Recent Building Services Posts

VIDEO: The Anatomy of a Commercial Sprinkler System

4/7/2021 (Permalink)

A man in a blue shirt standing in front of a commercial sprinkler system. John Sprandel from ABJ Fire Protection dives deep into how a fire protection system operates.

We partnered with ABJ Fire Protection's John Sprandel on a series of fire safety videos aimed at educating Western New York's commercial property professionals.

In this video, John dives deep into the anatomy of a commercial sprinkler system, including how to operate it in case of emergency. 

You can view the video here.


Your Commercial Sprinkler System

So we're in the basement of the facility where the water service enters.

Now the water service provides water to the domestic facilities -  your toilets, your showers, your sinks, your water fountains.

It also separates to provide water for your fire protection system.

How Sprinkler Systems Discharge

Now, your fire protection system is piped throughout the building to individual sprinkler heads located in all areas of the building. These sprinklers are individually activated, through a frangible bulb in this particular case. That's designed to discharge when the temperature reaches 155 degrees so not all the sprinklers go off at the same time, only the ones that are exposed to that particular temperature. So, contrary to popular belief or the movies, only one sprinkler head is usually what it takes to put out a fire.

Backflow Prevention

Now, where we have the water service entering, we have a device that's called a backflow preventer. The back flow preventer prevents any contaminants from entering into the public water supply. The fire department or the fire sprinkler system also has a double check backflow preventer.

Why is it important to know those features in your facilities? You have to distinguish “where is the water coming from?” Is it from the domestic service or is it from the fire sprinklers?

Fire Alarms and Sprinkler Systems

The fire sprinkler system has a device installed on it called a flow switch. This is a water flow switch that activates within 60 seconds when water is discharging from one of these sprinkler heads. So not only does the fire department know within 60 seconds that a fire has occurred, but there's also water discharging and then the tenants throughout the facility will also know when the alarms go off that it's time to leave.

The difference between the fire system and a domestic water system is if there is to be a failure of the piping (say it would freeze and break), there's really no way to indicate that that water is flowing. So it's important to know what one of these valves you have to close in order to mitigate that water damage.

One of the things that we can work with you on is identifying, what particular case, what particular valve. We could do that with each individual facility.

Testing and Maintaining Sprinkler Systems

So how do we test this fire sprinkler system? We don't discharge water inside the building. What we do is we install a valve that simulates the water flow through one sprinkler head to ensure that that will activate the alarm system. We install a valve, we test it and then it flows for 40 to 60 seconds. Then it activates an alarm on the fire alarm panel and it will send a signal to the fire department, who will be notified and respond.

The audio visual devices throughout the building will also be going off so you know that it's time to evacuate.

The water service also provides water to the domestic services - your sinks, your showers, your water fountains, your toilet fixtures. What we have is a control valve. We have a bypass. That bypass will allow us to work on the meter. Then we have a meter that monitors how much water is used or consumed and then we have a backflow preventer with separate control valves.

The control valves on each side allow us to do any maintenance or repairs on that particular backflow preventer. On a domestic service, this backflow preventer is a little bit different than the one on the fire service. This one is a little bit more protective of the water supply. It's actually called a reduced pressure zone, or an RPZ backflow preventer.

The Difference Between Fire and Domestic Water Supplies

One of the differences between a fire service water supply and a domestic service water supply is that the device that's installed on the fire system, or a flow switch, will indicate that there's water flow within 60 seconds. If something were to occur on a domestic water service, there's no activation of any alarm or any device that would indicate that there's water flowing.

If for some reason the heaters failed and the pipe froze and it broke you may not see that particular situation until someone sees water flowing out of a door or they look down in the basement and see two or three inches of water on the floor.

It's important that these systems and these devices are properly maintained on a regular basis. Backflows need to be inspected and checked once a year.

So those are the type of services that my company provides and we'd be happy to help if there's ever any need for repairs.

Emergency Pre-Planning

In summary, one of the things that I want you to make sure you take away from this is that when an event occurs it may become confusing to remember which valve you need to close. So it's important to establish that pre-plan and that's what Dan (from SERVPRO of The Southtowns) and myself are here for. It's by taking those steps that we can help mitigate damage control and loss when an event occurs

More Than Just a Restoration Company

9/22/2017 (Permalink)

More Than Just a Restoration Company

While SERVPRO of The Southtowns is proud to be known as leaders in fire and water restoration industry, we also offer several additional services. 

