Fire Protection & life safety experts
Services in Edmonton, Calgary, and Fort McMurray.
RCI Fire and Utility a Member of CFAA / ULC specializes in providing a full line of fire protection services to their customers. Rotaflow is fully certified under (CAN/ULC- S1001) as an Integrated Systems Testing Service Provider. Along with complete code required fire alarm inspections, we also provide the full range of fire sprinkler inspections including comprehensive fire suppression services, sprinkler system engineering, fabrication, installation, and maintenance, 24-hour service, and special hazard protection (FM200, Inergen, Novec 1230,C02).
Other services we can provide,
– We supply, maintain, and inspect fire alarm systems.
– We install, maintain, and inspect Fire Pumps.
– We offer quality engineer- designed sprinkler or fire alarm systems for both commercial and residential properties.
– We have our own in-house team of designers and engineers.
– We provide all types of Fire System Utility repairs.
– Fire Hydrant Testing and System Flushes.
– We maintain and inspect fire extinguishers.
– We will be able to support you with the complicated issue of compliance with the Authority Having Jurisdiction.
FIRE ALARM SIMPLIFIED REQUIREMENTS
Per the Alberta Fire Code 2019, Fire Alarm Systems must be maintained in operable condition, and must be inspected and tested in accordance with CAN/ULC-S536. This standard defines the minimum requirements, but higher standards may be required by your insurer or based on the type of facility.
Every day the alarm control panel should be checked to confirm the power is on, and no trouble signals are showing. This check can be performed by the building owner or tenant and should be recorded in a log.
A quick check of the panel, batteries, and at least one device on the system is required every month. This must be performed by a certified technician. While required by the Fire Code, this is not frequently enforced by local authorities on a pro-active basis; However, a post incident investigation will normally ask for records of these checks and failure to complete them may affect liability in the event of a system failure.
Once a year the entire Fire Alarm system must be tested for functionality. This involves individually checking every smoke and heat detector, every manual pull station, and all tie-ins to other systems (sprinklers, suppression systems, fan shutdowns, etc.). Depending on the size and complexity of the system, this can take anywhere from an hour to several days. Most commercial buildings can be completed in a day or less. Large residential buildings can take a couple days when it is necessary to access several hundred suites. Some particularly complex industrial sites could take longer. Most annual inspections will require at least two technicians and are billed hourly. As every system is different, the best way to obtain an estimate for the cost of an inspection is to provide us with a previous inspection or verification report, including a complete device list.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Monthly testing can usually be performed by one technician, as can annuals for some small and simple systems. Annual inspections on most systems will require two technicians, one at the panel and one testing devices. This team will individually test each initiating device that is part of the system either by triggering the device or, in the case of one-time-use devices, shorting the supervising wires. The signaling devices (bells or horn/strobes) will be disabled while this is ongoing. The bells will also be tested either all at once, or in sections for large buildings. Testing the bells takes as long as a quick walk through the whole building and can be done when it is convenient for the client. Some like to use the bell test as a fire drill, while others prefer to do it during lunch when most staff can leave the building.
If any problems are found with the system one of two things will happen. Small issues can sometimes be corrected by the technician before leaving; If the fix requires any parts or significant labor, a client representative must be available to approve the work. If an issue cannot be corrected immediately, then a quote will be provided if possible and follow-up maintenance scheduled if approved. Any significant impairment to the system will be brought to the attention of our contact on site.
There are a few items the client must do to prepare for an inspection.
Post notice – in a residential building all tenants must be notified 48 hours in advance that testing will be taking place. In addition, access will be required to any suite with a device inside and tenants must be notified of this as well.
Monitoring – most fire alarm systems are monitored by a security service or other monitoring provider. The job of the monitoring provider is to alert the fire department in the event an alarm is triggered on your system. When performing testing, the monitoring provider needs to be notified, so they do not initiate a fire department response. The client will need to contact their monitoring provider before beginning and after completion of testing.
Access – Technicians will need access to all parts of the building that contain Fire Alarm devices. This includes mechanical rooms, server rooms, residential suites, and anywhere else there is a detector or signaling device. Make arrangements to provide technicians with keys or an escort as necessary.
