Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of fire protection equipment and systems

Is your fire protection system ready to operate? The best way to ensure your fire protection equipment and systems are ready when needed during a fire emergency, is by establishing a sound Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) program. Find out the importance of adequately maintaining, testing and inspecting various types of fire protection systems and equipment, and the recommended frequencies and routines.

Background

Automatic sprinklers are a highly effective and reliable part of a building’s fire protection system. However, to ensure fires are controlled or suppressed, the fire protection systems need to be available, reliable and adequate. 
According to the 2017 NFPA report ‒ U.S. Experience with Sprinklers ‒ sprinklers operated with an 88% effectiveness when fires were considered large enough to activate the system. However, in other cases, fires were not successfully controlled due to the reasons outlined in this article.

Understanding the risk of sprinkler failure and ineffectiveness  

According to the 2017 NFPA report – U.S. Experience with Sprinklers, sprinkler failures were more common than fires where sprinklers were ineffective and did not control the fire.

Managing the risk of sprinkler failure and ineffectiveness

The chances of having faulty or ineffective operation of an automatic fire protection system can be reduced if a sound inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) program is developed and implemented in accordance with NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. 
 

"An impaired or poorly maintained fire protection system can have the same effect as not having a system at all, with an increased risk of a large, uncontrolled fire loss. A sound and robust ITM program will ensure that your fire protection equipment and systems will operate as designed when they are needed the most, during a fire emergency."

Loss prevention considerations: 

  • Water supply system: The fire pump and associated water reserve, the water supply, are generally considered ‘the heart’ of any water-based fire protection system. An impairment or failure of the water supply, such as the fire pump switched off or left in manual mode, can potentially leave the entire site unprotected.
  • Valves: Controlling valves are key components of water-based fire protection systems and should be properly inspected, exercised, and maintained. A partially closed valve can make a sprinkler system ineffective, and an accidentally shut valve can leave a building unprotected.
  • Sprinkler system: The most commonly used and effective mechanism for controlling a fire is the sprinkler system. Periodic inspection, maintenance and testing routines will ensure proper system operation during the early stages of a fire.

The NFPA 25 standard is well structured and specifies inspection, testing, and maintenance routines and frequencies to be performed per type of system or per system component. The standard lists the actions required to be performed if a system component is adjusted, repaired, reconditioned, or replaced. The standard also includes chapters on Internal Piping Condition and Obstruction Investigation, Impairments, and Reference to other related NFPA standards.

Download the full loss prevention guide and learn more about inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) for water-based fire protection systems and system components.

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