During the MCFP Virtual Conference series, expert Lee Kaiser talked about the importance of ITM. In the video below, watch as Lee discusses why ITM matters and who is responsible.
Let's start with a quote from a magazine article out of Fire Protection Engineering magazine as it's pretty useful for teaching why we do inspection, testing and maintenance. "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."
What is demand for a fire protection system? A fire. 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.
The second sentence shows a deeper understanding as to why we do that so we can establish operational reliability. One would expect that the frequency of these activities should be adjusted to the expected frequency of demand. Some buildings, have either a higher risk due to fire or more frequent fires. Some industrial sites also have more frequent fires. So, we would expect it makes sense to more frequently test those systems so they are ready for when there is a fire in those buildings.
Next we are going to teach about the minimum standards, out of the NFPA Codes and Standards. They tell us what the minimum acceptable level of operational reliability for the fire protection systems are.
We are going to start by talking about fire alarm systems, and I'll display codes for some visuals here. The NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm is a signaling code. It's where we look for inspection, testing and maintenance. Specifically, Chapter 14 for the ITM requirements for fire alarm systems.
There's other information in this document of how to install the systems, what kind of minimum standards do they need to meet,and how to service them and test them over the life of this facility.
The next one for clean agents is NFPA 2001. It has the installation information and Chapter 7 has the ITM requirements.
Next is sprinklers. This is where the pattern changes a little bit. For sprinklers we refer to a document, NFPA 25. That's the standard for inspection, testing and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems. NFPA 25 covers that for any water-based system, but it doesn't have the installation pieces of it. There are companion documents that have the installation requirements. For instance, for sprinkler systems we follow NFPA 13, but then to service those systems we follow NFPA 25.
We go back to the pattern for fire extinguishers NFPA 10. A small document that has installation and inspection, testing and maintenance.
Then the pattern changes one last time as we talk about emergency lights and exit signs. This is NFPA 101, the Life Safety Code. Lots of great information here. We certainly, don't need all this to do emergency lights and exit signs. 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.
Who's responsible to do inspection, testing and maintenance? The building or property owner. The person that owns the system. They're the people who are legally responsible through the standards to maintain the system. In some cases they can delegate that responsibility if they're leasing out that facility to a tenant. That would be written in the lease agreement, to delegate that responsibility. When it's written down, it's acceptable to pass that on to the tenant of the building.
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. If you're a system owner you can maintain it, but many people, send that out to a service contractor. The codes say if you have a service contractor do your inspection, testing and maintenance, there needs to be a written contract. It 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. However you don't delegate the responsibility, you still have a responsibility. It's just covers the activity of delegating to a service contractor.