ensure that Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems are working properly and will meet fire and life safety standards.

In addition, the Tester, in accordance with the CA State Health and Safety Code, Section 13195, shall be licensed by the CA State Fire Marshal.

Step 1. The Tester shall give the Fire Department Inspector at least 2 working days notice prior to the date that a test will be conducted.

Step 2. The Tester shall make arrangements with building management to conduct the test, and shall ensure that all building occupants are given proper notification that a test will be conducted.

Step 3. The Tester shall notify the Fire Department Dispatch Center that a test of this system will be taking place.

Step 4. The Tester shall have all the tools and equipment necessary to perform this test at the test site and know how to use them.

Step 5. The Tester shall know how many additional personnel will be needed to assist in performing this test.  If additional personnel will be used, their names, job titles and qualifications shall be provided.

Step 6. The Tester shall be able to verbally describe the steps that will be taken to test the system.

Step 7. The Tester shall ensure that a life safety system description exists which includes, but is not limited to:

A. A systematic itemized checklist of all fire and life safety initiating devices.  This shall be done in a logical method starting at the top of the building.

B. A simplified floor plan of the location and type of each initiating device on a sheet of paper which is a minimum of 8½  by 11 inches so that it fits neatly into a loose-leaf binder.

C. Each auxiliary function that is triggered when an initiating device is activated.

Step 8. The Tester shall be able to explain the sequence of operations for the system being tested, as it specifically relates to the building in question.


Step 1. The Tester shall inspect the system to determine that it is in proper operating condition to conduct the test.

Step 2. The Tester shall inspect all the system components identified as "Maintenance Requirements for Automatic Fire Sprinkler Systems", as follows:

I.    Wet Pipe Sprinkler Systems

Fire Department Connection

Inlet caps missing.
Couplings damaged.
Couplings do not rotate smoothly.
Gaskets missing or deteriorated.
Clapper valves do not close completely.
Visible or exterior obstructions.
Correctly identified signage, and system pressure indicated if  over 150psi.

Control Valves

Valves leak.
Valve not secured in open position.
Visible or exterior obstructions.
Signage for control valves.


Visible or exterior obstructions.
Bracing damaged.
Flow valve -covers.
Tamper switches.


Gauges damaged.
Gauge valves turned off.
System pressure.
Supply pressure.


Leaking, corroded or painted.
Flow obstructed.
Installed in incorrect position (upright or pendant).
Extra sprinklers and wrench not available. 
Extra sprinklers not the same orifice size or temperature rating as in system.

Gravity Tank and Reservoir Supply

Vessel damaged.
Water level inadequate.
Pressure Tank Supply
Tank damage.
Water level too high or too low.
Air pressure level low.
Valves closed.

II. Dry Pipe, Deluge, Pre-Action and Dry Pipe Pre-Action Combination Systems

Fire Department Connection

Inlet caps missing.
Couplings damaged.
Couplings do not rotate smoothly.
Gaskets missing or deteriorated.
Clapper valves do not close completely.
Visible or exterior obstructions.
Correctly identified signage.

Control Valves

Valves leak.
Valves not secured in open position.
Visible or exterior obstructions.
Signage for control valves.


Visible or exterior obstructions.
Bracing damaged.


Gauges damaged.
Gauge valves turned off.  Air pressure.
Water pressure.
Air supply not in service.


Leaking, corroded or painted.  Flow obstructed.
Installed in incorrect position (upright or pendant).
Extra sprinklers and wrench not available.  Extra sprinklers not the same orifice size or temperature setting in system.

Gravity Tank and Reservoir Supply

Vessel damaged.
Water level inadequate.

Pressure Tank Supply

Tank damaged.
Water level ' too high or too low.
Air pressure level low.
Valves closed.

Detection Devices

Air piping damaged.
Heat actuation devices damaged.  Electrical wiring damaged.

Foam Equipment

Strainers dirty.
Foam level low.


Note: In accordance with the CA State Health and Safety Code, Section 13195, all servicing of Automatic Fire Extinguishing Systems shall be performed by concerns licensed by the CA State Fire Marshal.

Wet Pipe Sprinkler Systems

Step 1. The Tester shall back flush the Fire Department Connection (FDC) to ensure that there are no obstructions.

Step 2. The Tester shall verify that all valves with tampers shall annunciate before valve turns 2 full revolutions or 20% of full travel, whichever is least.

Step 3. The Tester shall operate and examine for damage all Post Indicator Valves (PIV), underground gate valves, and Outside Screw and Yoke (0 S & Y) valves.

Step 4. The Tester shall perform a main drain test, as follows:

A. Record pressure reading with main drain valve closed.

B. Fully open the main drain valve and record the pressure reading.

C. Close the valve and observe how quickly pressure is restored to determine if there are obstructions in the water supply line.

Step 5. The Tester shall perform a flow test using the inspector’s Test Valve.  The system's audible device shall activate within 30 seconds of valve opening.  All flow switches within the sprinkler system shall be activated and verified for proper operation.

Step 6. If the system is looped, each flow switch shall be tested individually and all flow switches on that zone shall be tested simultaneously.  They shall annunciate between 20 to 60 seconds.

Note: A test gauge shall be installed at the test gauge opening in order to determine the accuracy of the existing gauges.

Step 7. The Tester shall test the automatic filling system on sprinkler systems supplied by gravity tanks or reservoirs to ensure proper operation.

Step 8. The Tester shall test all supervisory devices on all control valves to assure that they are functioning properly and transmitting a trouble signal to the appropriate location.

Step 9. The Tester shall flow test all fire pumps serving the system.  Note: If the pump performance is more than 10% below the manufacturer's certified test curve, or as specified on the pump housing, the pump shall be reported to the Fire Department.  Do not draw residual supply pressure on pump below 20 psi as damage to public mains may occur.

Step 10.  The Tester shall test all pump supervisory devices to assure that they are functioning properly and transmitting a trouble signal to the appropriate location.

Dry Pipe, Deluge, Pre-action and Dry Pipe Pre-action Combination Systems

Note: The Tester shall conduct all the test steps above in addition to the following:

Step 1. The Tester shall conduct an alarm bell test by using the alarm test line on a dry pipe, pre-action or deluge system.

Step 2. The Tester shall test the air compressor (if applicable) to ensure that it is working properly.  The Tester shall record the reading on the appropriate gauge to determine activation pressure.

Step 3. The Tester shall test all system supervisory devices on all control valves to assure that they are functioning properly and transmitting a trouble signal to the appropriate location.

Step 4. The Tester shall follow any additional manufacturer's written service and maintenance instructions when conducting any service and maintenance for these systems.  In addition, the Tester shall conduct any other test when required specifically by the Fire Department.


Step 1. The Tester shall return the system to its normal operating condition.  If there is any problem doing so, the Tester shall immediately notify the Fire Department Inspector or his/her immediate supervisor.

Step 2. The Tester or the Fire Department shall have the right to discontinue this test if any of the above steps are not met.