COMMENTS ON WATER FLOW TESTING FROM MARCH 7, 2016 ARTICLE
The Fire Code 2014 was specifically updated to include requirements regarding which tests can be performed by or under the supervision of which licenses and certificates of fitness.
Water flow tests are required to be done by or under a Master Fire Suppression Piping Contractor (or for specified sizes a Master Plumber).
With regard to the TESTING of sprinkler alarms by electrical vs actual WATERFLOW.
NFPA 72 testing methodology is quite clear that (and NFPA13?) that a sprinkler system SHALL be tested quarterly by the flow of water through 1 sprinkler head installed at the END of the system. This indicates that the INSPECTORS TEST VALVE (installed at the end of the system and controlling 1 single head usually piped to the outside or a drain) must be activated quarterly by a properly licensed person to perform this test. (Although the code does not specify license, most states and municipalities have their definition of a properly Qualified person to test sprinklers.)
In so doing it is expected that the sprinkler contractor BEFORE performing tests has placed the alarm system in TEST MODE.
After completing the test the monitoring station SHOULD have an activation of the waterflow alarm. The record of alarm activation by waterflow in concert with the annual NFPA72 fire alarm inspection report constitutes a complete TEST. If there is no signal received by the monitoring center, then the alarm contractor in concert with the sprinkler contractor should work together to find out why. (Usually the alarm was not left active enough for the alarm to send a signal.)
All said it is a very foolish alarm technician that turns a water valve to 'test' a sprinkler system. What if he causes a leak? Is he (or she) qualified or prepared to mitigate the leak?
Just my two cents from out in the cold.
FBN Security Co. LLC
Jeff from Acme Fire Protection is 100% correct. Any time an alarm company tests any fire system, the tech should remain within the confines of his license. Unless you install sprinkler systems as well, the alarm company's job ends at the connections to the mechanical switches. When it comes to the testing and maintenance of sprinkler or Ansul systems, the best policy is to KYFHO. I was working with a guy once who caused a "dry" system to go wet. Not only did the noise scare the crap out us, it took the maintenance company several hours to drain down the system and reset it. Fortunately it was in warm weather, and there was no fear of freezing the water in the pipes. I have several commercial fire accounts, and gladly defer to the sprinkler company for testing. The liability far outweighs the potential profit. And if you ever saw a accidental discharge of an Ansul system, it too would make a prudent alarm tech think twice about not touching things that are above your pay grade.
John from NJ
You should also add to this….
You should check you current Insurance!! You are probably NOT covered to work on ANY Fire Sprinkler System. The sprinkler company should be testing there device. We only Monitor there device. Don’t get caught in a Law Suit. If you by run the Inspectors Test valve because you want to do the right thing… and the Head breaks, You trip the solenoid, or water leaks your insurance will Not Cover you.
Craig Fisher, President
You are qualified to flow water if the company you work for is licensed to do so. Here in Florida, a low voltage license is insufficient. In addition to having the proper training, you need a sprinkler license. Also, a proper contract covering the potential liabilities as well. At my prior job, we had a drain sitting over a convertible rolls royce. The techs did not check where the drain was before flowing water. Long story short... A rolls interior is very expensive to replace!
Anon in FLA.
I need to respond to this posting that I find some parts insulting to the fire alarm industry.
While the initial intent stated is justified and I agree that the best way to test a fire sprinkler water flow switch is by flowing water as opposed to just placing a short on the switch wiring that is not a real and fully functional test I take offense to much of the balance stated in his comments. First of all Potter Signal now makes a fire sprinkler water flow switch with an auto test feature that actually tests the operation of the mechanical switch porting with a functional test. This new water flow switch is intended to save water and cut down on the condition described in the posting by not introducing fresh water and air into the system. As far as I am concerned that is no substitute for a real flow of water that not only tests the switch fully but also confirms the presence and flow of water. We have found many problems with switch assemblies, retard assemblies and vane problems because they would not move to name a few by flowing water. By shorting the switch you would not have found any of these problems and that is for vane type water flow switches and does not include pressure switches that also have problems that must also be tested by flowing water.
Next with regards to the requirement to have a licensed fire suppression contractor present was unfortunately caused by a change in the new Buildings Code in which the fire sprinkler contractors put their self-servicing interests first in the re-writing of the COF requirements. In the old version, a certificate holder could operate valves and flow water. That was intently taken out in the new version to limit who can do this with no real justification other than self-interest. Over seventy plus years fire sprinkler water flow switches were tested by operating the inspectors valve with no great event by both trades. Now all of a sudden only a licensed fire suppression contractor can to this. How is this any different than operating a water faucet other than size? O they will say what if the valve does not open, close or leaks as justification. According to this requirement, even the building owner cannot legally do this in an emergency.
With the comparison to an elevator much more is involved here that justifies a technician and that is a poor comparison. If the inspection is the initial one with the FDNY then all the related contractors should be on site and present for the inspection, a FAIU document states that as well. After the fact, this whole value operating thing has been blown way out of portion. I can tell you after 40 plus years in this industry to date most fire sprinkler contractors do not properly set up tamper switches and the fire alarm company always has to do this and yes the fire sprinkler companies some of the biggest and smallest state will this.
