As we've seen with past mishaps in the news such as the tragic Grenfell Tower fire disaster in London in 2017, it's absolutely vital that all of a building's fire suppression systems follow codes and are kept up to date, functioning, and most importantly, regularly inspected by qualified professionals. The risk for loss of life is too great to procrastinate maintenance, inspections, and tests on these life-saving systems. Here are four common questions you might have about fire suppression system inspections.
For building owners or managers, the most common question about inspections is when? How often do fire suppression systems need to be inspected? Unfortunately, there isn't one easy answer because fire suppression systems are made of several different components such as wet and dry fire extinguishing systems, alarm systems, sprinkling suppression systems, etc. All systems have their own maintenance schedules. In order to comply with building codes, you should follow the National Fire Protection Association or NFPA's codes and standards for each of these systems. However, it's also important to check with your local state or municipality as they may have additional and possibly more stringent requirements.
Building managers, owners, and occupants can conduct weekly or monthly visual inspections. However, for the annual or semi-annual testing that is often required by code, it's important to rely on a fire suppression system inspection professional. Again, make sure to check with state codes in order to comply with local rules because some states and counties require that inspections only be performed by licensed inspection companies.
Are Inspections and Testing the Same?
No. An inspection is conducted by a fire professional and involves a visual inspection of fire suppression systems to look for obvious signs of damage or possible leaking. Testing requires physically testing the system to ensure that it's functioning properly. The guidelines for both inspections and testing are set by the NFPA.
How Should I Prepare?
Before an inspector arrives to conduct an inspection, you should ensure that all systems are easily accessible to the inspector and free of any obstructions that would make it difficult to perform a proper inspection. For businesses like commercial kitchens, appliances like ovens and grill tops should not be in use and should be given time to cool down. All employees should be made aware that an inspection is taking place and also warned that the fire systems may be out-of-service during the inspection process.
To learn more, contact a fire suppression system inspection service such as Pacific Fire Suppression.