This information is provided free of charge by the Department of Industrial Relations from its web site at These regulations are for the convenience of the user and no representation or warranty is made that the information is current or accurate. See full disclaimer at

Subchapter 7. General Industry Safety Orders
Group 27. Fire Protection
Article 159. Automatic Sprinkler Systems

Return to index
New query

§6170. Automatic Sprinkler Systems.

(a) Scope and Application.

(1) The requirements of this section apply to all automatic sprinkler systems.

(2) For automatic sprinkler systems used to meet Title 8 requirements and installed prior to the effective date of this standard, compliance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) or the National Board of Fire Underwriters (NBFU) standard in effect at the time of the system's installation will be acceptable as compliance with this Section.

(3) When sprinklers are provided, they shall be installed in an approved manner.

NOTE: For information on proper sprinkler system installation, consult the California Fire Code, California Code of Regulations, Title 24, Section 903.3 “Installation Requirements” for Automatic Sprinkler Systems and/or your local jurisdiction fire department.

(b) Exemptions.

(1) Automatic sprinkler systems installed in workplace, but not required by Title 8, are exempt from the requirements of this Section.

(c) General Requirements.

(1) Design.

(A) All automatic sprinkler designs used to comply with this standard shall provide the necessary discharge patterns, densities, and water flow characteristics for complete coverage in a particular workplace or zoned subdivision of the workplace.

(B) The employer shall assure that only approved equipment and devices are used in the design and installation of automatic sprinkler systems used to comply with this standard.

(2) Maintenance.

(A) The employer shall properly maintain an automatic sprinkler system installed to comply with this Section. The employer shall assure that a main drain flow test is performed on each system annually. The inspector's test valve shall be opened at least every two years to assure that the sprinkler system operates properly.

(3) Acceptance Tests. The employer shall conduct proper acceptance tests on sprinkler systems installed for employee protection after July 1, 1981, and record the dates of such tests. Proper acceptance tests include the following:

(A) Flushing of underground connections;

(B) Hydrostatic tests of piping in system;

(C) Air tests in dry-pipe systems;

(D) Dry-pipe valve operation; and

(E) Test of drainage facilities.

(4) Water Supplies. The employer shall assure that every automatic sprinkler system is provided with at least one automatic water supply capable of providing design water flow for at least 30 minutes. An auxiliary water supply or equivalent protection shall be provided when the automatic water supply is out of service, except for systems of 20 or fewer sprinklers.

(5) Hose Connections for Fire Fighting Use. The employer may attach hose connections for fire fighting use to wet pipe sprinkler systems provided that the water supply satisfies the combined design demand for sprinklers and standpipes.

(6) Protection of Piping. The employer shall assure that automatic sprinkler system piping is protected against freezing and exterior surface corrosion.

(7) Drainage. The employer shall assure that all dry sprinkler pipes and fittings are installed so that the system may be totally drained.

(8) Sprinklers.

(A) The employer shall assure that only approved sprinklers are used on systems.

(B) The employer may not use older style sprinklers to replace standard sprinklers without a complete engineering review of the altered part of the system.

(C) The employer shall assure that sprinklers are protected from mechanical damage.

(9) Sprinkler Alarms. On all sprinkler systems having more than twenty (20) sprinklers, the employer shall assure that a local waterflow alarm is provided which sounds an audible signal on the premises upon water flow through the system equal to the flow from a single sprinkler.

(10) Sprinkler Spacing. The employer shall assure that sprinklers are spaced to provide a maximum protection area per sprinkler, a minimum of interference to the discharge pattern by building or structural members or building contents and suitable sensitivity to possible fire hazards. The minimum vertical clearance between sprinklers and material below shall be 18 inches (45.7cm).

(11) Hydraulically Designed Systems. The employer shall assure that hydraulically designed automatic sprinkler systems or portions thereof are identified and that the location, number of sprinklers in the hydraulically designed section, and the basis of the design is indicated. Central records may be used in lieu of signs at sprinkler valves provided the records are available for inspection and copying by the Division.

Note: Authority cited: Section 142.3, Labor Code. Reference: Section 142.3, Labor Code.


1. Repealer of Article 159 (Sections 6170 and 6171) and new Article 159 (Section 6170) filed 9-8-81; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 81, No. 37). For prior history, see Registers 81, No. 4 and 76, No. 29).

2. Editorial correction of subsection (a)(3) filed 11-9-81; effective thirtieth day thereafter (Register 81, No. 45).

3. Editorial correction of subsection (c) filed 6-30-82 (Register 82, No. 27).

4. Change without regulatory effect deleting Title 24 reference (Register 87, No. 49).

5. Amendment of subsection (a)(3), including new Note, amendment of subsection (c)(2)(A) and amendment of statutory authority Note filed 7-23-2013; operative 10-1-2013 (Register 2013, No. 30).

Go BackGo Back to Article 159 Table of Contents