#135 – Non-Technical Things Everyone Should Know about NFPA 25

Reviewed and written by Cheryl Ryan

Inspect Point, a company with a cloud-based software created to assist companies in performing and managing their inspection businesses, hosted a webinar on “Non-Technical Things Everyone Should Know About "NFPA 25. Jennifer Doyle from Inspect Point was the moderator, and Jason Webb was the presenter from Potter, an industry leader in fire and life safety products made in the USA.

The topic Jason touched on was his top ten list of important “non-technical” areas regarding NFPA 25. This is the tried and true standard in the world of sprinkler ITM (Inspection-Testing-Maintenance) and --with a code book full of technical requirements -- there are always some questions…

  1. Why do fire codes require compliance with NFPA 25? To ensure operational readiness, as there is a comfort factor to knowing that the system is ready to operate successfully. Therefore, requirements are put in place to keep operation success high.

  1. Where does NFPA 25 come up with the ITM requirements? Many requirements come from looking at where systems have failed and why. Was the failure a complete failure (valve not opening) or was the system operating ineffectively, which in the end led to the failure? Are the failures preventable and can they be identified? The answer is almost always yes, so those are added to the standard for ITM.

MGM Fire
Sample frequency table from nfpa 25 2017

Image taken from NFPA 25 2017

  1. How is ITM frequency established? The committee decides how frequently to test and inspect parts of a system.
    • frequency means how much time is permitted to elapse between events
    • minimum and maximum times are allotted for ITM between events – ex: 1 year can be anywhere from a minimum of nine months and a maximum of 15 months
    • balance is necessary – not allowing too much time for problems to go undetected, yet not inspecting and testing to the point of causing undesired wear and tear to the system.

  1. Who is responsible for ITM and compliance with NFPA 25? The building/property owner is the responsible party, which is clearly stated in NFPA 25. The owner can delegate the responsibility to the occupant, property manager, etc.

  1. Who can perform ITM? Qualified personnel must be performing the ITM, which is someone considered competent and capable as well as someone that meets the requirements of the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction).

Sprinkler Systems workshop Hastings Michigan

    • These qualifications are set by the states’ requirements.
    • Qualified does not necessarily mean licensed. Some states use licensing to determine qualification and some do not.
    • The more complicated the task – the more qualified the personnel will need to be.

  1. Which edition of NFPA 25 applies to where I am located? This can be tricky, as existing systems tend to be the key.
    • Different states follow different NFPA editions – and California even produces its own edition.
    • Codes establish the when/where and the standard establishes the how.

  1. What records are required to be kept? Section 4.3 in NFPA 25 requires records to be kept for all ITM.
    • The record requirements are basic with not a lot of detail.
    • Original and subsequent records are to be kept for one year beyond the next.
    • Electronic records are permitted and becoming quite common.

  1. What is the difference between an internal assessment and an obstruction of investigations?
    • Internal inspection (looking in the pipe), which was renamed in NFPA 25 2014 to Assessment of Internal Condition of Piping, is an assessment that must be carried out every 5 years.
    • Obstruction of Investigations is triggered by a certain event(s) – it is not routine and may never take place.

  1. What do internal assessments tell us? Internal assessments identify foreign organic and inorganic material effecting the system. For example, pipe corrosion many times is the problem. It is important to remember that it is never too late to take action, so make sure to always do an assessment every 5 years!

Frozen water in a fire sprinkler pipe

  1. How do I change NFPA 25? NFPA allows individuals to submit proposals to the committee. The procedure is spelled out on the NFPA website. The process is as follows:
    • Step 1 – public input can be submitted
    • Step 2 – public comment
    • Step 3 – technical meeting
    • Step 4 – council appeals / issuance of standard

There is a lot to get right – take responsibility to be familiar with and refer to NFPA 25!

To learn more about NFPA 25

Read Tips to Increase Your Inspection, Testing & Maintenance Knowledge
Buy Complete Water-Based Systems Inspection & Testing Guide, A comprehensive review of NFPA 25.
Read What is the Value of NICET Certification for Water-Based Systems?