July 19, 2001
Re: Important Safety Information
Dear Valued Customer:
I am writing to tell you -- our partner in fire safety -- about an important safety initiative we are about to undertake and to ask for your support in this effort.
Central Sprinkler Company, an affiliate of Tyco Fire Products LP, of Lansdale, PA (Central), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have announced a voluntary replacement program for O-ring sprinklers. The company will provide parts and labor to replace approximately 35 million fire sprinklers with O-ring seals.
The program involves approximately 33 million wet sprinklers with O-ring seals manufactured by Central and approximately 2 million dry sprinkler heads with O-rings manufactured by Central. Also included are about 101,000 On-Off sprinklers used in wet systems and manufactured by Gem Sprinkler Co. and another 66,000 dry sprinklers manufactured by Star Sprinkler Inc.
Why are the sprinklers being replaced?
Central initiated this action because it discovered that these O-ring sprinklers can degrade over time. These sprinkler heads can corrode, or minerals, salts and other contaminants in water can affect the rubber O-ring seals. These factors could cause the sprinkler heads to not activate in a fire. Laboratory testing has indicated that the majority of the sprinklers would operate in a fire situation; however, some required higher water pressure to activate than may be available in particular buildings. Central has received four reports of wet O-ring sprinkler heads failing to activate during a fire situation and nine similar reports of dry O-ring sprinkler heads. These incidents resulted in property damage claims ranging from $1,000 to over $100,000.
What fire sprinkler models are involved in this program?
Where are these sprinklers found?
As you are aware, sprinklers are installed in a wide variety of properties across the country. The O-ring sprinklers that are part of this program are found in commercial and residential buildings such as single-family homes, apartments, hospitals, day care facilities, schools, dormitories, nursing homes, hotels, parking garages, supermarkets, warehouses, and office buildings.
What do I need to know about the replacement program?
We will replace each of these O-ring sprinkler heads with a free replacement sprinkler which uses Belleville seal technology. In order to provide the building owners with installation of the replacement sprinklers and reduce inconvenience to you, we will either perform the replacement work ourselves or contract with sprinkler installers to perform the replacement work. We have designed this program to minimize disruption to your business and your customers. Although the program does not require your participation, you may inquire about participating as an authorized replacement contractor by contacting the Contractor and Industry Professional Hotline at 1-866-836-3928 between 9 A.M. (EST) and 7 P.M. (EST).
Due to the number of sprinklers involved, sprinklers will be replaced over time, with priority based on the age of the sprinklers, the population affected, and whether the sprinklers show signs of corrosion or leakage. Central and the CPSC staff agree that this phased-in program puts in place an orderly process that serves the public interest.
Central believes this approach is both prudent and the responsible thing to do. Launching this program enables us to provide more enhanced protection to our sprinkler customers. We believe that this initiative will benefit the entire sprinkler industry by upholding the integrity and positive performance of sprinklers, and will help to spread the word about the importance of fire sprinklers in saving lives and protecting property.
As you can see, this is a massive undertaking that will take time to complete. Just as we are making a major commitment to property owners by commencing this program, we at Central want you to know that we are equally committed to making this important initiative as easy and convenient as possible for you, our valued customer. We hope that you will join us in working to make this program a success.
What do building owners need to do to properly maintain sprinklers?
Central and the Commission staff emphasize that for sprinkler systems to be effective, they must be regularly inspected and maintained like a buildings heating, cooling, electrical and elevator systems. In addition, the most recent industry standards state that dry sprinkler heads should be tested, and replaced, if necessary, at least every 10 years. Central believes all fire sprinkler heads should be tested no later than 10 years after installation, and depending on water quality and other factors, more frequent testing may be appropriate. You can help by continuing your efforts to inform building owners of the need to regularly inspect, test, and replace sprinklers and sprinkler systems per the national codes and requirements. As you are aware, sprinklers can be affected by the type of environment that they are installed into, and regular and routine testing and inspection of sprinklers is an important aspect of ensuring the performance of sprinklers and sprinkler systems.
What do I do if I or my customers have questions?
Please read the enclosed materials, which provide more detail about this important voluntary effort. In addition, we encourage you to visit our website www.SprinklerReplacement.com or call our special, toll-free hotline reserved for our customers and other industry professionals at 1-866-836-3928 (9 A.M. (EST) to 7 P.M. (EST)) should you have additional questions about this program.
Additionally, Central is aggressively communicating with other interested parties to make them aware of this program. To that end, we have contacted local fire marshals and other authorities to ask them to cooperate with Central in making this program work efficiently and with minimum disruption to building owners. We are also urging building and home owners to participate in the program and to contact Central directly should they need assistance. If your customers have questions, they can call Central's Customer Service Hotline at 1-866-505-8553 (8:15am to 6pm EST) or visit the website.
We urge you to familiarize yourself with the models and types of sprinkler heads involved in the program and encourage your customers participation. We also ask for your help in maintaining a calm atmosphere that will allow the program to succeed by recognizing that the orderly and efficient replacement of sprinklers will be advanced if building owners are encouraged to replace their sprinklers over time according to this CPSC-approved program. We further ask that you remind building owners that the installed sprinklers retain their listings and approvals that were in effect when they were installed. Finally, we invite you to place a link to www.SprinklerReplacement.com on your website so your customers have ready access to all the information they need about the replacement program.
Please do not hesitate to call on your Sales Representative if there is anything we can do to assist you during this initiative. On behalf of all of us at Central Sprinkler, I want to thank you in advance for your support in this matter and for your business over the years.