 We are available to help you with:


Duct Cleaning (Commercial or Residential)

Document Restoration (Mold, Odor, Water, Fire Damage)

Post Construction Cleaning

Carpet Cleaning

Lead Abatement

Upholstery Cleaning

Area Rug Cleaning

Hazardous Spill Clean Up

Emergency Planning

Content Pack Out and Inventory

General Cleaning

Reconstruction Including Painting

Temporary Power


The owners, Thom and Lyn Braun, have operated SERVPRO of The Southtowns since 1995 and are dedicated to serving their community while working to become one of the largest and most professional restoration providers in the area.  Please give our office a call 27/7 at 716-646-6684 to help you with your building and restoration needs.

Additional Services

9/23/2016 (Permalink)

A history of achievement.

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns has long been known as a leader in emergency fire and water restoration, but we also perform a number of additional services.

Please consider us for:


Duct Cleaning (Residential and Commercial)

Document Restoration (Odor, Water, Mold damage)

Post Construction Cleaning

Carpet Cleaning

Lead Abatement

Upholstery Cleaning

Area Rug Cleaning

Hazardous spill clean up

Emergency Planning

Content Pack out and Inventory

General Cleaning

Reconstruction including painting

Temporary Power


Thom and Lyn Braun have owned and run SERVPRO® of The Southtowns since 1995. They are dedicated to helping the Western New York community during times of crisis while growing to become the largest and most professional restoration provider in the area. 

Please contact us at 716-646-6684 for a quick response to all of your building needs. We are available 24/7 for emergencies to make it "Like it never even happened."  

A Clean Home Sells Faster

9/16/2016 (Permalink)

A clean home sells faster.

In today’s real estate marketplace, you can have an edge with a reputation for having quality listings. You also want the ability to move a sale through quickly to get your commission.

Presentation is everything.

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns will inspect a property - including crawl spaces - to help determine the extent of water or mold damage and remove potentially harmful bacteria and odors.

We can also assist with a packing, inventorying, and storing contents, as well as a complete deep cleaning including carpets and upholstery.

So before you risk your buyer’s health or the opportunity to close the sale of the property, call your local cleanup and restoration Professionals at SERVPRO® of The Southtowns at 716-646-6684. 

Independently owned and operated by Thom and Lyn Braun for over 20 years serving the entire Western New York community.  

Commercial Post Construction Cleaning

9/6/2016 (Permalink)

HEPA vacuuming all surfaces for a clean learning environment.

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns spent a week cleaning construction dust from a school. It is important for us to do what is best for the business. In this case, we scheduled after hours services to work around their needs. 

Restoring Commercial Properties Presents Unique Challenges

Our professionals are trained to be mindful of legal and environmental concerns and strive to fully restore the damaged area while working within your budgetary constraints. We understand that every hour spent cleaning up is an hour of lost revenue and productivity. So when an emergency situation arises in your business, give us a call and we’ll be there fast with the help you need.

About SERVPRO® of The Southtowns

SERVPRO® of The Southtowns specializes in the cleanup and restoration of commercial and residential property after a water damage event. Our staff is highly trained in property damage restoration. From initial and ongoing training at SERVPRO’s corporate training facility to regular IICRC-industry certification, rest assured our staff is equipped with the knowledge to restore your property.

Facility Management Expo

1/21/2016 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of The Southtowns Facility Management Expo booth

SERVPRO of The Southtowns is a proud to be a vendor at the annual Facilities Management Expo. 

We work with all size businesses, from offices to warehouse and manufacturing facilities to make fire and water damage "Like it never even happened." 

The Western New York Facilities Management Expo is a regional showcase featuring products and services for maintenance, renovation, modernization and management of commercial, industrial, institutional, income properties and more.

As the largest Facilities Management Expo in the WNY region, with vendors and visitors from Western New York, North Eastern Pennsylvania, and Southern Ontario, attendees have a wide range of displays, seminars, and demonstrations to attend throughout the event.

Vendor categories include roofing, solar energy, alarms, cleaning supplies and services, flooring, fire and carbon monoxide protection systems, furniture, LED lighting, signage, painters, recycling services, air quality, safety equipment and more.