Elevators – Elevators will generally have a device at the top of the shaft. The technician will need access to it and will need an elevator service technician present to facilitate this. Best practice is usually to schedule your monthly Elevator service call for the same day as the Alarm inspection to avoid an additional service charge from your elevator contractor.
Device List – If it is our first time performing an inspection on a system, the client should provide a copy of a previous year’s inspection report, or installation verification report. This will include a list of all devices on the system. Having the list will speed up the inspection, saving time and money.
SOMETHING IS WRONG, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If the alarm bells are ringing, evacuate immediately and call 911.
If your control panel is lighting up any trouble indicators, the system is telling you something is wrong, and service may be required. The first thing to do is take a picture or video. Some panels will log troubles, but many don’t. For a technician to figure out what is wrong, they need to know what the panel is indicating. Sometimes the trouble does not stick around long enough for a technician to get to site, so it is very important that you record what the panel is doing. Most panels will have additional indicators that you can only see when the door is open, so make sure to open it up and take a picture of that as well. Then give us a call.
When you talk to our technician, they will ask you to describe what the panel is doing, send the picture you took, and maybe use some of the controls to get additional information. If the technician can identify the issue as non-urgent, we will schedule a regular service call within a few days to investigate and correct it. If the issue is an urgent one, you will be offered an emergency call-out. Emergency call-out rates apply to any after hours and weekend work, or any time we need to cancel other scheduled work during normal business hours. Emergency callouts have minimum charges that will apply, even if the action taken is a quick, simple, or incomplete solution.
FIRE PROTECTION SIMPLIFIED REQUIREMENTS
Per the 2019 Alberta Fire Code, Water-Based Fire Protection Systems must be maintained in operable condition and must be inspected and tested in accordance with NFPA 25. Water-based fire protection systems include sprinkler systems, standpipes, private and municipal hydrants, hose systems, fixed water spray systems, foam-water sprinkler systems, and fire pumps. This standard defines the minimum requirements, but higher standards may be required by your insurer or based on the type of facility.
A short inspection is required every three months on certain components of the system, including Pressure Gauges, Water-flow Devices, and Supervisory Devices. While required by the Fire Code, this is not frequently enforced by local authorities. However, a post-incident investigation will normally ask for records of these inspections. Failure to complete quarterly inspections may affect liability in the event of a system failure.
Once a year all components of the system need to be inspected and tested. In addition to the items checked quarterly, this includes a visual inspection of the entire system from ground level, so access to the entire protected area of the building is required. It also includes checking all gauges, fittings, valves, anti-freeze, drains, fire department hookups, spare heads, wrenches, and data plates. The Backflow Preventor device should also be checked at the same time, as required by Water Utilities (EPCOR). Depending on the size and complexity of the system, this can take anywhere from an hour to several days. Most commercial buildings can be completed in a day or less. Large residential buildings can take a couple of days when it is necessary to access several hundred suites. Industrial sites can take much longer. Most annual commercial inspections will require only one technician. As every system is different, the best way to obtain an estimate for the cost of an inspection is to provide us with a previous inspection report, along with the size (sq ft) of the building and approximate allocation of space (office/warehouse/shop/apartments/etc).
In addition to the regular annual inspection and maintenance, further work may be needed on a 3, or 5, year basis depending on the type of system. This includes flow-tests, hydro-static pressure tests, and obstruction investigations. Most of this maintenance will require two technicians and take at least half a day.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Quarterly and annual inspections can usually be performed by one technician. The technician will split their time between checking system components at the valve room and performing a ground-level visual inspection of the piping and heads throughout the protected area. This includes checking the communication with the Fire Alarm panel (if connected), so the client will need to contact their alarm monitoring service and inform them of the testing.
If any problems are found with the system one of two things will happen. Small issues can sometimes be corrected by the technician before leaving; If the fix requires any parts or significant labor, a client representative must be available to approve the work. If an issue cannot be corrected immediately it will be noted on the inspection report, then a quote will be provided, if possible, and follow-up maintenance scheduled if approved. Any significant impairment to the system will be brought to the attention of our contact on-site.
