smahoney

Integrated System Testing - Questions from Fire Protection Engineers

Discussion created by smahoney Employee on Nov 26, 2018

Below are answers to questions that both Jacqueline Wilmot and I received during our Webinar "Integrated System Testing – What a Fire Protection Engineer Needs to Know"

 

Here are some additional resources on NFPA 4; Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing

 

Free online tutorial and other tools at www.nfpa.org/4 (Click on the "News" tab for the Tutorial)

 

NFPA 4, Integrated Systems Testing Fundamentals Training:
Rosemont, IL - April 25, 2019
Tarrytown, NY - May 23, 2019
Visit www.nfpa.org/4classroom

Apart from NFPA 3 (standard for commissioning), Are there other international standards for commissioning? Many so-called commissioning engineers have distorted understanding of their roles which is not in line with NFPA 3.

There are other general commissioning standards that are used internationally.  NFPA 3 is unique is that this standard is specific to the commissioning of fire protection and life safety systems. As we mentioned in the webinar, the term “commissioning” can mean different things to different people. Within the fire protection and life safety industry, we often hear about systems being “commissioned”, when really the individual is referring to acceptance testing. This is why it is critical to understand how NFPA 3 defines the term of commissioning so users of the standard can apply the process correctly.

Please elaborate on what is degrade mode for each component system as noted in section 5.2.12.

A degrade mode is an example of a safeguard that manufacturers develop for control units to minimize the effects of component failure. In degrade mode the initiation devices will still activate and the control unit will still sound a general alarm. The type of functionality available in degrade mode will vary for each manufacturer.

Should the refrigeration system in a cold storage warehouse or large grocery store be part of the integrated system testing?

The integrated system testing required by NFPA 4 is limited to integrated systems provided for fire protection and life safety. If the refrigeration or any HVAC system is interlocked with the fire protection system installed in your facility, the integration of these systems should be tested.  If the integrated testing agent, owner, or authority having jurisdiction believe that the loss of a system could cause a fire protection or life safety issue, then it should be included in your integrated system test.

 

Should cybersecurity be considered in integration testing?

The integrated system testing required by NFPA 4 is limited to just integrated systems provided for fire protection and life safety. That being said, if the integrated testing agent, owner, or authority having jurisdiction believe that a cybersecurity threat could pose a life safety issue, then it should be included in your integrated system test.

You are still permitted to perform integrated system testing on systems that are not provided for fire protection and life safety. The requirement in NFPA 4 to complete integrated system testing on fire protection and life safety systems is just a minimum. If the Ita, Owner, or AHJ feel that a cycber security threat should be included, then it can be included in your testing. 

Shouldn't integrated system testing include systems that are outside of the fire/life safety systems., i.e., lighting control panel integration so that egress lights can be brought online during an alarm event, etc.?

The integrated system testing required by NFPA 4 is limited to just integrated systems provided for fire protection and life safety. If the lighting control panel is controlling the means of egress lighting, then that system would be considered a life safety system, as such, it will need to be included in the integrated system test. The same thing would go for security systems that provide access control on doors that are used as a means of egress, the security system will need to be tested as part of the integrated systems to ensure that the correct doors are unlocked during an emergency event.

What kind of cost load is anticipated by design firms to serve as ITA?

The cost anticipated by a design firm serving as the Ita will depend on the type of building that is undergoing Integrated System Testing. Some of the factors include the number of integrated systems, the complexity of those systems, the number of devices that will need to be tested, will you need to develop a test plan or is one already developed, will you perform the testing itself or will you hiring an outside testing entity to perform the testing, and how many hours will you be in the field.   

Other than within NFPA 4, are there other codes or standards that require an integrated system testing?

As we noted in our webinar, the 2018 editions of NFPA 1; Fire Code, NFPA 101; Life Safety Code, NFPA 5000; Building Construction and Safety Code and the 2018 editions of the International Building Code and International Fire code require that integrated system testing be completed to confirm that all integrated systems are providing the proper response. When the building is a high-rise, or one of the integrated systems is a smoke control system, the integrated system testing must be completed in accordance with NFPA 4. Additionally, as we noted, one of the objectives of NFPA 3; Standard for Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems is to verify and document that all integrated system testing for all integrated fire protection and life safety systems has been completed, inspected, successfully tested, and approved. As such, NFPA 3 requires that integrated system testing in accordance with NFPA 4 be completed when you are performing commissioning on a building.

Do you know how many AHJs may now be requiring this approach?  Would think that without requirements coming from the AHJ, it would be tough to motivate all participants to conduct the integrated testing.

We do not have a number of how many AHJs are now requiring this approach, it will become more and more common as jurisdictions begin to adopt the 2018 editions of the model building codes and fire codes. It will be difficult to get everyone on board to perform integrated system testing if the AHJ is not requiring it. As we noted in the webinar, integrated system testing is something that an owner should want, as it is being completed to ensure that all of the systems that they are paying for are communicating with each other.  Because of this, as the owner is the one paying for the testing, if they want it to be completed, then it becomes less difficult to get everyone on board.

Can we assume that there are no specific "qualification" requirements regarding who performs/oversees the integrated testing of FP systems?  Any PE/Arch can perform?

Section 4.3.4 of the 2018 edition of NFPA 4 states the integrated testing agent shall have skills that demonstrate an experience or knowledge of integrated operations of the design, installation, operation, and maintenance of the type of fire protection and life safety systems installed. Because NFPA 4 does not require a specific certificate or license to perform the role of integrated testing agent, there is no limitation from a licensure’s perspective on who can be an integrated testing agent. The concept of an integrated system agent is also new, it is unlikely that many jurisdictions will have specific qualifications. As such, it is up to the owner and authority having jurisdiction to use their best discretion when selecting and approving individuals. A good integrated testing agent can be a person or entity who has excellent communication skills, and is familiar with all the individual fire protection and life safety systems in your building, specifically performance verification methods of those systems.

What is the role of the associated NFPA 4 handbook?

The NFPA 4 Handbook allows you to get answers and expert support on integrated fire protection and life safety system testing. The Handbook provides access to:

  • Complete requirements for testing the performance of the interconnection between multiple fire protection and life safety systems. The Standard does not address testing protocol, procedures, or frequencies for individual systems.
  • Expert commentary explaining the Standard's fundamental principles, integrated system testing team responsibilities and qualifications, test frequencies, and much more.
  • The Standard's annexes, including Annex A and Annex B with explanatory material and a Sample Integrated Test Plan.
  • A table outlining technical revisions, so you can evaluate changes that have occurred since the last edition.
  • Be better prepared to confirm that the operation, interaction, and coordination of multiple individual systems perform their intended function.

 

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