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Lodging Engineer
Fire Alarm System Inspection
and Testing Requirements
John F. Devlin, P.E.
Schirmer Engineering Corporation
The proper operation of a building’s fire ed to ensure the integrity of the fire alarm having jurisdiction
alarm system is essential to ensure oc- system. This requirement is intended to
(3)*Personnel who are registered, li-
cupant life safety and continuity of opera- identify the type of system installed and
censed, or certified by a state or local
tions. Fire alarm systems technology has devices utilized within the system, the
become more advanced than ever before. method by which each device is to be
Technology has yielded more intelligent tested and required frequency of testing,
(4) Personnel who are employed and
and sophisticated fire detection sensors and documentation required to confirm
qualified by an organization listed by a
and notification appliances making pos- proper testing. Detailed records of sys-
nationally recognized testing laboratory
sible the integration of fire alarm systems tems testing records are required to be
for the servicing of fire alarm systems
with other building systems. Theses ad- maintained that includes information such
Under subparagraph (1) it is possible for
vances combined with way finding and as test frequency, persons performing the
building engineering staff to perform the
mass-notification technologies have cre- testing, and functional test of detectors.
required periodic inspection and testing
ated a myriad of different inspection and (See Section of NFPA 72 2007
and possibly even routine maintenance if
testing requirements specific to fire alarm edition for complete list)
they are factory trained and certified on
Table 1 summarizes the primary fire alarm
that specific equipment to perform these
To remain current with these technical ad- system components and testing frequen-
vances the codes and standards govern- cies prescribed by NFPA 72-2007. NFPA
Contract Agreements
ing fire alarm systems testing and mainte- 72-2007 Table outlines the ac-
Inspection, testing and maintenance of
nance are changing. It can be challenging ceptable testing methods of fire alarm
fire alarm systems are often left to the re-
to a building owner and facilities engineer systems and devices and has been up-
sponsibility of an independent contractor
knowing when the codes and standards dated to include the testing methods for
as part of an annual service and mainte-
change, their applicability, and the spe- recent technology such as multi-sensor
nance agreement. The contract agree-
cific requirements. or multi-criteria detectors, exit marking
ment language prepared by the inde-
In general, the inspection, testing and
audible notification appliances, and fire
pendent contractor defining the scope of
maintenance requirement for fire protec-
safety functions including fan control,
systems testing, frequency of tests, and
tion and life safety systems is governed
smoke damper operation, elevator recall,
record documentation format is some-
by the fire code. In virtually all jurisdic-
etc. The inclusion of these items and the
times vague. To assure the systems’ in-
tions throughout the United States and
identification of their testing methods in-
spection and testing are satisfactorily per-
Canada, the National Fire Protection As-
creases the knowledge base required for
formed in accordance with the local fire
sociation (NFPA) Standard 72, National
persons performing system testing.
code, confirm that the contract agreement
Fire Alarm Code, is the standard refer- Another important change to NFPA 72 –
includes language that clearly states the
enced by the fire code and defines the 2007 edition is the minimum qualifications
scope, frequency, and methods of all in-
scope of system’s inspection, testing and for persons performing system inspection,
spections and tests will comply with NFPA
records documentation. testing and maintenance of fire alarm sys-
72, current edition, and all local and state
tems. Qualified personnel shall include,
fire codes and ordinances. Require the
Inspection and Testing
but not be limited to, one or more of the
contractor to include as an appendix or at-
NFPA 72 – 2007 edition, the most current following:
tachment to the contract agreement:
adopted edition, contains some signifi-
(1)*Personnel who are factory trained and
cant changes from previous editions that
A matrix or table of the systems compo-
certified for fire alarm system service of
apply to systems inspection and testing.
nents to be visually inspected and the
the specific type and brand of system
The most significant change is the re-
specified frequency of inspection. (Refer-
quirement for “an inspection, testing and
(2)*Personnel who are certified by a na- ence NFPA 72-2007 Table 10.3.1)
maintenance program” to be implement-
tionally recognized fire alarm certification
A summary of the testing methods pro-
organization acceptable to the authority
PAGE 12 | Fall 2009 | Lodging Engineer
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