A fire sprinkler inspector evaluates sprinkler systems to make sure they are in good working order and that they meet any relevant clauses in the building code. Installation, testing, and maintenance of sprinkler systems can all be part of the job. In some regions, it is necessary to have a license to work as a fire sprinkler inspector, because unlicensed individuals could potentially pose a threat to health and safety. Someone who hasn’t demonstrated competency with fire suppression systems might miss a safety problem that could result in damages in the event of a fire.
Companies that provide sprinkler installation maintain an inspection staff and may offer a contract to clients for regular inspections on a schedule set by government authorities or insurance agencies. It’s also possible to work independently, or to be employed by a government agency concerned with safety issues. Independents can be called in by fire departments, building agencies, and similar entities to check a sprinkler system if there are concerns about it.
Upon arriving at a site, a fire sprinkler inspector goes through a detailed checklist covering every aspect of the sprinkler system. This can include some testing of parts of the system to make sure they are in good working order. Inspectors make note of safety violations that could interfere with sprinkler operation and make recommendations to the client. If the system is extremely hazardous, it may need immediate replacement or repair.
Buildings with sprinkler systems tend to be less expensive to insure, as long as the sprinklers are regularly inspected and are in good order. Insurance companies believe they are less of a risk because in the event of a fire, the system will activate to preserve life and property. Regular documentation from a sprinkler inspector proving that inspections have been performed is required to maintain the insurance discount. Government agencies may also need this information as they can require fire suppression systems in some types of buildings by law.
In addition to inspections, a fire sprinkler inspector may be involved in planning, installing, and testing new systems. Maintenance, repair, and upgrades can also be part of the job. Smaller companies tend to prefer multi-talented staff who can perform several different tasks, as they may not have use for a full time sprinkler inspector.
Regions where licenses are required to work as a fire sprinkler inspector may have continuing education requirements as well. Inspectors could need to complete a set number of hours of classes each year to stay certified, and may be asked to retake an exam periodically to retain their licenses. Employers sometimes subsidize these costs because it is in their interest to maintain fully certified staff.