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Analysis of Fire Sprinkler Systems Performance in the Northridge Earthquake



R P. Fleming


The performance of nonstructural building components in the January 17, 1994 Northridge earthquake has received a considerable attention, especially building mechanical systems. There has been much anecdotal information indicating less than satisfactory system integrity during and following the Northridge earthquake, which measured 6.8 on the Richter scale. fire sprinkler systems are of special interest since they are expected to remain functional following earthquakes so as to address post-earthquake fire hazards, and because of the potential for significant water damage that can take place if the system is compromised in a building which otherwise remains structurally intact. This project was recommended to include two parts: [1] An analysis of the performance of fire sprinkler systems in the Northridge earthquake in relation to the specific earthquake protection measures employed in their design and construction, and [2] Development of proposed changes to the national installation standard, NFPA 13, which would improve future system performance by bringing brace fastener detials and other aspects of the protection rules up to current levels of technology.
Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR) - 98-736
Report Number


sprinkler systems, earthquakes, fire hazards


Fleming, R. (1998), Analysis of Fire Sprinkler Systems Performance in the Northridge Earthquake, Grant/Contract Reports (NISTGCR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 19, 2024)


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Created January 1, 1998, Updated August 7, 2014