PortlandOnline

POL Government Elected Officials Auditor Griffin-Valade Charter, Code & Policies Policies & Rules (PPD) Portland Fire & Rescue Alarm Systems & Devices
FIR-6.02 - Fire Alarm Test Intervals and Procedures

FIRE ALARM TEST INTERVALS AND PROCEDURES
Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority
ARB-FIR-6.02

 

Link to Attachment:

 

1. Fire Alarm Component Inspection, Testing and Maintenance Summary  (PDF Document, 96 kb)

 

I. GENERAL

 

A. This policy is established May 15, 1987.

 

B. The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for the maintenance and testing of fire alarm systems, and monitoring of automatic sprinkler systems.

 

C. This policy applies to all regulated occupancies in the City of Portland and unincorporated areas served by Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R).

 

D. The 2007 Portland Fire Code (PFC), section 901.6 “Inspection, testing and maintenance” points to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 72 as the standard for fire alarms. Chapter 10 of that standard describes the testing frequency and methods.

 

II. SPECIFIC

 

A. REFERENCES

 

1. 2007 PFC

2. 2007 NFPA Standard 72

3. FMO Policy CE F-1 (FIR 6.01) and CE F-3 (FIR 6.03)

 

III. DEFINITIONS

 

A. Supervising Stations (2007) NFPA 72, Chapter 8: A facility that receives and rebroadcasts signals from fire alarm systems. There are four types of supervising stations:

 

1. Protected Premise: alarm signal reports to panel on site, signals are not rebroadcast.

 

2. Central Station: third party service that rebroadcasts alarm signals to the appropriate person or entity; service is Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) listed.

 

3. Remote Station: may not be UL or FM listed, could be found in some 911 centers that act as supervising stations for municipal buildings in their jurisdiction.

 

4. Proprietary Supervision Station: 24 hour staffed facility that receives the alarm signals, and forwards the signals to the appropriate staff or entity. Facility must be under the same ownership as the protected premises, but not necessarily on the same site.

 

B. Semi-annual: every six months.

 

C. Fire alarm supervisory signals: non-alarm signals that report status of some fire protection component conditions: control valve tamper switches, water tank level, dry sprinkler system air pressure.

 

D. Qualified personnel per NFPA 72 10.2.2.5.1:

 

• Factory trained and certified for fire alarm systems service of the specific type and brand of system;

 

• Certified by a nationally recognized fire alarm certification organization (NICET);

 

• Registered, licensed , or certified by a State authority (State of Oregon Level A limited energy, Journeyman Electrician, Supervising Electrician);

 

• Employees where the personnel and company are qualified by a nationally recognized listing agency (central station service).

 

E. Competent person: person that the system owner determines to be trustworthy and possesses the skill to visually inspect or, in some cases, test fire alarm systems and record the outcome.

 

IV. PROCEDURES

 

A. System deficiencies found during alarm test which cannot be repaired immediately: See PFC 901.7 and FMO Policy CE A-4, FIR-1.04 - Fire Watch.

 

B. Alarm Systems Found to be Out of Service or Impaired Upon Inspection by FMO: If an inspector finds that an alarm system is out of service in an occupancy with a potential high life hazard, containing a significant amount of hazardous materials, or the facility presents a major fire fighting challenge, the building shall be immediately placed on Fire Watch or evacuated. See FMO Policy CE A-4 for further information on fire watch, FIR-1.04 - Fire Watch.

 

The inspector should confer with their supervisor as to whether a citation would be appropriate in respect to the out of service fire alarm. See FMO Policy CE A-5, FIR-1.05 - Citations.

 

C. System owners unable to produce documentation of the prior three years of testing: Fire alarm systems are critical life safety features that demand regular inspections, testing, and maintenance. It is incumbent on the system owner to keep documentation of the system tests, and the history of tests must be maintained for at least three years. A system owner that cannot provide documentation of the tests may be subject to citations. See FMO Policy CE A-5, Citations FIR-1.05 - Citations.

