To remain effective, sprinklers and other water-based fire protection systems need to be regularly inspected, maintained, and tested. When a fire occurs, there is no time to deal with a malfunctioning sprinkler system, so it’s important that building owners stay on top of the standards and best practices for keeping commercial fire sprinkler systems up to code.
The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems outlines the inspection and maintenance steps that should be taken to ensure your fire sprinkler system is in good condition.
The latest edition of NFPA 25 includes a variety of revisions to accommodate new developments made in sprinkler design, maintenance, and testing over the last several years. Here’s a guide to some key NFPA 25 updates for 2020.
Key Changes to NFPA 25 for 2020
NFPA 25 sets the standards for maintaining, testing, and inspecting fire sprinkler systems, and changes are only made when the organization deems them completely necessary for fire safety purposes.
As such, it’s important to familiarize yourself with these key changes made to NFPA 25 for 2020.
One of the most significant changes to NFPA 25 is the recognition of electric sprinklers, which has resulted in the addition of several requirements.
Traditional sprinklers utilize a thermal response element that is activated at certain temperatures. Electric sprinklers, on the other hand, are activated once an electric signal is sent to an actuator. Once activated, an algorithm is used to determine how many sprinklers and which specific sprinklers to activate. This system allows electric sprinklers to deliver water more quickly and use water more efficiently.
NFPA 25 2020 includes inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) requirements based on manufacturer guidelines as they relate to the sprinkler part of the system. ITM procedures relating to the detection part of the system fall under NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.
Automated Inspections and Testing
Requirements for automated testing and inspections were first introduced in 2017 — allowing ITM activities to be performed remotely.
These requirements have been expanded upon in 2020 to adapt to new industry technologies. Essentially, these requirements boil down to say that all automated processes must emulate or meet the intent of the in-person test.
The requirements also state that the failure of an automated piece of equipment cannot in any way impact the functionality of a fire safety system unless there is an audible signal and someone can be sent to fix the issue.
Approved automated testing equipment includes valves with a motorized function, cameras, auxiliary pumps, and more.
Energized Fire Pump Controllers
Electrical safety is a top priority when dealing with energized fire pump controllers, especially considering fire pump controllers are charged with an average of 440 volts.
Considering this, NFPA 25 has been updated to indicate that energized fire pump controllers should not be opened as the benefits do not outweigh the risks.
This doesn’t mean that voltage and ampere readings can’t be taken, though. NFPA 25 2020 also adds requirements for a new type of controller. The new controller is located in its own enclosure within the fire pump enclosure, allowing the controller to be de-energized before opening.
Annual Visual Inspections
As always, NFPA 25 2020 calls for an annual visual inspection of all fire sprinkler heads and the pipe systems that they are attached to. This inspection includes five components:
- Damage: A sprinkler must be replaced if it shows signs of leakage, corrosion, physical damage, loss of fluid in the heat-responsive element, paint applied by a third-party, or loading detrimental to sprinkler performance.
- Orientation: Any sprinkler that has been placed at an incorrect orientation must be corrected immediately.
- Missing Components: Missing escutcheons or cover plates must be replaced. If the original parts are not available, the sprinkler will be replaced. This does not apply if the escutcheons are not recessed, flush, or concealed.
- Clearance: All obstructions, including shelves, racks, or storage, should be at least 18 inches away from the sprinkler head’s deflector.
- Replacement Parts: You must have adequate replacement sprinklers available and the tools required to install them.
The only exception to this annual inspection is for sprinkler heads that are placed in hazardous or inaccessible locations.
Contact CFC Today
NFPA 25 is an important document that outlines the standards for inspecting, maintaining, and testing fire safety sprinkler systems, and building owners should be sure to stay on top of changes made to these standards in order to maintain the safety of their property.
At CFC, we understand the importance of fire safety and have been working with businesses in Florida for decades to provide the services and expertise they need to keep their buildings safe and secure. We’re experts in the standards set forth by NFPA 25 and will help make sure your property meets these fire safety regulations.
Contact us today for a free consultation to see how we can help you keep your building safe and secure.