#120 – Getting Started with Fire Sprinkler Inspection & Testing

Suggestions for Entering the Field of Inspection & Testing in Water-Based Systems

Are you interested in the field of Inspection and Testing of Water-Based Systems? Fire Tech Productions, Inc. receives calls from people interested in beginning their careers and/or furthering their education in this specialized field. Fire Tech strives to assist their customers in career planning and goal achievement. It is important for those entering the field to be aware of what they need to progress, so it is a good idea to conduct research for clarification in the following areas:

Determine what certification or license is required by your state and/or jurisdiction.

It is important to find out what qualifications are needed to conduct inspections and testing for sprinkler systems. Some states have state exams and grant licenses, some states require NICET certification, and some may not have any specific requirements. Additionally, some cities have requirements that supersede state requirements. Take the time to figure out any requirements for your area.

Know what edition of NFPA 25 has been adopted by your state.

A good resource for locating information on your state’s requirements is the State Fire Marshal’s website.

Make sure you understand the requirements of NFPA 25.

The Standard for the Inspection, Testing, And Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems is the title of NFPA 25. This standard contains all mandatory water-based inspections and tests, and includes the frequency required for each inspection and test. Keep in mind that “inspection” and “testing” are two different tasks. The “inspection”, which NFPA 25 identifies many, covers a visual analysis of the equipment on a specified basis—usually weekly or monthly. There are instances, in cold weather, where certain inspections are required daily. “Testing” comes into play when the technician takes measures to check the quality, performance, and/or reliability of the system. Usually these tests are conducted quarterly, semi-annually, and annually.

Acquire the NFPA 25 Handbook – it is a great resource.

The NFPA 25 handbook contains an abundance of additional information that is not found in the standard NFPA 25. A very valuable part included in the handbook is in Supplement 3 – Role of the Inspector. This supplement is a beneficial guide that includes qualifications, training, certifications, written agreements, performance of tasks, documentation, communication with the property owner, etc.

Ensure you have the appropriate training for the job.

It is crucial to make sure you have training and experience—especially in certain areas. For example, dry pipe and pre-action systems require an amount of understanding before just delving in. Furthermore, hands-on training prior to trip testing is also necessary. Having some understanding of tasks before going into a job will not only promote confidence, but also efficiency.

Understand the difference of roles between the Inspector and Owner.

There are responsibilities of both the inspector and owner that are important to identify before a job is started. When quoting an I & T contract the scope of the work needs to be defined with the owner (or their representative). Make sure that the inspector’s responsibilities as well as the owner’s responsibilities are clear. For example, when quoting services for only semi-annual and / or annual tasks to be completed, make sure the owner is aware of his responsibilities for any other necessary inspections. In many instances, owners are not aware of all the requirements specified in the NFPA 25, so educating the owner increases the credibility of the inspector. As an inspector it is vital to be aware of the responsibilities placed on that position. There are many liabilities that an inspector becomes responsible for if procedures are not followed, mistakes are made and/or damage is done to an owner’s equipment or property. Therefore, it is crucial to have a sound contract and clear understanding, from both parties, as to what the job entails and costs, what the procedure will be, and how the system will work and be maintained. Then, once this is established, the liability issue should be covered with a signed contract.

Fire Protection careers provide a wide variety of options. The NICET Water-Based Inspection & Testing Certification has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Fire Tech Productions has been helping students prepare and pass their NICET fire protection exams since 1987. Please let us know if you need a guide!