There are a few items the client must do to prepare for an inspection.
Posting notice – in a residential building all tenants must be notified 48 hours in advance that an inspection will be taking place. Access will be required to any suite with a sprinkler head inside.
Monitoring – most fire alarm systems are monitored by a security service or other monitoring provider. The job of the monitoring provider is to alert the fire department in the event an alarm is triggered on your system. Part of the testing on the sprinkler system includes checking for proper communication with the Fire Alarm panel. When performing testing, the monitoring provider needs to be notified, so they do not initiate a fire department response. The client will need to contact their monitoring provider before beginning, and after completion of testing.
Access – Technicians will need access to all parts of the building that contain sprinkler protection. This includes mechanical rooms, server rooms, and residential suites. Plan to provide technicians with keys or escorts as necessary.
SOMETHING IS WRONG, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Do not thaw out the pipes. Shut down your fire pump (if present). Give us a call, and let our technician get a look at it first. In many cases, it is much faster and easier to complete a repair if the melt is performed in a controlled manner.
You must set a fire watch of the shutdown area until service is restored.
Please note that any after-hours/weekend service, or any time we cancel other scheduled work to send someone out to your site is considered an emergency call-out, and minimum charges/overtime rates will apply.
Lack of proper maintenance is one of the leading reasons for fire sprinkler system failures.
Fire sprinkler systems shall be properly inspected, tested, and maintained (ITM) in accordance with NFPA 25, Standard for Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. Systems exposed to cold weather are especially vulnerable.
During cold months, these systems are more susceptible to catastrophic failure. Frozen sprinkler pipes are among the more common service calls throughout winter months. Maintaining a minimum of 40 degrees (F) is imperative in ensuring the sprinkler pipes do not freeze. Many areas that go unnoticed during the summer can create issues in cold months, these areas include, but are not limited to, entry ways, vestibules, stairwells, unoccupied spaces, skylights, and areas that are not properly insulated.
Sprinklered areas that cannot be maintained at 40 degrees (F) or above are usually protected with a dry pipe or antifreeze system. These types of systems may require more thorough assessments and routine maintenance to keep the systems from freezing. Antifreeze systems should be tested prior to the onset of freezing weather to verify that the antifreeze solution will protect to the anticipated temperatures for the region where the systems are installed. If they cannot protect to the required temperatures, they must be drained and provided with a new listed antifreeze meeting the requirements of NFPA 25, Section 5.3.4.
Wet portions of the dry pipe valve must be maintained at a minimum of 40 degrees (F) and the enclosure must be inspected daily to verify minimum temperature is maintained, and weekly if the room is equipped with a low-temperature alarm. The low point and auxiliary drains are required to be drained after each operation of the system, before the onset of freezing weather, and as needed after that. How often these drains shall be operated throughout the cold season will depend on how much condensation is in the drain. This could be a daily, weekly, or monthly requirement, based on the existing system and building conditions.
The 2020 edition of NFPA 25, Section 220.127.116.11.2 highlights the above requirements and the annex sections explains the importance of this procedure and gives some valuable insight to this basic step of dry pipe system maintenance.
Section A.18.104.22.168.2 states the following:
- Removing water that may collect in a dry system is essential to a maintenance program.
- Failure to drain water from dry systems may lead to damage to the system and the building and expensive repairs may be needed.
- A program to monitor the system and the needed operation of all auxiliary drains should be in place.
- After a dry system operates, the auxiliary drains should be operated every day and once there have been several days with no water discharge, the frequency of auxiliary drain operation can be decreased to weekly or longer intervals as appropriate.
- When preparing for freezing temperatures, the auxiliary drains should be operated daily with the frequency of operation decreasing, depending on the discharge of accumulated water.
- Quick opening devices where present, should be temporarily removed from service prior to draining the system Low Points.
- 1. Close upper valve.
- 2. Open the lower valve and drain the accumulated water.
- 3. Close the lower valve, open the upper valve, and allow for additional water accumulation
- 4. Repeat this procedure until water ceases to discharge.
- 5. Replace plug or nipple and cap in lower valve.
The content of this article was taken from, ” National Fire Sprinkler Association”.