 

D. Non-monitored 110v bell and pull station: Pull stations shall have signage indicating “Local Alarm Only, Call 9-1-1”. Older installations served by low voltage transformers or 110 volt circuits that provide local alarms only and which are not monitored by an approved supervising station shall be function tested quarterly by a competent person. All notification devices shall be tested during each test. All initiation devices shall be operated over the yearly span of the tests. Tests and deficiencies shall be recorded on PF&R form 300.91 U - Unsupervised Alarm Quarterly Test Report. Records of tests shall be kept on site for three years. Deficiencies shall be corrected immediately.

 

• If the system owner or designee cannot immediately produce evidence that the system has been regularly tested, there are a few strategies that can be used to determine whether the system will function as expected:

 

o If there are obvious deficiencies such as missing devices, or disconnected wiring, put the building on fire watch and cite the owner to have the system tested by a qualified individual or company.

 

o Ask the building representative to test the system in your presence. If the building rep is capable of testing the system, have the building rep knock on all the residence doors to notify them of the impending test. Call the BOEC non-emergency number at 503-823-3333, and let them know that you are testing the alarms at that address. That way, if someone in the building did not get the word and calls dispatch, BOEC will know not to send a rig. It’s a good idea to find the breaker to the alarm system before the test. If for whatever reason the system won’t silence, the breaker is a good backup plan.

 

Note: There is a chance residents that are day sleepers may be caught unaware by the test, and find the surprise test upsetting.

 

o See also section IV.B in this document

 

E. Non-monitored alarm system: Pull stations shall have signage indicating “Local Alarm Only, Call 9-1-1”. Protected premise alarm systems that include a fire alarm control panel (FACP) that electronically supervises the system but does not broadcast any of the signals from the panel to an approved supervising station shall be tested quarterly by a qualified individual per NFPA 72. Testing and deficiencies shall be recorded on PF&R form 300.91 F Fire Alarm - Report of Inspection. Records of tests shall be kept on site for three years. Deficiencies shall be corrected immediately.

 

The FMO will approve the system owner’s election to have quarterly tests performed by a competent individual as long as a full annual test is performed by a qualified individual.

 

The quarterly test by a competent person shall consist of initiating an alarm condition (actuating a pull station) then walking the premises to verify that all of the notification devices are operating properly. The system shall then be reset, and the panel shall be visually inspected to determine if the indicator lights are showing normal condition. A different actuating device (pull station) shall be used for each of the quarterly tests performed by the competent individual. Smoke detectors (if equipped) should not be used as actuating devices in the quarterly test performed by the competent individual. The tests and deficiencies shall be recorded on PF&R form 300.91 H - Non-monitored Alarm Quarterly Test Report. Records of tests shall be kept on site for three years. Deficiencies shall be corrected immediately.

 

• If the system owner or designee cannot immediately produce evidence that the system has been regularly tested, there are a few strategies that can be used to determine whether the system will function as expected:

 

o If there are obvious deficiencies such as missing devices, or disconnected wiring, put the building on fire watch and cite the owner to have the system tested by a qualified individual or company.

 

o Ask the building representative to test the system in your presence. If the building rep is capable of testing the system, have the building rep knock on all the residence doors to notify them of the impending test. Call the BOEC non-emergency number at 503-823-3333, and let them know that you are testing the alarms at that address. That way, if someone in the building did not get the word and calls dispatch, BOEC will know not to send a rig. It’s a good idea to find the breaker to the alarm system before the test. If for whatever reason the system won’t silence, the breaker is a good backup plan.

 

Note: There is a chance residents that are day sleepers may be caught unaware by the test, and find the surprise test upsetting.

 

o See also item IV.B in this document.