In addition, the so call licensed suppression contractors will not and do not in most cases set the air pressure supervisory switches for dry fire sprinkler systems and the retard times on vane water flow switches etc. This has been left up to the fire alarm companies to do of which most do not do or do not know how to do this. It is great to say it is someone else’s job but what do you do when they say they do not so this and you have to. With the reasoning from the original writer of comments, I ask him if he has an electrical contractor on all his jobs to throw the high voltage power switch for the fire alarm system to on and off when needed like he claims a licensed fire suppression contractors had to do with a valve? A New York State alarm license and S-97/98 is not for high voltage, that is an electrical contractor license. I bet not and I am sure there will be some excuses as to why it is ok to do that. What if the electrical switch does not turn off or on just like the fire sprinkler control valve. Do you have a licensed electrical contractor present when you have to turn the power on and off?
This is another example of someone justifying why others should not do certain types of work that further complicates getting things done. When was the last time anyone was able to get an assortment of contractors on a job at the same time and on time in NYC? My next question is does this writer operate the valves on the backflow preventers that is the licensed plumbers responsibility and feeds the fire sprinkler system? Only a licensed plumber can provide and service water mains and domestic feeds. Does he mount tamper switches on these control valves or is that the plumbers job? Does the plumber need a fire suppression license to do this? Do you want to split hairs here as to who can do what?
Lastly the comment about possessing a City Wide Certificate of Fitness for Sprinkler and Standpipe Systems, what is his concern here. Have a problem with that then make a complaint and turn that person in instead on standing on the sidelines throwing stones and complaining. Why is everyone so concern about what others are doing legally and illegally when they themselves may not be doing so?
SG (and to that sir this is enough for those to know who I am)
Sounds more like a failure of the Sprinkler technician than the alarm technician.
Clearly NY wants both the fire alarm (FA) and sprinkler system (SS) technicians to be present for a reason. If the FA tech indicates that the system is capable of sending a waterflow signal correctly, then the SS tech should have made sure the proper flow of water was tested.
Facts: The requirements for testing fire alarm initiating devices connected to suppression systems are in NFPA 72, not NFPA 13.
Ongoing testing and maintenance is the responsibility of the building/system owner.
Since the building owner is responsible for testing and maintenance, he has complied by hiring the FA tech to test signal receipt, handling and re-transmission. He hired the SS tech to make sure the pipes held water, under pressure, and tested valves, attachments, pipes for proper operation by ‘flowing water’. The fire codes and the owner have been satisfied, but this must be spelled out in advance.
No one flowed water during the waterflow alarm switch test. Code not satisfied. Since at least the 2007 edition of NFPA 72, the method describing the proper way to test waterflow devices has not changed.
“Water shall be flowed through an inspector’s test connection indicating the flow of water equal to that from a single sprinkler of the smallest orifice size installed in the system for wet-pipe systems, or an alarm test bypass connection for dry-pipe, pre-action, or deluge systems in accordance with NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.”
That being said, a big philosophical change occurred in the 2013 edition of the “National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code” regarding system testing responsibilities. It appears an obvious effort has been underway to limit our responsibility to only the equipment we install – specifically, the equipment we have installed under the fire safety control function rules of NFPA 72. The 2010 edition of NFPA 72 first stated we “should” have a written test plan. The 2013 edition then made it mandatory in section 14.2.10 which requires a written “Test Plan”. This documentation must be created for each commercial fire alarm system to “clearly establish the scope of the testing for the fire alarm or signaling system” and requires that this Test Plan be kept with the regular test and inspection records for that system.
The short of it is, never say you are testing the sprinkler system, or elevator recall, or fire doors, etc. when you are actually only verifying the FA system’s input and output signals - not the performance of these other systems.
If your FA system ties in smoke dampers, you will not state or imply you are testing the operation of the smoke dampers. Your job is to verify the proper fire alarm relay contact closure is caused by the fire alarm system that is intended to activate the damper-closing mechanism. Equipment connected to our fire alarm system relays is not within the scope of our responsibility. Don’t state or imply you are testing the dampers. I will admit that this doesn’t hold true for properly testing a waterflow switch, by mechanically operating the switch. In this case the code does seem to keep a simple performance requirement of the sprinkler system which requires water must move through the pipe, as in “Water shall be flowed…”.
Therefore, if the SS tech isn’t going to test the water flowing capability of the sprinkler system, then the FA tech must flow water to activate the waterflow alarm switch and verify proper operation of the fire alarm system. If the FA tech is not going to witness the SS tech flowing water, then it is up to the FA tech to do it as specified in the FA code and as indicated in the Test Plan documentation.
It is also true that we do usually want the Elevator or HVAC contractor’s technician at the acceptance test since there may be many reasons within these two trades that the fire alarm system didn’t produce the desired result and the problem needs sorted out ASAP in order for the FA company to pass inspection. On the other hand, the standard water suppression system is not very mystical, and troubleshooting can usually be performed by watching a pipe opening for water to come out. This is why many FA companies will only agree to perform their final acceptance test after any HVAC and sprinkler systems have already been approved by the building official.
