During the MCFP Virtual Conference series, expert Lee Kaiser, covers record keeping standards for inspection, testing and maintenance. In the video below, watch as Lee dives in-depth on how to correctly store your system information and testing records.
We're going to talk about general concepts again for inspection, testing, and maintenance, recordkeeping practices. There are two documents that are mature in their development. This is the fire alarm code and Incentive PA25, all recordkeeping work is taken from those two documents. The fire alarm code refers to completion documents. They say that they must be available for proper inspection, testing, and maintenance. This is what comprises completion documents, the record of completion.
This is a form that gets filled out after the system is installed, record drawings. The drawings show how the system was installed, the sequence of operation that must be present, and then it calls specifically out the manufacturer's published instruction, and includes that in our owner's manual, with all the information all included.
The last thing that they ask for is a copy of the site-specific software and this picture here is of a system record documents box. I've got one of those here, and with that, that last issue for the system programming. Basically, what we do to satisfy that, is inside of the systems records documents boxes that we provide, there's a built-in USB flash drive, and we use that. We upload the panel configuration for how that system was installed, so when the next installer comes or the next servicing technician can download the panel program. If we had that manufacturer-specific software, then they can see exactly how that panel is programmed and make adjustments and if there are any modifications. That is how we meet that requirement.
Original system records on the fire sprinkler side calls for sprinkler system documents to be retained for the life of the system. That includes the record drawings of the system, the as-builts, the hydraulic calculation, the calculations that sized the pipes for the system, the original acceptance test records, recorded pressures, flows, timing, and timed durations. All those original recorded values are important to keep. They all specifically call for manufacturer's data sheets of the components, including data sheets and the owner's manuals that we provide with new systems.
Where should they be maintained? We go back to the fire alarm code for where you maintain the records and the fire alarm code says that the records should be at the fire alarm panel, right by the panel, and they specifically call that it should be labeled system record documents. That's one reason why this box says exactly that so it complies with the code, but it has some exceptions. It says that you can maintain the records in an alternative location as long as you identify where that is at the panel.
If you've got a big facility with lots of systems and other maintenance records, you may want to house those records at the maintenance office in a file cabinet. As long as you put a label on the fire alarm panel, that says "go to the second floor maintenance office or in the Building E maintenance office to find the records for this system." All that can be done correctly.
One thing the code says is that records needs to be maintained in the current condition reflecting all system changes. Lots of buildings have remodels over time, maybe few remodels, maybe lots of remodels. Either way, we need to reflect those in the system record documents that we have on hand. And for inspection testing and maintenance, we need to keep those records.
On the fire sprinkler side, there are two websites where we can purchase and download forms. The National Fire Sprinkler Association and the American Fire Sprinkler Association both have those services where you can download those forms. There's really nothing on the fire alarm side or for cleanings. So fire alarm systems in NFPA72, Section 7.8, has example forms and you could potentially copy those and use them as your forms. You can make your own versions of those and all those are acceptable.
How long should we keep records is another question that comes up. Again, from the fire alarm code, most systems need to have 2 years on hand, so it's the next test plus 1 year. Then systems with heat detectors are longer because we need to have 5 years of testing shown there for all the heat detectors on the circuit. Then it says specifically that they can be kept on either paper or electronic media. When we've talked about this in the past, paper has been a big deal but really, almost everybody, including the inspectors or fire marshal's offices are going to electronic-based systems. A lot of the service contractors out there do your testing and record the results on electronic systems, and everybody has those available, it just costs more money.
One of the common one's is buildingreports.com. You can go there and subscribe to that service if you are a testing company, and use their forms. We don't use them, we have our own proprietary system. Our in-house programmers have written Net Report; that's our system and that the accompanying customer-facing side called Met Site. If you're an ORR customer, we use Net Report to do your inspection testing and maintenance, and then you can go to our net site website, through orrprotection.com and you can see your own facility information. When the fire marshal shows up and they want to see your test records, you can just take them to a PC, log in to Net Site, to see your records, and print them off if they want them or they can see that you are doing the testing and meet their requirements, so electronic systems are widely available. This is becoming less and less of an issue because even for their own building inspections, fire marshals are using electronic systems now, so they're getting used to the concept.