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Category: Jack’s Code Corner

Jack’s Code Corner April 2024: NFPA 4

Do you perform Fire and Life Safety inspections, testing, and maintenance in facilities that are either classified as high-rise buildings or have smoke control systems installed? If so, you may need to begin preparing your end customer for the required NFPA 4 Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety Testing. 

The intent of an NFPA 4 inspection is to ensure that all interconnected fire and life safety systems continue to function as designed and are certified in a “whole building” life safety concept. 

For example, the IFC 2021 requires NFPA 4 testing to be completed every 10 years after the facility has been occupied. See the excerpt below for further information: 

901.6.2 Integrated Testing

Where two or more fire protection or life safety systems are interconnected, the intended response of subordinate fire protection and life safety systems shall be verified when required testing of the initiating system is conducted. In addition, integrated testing shall be performed in accordance with Sections 901.6.2.1 and 901.6.2.2.

901.6.2.1 High-Rise Buildings

For high-rise buildings, integrated testing shall comply with NFPA 4, with an integrated test performed prior to issuance of the certificate of occupancy and at intervals not exceeding 10 years, unless otherwise specified by an integrated system test plan prepared in accordance with NFPA 4. If an equipment failure is detected during integrated testing, a repeat of the integrated test shall not be required, except as necessary to verify operation of fire protection or life safety functions that are initiated by equipment that was repaired or replaced.

901.6.2.2 Smoke Control Systems

Where a fire alarm system is integrated with a smoke control system as outlined in Section 909, integrated testing shall comply with NFPA 4, with an integrated test performed prior to issuance of the certificate of occupancy and at intervals not exceeding 10 years, unless otherwise specified by an integrated system test plan prepared in accordance with NFPA 4. If an equipment failure is detected during integrated testing, a repeat of the integrated test shall not be required, except as necessary to verify operation of fire protection or life safety functions that are initiated by equipment that was repaired or replaced.

Jack’s Code Corner: What’s it Like Being on Multiple NFPA Standards Committees?

For this month’s Code Corner, Jack answered some questions about his experience as an NFPA Standards committee member. 

Q: Jack, can you tell us about your connection with the NFPA and what it means to you?

Jack Coffelt: My journey began after transitioning from the Navy into the civilian sector, working in fire life safety. I still vividly remember my first Fire Marshal inspection and the nervousness I felt. Fast forward, and now I’m sitting on the same NFPA committee as the Fire Marshal who inspected my work that day. 

Q: Can you explain your role in these committees and the kind of work you do?

Jack: Absolutely. I sit on committees like NFPA 3 and NFPA 4, which focus on holistic fire life safety standards for new installations and ongoing inspections. We strive for a balance between rigorous safety standards and practical implementation. These committees bring together a diverse group of experts, from users to manufacturers, to discuss and decide on various aspects of fire safety. It’s important to have these diverse perspectives so that everyone is represented.  

Q: What’s the process for becoming a member of an NFPA committee?

Jack: Joining a committee is a selective process. It involves openings in specific categories like users, manufacturers, or AHJs. Applicants are reviewed by the committee chair and NFPA staff, considering their expertise and representation. I’m currently working towards joining NFPA 915, which deals with remote testing and inspection – a rapidly evolving area in fire life safety.

Q: Are there personal benefits to being on these committees?

Jack: One of the greatest benefits is building relationships with other committee members, many of whom are among the best in the industry. These connections are invaluable for gaining insights and advice. I’m also able to bring the expert knowledge back to ServiceTrade to help our customers and our product team. 

Q: Can anyone attend a committee meeting?

Jack: NFPA technical committee meetings are open to the public, which I highly recommend attending. It’s a great way to understand the process and possibly get involved. Though there are strict rules against recording and representing NFPA views without authorization, there’s still a high level of transparency in how standards are developed and revised.

Read more of Jack’s Code Corner here. 

Jack’s Code Corner: NFPA Standard Updates-How it Works

NFPA Standard Updates – How it Works

Ever wonder how NFPA creates and maintains the Standards Process? Here’s a quick synopsis of how it works, with notes on how you can engage in the process!

We’ll start with an existing standard. It will have a “Revision Cycle” generally every 3-5 years, some are longer intervals than others.

Step 1 in the process, this is where YOU come in: Public Input (PI) Stage. Anyone who would like to submit an input for a change, addition, or deletion to an NFPA Standard can do so at this point.

