The 2021 edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, was recently released, and the publications referenced by the code are available. Although these publications are not adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or the health care accreditation organizations, there are changes of which the health care field should be aware.

The concept of automated inspection and testing of water-based fire protection system components — first introduced in the 2017 edition of NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems — is expanded in the 2020 edition of this standard. The intent is to allow equipment such as sprinkler water flow devices to be tested from remote locations. To use this approach, several requirements must be met. For instance, automated testing equipment must be listed for the purpose of the test, and failure of the testing equipment must not impair the operation of the sprinkler system unless a supervisory signal is sent to immediately notify personnel.

In addition, the inspection, testing and maintenance of electric sprinklers is now recognized. These sprinklers are activated when an electrical signal from a smoke detector is sent to an actuator, and NFPA 25 requires that they be tested per manufacturer’s requirements, which includes testing the smoke detector component in accordance with NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®.

To protect personnel inspecting electric fire pump controllers, a tentative interim amendment (TIA) was issued to NFPA 25-2017, stating that the inspection is only required to be performed if the equipment can be safely deenergized. The language was officially added to NFPA 25-2020.

The 2019 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, was reorganized to allow for easier use of the standard. For example, this edition now has dedicated chapters based on the type of sprinkler (standard coverage, residential, etc.), rather than including all sprinkler types into a single chapter as was done in previous editions. The section on omitting sprinklers in electrical rooms also was revised to indicate that no storage (not just combustible storage) is permitted in the room. 

Paul Dzurinda CFPS, CHSP, director of life safety and quality at RPA, a Jensen Hughes Company.