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Feb 7, 2022

In episode we are talking fire protection system ITM! We get into codes and standards, impairment plans, and key critical definitions for the subject.



Hello. Welcome to the solo cast of fire code tech in these episodes. It's just gonna be me, your host, Gus Gagliardi. There's gonna be a range of topics, but I'm gonna talk about specific technologies, installation, standards, codes, and how they work as well as some other interesting topics that don't neatly fit inside of the context of a normal interview.

Hello, all welcome to episode 28 at the solo cast of fire code. Our topic for today is inspection, testing and maintenance. We're gonna take a broad overview of ITM, inspection, testing, and maintenance, and go through the codes and standards. Uh, talk about impairment plans and also, you know, just describe the importance of this task.

I know it's not a very glamorous thing in fire and life safety, which is our already hyper niche and something that is often overlooked, but it is extremely important. And there. There's a lot of room for growth and inspection, testing and maintenance. So I want to talk about this topic. This episode is gonna be really broad.

Um, we're gonna focus on N FPA 25, which is the, uh, inspection testing and maintenance standard for water based systems. And so we're gonna keep it high level and. Episodes down the line. We're gonna talk more closely about specific systems. Do me a favor and hit that subscribe button wherever you listen to podcast.

Also, if you could give us a five star review on either YouTube or apple podcast, that is a huge help to the algorithm. Thanks for listening in. Let's get into the show. Let's start out with some very basic inform. I want to come back to the codes and standards around inspection, testing, and maintenance, but for the purpose of definitions in setting the table, I just wanna bring up the piece of information that in FPA 25 is the standard for inspection, testing, and maintenance of water based fire protection systems.

That being said, I'm going to go over some key definitions in NFPA 25 in order to preface our discuss. First, what is inspection, testing, and maintenance? I think these terms get confused a lot. So I want to keep the audience appraised of what these are in case you haven't taken the trouble to go specifically, look at how these are defined.

You may know notionally what these are, but I found it kind of interesting to read these definitions and see the more formal. Description of what these terms mean, inspection a visual examination of a system or portion thereof to verify that it appears to be in operating condition and is free of physical damage.

So inspection is visual. Um, we're gonna talk later on in the episode about, um, some of the frequencies or kind of what these procedures look like, but inspection is a visual. Um, you may have heard me speak about in other, uh, fire code tech episodes, the standard for remote inspection. Um, that is, uh, nine 15.

I believe this is not, uh, remote testing or remote maintenance. This is remote inspection. So that is, uh, just to illustrate how it's important to understand the difference between these, uh, terms. Testing a procedure used to determine the operational status of a component or system by conducting periodic physical checks, such as water flow tests, fire pump tests, alarm tests, and trip tests of a dry pipe, deluge or reaction valves.

So testing, I feel like is the one that everybody thinks. That, you know, a test or ability to testing is functional performance of the fire protection system. So it's a main drain test. So you're opening the valve, you know, in order to gauge some performance metrics for the fire protection system, it's pulling the pole station in order to verify operation test is I feel like the, I don't, it's not a good word, but the, the visually engaging one or.

You know, kind of more exciting one out of the ITM group. And then the last one is maintenance in water based fire protection systems work, perform to keep equipment operable. So these are, uh, regular routine. Things that you can do mechanically or electrically to these systems in order to verify that they are going to stay in use an example of a maintenance item could be a replacement of sprinkler heads or, you know, checking low point drains or drum drips.

So here's another definition I thought was interesting and a good piece of info for the beginning of the pod inspection testing and maintenance service. This is a definition that kind of describes a broader overall program for how these different pieces of, uh, care for fire protection systems get incorporated.

Service program provided by a qualified contractor or qualified personnel property owners representative in which all components unique to the property systems are inspected and tested at the required times and necessary maintenance is provided. So this is interesting because it sets the table for, you know, our discussion of who is responsible for these, um, inspection testing and maintenance items.

In chapter four of NFPA, 25 as more specifically section 4.1 0.1. Uh, we find the answer to this question who is responsible for the. Inspection testing and maintenance of fire protection systems. Uh, it says 4.1 0.1, the property owner or designated representative shall be responsible for properly maintaining a water based fire suppression system.