Greg Kessinger SET, CFPS, CDT, IMSA, ICC
Fire Alarm contributor for Security Dealer and Integrator magazine
MORE ON COMMERCIAL FIRE, VOIP AND AFA FROM MARCH 5, 2016 ARTICLE
He [referring to Robert Kleinman of AFA Protective] is a lawyer so why would someone not want to remain anonymous and be content to lurk in the shadows. Who cares that it “ demonstrate to me a total lack of credibility” based upon his record going after alarm companies legally. That is why no one prints their name from a sisuation the he created. Maybe his is real intention for a name is to use such statements from your blog to start libel suits against anyone who has a comment or makes a statement. It almost appears that he is the Donald Trump of the alarm industry. As far a picking on him, if that was a concern then don’t post anyting and that won’t happen.
Yes, a name withheld
Heh heh heh ! I love it!!!! [referring to my response to Robert Kleinman]
I sent your article to the Boston AFA branch who I have worked with over the last 30 years. There answer was the same , if they were made aware of the problem they would fix it. This has been my experience with them.
My neighbor was employed by AFA for 10 years and provided professional service.
Unlike like many table top Monitoring Stations AFA Protective has raised the bar not only on their service but on the treatment of their employees. When I have experienced a problem of any type and had the customer call them directly they have performed.
I have thoroughly, secretly tested their lnstallations with a stopwatch along with fire departments to measure response times and accuracy. Along with Wayne Alarm they came out with an excellent rating. ADT on a Quincy project where NFPA headquarters is, called in a fire after the Fire department had responded and was coming back to the station. Tests of Wayne Alarm and AFA had response times within 30 Seconds. ADT has been spending a great deal of their time and effort and legal resources trying to dismantle Municipal receiving stations and turn them over to their Central stations while AFA a large Nationwide Company and Wayne Alarm along with many excellent independent Monitoring companies are supplying higher quality diverse services along with fire & security alarms.
To Robert Kleinman of AFA:
When you feed the monster, they'll came back for more.
We too have customers who do this. We just had one this week. They called at noon on Tuesday for a tie in for a system being inspected on Thursday morning. We bent over backwards, shuffled appointments and got someone there early Thursday to do the necessary programming so the inspection can go through on time. In return, they told the fire marshal that we were uncooperative and were dragging our feet. Luckily we have an impeccable record with the fire marshal over the last 15 years, and he knows who to believe.
So you're always going to have people who justify that lack of planning on their part is somebody elses fault. Don't engage these people. they're the unprofessionals who can't take responsibility for their actions.
Send this to ''Anonymous''. Tell him/her to send a letter to the AHJ. Have the customer approve your Disclaimer notice. One rationale I have no tolerance for is ''……approved it.'' To me an approval is like a financial statement. It is only valid for the moment in time it occurred.
Time Warner is an accepted carrier in NYC as well as Verizon and Cablevision. As far as a transmitter working over Voice IP, that is another issue onto itself. If it is not working or working correctly/regularly and the central station is not getting test timers plus other signals the solution is easy. This person should Instruct his central station provided that they are authorized to provide such services in NYC to notify the FDNY of such problems (of which he should not have to do and they the central station should have done on their own). I am sure upon notification that the FDNY will send out an inspector to issue a summons to rectify the problem and most likely require an inspection to prove such. After that, he can sell and provide that customer a new service using other technology that will work with what they have and follow the FDNY procedures’ to have the new transmitter inspected and approved. Why make that customer’s problem yours when there are other ways to address it. Forget about all that nonsense about putting up signs even if the customer would even allow you to do so. Section 901.7 of the New York City Building Code states that your only obligation is to notify the customer and after that he has to take stated steps to address it. Yes, this can be considered to be an “Out of Service” system based on how you look at it (no central station transmissions being received).
Here is a partial out take of what is stated but not the full paragraph:
901.7 Out of service systems. Where a required fire protection system is out of service, the Fire Department shall be notified immediately and unless otherwise directed by the Fire Commissioner, either the building shall be evacuated or a fire watch shall be maintained by one or more persons holding a certificate of fitness for fire guard. Any other actions as the Fire Commissioner may direct, in addition to or in lieu of such measures, shall also be undertaken, until the fire protection system has been returned to service. Where utilized, fire guards shall be provided with at least one approved means for notification of the Fire Department and their only duty shall be to perform constant patrols of the protected premises and keep watch for fires.
The Fire Code (FC) requires the Fire Department be notified of any fire protection system (including fire alarm) outage. The general information (non-emergency) numbers for the 5 boroughs that should be used for notifications from owners, building managers, impairment coordinators, etc. are as follows:
To the person asking the question to begin with:
Look up the balance of this code on your own providing that you have a copy of the NYC Building Code of which you should if proving this service in NYC!
Join the NYFAA Fire Alarm Association by calling (516-328-6932) and learn more about what you should know and be doing in such cases since apparently you do not.
“A few fire experts on this one”
Comments On Water Flow Testing / More On Commercial Fire, VOIP And AFA Protective - March 8, 2016