 

F. Monitored fire alarm system, non-high rise: The complete system shall be tested annually by a qualified person per NFPA 72. Some components of the system are required to be tested more often than annually. Those components may be tested by a qualified individual, or if the system owner elects, a competent person can perform the semi-annual and quarterly tests. The components that require more frequent testing are fire sprinkler flow and tamper switches which need to be tested semi annually; and supervisory functions such as dry sprinkler system air pressure, riser room temperature, and heat trace all of which require quarterly tests.

 

Note: Some newer alarm systems automatically query all the system components at least weekly. The electronic query does not constitute a test of the component (with the exception of sensitivity testing of smoke detectors).

 

Report of the semi-annual and quarterly testing by a competent person shall be logged on PF&R form 300.91G - Alarm Test Report. Instructions on how to perform the test are included on the form.

 

All testing by a qualified individual shall be recorded on PF&R form 300.91 F Fire Alarm - Report of Inspection. Records of tests shall be kept on site for three years. Deficiencies shall be corrected immediately.

 

• If the system owner or designee cannot immediately produce evidence that the system has been regularly tested over the past three years, there are strategies that can be used to determine whether the system will function as expected:

 

o If there are obvious deficiencies such as missing devices, or disconnected wiring, put the building on fire watch and cite the owner to have the system tested by a qualified individual or company.

 

o Ask the building representative to test the system in your presence. If the building rep is capable of testing the system, have the building rep knock on all the residence doors to notify them of the impending test. Call the BOEC non-emergency number at 503-823-3333, and let them know that you are testing the alarms at that address. That way, if someone in the building did not get the word and calls dispatch, BOEC will know not to send a rig. It’s a good idea to find the breaker to the alarm system before the test. If for whatever reason the system won’t silence, the breaker is a good backup plan.

 

Note: There is a chance residents that are day sleepers may be caught unaware by the test, and find the surprise test upsetting.

 

o See also item IV.B in this document.

 

G. Fire Alarm System that Only Monitors Automatic Sprinkler System: Systems that monitor automatic fire sprinkler system flow and tamper switches shall be tested by a qualified person semi-annually. If the system owner elects to have a competent person perform a semi-annual test, followed six months later by a qualified person’s test of the system, the FMO will accept this arrangement.

 

Report of the semi-annual and quarterly testing by a competent person shall be logged on PF&R form 300.91G - Alarm Test Report. Instructions on how to perform the tests are included on the form.

 

All tests performed by a qualified individual shall be recorded on PF&R form 300.91 F Fire Alarm - Report of Inspection. Records of tests shall be kept on site for three years. Deficiencies shall be corrected immediately.

 

The annual sprinkler test does not substitute as the annual alarm test unless the sprinkler technician is also qualified to test alarms and tests the alarm components per NFPA 72.

 

H. Fire Alarm Systems in High Rise Structures, Atriums and Covered Mall Buildings: Fire alarm systems in high rise structures shall be tested per NFPA 72 table 10.4.4. The tests shall be performed by a qualified individual.

 

Exception: The FMO will accept tests performed by a competent individual of components that are on a quarterly testing cycle such as the water tank level, dry sprinkler system low air trouble, heat trace, etc. A log shall be kept of the quarterly tests performed by a competent person. As a result, tests would be required every six months by a qualified person, and tests between the six month cycles could be performed by a competent person.

 

All tests by qualified individuals shall be recorded on PF&R form 300.91 F Fire Alarm - Report of Inspection. Records of tests shall be kept on site for three years. Deficiencies shall be corrected immediately.

 

A component of the semi-annual alarm tests by the qualified person is assessing the operating condition of the fire protection equipment initiated by the fire alarm system. The outcome of the tests shall be recorded on the alarm test report or other acceptable document. The report is the responsibility of the building owner or designee. Interfacing fire protection systems include door hold-opens, stairwell and elevator shaft pressurization fans, smoke dampers, and stairwell door unlocking functions.

 

Note: some newer alarm systems automatically query all the system components at least weekly. The electronic query does not constitute a test of the individual components (with the exception of sensitivity testing of smoke detectors).

