Issue 81: Changes in the 2014 Edition of NFPA 25
By Russell P. Fleming, P.E., FSFPE
NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water Based Fire Protection Systems,1
was first published in 1992. After just over 20 years of availability,
it is undergoing a review of sorts relative to its effectiveness. An
article in NFPA Journal2 discussed recurring
concerns about the enforcement and scope of the document. The article
was tied to a special conference sponsored by the NFPA’s Fire Protection
Research Foundation that took place on December 9-10, 2013 in Chicago.
The aim is to improve enforceability of the standard, with the ultimate
goal of improving sprinkler system performance even beyond the
traditional high levels.
In the meantime, the 2014 edition of NFPA 25 was issued a
few months ago following floor debate at the June 2013 NFPA Annual
Meeting. As can be seen from the following list of highlights, the major
issues of discussion and change were similar to those of recent
The scope of the current document has been clarified through inclusion
of the phrase: "…and actions to undertake when changes in occupancy,
use, process, materials, hazard or water supply that potentially impact
the performance of the water based system are planned or identified.”
New definitions of "adjust”, "clean”, rebuild” "remove”, repair”,
"replace”, and "test” have been added to improve the application of the
New definitions of frequencies establish minimum and maximum times
associated with quarterly, semiannual, annual, 3-year, and 5-year
requirements. For example, "annual frequency” now means once per year
with a minimum of 9 months and maximum of 15 months.
The specific frequency of no-flow fire pump tests remains weekly for
diesel-driven pumps, and monthly for electric pumps, but new exceptions
will go back to weekly testing for non-redundant electric pumps if they
serve high-rise buildings beyond the pumping capacity of the fire
department, if they are equipped with limited service controllers, if
they are vertical turbine pumps, or if they are used in conjunction with
ground level tanks or other sources that do not provide sufficient
pressure to be of material value without the pump. For all types of
pumps, the option remains whereby the test frequency can be modified on
the basis of an approved risk analysis.
For diesel–driven pumps, NFPA 25 includes a new requirement to test
the fuel annually for degradation. If found to be deficient, the fuel
must be reconditioned or replaced.
The standard includes a new Chapter 16 addressing the special
inspection, testing and maintenance provisions of other NFPA codes and
standards. For the time being, this includes only provisions excerpted
from the NFPA 1013 dealing with NFPA 13D4 systems in small residential board and care facilities.
The revised standard makes a distinction between a "valve status test”
as opposed to the traditional "main drain test.” The main drain test is
used to gauge the strength of the water supply available to the system
and determine if any changes have taken place, while the valve status
test is simply used to flow some water to verify that valves serving a
portion of the system have been reopened following testing or repairs.
The main drain test is required annually at each lead-in to the building
(not each riser), while a valve status test is required at every return
to service when valves have been operated.
A clarification has been made that the 5-year testing of underground
piping within Chapter 7 is intended to apply only when such piping
In Chapter 14, the terminology "assessment of the internal condition”
replaces "internal inspection,” and while the 5-year inspection of the
interior of the piping remains, the specific requirements for opening a
flushing connection and removing a random sprinkler have disappeared.
Language was added to require the replacement of missing or illegible
hydraulic information signs. Pipe schedule systems are required to have
signs indicating that they are pipe schedule systems.
As important as the items changed are the requirements left
unchanged, or rejected proposals. One of the areas in which the
committee considered making changes, but ultimately did not, was in the
area of time allowed for remedy of deficiencies. It was decided that
this is an issue of enforcement best left to the discretion of the
Authority Having Jurisdiction.
Russell Fleming is with the National Fire Sprinkler Association
NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water Based Fire Protection Systems, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA, 2014.
Koffel, W., "Closer Look," NFPA Journal, November/December, 2013, pp. 40-45.
NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA, 2013.
NFPA 13D, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes, National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA, 2013.
4th Quarter 2013 -- How Much Dust is Too Much Dust? – John M. Cholin, P.E., FSFPE, J. M. Cholin Consultants, Inc.
The NFPA standards that deal with combustible dusts have been going
through significant revisions. The interest in these documents has been
spurred by a number of large-loss incidents in the recent past and the
reaction by federal regulatory agencies. The respective technical
committees have worked to develop criteria in their standards that
address the hazards. READ MORE
Title: 3rd Quarter 2013 -- Fire Protection Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance and Building Fire Risk -- Francisco Joglar, Ph.D., Hughes Associates
This article describes how inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire
protection can be incorporated into a building fire risk model so that
such activities can be managed on a performance-based approach in
specific applications. The author defines "fire risk” for the purpose of
this article as a quantitative measure of the potential for realization
of unwanted fire consequences. He also explains how maintenance issues
factor into the risk equation. READ MORE
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