The NFPA Standard Technical Committee will meet and review each and every PI based on its merits and adherence to submission protocols. The TC will then be accepted, rejected, or held in a wait-but-see scenario. Changes to the current edition of the standard are released as “First Draft Revisions” to the next edition. This info will be published and we move on to step two of the process, the Public Comment phase.

Step 2. The original submitter and anyone (including you) can make a Public Comment on why they agree or disagree with the TC’s position on the PI. Once those are all collected, the TC will again meet to review the Public Comments and create a TC position, which is released as the “Second Draft Revisions” to the next edition.

These positions will again be published and the Submitter or any individual may submit a Notice of Intent to Create a Motion (NITMAM) to address the item in contention at Step 3 of the Process, the NFPA Technical Meeting.

Step 3. The NFPA Technical Meeting is held annually to address each standard that is in its Cycle for update. Current Registered NFPA Members may attend and vote in person on any outstanding items. Submitters of NITMAMS are invited to speak to their position, and the audience may speak in support of, or against the item in question.

A vote is held for members in attendance only, and this vote is “final.” These votes are then sent to Step 4 the NFPA’s Council Appeals and Issuance of the Standard.

Step 4. The Standards Council will review the votes from Step 3 and make a final resolution and subsequently, publish the newest edition of said Standard with all approved Public input and committee input through the steps and vote and final Standards Council approval.

There are more moving pieces to the puzzle of how a Standard is created and maintained and the NFPA welcomes participation in Standards Upkeep.

Jack’s Code Corner: Guest Post from Top Myers About the Value of Information in Fire Insurance Claims

Guest post by Top Myers, of Risk Suppression Partners

ServiceTrade can help reduce a contractor’s Liability Exposure. But before I talk about how let me give you some background information that will show you why.

Over 30 years I have been involved in insuring liability for fire and life safety contractors nationally. Risk Suppression Partners is an actual insurance company, not an insurance broker. We sell insurance through brokers that represent local contractors. We do the underwriting, claims handling, and loss control.

A few years ago, we analyzed thousands of the claims we handled for our insured and found the following:

What do we need to do to reduce the cost of claims? We must determine if our insured is at fault. To do this we need information. If they are at fault, do they have contractual language such as builders’ risk, waiver of subrogation, liquidated damages, etc? If not, we will try to negotiate a settlement that includes a reduction in cost both sides receive by early settlement.

ServiceTrade users have great information in the system regarding service and inspection work, pictures and information we need from the system with the documentation can go to the claimant with information that allows us to show the claimant why the contractor is not at fault, and why they should close their file on us.

I believe an integrated Service and inspection system set up to help contractors organize their information for their insurance companies process is a winning strategy. We have seen this work with our insured using ServiceTrade.

Top Myers has decades of experience in the fire and life safety industry. Most recently, he served as president of Asurio, developers of the BirdDog Inspection System where the Code Whisperer Jack Coffelt served as General Manager until its acquisition by ServiceTrade in 2022.

Top has served on the NFPA 25 committee since the day it was founded, and he also has helped develop and finalize fire code changes as a voting member of NFPA 72 and NFPA 915 standards committees.  He was inducted into the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) Hall of Fame in 2021. 

Top is active in many fire sprinkler industry associations and risk management initiatives. He is a principal in the largest insurance/risk management company for the US fire sprinkler industry. An industry thought leader in the truest sense, Top Myers frequently testifies as an expert witness for fire and life safety contractors in liability lawsuits and presents at national and regional conferences on risk management issues.

Get more of Top’s risk management advice in this on-demand webinar:

Turning Risk Into Revenue: A Panel Discussion
Watch to join industry leaders discussing reducing risk and driving repair revenue with fire protection software.

Jack’s Code Corner: NFPA 25 – 2017 Change in Evaluation of Fire Pump Test Results

In the 2017 edition of NFPA 25, Chapter 8 (Fire Pumps), there was a significant change from the previous editions of the evaluation of Fire Pump Test Results.

In the 2014 and previous editions, the Pump Evaluation (pass/fail) was determined at the 100% flow rate with a degradation of no more than 95 percent. In the 2017 through current editions, the Evaluation criteria (pass/fail) now require review at EACH required flow point.

Evaluations of: Churn, Rated and Overload, shall be evaluated for no less than 95 percent of flow rates and pressure at each point for either Original unadjusted field test curve, or the Fire pump nameplate. See section of the 2017 NFPA 25, with more explanatory material in the 2017 NFPA 25 Handbook.