Furthermore, we go on to talk about that. Not only are these designated representatives responsible, but these tasks must be performed by a qualified professional or person. So this can oftentimes be a suppression or fire alarm contracting firm. Um, and they might perform these services on behalf of the building owner.

Or if you get a much larger facility like a hospital or a college campus, you might have staff who are, um, capable of performing these tasks and providing the, the records of these things taking place. So that might be, uh, a generalist, um, staff person for a university or healthcare campus. So now that we've kind of defined what is inspection, testing, and maintenance and who is responsible for this activity?

Uh, let's talk about. The codes and standards around the subject, just as a preface. You know, I know I talked about this in, uh, more than a couple episodes, but all codes and standards are available for free online. If you're looking for the international family of codes, you can go to I's website and, uh, login log into a free account there, and look at the, all the international building codes.

Or you could take a look at sites like up codes who have. Free services as well to look at building and fire codes. And then if you want to take a look at any N a PA standard, you would like, you can sign up for a free account and take a look at those standards, um, online as well. So all these documents are available to you.

And so I, I talk a lot about codes and standards, but I just wanted to reiterate the, uh, availability of these documents. So the codes portion of our discussion, uh, you know, centers around chapter nine for fire protection systems and more specifically section 9 0 1 and in 9 0 1 0.6 0.1, which is titled standard.

It says, uh, fire protection systems shall be inspected, tested and maintained in, in accordance with the reference standards listed in table 9 0 1 0.6 0.1. And so if you look at the individual chapters, there will be, you know, different criteria for, uh, monitoring and installation. And, but the maintenance portion of the fire protection systems is located in section 9 0 1, which I found a bit interesting.

There is different criteria in here for impairments and. Kind of general fine life safety features, um, in 9 0 1, which is titled general makes a lot of sense. So the requirements for ITM stem from, uh, 9 0 1 0.6 0.1 in the building code for your reference. And then furthermore, we can talk about, you know, what systems have explicit criteria in the building code to be.

You know, inspected, tested, and maintained. So these are a couple of the systems and they're explicit listings in the building code. So for portable fire extinguishers, we have N FPA 10. We'll tell you how to perform ITM tasks. And then carbon dioxide systems is N FPA 12 Halan 1301 fire extinguishing systems will be an F P 12.

Dry Kim and wet Kim extinguishing systems. That's N FPA 17 and 17, a water based fire protection systems. So I feel like the lion share of ITM tasks, you know, NFP 10 is a big one, but the two behemoth are N FPA 25 for water based systems and NFPA 72 for fire alarm systems. And then. I'd never heard of this standard before.

Uh, but for smoke and heat vents, we have N FPA 2 0 4 water. Miss systems is N FPA seven 50. And from our discussion last week, over clean agent systems, we have NFPA 2001 for ITM tasks for clean agent extinguishing systems. Additionally section 9 0 1 discusses, kind of the wound to tomb. Implications for inspection, testing and maintenance for fire protection systems.

And so we have discussion of initial aha compliance. And then also towards the end of the chapter, we discussed what the end of the life cycle of the fire protection system might look like with removing, uh, you know, the services or monitoring or some of these different. Parts and pieces of fire protection systems.

And then in between that is, you know, when you schedule these different, uh, testing, um, and maintenance items, there could be interruptions to the service of the fire protection system. This is important because you are disabling, uh, potentially disabling the ability of the fire protection system to do what is designed to do.

Which, uh, prevents, which provides a scenario in which we are, uh, removing a critical infrastructure piece of the building for the fine life safety. So we have to have specific plans and procedures in place for when these things happen so that if there were a fire and we did not have the sprinkler system say for instance, in service, um, the building would be.

Hindered in its, um, designed capability to promote life safety. So we have to be very intentional about these disruptions. These conditions are called an impairment. And so I want to go over the definition of what an impairment is. So that we can discuss it further. Impairment is defined in NFPA 25 as a condition where fire protection system or unit or portion thereof is out of order.

And in a condition can result in fire protection system or unit not functioning during a fire event, there are explicit policies and procedures and building code and an, an FPA 25 for what to do in case of an impair. I want to go over these because there are plenty of situations in which a building owner, uh, might need to be appraised of what these procedures look like.

