Fire Sprinklers – A Legionnaires Risk?

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) states that fire fighting sprinkler systems pose a threat from Legionella in the workplace, therefore they must be incorporated into existing monitoring and control plans. We take look at the threat posed in more detail.

What do legionella bacterium like?
The ideal conditions are in water between 25 and 45 degrees Celsius, and ideally in standing water. If you are thinking that that is quite a common environment to be found in water systems, then you would be right! Legionella is present in many water systems, but they have to be in abundance to cause Legionnaires Disease.

How do people catch the disease?
The bacteria have to be present in an aerosol, such as a fine mist from a shower, and inhaled. Those most susceptible to the disease are middle-aged to older people with existing lung disease, and smokers, but the truth is anyone can fall victim to the disease.

How big is the risk from fire sprinklers?
Fire sprinklers are in risk category 3, the lowest risk. This is for the following reasons.

1: The water temperatures in fire sprinkler systems are low, which is not ideal for the bacteria to grow to the numbers needed to pose a threat to human health. BUT… The connecting pipes may be optimum temperature, which increases the risk of the bacteria multiplying.

2. The water in the systems can be left standing for long periods of time – poor maintenance increases the risk of legionella. BUT… The water droplets from sprinkler systems are quite large, so not an ideal aerosol for distribution of the bacteria.

To book a workplace risk assessment or get advice on maintenance and treatment call One Environmental on (0)1206 266828.

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