The NFPA 25 Technical Committee on Inspection, Testing and Maintenance (ITM) of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems has spent the last three days tackling public and committee comments as part of the A2013 code revision cycle. Not unlike previous revision cycles, the NFPA 25 technical committee was faced with many challenges to further refine the industry-standard on ITM activity for water-based systems.
During the ROP stage, there were several important items addressed that resulted major departures from the 2011 edition of the standard. Through the hard work of the technical committee members, who have put in a tremendous amount of time both during the meeting and working in task groups in the evenings (and in some cases till the early morning!!!), these contentious issues have been reshaped and consensus has been achieved (for now) across the broad spectrum of committee member interests.
Specific topics that were addressed included operating test frequencies for fire pumps, internal assessment of piping and the impairment/critical deficiency/noncritical deficiency table that appeared in Annex of the 2011 edition.
While none of the activity from this weeks meeting is final as it has not been balloted, the committee has established the committee action that will appear on the committee ballot. Pending the results of the ballot, the committee position at the ROC meeting was to reintroduce a requirement for internal assessments of piping either on a five-year periodic frequency or on a frequency established by a project specific risk assessment. This concept had been removed during the ROP meeting, however the committee found some middle ground between a mandatory 5 year internal inspection for all systems and the abolishment of a periodic frequency altogether. The 2011 edition Annex E will potentially be moved into Annex A and be "linked" to the chapter 3 definition for "deficiency".
As for the ongoing fire pump operating test frequency debate, the position of the technical committee coming out of the ROC meeting is that the operating test frequency for fire pumps will vary depending on the type of fire pump (electric or diesel driven), the risk factors associated with the water supply and building where the fire pump is located, and the presence of a project specific frequency defined in a risk assessment.
While these positions have not been balloted and finalized by the technical committee they represent the consensus position established by the more than 30 committee members in attendance at the meeting. While the ROC meeting was not without it's fair share of discussion and debate, the work done by the committees and task group's will no doubt lead to even more exceptional guidance on how to maintain water-based fire protection systems to assure that they are functional when a fire event occurs. Thank you to the technical committee for their hard work and dedication over the last year to put us in position to produce another great edition of this important standard.