 

• If the system owner or designee cannot immediately produce evidence that the alarm system has been regularly tested consider these facts to determine a course of action:

 

o If there are obvious deficiencies such as missing devices, disconnected wiring, alarm panel showing trouble or silence, none of the lamps in the panel are lit, put the building on fire watch and cite the owner to have the system tested by a qualified individual or company.

 

o Consider the configuration of the building. If people are living and working in a location that is remote from the public way and the safety of the public way, ask the facilities manager for a logical explanation as to why they cannot produce the alarm test results. If they cannot provide an explanation, contact your senior inspector and consider placing the building on fire watch until the system is tested.

 

I. Alarm systems in 5 story wood frame buildings: The alarm system shall be tested quarterly (Portland City Code Title 31.20.100). The testing should be scheduled such that each component of the system is tested no less than the required frequency found in NFPA 72 10.4.4.

 

� All tests shall be performed by a qualified individual.

 

� All tests shall be recorded on PF&R form 300.91 F Fire Alarm - Report of Inspection.

 

J. Sensitivity Testing of Single and Multi-Station Smoke Alarms: NFPA 72 10.4.4.2 (2007) requires that single and multiple station smoke alarms in other than one and two family dwellings be periodically sensitivity tested. This provision can be problematic due to the difficulty in gaining access to individual dwelling units in residential occupancies. Further, 10.4.7 states that in one and two family dwellings unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions, smoke alarms shall be replaced when they fail to respond to operability tests, but shall not remain in service longer than 10 years from the date of manufacture.

 

PF&R has determined that each of the two code references listed above provide equivalent levels of safety. As such, the Fire Marshal’s Office will accept either concept in maintaining the confidence of single and multiple station alarms in the individual dwelling units of other than one and two family dwellings.

 

If the ten year replacement option is chosen, the building owner or designee shall keep a log of the manufacture date of each single or multiple station alarm currently installed in each unit. This log will be made available to the fire inspector upon request.

 

K. System Documentation: NFPA 72 10.6 (2007) requires certain documents be housed on site for the life of the system and available to the AHJ upon request. Without this documentation the testing, maintenance, and reconfiguration of the system can be costly.

 

A lockable cabinet shall be installed near the FACP when a new fire alarm system is installed or the FACP on an existing system is replaced.

 

Exception 1: the FACP is large enough to safely house the documents (this would be rare).

 

Exception 2: the system owner may choose not to supply a lockable cabinet as long as the system owner agrees to be present during the acceptance test, and is willing to sign the record of completion upon conclusion of the successful test of the alarms, and indicate on the record of completion the location where the record drawings and associated documentation will be stored. The system owner’s signature will act as documentation that the necessary records and plans have been transferred to the owner’s control.

 

Cabinet Construction:

 

� should be steel or other substantial material (old FACP boxes would be acceptable)

� painted red

� permanently marked “Fire Alarm Documentation”

� keyed to match the FACP

� large enough to house the following documents:

 

o As-builts or record drawings (including battery calculations, riser diagram, system operation matrix, wiring diagram indicating end of circuit lines).

o Operation and maintenance manuals.

o Cut sheets pertaining to the devices used in the system.

o A written sequence of operation.

o For software based systems, a copy of the site specific software (usually a CD-R containing all the files or data necessary to restore the system in case of a catastrophic system failure).

 

Alternate methods to the documentation cabinet may be approved by the fire inspector that witnesses the alarm acceptance test. The alternate method shall be entered into Fires2000 by the inspector, serving as documentation of acceptance.

 

Link to Attachment:

 

1. Fire Alarm Component Inspection, Testing and Maintenance Summary  (PDF Document, 96 kb)

 


HISTORY
 
Originally adopted by Fire Marshal as Fire Prevention Division Policy Manual Document F-2, effective February 7, 1993.
Filed for inclusion in PPD June 13, 2003.
Revised administrative rule adopted by Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue and filed for inclusion in PPD June 3, 2009.