Testing and maintenance may not represent the sexy side of the fire protection business, but the performance of systems as they age in place is a crucial element in meeting fire safety design objectives.
In her latest column for the November/December issue of NFPA Journal, Kathleen Almand discusses the requirements that many NFPA fire protection system standards contain for periodic inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM). These requirements are coming under more scrutiny as they add to the life-cycle cost of fire protection systems and, in the case of water-based systems, as the resources consumed in the process become ever more precious.
Last year, the Fire Protection Reseach Foundation conducted a study of fire pump reliability that explored the types of data from inspection records that are important for improving the basis of ITM requirements, and it proposed a framework to collect that data in a systematic way. But there are other important considerations in using a risk-based approach: What is the consequence of failure, for example, of one system component in terms of the threshold for acceptable performance of the system as a whole?
Read the full article to find out what NFPA and the Fire Protection Research Foundation have been doing over the last few months to answer these questions and tackle this issue, as well as what some of the next steps are.