The Effects of a Poorly Maintained Riser System

If you’ve read our blog post about dry & wet risers, you’ll already know that it’s a legal requirement to conduct a full wet test of your system every year, to make sure it’s working exactly as it should. And under the BS9990 standard, it’s recommended to visually inspect riser systems every six months, too.

But as a property owner or facilities manager, life can get very busy. We know that, sometimes, routine maintenance like this can get put on the back burner. So what’s the worst that can really happen if you forget to inspect or test your riser system regularly? Well, let’s take a look…

What happens if risers fail?

Riser systems exist for a reason. In high rise buildings – where it can be difficult for firefighters to utilise their own water supply – dry risers and wet risers, along with sprinkler systems, are essential forms of fire protection, working to slow the spread of fire to facilitate a safe evacuation. These systems are vital for helping to protect residents, visitors, workers, your property, and your reputation in an emergency.

Finding out that one of these systems is faulty during a fire can lead to catastrophic events, ranging from extensive property damage to personal injury and even fatalities. Think about the Grenfell Tower tragedy. In reports following the fire, Head of Fire Safety at the Arup Group Dr Barbara Lane noted that “water supplies to firefighters failed during the blaze because the main riser pipe system was out of date.” Dr Lane stated that “the dry main riser failed for the fire service in controlling fire and smoke spread in the lobbies.”

The fire spread upwards through 19 floors of the building in just 12 minutes, killing 72 residents.

Why do risers fail?

Riser systems comprise many different pipes, valves and fittings, relying on many individual aspects working together to create a fully functioning, operational system. If just one of these components fails to work, the entire system can become compromised. Should some parts of the system fail, the water pressure may not be great enough to successfully assist firefighters in controlling the spread of fire.

Risers can fail for a number of reasons. The most likely is simply natural wear and tear of the valves over time. However, damage to the network of pipes can cause leaks. Blockages can affect flow, and overgrown vegetation around the cover can obstruct essential access for firefighters in an emergency. It’s also important to think about vandalism. While it sounds crazy, there have been reports of people intentionally damaging fire systems, or removing vital components, for no reason other than ‘laughs’.

Maintaining your fire systems

At Eversafe, we offer a maintenance service that takes all the stress out of keeping your dry & wet risers working optimally. Whether you need us to visually inspect your system for signs of damage or ageing, or perform a full wet test to certify your system, we can help. Get in touch with us at, or call us on 01795 713123 to book a visit from our experienced team.