Update on Defective Sprinklers at 616 Oberlin

I received the following update on the defective sprinkler system at 616 Oberlin from the City Manager’s office:

Recent activity on social media outlets described the relocation of residents of the multi-family apartment complex, and implied that construction did not meet code. The facts of the situation began approximately three weeks ago when the Office of the Fire Marshal was contacted by a contractor regarding the replacement of sprinkler system piping at 616 at the Village apartments, 616 Oberlin Road.

Fire Marshal staff was informed that the piping used in the fire sprinkler system had developed “pinhole-type” leaks at the joints of the fittings within the piping. The fire sprinkler system is live and has been code compliant. The existing fire sprinkler system will remain active during the repair process except for the time when the new system is actually tied-in to the existing system, projected to be a two or three hour period during the daytime. The fire alarms system will remain live at all times. The building owner and contractors are in the process of obtaining necessary permits to conduct the repair work. Below is an outline of the plan for life-safety during repairs:

  • Relocate the residents from the upper floors to the 1st and 2nd floor apartments while the work is ongoing in the upper floors. Once the work is completed on the upper levels, move the residents to the completed and inspected upper floors and make repairs to the lower floors. 
  • Replace the existing CPVC fire sprinkler piping with an identical new system to be run directly adjacent to the existing system. 
  • Tie-in the new piping to the system. This will occur during the daytime and will take a few hours. 
  • Fire watch will be provided for the entire duration of work. The fire sprinkler system will be live at all times except when the tie-in is actually performed. 
  • Remove existing piping once the new piping has been installed, tested and put into service. 

Fire Marshal staff has been contacted by four news agencies and has worked with the Communications department to provide accurate information to the media. The structure received a certificate of occupancy (CO) in February 2017, all inspections prior to issuance of the CO were completed and per the North Carolina Building Code, and the leakage began subsequent to the CO being issued. The cause of the piping leaks has not yet been determined and is not a regulatory or life-safety matter.