Changes to Florida Code Address Extended Cycle Fire Sprinkler Inspections and Tests

Posted on: July 18, 2017

Regular check-ups will keep your system working right

Owners of fire sprinkler systems are often very familiar in the annual, semi-annual, and quarterly requirements of inspecting and testing their fire sprinkler system – and that’s a good thing.

According to a report by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA),“US Experience With Sprinklers,” properly installed and maintained fire sprinkler systems save lives and result in far less damage to property. Statistics from 2013 indicate:

  • The fire death rate per 1,000 reported home structure fires was lower by 82%;
  • The rate of property damage per reported home structure fire was lower by 68%.

Often, however, the owners of fire sprinkler systems are unaware of the additional inspection and testing requirements that are needed on more extended cycles that occur every three, five, twenty, or even fifty years based on the age of the components of the system.

The impact of age

Just as with humans, age isn’t necessarily kind to fire sprinkler systems. Over the years, dust and dirt accumulate, seals weaken, corrosion builds, and residue can build up in water pipes. The Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) reports that “test data has shown that the performance of some sprinklers is definitely impacted as a function of the time the sprinkler has been in service.”

There have long been requirements in NFPA 25, the Standard for the Inspection, Testing & Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, to inspect and test fire sprinkler system components on these extended cycles – but frequently, these extended cycle inspection and tests get overlooked and are not performed.

Nearly every type of fire sprinkler system has components that necessitate the inspection and testing on these extended cycles, especially every five years. Extended cycle inspections and tests are extremely important for verifying the integrity of the system and assuring it will continue to operate within the parameters for which it was originally designed.

The five-year rule

The most common extended cycle test, the five-year inspection, has requirements to internally inspect the condition of the system piping, verify that gauges are within calibration to ensure proper system performance readings, perform interior inspection of check valves and flow test pressure reducing valves, and a number of other requirements. All of these inspections and tests are there to ensure the system will work when it is needed and that issues can be addressed proactively.

Because a fire sprinkler system has a number of components, an analysis is often required of the complete system to determine exactly what tests are needed and the costs associated with performing those activities.

Florida addresses the issue

The newest version of Florida Administrative Code 69A-46, adopted in July 2016, includes verbiage that specifically addresses the requirements for these extended cycle tests.

For systems that have not had three- or five-year requirements performed, the system will be tagged as being “non-critically deficient.” And those systems that have not had field service testing of sprinklers performed (typically a twenty- and fifty-year requirement) will be tagged as being “critically deficient.” This is a new requirement by the Florida Administrative Code that will now actively bring attention to the lack of these extended cycle inspections by placing a different type of tag on the system that may not otherwise have notable deficiencies.

As a licensed Fire Protection Contractor, LifeSafety Management can provide you with the information needed to see if your system requires one of these extended cycle inspections. In the event that one is needed, we can perform the required activities to ensure your system is compliant and operating as it was designed.

Contact LifeSafety Management at (800) 330-1158 or fill out our contact form to set up a free assessment by our experienced team of professionals.