Five Year Fire Inspection, Test, and Maintenance

5-Year Fire Inspection, Test and Maintenance

Under NFPA 25 Guidelines there are several Inspections, test and maintenance of water based fire protection system frequencies. One of the most important and overlooked inspection is the 5 year Inspection, test and maintenance. This article will touch on several items and key notes information about the 5 year inspection, test and maintenance and why it’s so important. So let’s dive right into the world of the 5-year fire inspection, test and maintenance.

We must first note who is responsible for the 5 year Inspection, test and maintenance. This responsibility along with accessibility to the building and fire sprinkler components requiring Inspection, test and maintenance as note on NFPA 25 chapter 4 section 4.1 and 4.1.2. It is the owner or the owner’s representative responsibility. In water based fire protection we have several different type of systems with each one there is different requirements for Inspection, test and maintenance. First, it must determine what type of system you have. This can be done by a qualified contractor. In SPRINKLERMATIC, we have personnel who developed competence through training, experience and have obtain Florida guidelines requirements to perform water based fire protection system evaluation. Along with Inspection, testing and maintenance of system. We must note that all records of Inspection, test and maintenance must be kept by the owner and made available to the authority having jurisdiction. (Fire marshal, insurance provider, building officials, health department and etc.) These records let the qualified contractor know what type of inspection is required and what service to provide.

Fire Sprinkler System Components

Fire sprinkler system are broken down into 4 type of systems wet, dry, pre-action and deluge systems. These system have several similar components that require 5 year Inspection, test and maintenance. For instance gauges are required to be replaced every 5 years or tested in comparison with a calibrated gauge. In SPRINKLERMATIC we believe that it’s more affordable cost effective for our customers. Just to replace the gauges after the 5 year mark. Another common component is the sprinklers. Sprinklers that are exposed to harsh environments shall be replaced or a representative sprinkler can be sample tested.  A qualified contractor can determine these environments. Solder- type sprinklers with a temperature rating of 325 degrees or higher exposed to allowable ambient temperatures shall be tested every 5 years. Due to the exposure of high temperature the operation temperature can vary making extremely important for testing these types of sprinklers. Where sprinklers have been in service for more than 75 years, these sprinklers shall be replaced or a sample sprinkler shall be submitted, to a recognized testing lab by the authority having jurisdiction. For field testing it shall continue to be tested every 5 years after that. In that case, in SPRINKLERMATIC we believe that due to lab testing failure and recurring testing. It would be in the better interest of the owner and more cost effective to replace any heads that are 75 years or older.


Private Service main water provider

Your private service mains, water being provided for you fire sprinkler system underground or exposed providing the water to your fire protection system. Requires to be flow tested every 5 years to determine the condition of the piping. This test is performed by full flow of a hydrant, a main drain, hose condition and fire department connection but only after the check valve has been removed. At which point it is compared to previous testing and the original test. To investigate deterioration of water demand. If your system is not providing the correct amount of water that the system requires this impairs the system extensively.

If your system’s water is provided by a storage tank the 5 year requirements are as follows. Unless you have a non-corrosive protection tank in which case a 3 year internal inspection is required by the standard.  Every 5 years the interior of a water storage tank shall be inspected. It is very important that the proper safety requirements and precaution are taken, for confine space entry are taken. It is not completely necessary to drain the entire tank, NFPA 25 allows certified commercial divers or remoted video as an alternative means. During this 5 year inspection the inspector is inspecting for signs of pitting, corrosion, evaluation of tank coating, pin holes, cracks and wall thickness.  The tanks that are ring type foundation sand in the middle are inspected for voids beneath the floor.

Also inspected is the heating system piping and components, along with anti- vortex plate checking for deterioration or blockage. This inspection is intended to identify failure points or weakened areas of the tank. The neglect of these item can be very damaging and cost effective, most of all it causes your fire protection system to be completely compromised. The level indicators are also required to be tested every 5 years, this test allows to make sure this component is working correctly and your tank has the correct water levels needed. Failure of this can cause a tank to over flow or an empty tank. System with mainline strainer shall be removed and inspected for damage and corroded parts. This can affect the flow of demanding water for your water protection system.

Foam System

The requirements for foam system require that all ball drip automatic type drain valves shall be pulled apart and cleaned out for proper function. Foam driver, drive train and drivers shall be serviced with manufacture guideline, but not exceeding 5 year intervals for proper function. The balancing diaphragm valves shall be flushed through the diaphragm section till clear water runs through it to clear out all build up foreign materials causing impairments of the system. The pressure vacuum vent shall be removed to make sure it’s not blocked making sure that foreign materials do not enter the tank. All components should be taken apart and cleaned out making sure parts are not clogged and that parts are moving freely. This ensure your system will work correctly when needed.

System Valves

System equipped with alarm valves require to be internally inspected. This inspection is intended to verify the operation of the clapper, the valve seat and to look for corrosion or obstruction materials. For example: soda cans, trash, rocks, dirt and etc. These foreign materials can clog up sprinklers not allowing it to provide the correct water to the fire when needed. All system check valves need to be internally inspected every 5 years to make sure all the components are working correctly. For example: are not letting the water run back the wrong way, causing all types false alarms. Re-pressurizing of areas where it’s not needed and release pressure in areas that are needed. In the same nature pre-action valves deluge valves that do not require the face plate to be removed for reset shall be inspected every 5 years. All strainer and filter associated shall be inspected internally, for blockage and foreign materials. On pressure reducing and pressure relief valves a full flow test shall be conducted every 5 years for every valve including fire hose valves. Test results are compared to previous test results. This test provide information needed to know that the system the pressure reducing or relief valve is controlling and that is not over pressurizing or under pressurizing the system. In a full flow condition test the information provided allows the inspector to know. If the system is receiving the designed pressure.

One of the most important part of a 5 year inspection is the obstruction investigation. This investigation consist of the piping and branch line. By opening a flushing connection at the end of one main and by removing a sprinkler towards the end of one branch line. The reason for this inspection is to inspect for the presence of foreign organic and inorganic materials. This section applies to all the types of systems including standpipes, foam and private service mains. The present of MIC microbiologically influenced corrosion in piping is a big common problem this creates leaks, pin-holes leaks and spreads throughout the entire system. The present of other common materials are zebra mussels, rust, work gloves and scales that cause leaks or clogged up pipes and sprinklers. Zebra mussels and quagga mussel usually affect system which water is provided by natural sources such as lakes and rivers. The internal inspection shall be accomplish by inspecting this following points system valves, riser, cross main and branch line.

All these Inspection test and maintenance are required by NFPA 25 and are extremely important for the performance of your fire protection system. SPRINKLERMATIC inspectors know the importance of the NFPA 25 standard and how it can clearly impair the system performance under its most important moment during a fire. SPRINKLERMATIC are well trained and know the responsibly of all NFPA 25 standards Inspection.  If A 5 year inspection is not done correctly it can cost loss of lives and property damage. We honor ourselves and our work habits.

We intentionally left out the portion of the 5 year inspection of standpipe and fire hose for future articles.