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NFPA Today

12 Posts authored by: mattklaus Employee

While most system designers can get their arms around designing a system for an office building or shopping center, new occupancies are popping up all of the time that require a little additional thought. The latest craze is indoor athletic facilities and indoor trampoline parks.
In my lastest NFPA Live session I went over some of the challenges and considerations as related to putting together a suppression design for these types of spaces. During the live event I received this follow-up questions from a member. I'm now sharing it with you. I hope you find some value in it.


NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!


I will admit that Chapter 4 of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems provides very little in the way of “meaty” requirements. It does however deal with one of the fundamental requirements that very few people pay attention to: the owner's certificate. This document sets up the entire design for the contractor and the approval/plan review foundation for the AHJ, however it is ignored by most.

During my recent NFPA Live presentation I looked at the criticality of this document in terms of getting a project started as well as playing a role in the management of change throughout the building’s lifecycle.

I received this follow-up questions from a member. I'm now sharing it with you. I hope you find some value in it.


NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!

Education and awareness are critical components of the NFPA mission to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life. One of the best ways for us to keep the mission moving forward is to team up with other organizations that share our passion for safety and progress. This week, NFPA Staff (Erik Holden and Matt Klaus) along with NFPA Instructor Bob Caputo spent two days at SPP Pumps training lab in Norcross, Georgia. SPP Pumps is an international leader in the fire pump industry, that maintains a state of the art, hands-on training facility is equipped with fully-functional fire sprinkler systems, fire pumps (diesel and electric) and a complete range of fire sprinkler industry components. Spp Our host, SPP Pumps Director of Sales James Hunt and the SPP Pumps team(pictured), was gracious enough to allow NFPA the use of their lab to film a series of training videos on how fire pump churn tests and annual flow tests are conducted. Understanding how to conduct these tests, which are mandated by NFPA 25, is vital to ensuring that the fire pump will function as designed during a fire event. SPP Pumps training lab provided the perfect environment for developing training videos on these important concepts. 


The requirements for using antifreeze in a sprinkler system have been constantly changing over the past few years. For New Englanders (or anyone willing to drive/fly/ski to New England) looking for a comprehensive look at the "how and why" behind these changes and an update on where NFPA 13, 13R , 13D and 25 landed on this topic, I will be presenting this information at the 11th Biennial Fire Protection Systems Product Show held in Randolph, MA this thursday at 3:00 PM. For more information, or to register for this event, visit the New England Association of Fire Protection System Designers website at

Every year at NFPA's Conference and Expo, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about what's going on within the NFPA sprinkler project. The 2013 C&E in Chicago will be no different. There will be apre-conference seminar on NFPA 13 as well as NFPA 25, for those who would like to have a step-by-step walk-through of the respective standards. There will also be a post-conference Seminar on NFPA 25. These pre-and post-con seminars are also a great way to get the latest and greatest information in those standards if you have not had a refresher on the information that is in the standards lately. In addition to the full day seminars, there will also be many educational educational sessions provided midweek as part of the conference. Sessions will include the NFPA 25 2014 edition update, NFPA 13 sprinkler omission rules explained, test late recent test information unexposed expanded group a plastics and a review of the changes made to NFPA 13 RMD in the 2013 addition.

This is a great opportunity for four members of the sprinkler industry to hone in on their craft, whether a sprinkler designer, insurance representative or HJ, all of these Ed sessions and seminars will provide important information to help you get the job done.… And I hear the deep dish pizza in Chicago is pretty good too.

NFPA 13, The Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, along with the other sprinkler installation standards, NFPA 13R, NFPA 13 D, NFPA 24, and NFPA 291 are currently open for public input. Public input is the term now used at NFPA to address a code change proposal to a technical document.

Submitting public input can be done in three easy steps.

1)Log in to the document information page of the standar NFPA13-13 Code Cover Frontd you would like to submit public input too. (for NFPA 13 use

2)Find the code section you would like to modify and enter your changes in the text editor.

3)Provide a substantiation for your proposed change to the standard and click submit.

Once you have completed those three steps your proposed change will be sent to the  technical committee responsible for the section of the standard you would like to change. Your public input will be reviewed and acted upon at the First Draft meeting this summer.

It is important to remember that NFPA 13 and its associated  documents have a modified public input closing date of May 31. That means that all changes proposed changes to NFPA 13 and the other sprinkler design and installation standards must be submitted online through the new online submission process by that date.

We look forward to reviewing your proposed changes and look forward to another exciting cycle for the NFPA 13 committees.

It would be nice to think that we have answers to all of the worlds fire protection problems. Unfortunately, as the world evolves, new challenges and new questions arise that drive the fire protection community into problem solving mode. Some of these new challenges will be addressed at SUPDET 2013 during the Suppression Research Charrette. Topics from IBC storage of flammable liquids to sloped ceilings in warehouses will be up for discussion during the charrette that will take place on Wednesday February 27 from 1 pm to 5 PM. This event is free to all SUPDET attendees and will be fantastic opportunity to hear about the current challenges that face the suppression industry and discuss potential research tracks and design solutions with industry leaders.

For more information on SUPDET 2013 and to register for this event, please check out SUPDET online.  

