NFPA 25 Fire Sprinkler System Inspections, Tests and Maintenance
Residential, commercial and industrial fire protection systems may also be required by state, city and municipal health, building and fire codes to have all installed fire protection systems tested and inspected by local fire departments, state licensed fire protection companies, certified fire protection technicians and/or fire safety engineers.Keeping your fire alarm system operating and ready in case of an emergency.
Check with your local fire marshall, fire departments or city municipalities health, building and fire codes for details.
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NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems
Table 2-1 Summary of Sprinkler System Inspection, Testing and Maintenance
|Gauges (dry, preaction deluge systems)||Inspection||Quarterly||2-2.4.2|
|Control valves||Inspection||Weekly/monthly/semiannual||Table 9-1|
|Gauges (wet pipe systems)||Inspection||Annual||2-2.4.1|
|Buildings||Inspection||Annually (prior to freezing weather)||2-2.5|
|Pipe and fittings||Inspection||Annually||2-2.2|
|Fire department connections||Inspection||Table 9-1|
|Valves (all types)||Inspection||Table 9-1|
|Main drain||Test||Annually||Table 9-1|
|Sprinklers – extra-high temp.||Test||5 years||2-3.1.1 Exception No. 3|
|Sprinklers – fast response||Test||At 20 years and every 10 years thereafter||2-3.1.1 Exception No. 2|
|Sprinklers||Test||At 50 years and every 10 years thereafter||2-3.1.1|
|Valves (all types)||Maintenance||Annually or as needed||Table 9-1|
|Obstruction investigation||Maintenance||5 years or as needed||Chapter 10|
Table 3-1 Summary of Standpipe and Hose System Inspection, Testing and Maintenance
|Control valves||Inspection||Weekly/monthly, semiannual||Table 9-1|
|Pressure regulating devices||Inspection||Annual||Table 9-1|
|Hose connections||Inspection||Annual||Table 9-1|
|Hose storage device||Inspection||Annually||NFPA 1962|
|Alarm device||Test||SemiAnnual||Table 9-1|
|Hose nozzle||Test||Annually||NFPA 1962|
|Hose storage device||Test||Annually||NFPA 1962|
|Hose||Test||5 years/3 years||NFPA 1962|
|Pressure control valve||Test||5 years||Table 9-1|
|Pressure reducing valve||Test||5 years||Table 9-1|
|Hydrostatic test||Test||5 years||3-3.2|
|Flow test||Test||5 years||3-3.1|
|Main drain test||Test||Annually||Table 9-1|
|Valves (all types)||Maintenance||Annually/as needed||Table 9-1|
Table 4-2.1 Summary of Private Fire Service Main Inspection, Testing and Maintenance
|Hydrants (dry barrel and wall)||Inspection||Annually and after each operation||4-2.2.4|
|Hydrants (wet barrel)||Inspection||Annually and after each operation||4-2.2.5|
|Mainline strainers||Inspection||Annually and after each significant flow||4-2.2.3|
|Piping (underground)||Inspection||See 4-2.2.2||4-2.2.2|
|Monitor nozzles||Test||Flow annually (range and operation)||4-3.3|
|Hydrants||Test||Each Flow / Annually||4-3.2|
|Piping (exposed and underground)||Flow test||5 years||4-3.2|
|Mainline strainers||Maintenance||Annually and after each operation||4-4.2|
Table 5-1.1 Summary of Fire Pump Inspection, Testing and Maintenance
|Pump house, heating ventilating louvers||Inspection||Monthly||5-2.2.1|
|Fire pump system||Inspection||Monthly||5-2.2.1|
|No-flow condition||Test||Monthly||5-3.2.1, 5-3.2.2|
|Controller, various components||Maintenance||Varies||5-5.1|
|Diesel engine system, various components||Maintenance||Varies||5-5.1|
Table 6-1.1 Summary of Water Storage Tank Inspection, Testing and Maintenance
|Condition of water in tank||Inspection||Monthly/quarterly*||6-2.1|
|Control valves||Inspection||Weekly / Monthly /Semi Annual||Table 9-1|
|Water – level||Inspection||Monthly/quarterly||6-2.1|
|Tank – exterior||Inspection||Quarterly||6-2.2|
|Catwalks and ladders||Inspection||Quarterly||6-2.2|
|Hoops and grillage||Inspection||Annually||6-2.5|
|Interior||Inspection||5 years / 3 years||6-2.4|
|Check valves||Inspection||5 years||Table 9-1|
|High-temperature limit switches||Test||Monthly*||6-3.4|
|Water level alarms||Test||Semi Annually||6-3.5|
|Level indicators||Test||5 years||6-3.1|
|Pressure gauges||Test||5 years||6-3.6|
|Drain valves cycled||Maintenance||Annually||6-4.8|
|Control valves||Maintenance||Annually||Table 9-1|
|Repainting – steel||Maintenance||—||6-4.16|
|Embankment-supported coated-fabric (ESCF)||Maintenance||—||6-4.17|
New Automatic Fire Sprinkler Installations
