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Changes to the 2008 Edition of NFPA 25
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Issue 19: Changes to the 2008 Edition of NFPA 25

By Russell P. Fleming, P.E., FSFPE

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 Having Jurisdiction."

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 scheduled replacement.

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 being maintained.

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. Sprinkler Orientation – A clarification made to the inspection procedures for sprinklers requires that the sprinkler deflector be properly aligned with the ceiling slope. 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. 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 corrosion." Pressure Switch Testing – The testing frequency for pressure switch type water flow detectors was changed from quarterly to semi-annually (twice each year). 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. 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. Hydrostatic Test of FDC – Hydrostatic testing of standpipe systems will clearly include testing the fire department connection and intervening piping. 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. 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. 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 pressure. 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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