Many fire protection and life safety systems are designed to operate together in order to allow occupants to safely escape from a fire or other emergency. For example, if a sprinkler system activates in an office building, it’s expected that the notification appliances activate, magnetic door holders release and the elevator recalls to the appropriate floor. While integrated system testing confirms the “handshake” between these individual systems, this type of testing has not been mandated by any building code until now.
Not familiar with NFPA 4?:
NFPA 4, Standard for the Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing, is a standard that was first issued in 2015, and provides the minimum requirements for testing new or existing integrated fire protection and life safety systems where such testing is required by the design documents, commissioning plan, governing laws, codes, regulations, or standards. This does not replace acceptance testing. Acceptance testing must still be conducted to test the performance of the individual system; integrated system testing follows acceptance testing to confirm the handshake between two or more integrated systems.
NFPA 4 does not provide a prescriptive lists of test scenarios, or testing frequencies based on the occupancy classification or the types of systems installed inside a facility. Since the level of testing varies from one building to another, NFPA 4 provides a protocol that will verify the integrated fire protection and life safety systems perform as intended.
The fire protection and life safety systems installed in their facility have been tested to not only work individually, but also in conjunction with one another. While building owners can’t receive the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) without performing acceptance testing to confirm compliance with local ordinances, codes and standards, it is likely that integrated system testing has not been conducted.
NFPA 4 now referenced in multiple NFPA and ICC codes:
NFPA 1, Fire Code, NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, all include a reference in their latest editions to NFPA 4. The 2018 editions of NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000 require where two or more fire protection or life safety systems are integrated, testing must be completed to verify proper operation and functions of such systems.. Where two or more integrated systems are located within a high-rise building, or include a smoke control system, NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000 require that integrated system testing must be completed in accordance with NFPA 4 when integrated system testing is required by other sections of the code at intervals not exceeding 10 years unless otherwise specified in a test plan. (See TIA 18-2 and TIA 18-3). The Fire Code extracts the language from NFPA 101.
In addition, the 2018 editions of the International Fire Code and International Building Code include a requirement to verify the operation and function of any two or more integrated fire protection or life safety systems. When these integrated fire protection or life safety systems are located in a High-rise building or include a smoke control system, the integrated testing must be completed per NFPA 4 at intervals not exceeding 10 years unless otherwise specified in a test plan.
The five major items outlined in NFPA 4 include identifying the people on an integrated system testing team who are responsible for writing and executing the test plan, developing test scenarios and test frequencies, and documenting this information in a final test report to submit to the owner. Join Shawn Mahoney and me in San Francisco, CA on July 19th or in Charlotte, NC on September 13th for the 1-day NFPA 4 Fundamentals Program which takes a deeper dive into applying the concepts in NFPA 4!
For more information on NFPA 4, please visit www.nfpa.org/4