Defining Inspection, Testing and Maintenance

Posted by ORR Protection on Aug 21, 2020 2:31:29 PM

During the MCFP Virtual Conference series, expert Lee Kaiser defined ITM. In the video below, watch as Lee discusses why ITM matters and who is responsible.

Video Transcript:

Let's explain what's considered an inspection, what's a test and what's maintenance. 


Inspections are visual examinations of a fire protection system or system component and they're hands-off activities.  In general, we perform inspections more frequently than we do the next level of testing. 

The codes all outline for the various things that we need to inspect.  We're verifying that no changes have occurred in the room that would affect the performance of the device that we're looking at.  We make sure it is in good operating condition and is it free from any physical damage. 


This is where we validate the functionality of the system or device.  Testing is where we're actually hands-on testing components.  Unlike how inspections are hands-off activities, tests are hands-on activities. 

The way the codes are structured for the methods we're doing in a physical check determine the operational status. The way that we do the test is by generally trying to simulate events or conditions that that device would experience during a fire. 

We're going to cover specifics of some of the cheats that are sometimes done to get around this actual test simulating fire events. I'm not going to teach you how to cheat on your testing, but I'm going to teach you that so you can identify if you've have somebody that's using one of the cheats and then you can educate them on the way to do it correctly. 

The last thing about testing is sometimes we use calibrated equipment to make some measurements and then record those measurements. We can also refer back to prior measurements that we've done so that we make sure that there's no adverse changes that have affected in the system. 

Testing requires advanced planning, so the concepts from the codes all agree that we need to notify the occupants of the building whenever we're doing testing because sometimes we are noisy and disruptive and we want to let the people there know that we're doing testing for the day.  We need to notify the monitoring service and the fire department.  Most fire protection systems that are connected to a fire alarm system, the fire alarm systems are arranged to send a signal offsite maybe to a monitoring service, to a central station, so that location off property can then call the fire department when there's an emergency. 

If you're a technician testing in a building one of the no-no's is not calling the monitoring service so that when you do your test and you set off the fire alarm system, all of a sudden the fire department is showing up.  We need to disable control functions.  Many fire alarm systems are connected to other building systems that from time to time perform a life safety function and change states. We don't want to send the elevators to the first floor, we don't want to close doors, we don't want to close dampers, we don't want to turn on the fans for smoke control system.  We want to disable all those control functions before we go to do testing. 

Tests can be noisy.  Tests can discharge water.  We've got to be able to clean that up and handle it and avoid causing other interruptions.  Finally, we're going to talk through a few tests that may require more than one person where you may have a testing team. You will need to alert the building you have a team doing testing in their building that day. 


Maintenance is work on the system that we do to keep it operating properly.  Maintenance happens because we find something wrong during inspection and testing or we may have pre-planned routine maintenance that we may be performing. 

Another concept is that the code says that any maintenance should be performed in accordance with the equipment manufacturer's recommendations.  We don't want to freelance when we're doing maintenance.  If we're putting it back together with chewing gum and tape, we're not going to meet the listing of that device.  We want to do maintenance so we maintain the listing of that device as it's installed in the location. 

When we find something there's a general preference to make the repair as soon as possible.  During inspection and testing, maintenance activities may not be possible, so if the tester needs to move offsite before they can fix it we need to have written notification to the owner or the designated representative within 24 hours.  That's generally the agreement within the codes.  Repairs should be done by a qualified person or contractor which is another concept that the codes continue to push.  

Topics: Featured Article, Featured Blog, MCFP

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