Complying with NFPA 25 is mandatory for businesses to ensure their fire protection systems operate optimally and avoid hefty penalties upon violating the code.
NFPA 25 is a globally recognized compliance baseline for inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) of water-based fire suppression systems. This standard's objective is to verify the integrity and efficacy of the systems and ensure they operate optimally in case of a fire breakout. It specifies the minimal care and amount of work required to maintain the systems. In the US, this standard has been adopted in most states through either the building code or the fire code.
What is the Importance of NFPA 25?
Once you install a system, the NFPA 25 standard provides a suggested timeline and frequency to conduct specific requirements - Inspection, Testing, and Maintenace.
Inspection: A meticulous examination of the system to detect physical damages and signs of corrosion, deep dents, or any other flaw.
Testing: A physical testing of the system ensures it withstands immense pressure during operation and has no leakage.
Maintenance: Experts perform jobs to repair or maintain the system, like replacing disposable components or reinstalling the hose and tamper seal.
It is mandatory to conduct ITM monthly, quarterly, or annually. According to NFPA 25, the property owner or designated representative is accountable for the fire protection system's overall maintenance. During monthly inspection, the on-site fire protection person should examine the pipe system gauges, ensure water pressure maintenance, and inspect the alarm valves.
However, you must outsource quarterly and annual ITM services to licensed fire protection experts. They will determine the facility's safety by identifying areas or processes that could jeopardize people or property during a fire breakout. In case hazardous conditions are determined to exist, recommendations will be made to fix the issues in a reasonable time frame. Thus, you will ultimately take your facility's safety to the next level while complying with the NFPA 25.
You are also advised to retain all the recent inspections and test records and be prepared to show them to the service provider when requested. Keeping these inspections up-to-date will help you avoid fire protection system failures and code violations.
NFPA 25 Inspection – Things to Keep in Mind
Preparing for an NFPA 25 inspection can be stressful if it's your first time. This is especially true for premises that have gone through significant remodeling and require a completely new look at their safety systems. While it's not always a mandatory part of running any property, it's a good idea to follow the guidelines laid out in the regulation as closely as possible. This can not only save lives if something eventually goes wrong, but it can also contribute positively to your bottom line in terms of time and money invested in the maintenance of your buildings.
Is an NFPA 25 Inspection Mandatory?
The NFPA 25 inspection standard is just that – a standard. It's not a legal regulation that dictates how often your premises should be inspected, contrary to what some believe. However, it may still be mandated on a local level through various laws and regulations, and it's essential to pay attention to those if you want to ensure that you're compliant. Check your local building codes, get a consultation with a specialist – or even submit an inquiry to the fire marshal, depending on how these regulations are structured in your region. But as we mentioned above, it's a good idea to submit your premises for an NFPA 25 inspection regularly, even when it's not a strict legal requirement.
How Frequently Do I Need to Have My Systems Inspected?
NFPA 25 provides various suggested inspection frequencies for the different components of your fire suppression system. Many elements can be checked quarterly or even annually – such as pipes and fittings, sprinklers, spare emergency sprinklers, and more. However, others require a much more systematic approach, such as control valves (which have to be checked weekly or monthly depending on their type). Your sprinklers will typically have to be sample-tested every five years, and there are also 10- and 20-year testing periods for different types of sprinkler systems. Some system components depend on their manufacturer's guidelines for their testing frequency, so you'll have to consult them to ensure that you're compliant.
NFPA 25 Testing Requirements
NFPA 25 is the baseline for inspection, testing, and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems. Compliance helps maximize system integrity to avoid failure and ensure fast, effective response in a fire emergency.
Usually, only parts of a system must be tested to validate the fundamental component for passing the inspection. For example, with sprinklers, you're generally required to test around 1% of the ones connected to a specific system. However, the number must not be less than four. You should consult with an inspection specialist to ensure that you're not missing any important details, which is a real risk when it comes to something as complicated as an NFPA 25 inspection. There are also specific requirements that might prompt further inspection – such as the presence of corrosion on certain elements. Leaks should be reported before the inspection so that additional attention can be paid to their area.
How do I prepare for a fire inspection?
It isn't much you should do specifically to get things ready for an NFPA 25 inspection other than to do a rudimentary check on your sprinklers, valves, and pipes to ensure that there are no obvious signs of corrosion or leaks. If you are dry-testing individual components, make sure that you know where the shutoff valve is. Sometimes you may need to kill the flow in advance to ensure that the system will be in a proper condition for testing when it comes. If in doubt, consult a specialist in advance to be sure that everything will be prepared adequately.
It's a good idea to take notes during the inspection to ensure that you'll be better prepared in the future. This is the kind of process where you can benefit from prior knowledge, even when you support a dedicated specialist assisting you through it. Don't leave any doubts hanging in the air either, because it's better to resolve those questions well in advance rather than finding out that you have to modify the test – or postpone it all together – in the middle of the whole ordeal. When done right, this is a relatively hassle-free process that will ensure that everything is in order with your building in the long term when it comes to fire safety.
Fire protection systems minimize the risk of damage and loss of lives by quenching fire within seconds. These systems suffer wear and tear issues like any other building system. The regular, timely inspection and testing of the fire protection systems as per NFPA 25 will ensure that they are optimal and provide your facility with an extra protection level.
Additionally, NFPA 25 is regularly being enforced by the fire department of Orange County. So you must perform mandated inspections to avoid any violations and save yourself from hefty penalties.