Jack’s Code Corner: NFPA 2001- Highlighted 2022 Edition Updates

As with several other NFPA documents, the Technical Committee for the Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems (NFPA 2001) completed a structural revision and added several new chapters during the 2022 revision cycle. 

There are several other important changes. Be sure to review the forward of the 2022 Standard for more key information.

NFPA 915 the Standard for Remote Inspections and Tests

Have you ever wondered: “Could I perform a Fire Life Safety Inspection with a drone or video camera?” The NFPA Standards Council has discussed this very concept and has recently accepted the NFPA 915 Technical Committee’s recommendation to publish the Standard for Remote Inspections and Tests.

The NFPA officially released NFPA 915 on May 13, 2023. This will have a huge ripple effect going forward in the Fire Life Safety Space with regard to integrating technology, tools, and techniques to improve efficiencies and ease of inspecting a multitude of Fire Life Safety Systems. Look for more great things to come from this newly published Standard.

A Detailed Introduction to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Guidelines

Founded in 1896, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a rich history of promoting public safety through published NFPA guidelines that include codes & standards developed to minimize the possibility of fire and other risks. A self-funded, worldwide organization, the NFPA’s guidelines and safety standards are designed to help eliminate death, injury, and property & economic loss from fire, electrical hazards, and other potentially dangerous situations.

 Did You Know: One of the earliest sets of installation rules was issued by the New York Board of Fire Underwriters in 1881, and subsequently was adopted in 1882.

 NFPA standards are comprised of more than 300 codes & standards that are administered by more than 260 NFPA Technical Committees that cover specific areas of public safety – from fire prevention to electrical safety, and more. The 10,000 volunteers serving on technical committees are experts in their fields, and work collaboratively to develop, improve, and modify safety standards.

 What’s interesting is that NFPA standards are not static. Rather, the standard NFPA code development process allows for safety standards to evolve as needed. As an example, the NFPA originally set standards for how to inspect electrical fire pumps in multi-story buildings. These powerful pumps are needed to push water up many stories within a high-rise to distribute water through fire sprinkler systems on the higher floors. 

However, the electric fire pumps can build up a dangerous electrical charge. When life safety inspectors touched the fire pump, arc flashes resulted in the deaths of a number of building inspectors. After these deaths occurred, the NFPA commissioned a group of fire safety industry experts to review the existing standards, investigate how and why inspectors were killed, and develop recommendations for how standards for inspecting electric fire pumps should be changed to prevent more deaths. 

The recommendations included a simple pass-fail inspection and keeps inspectors from having to touch electrical fire pumps. Now that the inspection standard has been changed, if an electric fire pump does not pass a simple test, the inspector does not touch the pump, and indicates that a master electrician needs to be called to resolve the issue. This change in fire pump inspection standards was needed to save lives, and now includes the deployment of master electricians who know how to safely work with high-voltage equipment.

In addition to published codes & standards, the NFPA also developed a color-coded number system for quickly identifying the hazard level. Designated as NFPA 704, the visual hazard identification system features a color-coded diamond divided into 4 quadrants. Numbers are used in the upper three quadrants of the diamond to identify the degree of health hazard:

Why Is The NFPA Important?

 The NFPA’s work is important because it provides information, standards, research, training, education, and advocacy with two key goals:

 In addition, NFPA standards have improved building construction standards which promotes public safety. Improved building codes result in structures that are safer for people to live and work. Improved building codes also reduce the risk of economic loss from fires, haz-mat releases, and more.

Who Enforces NFPA Standards?

 While the NFPA is not a governmental agency, it has enormous influence and routinely works with government agencies and government building authorities worldwide. NFPA codes and standards are reviewed & typically enforced by authorities having jurisdiction – such as fire department / fire service officials, those enacting legislation to improve public safety, and other stakeholders. Emergency response professionals also look to NFPA codes for guidance and rely on adherence to NFPA codes as a means of protecting first responders dealing with fires, release of hazardous materials, and more.

Are NFPA and ISO Standards The Same?

 The National Fire Protection Association, based in Massachusetts, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), based in Geneva, Switzerland, are both international, non-governmental organizations. Their standards development processes are quite similar, but their areas of focus are different.

 The NFPA focuses on setting life safety standards, specifically for fire safety standards, fire code, fire protection system standards, and inspection process and inspection frequency standards.

