The 2008 edition of NFPA 25 – Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems,
is now available from the National Fire Protection Association. This is
the 5th edition of the standard that was first published in 1992. The
2008 edition continues a trend toward clarity in the responsibilities
associated with a system inspection, and greater consistency in assuring
proper system operation. The new changes include several new thresholds
to clearly indicate when remedial action is required. Some of the
highlights of the changes to the 2008 edition:
Component Replacement Tables – Throughout the
document, tables were added to show what inspections or tests need to be
performed when a specific component is repaired or replaced. One table
that was omitted, for valves in Chapter 13, will likely be the subject
of a proposed Tentative Interim Amendment.
3.3.18 – "Impairment" Definition – An annex note was
added to explain that the system should not be considered "impaired" if
it was shut down for testing or maintenance with qualified people in
attendance and located so that they can restore the system to service
quickly in the event of a fire.
3.3.30 Definition of "Qualified" – For individuals
or companies charged with performing the inspection, testing and
maintenance required by the standard, the new definition of "qualified"
is "a competent and capable person or company that has met the
requirements and training for a given field acceptable to the Authority
4.1.4 Recalled Products – An addition to the annex
note addressing recalled products indicates that it is acceptable to
handle a product recall situation by entering into a program for
4.1.8 Valve Location – A new requirement requires
the owner to tell responsible occupants of the location of shut-off
valves and the procedures for shutting down the system.
4.1.9 Information Signs – Requirements were added
for information signs on dry-pipe, preaction and antifreeze systems to
indicate the area served by the systems, the location of auxiliary and
low point drains and the presence and location of antifreeze systems.
The provision is retroactive.
4.3.4 Retention of Original Documents – Hydraulic
calculations and manufacturer's data sheets were added to the list of
documentation that the building owner is required to maintain for the
life of the building.
4.3.5 Retention of Periodic Inspection/Test Documents
– Records will be required to be kept by the owner for one year past
the next inspection or test of that type required by the standard. This
means that records of annual activities will need to be kept for two
years and that records of activities performed every fifth year will
need to be kept for six years.
4.5.1 Performance Alternative – A performance-based
alternative approach was accepted that will allow any building owner to
develop different frequencies for inspection, testing and maintenance
required by the standard if they can show that system reliability is
4.5.2 Fire Pumps in Service During Testing –
Consistent with the annex note to 3.3.18, the pump will still be
required to be kept operational during testing unless qualified
personnel are in attendance to be able to turn the pump back on quickly
if there is a fire. Another option is to consider the system impaired
and follow the impairment procedures while taking the pump out of
service during testing.
188.8.131.52 Sprinkler Orientation – A clarification made
to the inspection procedures for sprinklers requires that the sprinkler
deflector be properly aligned with the ceiling slope.
184.108.40.206 Sprinkler Inspection – The language with
respect to inspecting sprinklers for obstructions to spray patterns was
revised such that the inspector is not expected to check all of the
obstruction criteria of NFPA 13, only the minimum clearance between the
sprinkler deflectors and the top of storage.
220.127.116.11 Piping Misalignment – The term
"misalignment" was dropped from the list of procedures to follow when
inspecting pipe, leaving only the requirement that pipe appears to be
"in good condition and free from mechanical damage, leakage and
18.104.22.168 Pressure Switch Testing – The testing
frequency for pressure switch type water flow detectors was changed from
quarterly to semi-annually (twice each year).
22.214.171.124 Antifreeze Testing –Solutions will be
required to be tested at the most remote location and at the interface
with the water. If the antifreeze system has a total volume of more than
150 gallons (570 liters), then an additional sample has to be drawn for
each 100 gallons (380 liters) of solution. If unacceptable results are
obtained, the entire solution must be drained and corrected and the
system then refilled.
6.1 Standpipe Inspection – The inspection frequency for pipe and hose connections was changed from quarterly to annually.
126.96.36.199 Hydrostatic Tests of Manual and Dry Standpipe Systems
– A hydrostatic test will be required every 5 years for all automatic
dry and manual standpipe systems, including manual-wet systems.
188.8.131.52 Hydrostatic Test of FDC – Hydrostatic testing of standpipe systems will clearly include testing the fire department connection and intervening piping.
184.108.40.206 Annual Pump Test – Two options are now
provided for passing a fire pump during its annual flow test. Either the
net pressure of the pump at rated flow and rated speed must be within
95% of the initial unadjusted field acceptance test value, or the net
pressure of the pump must be within 95% of the performance
characteristics stamped on the pump's nameplate.
220.127.116.11 Main Drain Test – If the pressure during
the full flow portion of the test drops more than 10% below previously
recorded tests (including the original acceptance test), then the cause
for the reduction needs to be identified and corrected if necessary.
18.104.22.168.9 Dry System Air Leakage – An air leakage
test once every three years has been added to the requirements for
dry-pipe systems, with two options for passing the test. Either the
system must lose a maximum of 3 psi during a two-hour test at 40 psi
(280 kPa), or the low air pressure alarm must not sound within four
hours when the system air supply is shut off at normal system air
22.214.171.124 Backflow Device Forward Flow Test – The test must be conducted at the "design flow rate of the system" but no pressure measurements are required to be taken.
14.5.2 Impairment Procedures – Some special action
(like evacuating the building, providing a fire watch or setting up a
temporary water supply) is required only if the system is going to be
out of service for more than 10 hours in a 24 hour period. Previously,
the requirement referenced an outage of more than four hours in a 24
hour period. Since an earlier edition of NFPA 25 may be officially
adopted in a jurisdiction, caution should be used when considering the
use of the new criteria. This is especially true for provisions such as
the implementation of impairment procedures, where the 2008 edition
contains a less demanding requirement than prior editions. Legally
adopted fire and building codes may also override NFPA 25 in areas where
they are more restrictive.
Russell P. Fleming is with the National Fire Sprinkler Association.
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