In order to meet both federal certification requirements and state licensure requirements, automatic fire sprinkler systems are required to be installed in accordance with NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. NFPA 101(00), Sec. 2.1.1 references the 1999 edition of NFPA 13. Healthcare facilities are required to comply with the most restrictive requirements of the two standards. For purposes of this guide, however, all code references will be based on the 1999 edition of NFPA 13. All newly installed fire sprinkler systems are required to meet specific acceptance requirements, such as flushing of fire service mains and testing of both underground and above ground piping [see NFPA13(99)Chapter 10]. These services must be provided by state licensed fire protection contractors, certified fire protection technicians and/or fire safety engineers.
Monthly Automatic Fire Sprinkler Maintenance, Tests and Inspections
The following monthly inspections can be performed by facility staff:
- Visually inspect control valves to ensure that they are:
- In the normal open position
- Properly sealed
- Locked and/or supervised
- Free from leaks
- Provided with appropriate signage identifying the portion of the system they control
- Visually inspect gauges on wet pipe systems to verify that they are in good condition and that normal water pressure is being maintained
- Visually inspect gauges on dry pipe systems to verify that they are in good condition and that normal air and water pressure are being maintained.
- Note: Where air pressure is not supervised at a constantly attended location, these gauges need to be inspected on a weekly basis.
Quarterly Automatic Fire Sprinkler Maintenance, Tests and Inspections
- The following quarterly inspections are in addition to those required monthly and can be performed by facility staff:
- For hydraulically designed sprinkler systems, inspect the hydraulic nameplate to verify that it’s securely attached to the sprinkler riser and is legible.
- Note: Most newly installed fire sprinkler systems are now hydraulically designed. When in doubt, ask your state licensed fire protection contractors, certified fire protection technicians and/or fire safety engineers..
- Inspect alarm devices to verify that they are free of physical damage.
- Inspect fire department connections to verify that:
- They are visible and accessible
- Couplings or swivels are not damaged and rotate smoothly
- Plugs or caps are in place and not damaged
- Gaskets are in place and in good condition
- Identification signs are in place
- The check valve is not leaking
- The automatic drain valve is in place and operating properly
- With proper training the following quarterly tests can be performed by facility staff:
- Test the water flow alarm on wet pipe sprinkler systems by opening the inspector’s test connection. This simulates the opening of a sprinkler head.
- Note: Where freezing weather conditions or other circumstances prohibit the use of the inspector’s test connection, the bypass connection is allowed to be used.
- Test the water flow alarm on dry pipe sprinkler systems by using the bypass connection.
Caution: Opening the inspector’s test connection can cause the system to trip accidentally,
allowing the pipes to fill with water and creating a potential for a serious freeze problem.
Annual Automatic Fire Sprinkler Maintenance, Tests and Inspections
In addition to the monthly and quarterly inspections and tests, NFPA 25 has very detailed and specific inspection, testing and maintenance services that need to be performed on an annual basis. Because of their complexity, and to comply with Minnesota state law, these services must be performed by state licensed fire protection contractors, certified fire protection technicians and/or fire safety engineers. and would include such things as:
- An inspection of the facility’s supply of spare sprinkler heads to ensure that there are a minimum of two sprinklers of each type and temperature rating and that there is a sprinkler wrench for each type of sprinkler.
- A check of all sprinklers, hangers, pipe and fittings
- Testing of the main drain
- Testing of any antifreeze solution used
- Testing and maintenance of valves
- Dry pipe sprinkler systems require some additional testing and maintenance. Priming water level, low pressure alarms and quick-opening devices must be tested. An annual trip test is also required.
