Inspection, Testing and Maintenance (ITM) Definitions Video
At a recent event, Fire Protection Expert Lee Kaiser explained ITM definitions and why they're essential for your knowledge. Let's dive into his video on ITM definitions, the pitfalls to avoid, and what you should do if you find issues in inspections, testing or maintenance.
Lee: So, more definitions. Let's explain what's an inspection, what's a test and what's maintenance. So, inspections are first. 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 -- testing. And so, the codes all agree for the various things that we need to inspect.
These three things sort of hold true. We're verifying that no changes have occurred in the room that would affect the performance of the device that we're looking at. Is it in good operating condition and is it free from any physical damage. So, we're looking for those types of things. The next level is testing. This is where we validate the functionality of the system or device. So, this is where we're actually hands-on testing components.
Again, inspections are hands-off activities, tests are hands-on activities. The way the codes are structured for the methods is we're doing a physical check to determine the operational status and the way that we do the test is generally trying to simulate events or conditions that that device would experience during a fire. We're going to talk about when we get into some specifics the cheats that are sometimes done to get around this actual test simulating fire events.
And so I tell you, I'm not going to tell you that to teach you how to cheat on your testing, but I'm going to teach you that so you can identify if you've got somebody that's using one of the cheats then maybe 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, 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.
Now, 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. So, 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 that location off property can then call the fire department when there's an emergency.
Well, 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 go first to do your test and you set off the fire alarm system. All of a sudden the fire department is showing up and, you know, no technician wants to bring the "woo-woos," so we, you know, we kind of make sure that they don't do that in the procedures that we use. We need to disable control functions.
Many fire alarm systems are connected to other building systems that from time to time they have to perform a life safety function and change states, so 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 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 or cause other interruptions. And then finally, we're going to talk through a few tests that may require more than one person give you some ideas you may have a testing team there doing testing in your building that day.
The last definition for inspection testing and maintenance is the maintenance, and so maintenance is work on the system that we do to keep it operating properly. So, we're either going to do maintenance 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, you know, we're going to not 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 is a general preference to make the repair as soon as possible. Usually during inspection, testing and maintenance activities sometimes it may not be possible, so if the tester needs to move offsite before they could fix it we need to have written notification to the owner or the designated representative within 24 hours.
That's generally the agreement that the codes I'll see. And then repairs should be by a qualified person or contractor. So, that's another concept that the codes continue to push.
To make following the inspection, testing and maintenance code requirements easier, we outlined the most common requirements in our brand new Inspection, Testing and Maintenance Guidebook! Use our condensed guide to ensure you are complying with NFPA's required frequencies.