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Inspection Code Requirement FAQs

If you have any questions on fire protection inspection code requirements, our team at Fire Pros has put together some answers provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

If you have any further questions regarding inspection code requirements that are not answered below, feel free to contact our fire protection experts online or by calling (800) 968-2871.

If an existing fire protection system is found to contain installation deficiencies, where in the standard does it require corrective action?

NFPA 25 is not intended to address installation deficiencies. In fact, Section 1.1 states, “Where a system has not been installed in accordance with generally accepted practices, the corrective action is beyond the scope of the standard.”

What type of tests are required when a fire protection system component is replaced or rebuilt?

NFPA 25 requires testing in accordance with the original acceptance test for that component or subsystem. This information can be found in the installation standard for the type of system involved.

Is fire protection system investigation required every five years?

There are two activities related to obstructions that require attention. The first is more of an “inspection” that is to be conducted every five years. While the sprinkler system is shut down for the purpose of internal valve inspections, the flushing connection at the end of one crossmain and a single sprinkler at the end of one branchline must be removed and the inside of the piping is then “inspected” for the presence of organic and inorganic material.

The second investigation is more comprehensive and must be conducted when any of the 14 conditions listed in Section 13.2.2 of NFPA 25 apply. This more comprehensive obstruction “investigation” is conducted by internally examining the following four points in a system: system valve, riser, crossmain, and branchline. It is only required when one of the 14 problems listed in Section 13.2.2 is present. This obstruction investigation is not a routine procedure; it is only needed when a problem exists. If any obstructing material is found, a complete flushing program must be conducted to remove any remaining obstructing material.

Are bags (paper or plastic) acceptable to protect fire sprinklers from accumulation of dust or other contaminants?

Bags are only permitted when sprinklers are protecting spray coating areas. Plastic bags must have a minimum thickness of 0.003 in. (0.076 mm) or small paper bags may be used.

Sprinklers protecting areas other than spray coating hazards are not permitted to have bags placed over the sprinklers.

How many sprinklers must be removed from a system for testing?

Section 5.3.1.2 requires that one percent (or no less than four) be removed and submitted to a testing laboratory for evaluation. If a system contains 500 sprinklers for example (400 upright and 100 pendent), then a total of eight sprinklers must be removed; 400X.01=4 and 100X.01=1 (but not less than 4).

When replacing sprinklers in a system, is it necessary to perform a hydrostatic test?

It is sometimes a common practice to hydrotest a system without sprinklers installed, i.e., with ½” plugs installed in the bottom of a drop to a pendent sprinkler and then install the sprinkler after final adjustment of the drop once the finished ceiling is installed. Both standards are silent on this issue.

Our suggestion is to consult the local fire marshal to determine what he/she will accept. In most cases, when replacing sprinklers only and not modifying the pipe, a hydrostatic test is not required.

Do standpipe systems require a periodic hydrostatic test?

Yes. However, only dry standpipe systems such as those found in a parking structure for example, must be tested every five years. The hydrotest is required to verify piping integrity. Wet systems do not need to be routinely hydrotested since leaks in the pipe are readily apparent.

Is water near the baseplate of the pump normal or do I have a leak?

A small amount of water in the baseplate drain is normal. This water should be dripping from the packing glands. The packing glands on the pump must be kept wet for proper lubrication (about one drop per second). Never adjust the packing gland to stop the dripping of water. To do so will prevent lubrication and will result in the destruction of the packing gland.

During the annual test of our fire pump, it was noted that pump performance was slightly less at peak flow than the results obtained during the original acceptance test. Is this a problem?

This may not be a problem. First, you should verify that all valves on the suction side of the pump and in the test header are open fully. Some decrease in performance can be expected due to slight wear of the pump or its components, but this is normal. The annual test is intended to ensure that the pump is capable of supplying the maximum system demand. The test results from the annual test are not required to meet the original pump curve as in the original acceptance test.

When is a main drain test required?

A main drain test is required annually or any time the water supply control valve is closed, which includes any time a system undergoes maintenance or repair. This test is essential to ensure that the water supply valve is fully open. Sprinkler systems perform exceptionally well. However, when they do fail, the major cause of failure (35% of the cases reported to NFPA) is that the water supply valve was closed, thus the verification of an open water supply valve cannot be overemphasized. The annual test frequency is a minimum requirement; NFPA 25 permits more frequent testing if desired.

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