The National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 4, Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing, addresses performance testing of the interconnection among multiple fire protection and life safety systems. Unlike a commissioning agent who might test a selection of devices based on scope of service, NFPA 4 defines the interactions of all integrated life safety devices during the construction phase prior to occupancy.

The standard addresses developing a testing plan and scenarios, and covers the required documentation the construction team should turn over to the facilities team.

Selecting the right partners is key to establishing a successful program. For instance, who on the facilities team is going to manage the program? This is critical to define due to the great deal of coordination involved, including with multiple vendors and schedules.

The selected individual will be responsible for planning, scheduling, documenting, coordinating and implementing the system testing. If an item fails integrated testing, it must then be documented, and a repair team dispatched to correct the failure. Furthermore, the facility must pass repeated performance testing to account for the failure.

Items to consider other than typical fire alarm/sprinkler components include (if present in the facility) smoke purge fans; smoke control systems; stairwell pressurization fans; fire/smoke damper functionality; door functions (per NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives); sliding and overhead door integration; notification devices other than strobes and horns; special locking arrangements; and infant abduction, elevator, security and building automation interfaces.

Planning and building an integrated life safety inspection, testing and maintenance program is a lengthy and complicated process. The Developing Code-Compliant Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety Inspection, Testing and Maintenance Programs book from the American Society for Health Care Engineering helps guide readers through the process with step-by-step instructions, in-depth discussions and examples.

Michael Huff, CHFM, CHC, CHCPEW, CHEPP, CPMM, director of plant operations at Cedar Park Regional Medical Center.