 The ISO develops standards that are internationally agreed upon by subject matter experts, and the standards are much broader in scope. ISO standards cover a huge range of activities – from how a product should be manufactured or how a specific process should be managed and organized to how to deliver a service or supply materials.

Highlights of NFPA Electrical Codes


The National Electrical Code (NEC) – known as NFPA 70 – has been adopted in all 50 U.S. states – and it is the benchmark for safe electrical design, installation, and inspection. The goals of NFPA 70 standards are to protect people and property from electrical hazards.

 NFPA 70 electrical standards cover the installation and removal of electrical conductors, equipment, and raceways; signaling and communication conductors, equipment, and raceways; and optical fiber cables for:

 NFPA 70 does NOT cover:

 NFPA codes undergo updates every several years, but the NFPA often issues minor code changes as amendments on a yearly basis. The NFPA is offering a 2023 version of NFPA 70 Electrical Code. The 2023 version of NFPA 70 features a number of proposed code amendments. The NFPA is soliciting public comments on the recommended code changes – with public comment due by Feb. 10, 2023.

NFPA’s Fire Classifications

 The NFPA also has developed a system for classifying various types of fires. Fire classification is important because the type of fire, or potential type of fire, dictates what type of fire extinguisher would be required.

Class A Fire

A Class A fire is the result of common combustible materials such as wood, cloth, paper, and many plastics.

Class B Fire

A Class B fire is the result of flammable liquids or gas such as alcohol, ether, gasoline, or grease.

Class C Fire

A fire designated as a Class C fire is due to electrical failure from appliances, electronic equipment, and/or wiring.

Class D Fire

Class D fires occur when metallic substances such as sodium, titanium, zirconium, or magnesium burn.

Class K Fire

Class K fires cover grease or oil fires that occur specifically from cooking.

Highlights of the Main NFPA Codes & Standards

While electricians are mainly concerned with NFPA 70, there are a number of different NFPA codes & standards that deal with different aspects of public safety, including fire protection systems in general, installation and maintenance of sprinkler systems, installation and maintenance of fire alarm and signaling systems, fire extinguishers, and more.

Here’s a high-level overview of the various NFPA codes:

NFPA 1: Advances fire and life safety for the public and first responders as well as property protection, by providing a comprehensive, integrated approach for fire code regulation and hazard management.

 NFPA 13: This body of code standards sets the standard for the design and installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems and exposure protection sprinkler systems.

 NFPA 25: This set of codes sets the standard for the inspection, testing, and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems.

 NFPA 70: Sets the foundation for electrical safety in residential, commercial, and industrial occupancies worldwide.

NFPA 70E: This covers requirements for safe work practices that are designed to protect personnel by reducing exposure to major electrical hazards, including electrical shock, electrocution, arc flash and arc blast, and assist with compliance with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K.

 NFPA 99: These codes establish criteria for levels of health care services or systems based on risk to patients, staff, or visitors in health care facilities to minimize the hazards of fire, explosion, and electricity.

 NFPA 101: Known as the Life Safety Code, NFPA 101 is the most widely used source for strategies to protect people based on building construction, protection, and occupancy features that minimize the effects of fire and related hazards.

Anyone dealing with electrical or mechanical contracting needs to know about and adhere to NFPA codes as a standard course of operation. Learning more about the various applicable NFPA guidelines benefits contractors and the general public alike.

NFPA 13 2019 Actuator Supervision

Have you ever walked into a Pre-Action Sprinkler System or Deluge Valve Sprinkler room and observed the “actuator” hanging loosely by, not connected to its proper valve actuator? This is a serious impairment of the system, as it will NOT operate upon detection as intended. Fear not, the NFPA 13 Technical Committee recognized that this is an important issue and resolved it with the requirement to monitor the actuator to ensure it is in place as required and the system will operate as intended if called upon.

NFPA 13 2019 Actuator Supervision. Effective January 1, 2021 removal of an electric actuator from the preaction or deluge valve that it controls shall result in an audible and visual indication of system impairment at the system releasing control panel.

NFPA 72 2023 edition

NFPA 72 requires differential pressure testing of duct detector sampling tubes. While not often enforced nor fully understood, your team should be equipped to know how to do it when called upon.

Where to find it: NFPA 72 2023 edition, table Test duct smoke detectors that use sampling tubes to ensure that they will properly sample the airstream in the duct using a method acceptable to the manufacturer or in accordance with their published instructions.