One of the highlights of the first annual NFPA Eurocon conference in Amsterdam was the interaction between the attendees and the instructors. Whether it was during a coffee break, an Ask the Expert session, or the networking event, the attendees had constant access to the NFPA instructor staff (Kristin Bigda, Guy Colonna and Ron Cote) and NFPA technical committee members and technical committee chairs (Robert Caputo and  William Koffel). This interaction was of benefit both to the attendee, who got to ask technical questions about NFPA codes and standards to the people who develop them, but also for the instructors to get a better understanding of how codes and standards are used in Europe. These discussions often focused on technical issues and design concerns that are common in Amsterdam and other European cities. Some of the topics presented by the attendees at Tuesday's Ask the Expert session included antifreeze usage, sprinkler obstruction design approaches, high expansion foam system applications, corrosion trends for water-based systems and the NFPA code development process.

As successful as the individual educational sesions were, the communication time between sessions was "extremely valuable" to the attendees. The catalyst for this interaction and communication was Tom De Nooij of Marsh Risk Consultants who was instrumental in not only putting the event together, but also providing and promoting an atmosphere at the event that allowed all of the parties involved to communicate openly and comfortably.


NFPA 25 ROC Meeting Recap

Posted by mattklaus Employee Sep 26, 2012

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".

Internal Pipe Corrosion (Courtesy of Terry Victor, SimplexGrinnell)

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.

In addition to the traditional sprinkler seminars that NFPA offers year round, there is a new one day seminar that will be offered starting in September to address the changes to the 2013 editions of NFPA 13, 13R, 13D and NFPA 20. This seminar is great for designers, installers, AHJs and insurance Representatives who have a grasp on the concepts and structure of the NFPA sprinkler standards and are looking for the latest and greatest info from the technical committees.    NFPA13-13 Code Cover Front

The NFPA sprinkler standards saw the reorganization of several chapters, including the two rack storage chapters in NFPA 13 and a complete reorganization of NFPA 13D, where 4 new chapters were added. Major concepts that were modified during the latest code development cycle include freeze protection options, material compatibility requirements, permissible sprinklers omissions and new design options for specific storage arrangements. In addition to all of the updated sprinkler information for the 2013 editions, a bonus supplement on changes to NFPAs fire pump standard, NFPA 20. This seminar will be taught by technical committee members and NFPA staff that were directly involved with the development of these new editions.

Register now for this new seminar and other NFPA training opportunities at the NFPA Training website.

One of the roles of NFPA staff engineers is to answer technical questions from our members. The other day I got a call from a member who simply said  "So, antifreeze...where are we at?". That simple 4-word question lead to an hour long discussion on the recent history on antifreeze use in sprinkler systems. Not more than an hour later I received a similar call from a member trying to figure out where "we" stand.

The simple answer is that at the moment is following the guidance of a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) approved by the Standards Council in March 2011(TIA 13-10-2) is in effect on the 2010 edition of NFPA 13. This TIA limits the concentrations of antifreeze solutions in new systems to 48% glycerine and 38%propylene glycol. It also requires that all solutions must be factory premixed to avoid separation of the solution, leaving pure (100%) antifreeze to be trapped in certain portions of the system.

Following the issuance of this TIA, which was based on testing that considered residential sprinklers only, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, along with UL and CCI, conducted another testing program utilizing standard spray sprinklers. The results of this testing showed that concentration allowances set forth in the March 2011 TIA may not be appropriate for use with standard spray sprinklers in all arrangements. This lead the Technical Committee (TC) for Sprinkler System Installation Criteria to draft a new TIA to modify the allowances for the use antifreeze in new NFPA 13 sprinkler systems. Due to the uncertainty of how traditional antifreeze solutions/concentrations will respond to the myriad of potential arrangements (ceiling height, k-factor, pressure, fire size..etc), the TC is suggesting that only antifreeze solutions that are listed should be used in sprinkler systems. The listing process would then need to flush out solutions that have the potential to ignite when discharged from a sprinkler. This proposed TIA, along with TIAs on NFPA 13R, 13D and 25 dealing with antifreeze will be addressed at the upcoming August Standards Council meeting.

NFPA 4 is a new standard on integrated testing of fire protection and life safety systems. The Technical Committee (TC) for Commissioning and Integrated Testing  prepared an initial draft of NFPA 4 in January of 2012. This draft was sent out for public comment and later approved for public input at the March 2012 Standards Council meeting. This new standard will apply to all fire protection systems that are  integrated or inter-connected. The concept of integrated fire protection  of life safety system testing is not new, however NFPA 4 will be the  first NFPA standard to provide a roadmap on how such tests must  be conducted.


Before the TC holds their First Draft meeting (formerly known as the ROP meeting) the TC will hold a draft development meeting on July 25 and 26 at NFPA Headquarters in Quincy , MA to further refine the content of the initial NFPA 4 draft. Although only in its infant stages, NFPA 4 is beginning to take shape including requirements addressing roles and responsibilities of testing personnel, qualifications of testing personnel, periodic integrated system testing frequencies, and methods for documenting integrated tests.


Following the upcoming draft development meeting, the committee will hold their "First Draft meeting" this September with the end result being a "first draft" that incorporates the TC revisions. Following the posting of the first draft, the public is encouraged to provide comments on the committee's revisions. This can be done by going to and clicking on the link on the "next edition" tab.

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