And if they have major work going on in their facility, construction, or, uh, major rehaul and refurbishment of a fire protection system, you're going to need an impairment plan. Oftentimes a contractor will be able to provide. Or the maintaining company will be able to provide an impairment plan, but, uh, it's your job as a fire and line safety professional to know about the existence of impairment plans and some of the details that are important for these plans.

So what the codes have to say about impairment plans are, uh, in section 9 0 1 0.7 0.4 pre-planned impairment programs. So there's two types of impairments. Emergency planned impairments. So this one is, you know, in reference to the impairment that you're planning for, say you have some scheduled testing or maintenance.

Um, these are the details that you need to provide in your impairment program slash plan. Pre-planned impairment shall be authorized by the impairment coordinator. So that is an individual who is in charge of the impairment and kind of has the authority to, uh, guide these programs through. And then a section goes on to say, before authorization is given a designated individual, shall be responsible for verifying that all the following procedures have been implement.

Number one says the extent and expected duration of the impairment have been determined. Number two is areas or buildings involved have been inspected and the increased risk determined. So I think that's important note, if you don't know how long these impairments are gonna take. And you just start disabling fire protection systems, uh, with disregard for the impact to the facility or the overall life safety you're gonna have.

You could very easily have a situation in which you need a fire watch, or there's an extended outage in a fire protection system, which is not a good deal. Number three says recommendations have been submitted to management or the building owner slash manager. The fire department has been notified.

That's a really good one. Anytime you ever do commissioning or testing, uh, as a professional who may be help running the show, um, everybody needs a reminder to let the fire department know you don't want the fire department to be showing up, uh, very likely finding your operation and, uh, providing a lot of distress for everybody involved.

Number five is the insurance carrier, the alarm company, the building owner, and other authorities having jurisdiction have been notified. This might be important because you have a large insurance carrier like FM global or a, uh, other like a Excel gaps. Um, they might have specific details for their impairment plan that they require for you to do any of this work.

I believe FM has their own data sheet on impairment plans or ITM for sure. Number six is the supervisors in the areas have been affected, have been notified. Uh, seven is a tag impairment system has been implemented. So it's interesting that impairment plans have a really. Interesting signaling system. So like tags on the system and signage on doors and areas that are affected.

So not only are you notifying the people who are knowledgeable, but you also notifying people that could be walking into the space and not understanding what the, uh, you know, hazard could be. And then number eight is necessary. Tools and materials have been assembled on the impairment. So we've talked a lot about NFPA 25, but uh, to further our discussion, I know we got sidetracked on impairments, but to further our discussion on, uh, codes and standards for inspection testing and maintenance, NFPA 25 is, uh, the, really the, the main like document for inspection, testing, and maintenance for water based systems.

And it has a lot of great information. It will tell you the. Frequencies and a further description of the tests involved for water based systems. It is broken down in the first two chapters. The first three chapters are the same as all NPA documents, administration, reference, publication, and definitions.

Uh, then you get into a chapter four, which is general requirements, and then the, the standard is broken down into system categories. I'll just go through the systems, just so that you will have some idea of all the systems that are covered in N FPA 25 sprinklers, standpipes, and hone systems, private fire service mains.

So that's, uh, underground fire protection, piping chapter eight, fire pumps, chapter nine, water storage tanks, chapter 10, water spray, fixed systems, chapter 11 foam systems. 12 water, miss systems, 13 common components valves. So there are system specific pieces. And then there are chapter 13 is kind of the grab bag of valves and components, fittings, et cetera.

And then chapter 14 is internal piping and condition obstruction investigation. There is special. Inspections for internally inspecting, uh, fire protection piping. I think that it depends on the system, but commonly I've seen the interval at about five year instruction, obstruction inspections for the evolving chapter 15 is impairment.

So there's a lot of great information about impairments and impairment plans. In chapter 15. I know we talked about some of the building code stipulations for impairments. There is a wealth of knowledge about impairments in chapter 15. And then chapter 16 is special requirements from other NPA documents.

I think that's gonna be it for this session about inspection, testing and maintenance. I hope that wasn't too broad to be useful. Uh, next time we'll dive in deep on sprinkler systems or fire alarm systems and their respective more detailed maintenance items. Thank you all for listening, and I hope you tune in next time.

Thanks for listening everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business. The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional, if you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety.

Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.