Long Term Automatic Fire Sprinkler Maintenance, Tests and Inspections
- A full flow trip test is required for dry pipe sprinkler systems every 3 years [see NFPA 25(98), Sec. 9-126.96.36.199.1 or NFPA 25(02), Sec. 188.8.131.52.2.2].
- Sprinkler system gauges typically have a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years. As a result, these gauges must be replaced every 5 years or tested every 5 years by comparison to a calibrated gauge. Gauges not accurate to within 3 percent of the full scale must be recalibrated or replaced [see NFPA 25(98), Sec. 2-3.2 or NFPA 25(02), Sec. 5.3.2].
- System check valves must be inspected internally every 5 years to verify that all components operate properly, move freely and are in good condition [see NFPA 25(98), Sec. 9-4.2.1 or NFPA 25(02), Sec. 184.108.40.206].
- The 1998 edition of NFPA 25 has specific requirements dealing with testing of sprinkler heads that have been in service for an extended period of time [see NFPA 25(98), Sec. 2-3.1].
These requirements, which emphasize the importance of knowing the history of your facility’s fire sprinkler system, would include:
- Sprinklers manufactured prior to 1920 must be replaced.
- Representative samples of solder-type, extra-high temperature sprinklers (i.e. 325°-375° F) that are exposed to semi-continuous or continuous maximum allowable ambient temperature conditions are required to be tested at 5 year intervals. These would be sprinklers you might find, for example, in your boiler room and would have red-colored frame arms.
- Sprinklers manufactured using fast response elements that have been in service for 20 years are required to be tested. Retesting is required at 10-year intervals.
- Note: The first residential sprinkler was listed for service in 1981 and the first quick response sprinkler was listed for service in 1983.
- Sprinklers that have been in service for 50 years must be replaced. An alternative is to submit representative samples from one or more sample areas to a recognized testing laboratory acceptable to the AHJ for testing. Such tests are required to be repeated at 10-year intervals.
- Sprinklers in service for 75 years are required to be replaced or representative samples submitted for testing. Retesting is then required at 5-year intervals.
- The 2002 edition of NFPA 25 has the following additional testing requirements [see NFPA 25(02), Sec. 5.3.1]:
- Dry sprinklers that have been in service for 10 years must be tested or replaced. They must be retested at 10-year intervals.
- Where sprinklers are subjected to harsh environments, including corrosive atmospheres and corrosive water supplies, the sprinklers must be replaced or representative samples tested every 5 years.
- Note: “Harsh environments” have been interpreted to include areas exposed to outside weather (e.g. sprinklers installed under exterior canopies) and cold storage areas (e.g. coolers and freezers).
Fire Pumps Maintenance, Tests and Inspections
Fire pumps, where present, are also subject to very specific inspection, testing and maintenance requirements to help ensure that they will function properly when needed. Some of the basics include:
- Fire pumps must be inspected weekly to verify that the pump assembly appears to be in operating condition and is free from physical damage [see NFPA 25(98), Sec. 5-2 or NFPA 25(02), Sec. 8.2 for specific conditions that must be checked].
- Fire pump assemblies must be tested weekly [see NFPA 25(98), Sec. 5-3.2 or NFPA 25(02), Sec. 8.3 for specific observations and adjustments that need to be made while the pump is running].
- An annual test of the fire pump assembly is required. This test must be conducted under minimum, rated and peak flows of the pump [see NFPA 25(98), Sec. 5-3.3 or NFPA 25(02), Sec. 8.3.3 for specific visual observations, measurements and adjustments that need to be made while the pump is running and flowing water under the specified output condition].
- NFPA 25 requires that a preventive maintenance program be established on all components of the pump assembly in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations [see NFPA 25(98), Sec. 5-5 or NFPA 25(02), Sec. 8.5].
- Note: NFPA 25 provides a helpful table to use in the absence of manufacturer’s recommendations for preventive maintenance [see NFPA 25(98), Table 5-5.1 or NFPA 25(02), Table 8.5.3].
Just as important as conducting required inspections, testing and maintenance is documenting the fact that they occurred. Both NFPA 13 and NFPA 25 require that these services be properly recorded.