ITM: Why it Matters and Who is Responsible

Posted by ORR Protection on Aug 27, 2019 9:53:33 AM




Inspection, Testing and Maintenance (ITM): Why it Matters and Who is Responsible Video

At a recent event, Fire Protection Expert Lee Kaiser explained the objectives of inspection and testing of our fire protection systems. Let's dive into his video on ITM requirements, how to determine who's responsible on your team and how to find the minimum standards of operational reliability. 



Lee: Now, this is a little quote out of a magazine article out of Fire Protection Engineering magazine, and it's pretty useful for teaching why we do inspection, testing and maintenance.  And so, let's read the first sentence. The objective of inspection and testing is to discover component failures that could prevent adequate performance on demand and discover those failures prior to a demand. 

So, what's a demand for a fire protection system? A fire. Right? Yeah.

So, we want to make sure that the system works before we have a fire. That's why we do inspection, testing and maintenance because we can't predict when we're going to have a fire in our building. 

Now, the second sentence shows a little deeper understanding as to why we do that so we can, you know, establish operational reliability. One would expect that the frequency of these activities should be adjusted to the expected frequency of demand. So, there are buildings, and you may be working at one of them, that has either a higher risk due to fire or more frequent fires.  I see some guys here in some reflective gear making working some sort of industrial facility. I don't know where you work, but there's some industrial sites that have more frequent fires. So, we would expect it makes sense to more frequently test those systems so that they're ready for when we have a fire in those buildings.

So, where do we find though, we're not going to teach about how often you should do it.  We're going to teach about the minimum standards, and so we find the minimum standards out of the NFPA Codes and Standards, and they tell us what's the minimum acceptable level of operational reliability for the fire protection system. So, at a minimum, the methods and the frequencies of doing those things we find here. So, we're going to start out by talking about fire alarm systems, and I've got, you know, just brought the codes for some visuals here. 

This is NFPA72 National Fire Alarm is signaling code. It's where we look for inspection, testing and maintenance. Specifically, we look at Chapter 14 for the ITM requirements for fire alarm systems. Now, there's other information in this document of how to install the systems, what kind of minimum standards do they need to meet, but we also look in here for how to service them and test them over the life of this facility. Now, the next one for clean agents is NFPA 2001, pretty similar.  It has the installation information and Chapter 7 has the ITM requirements. Next is sprinklers.

This is where the pattern changes a little bit.

Sprinklers we refer to a document, NFPA25. That's the standard for inspection, testing and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems. So, NFPA25 covers that for any water-based system, but it doesn't have the installation pieces of it. There's, you know, companion documents that have the installation requirements.

For instance, for sprinkler systems we follow NFPA13, but then to service those systems we follow NFPA 25.  So, you see the little breakup difference there. We go back to the pattern for fire extinguishers NFPA10, small document there that has installation and inspection, testing and maintenance, and then the pattern changes one last time as we talk about emergency lights and exit signs. This is NFPA101, the Life Safety Code. Lots of great information here.

Certainly, don't need all this to do emergency lights and exit signs. So, we just look at one section in a chapter, Section 7.9 and again Section 7.10 to follow this information inside of that larger chapter for egress out of the spaces.  So, some concepts about inspection, testing and maintenance. Again, we're starting broad and going to start narrow in a little later.

So, who's responsible to do inspection, testing and maintenance? Well, first off, the building or property owner. Okay. The person that owns the system. They're the people who are legally responsible through the standards to maintain the system.

Now, in some cases they can delegate that responsibility if they're leasing out that facility to a tenant. Okay. And so in the written lease agreement, if you delegate that responsibility, it's written down, that's acceptable, and so you can pass that on to the tenant of the building. 

Now, with inspection, testing and maintenance, the codes do not preclude you, the minimum codes and standards do not preclude you from doing your own inspection, testing and maintenance. Now, if you're a system owner you can maintain it, but many people, you know, send that out to a service contractor. And so, the codes say if you have a service contractor, do your inspection, testing and maintenance. There needs to be a written contract. Doesn't say what needs to be in the contract. It just says it needs to be acceptable to the AHJ, or authority having jurisdiction, and so that's all right too, but you don't delegate the responsibility to do it.

You still have a responsibility. It's just the activities get delegated to a service contractor.



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