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NFPA 20: 2016 Impact

Fire protection for high-rise buildings includes specific rules for fire pumps.

In contemporary America, fire rates and fire deaths are trending downward due to stronger fire codes, greater public education, widespread use of smoke alarms, requirements for sprinkler systems, and other factors.

In 1974, annual fire deaths in the U.S. were estimated at 12,000. In 2012, they were at their lowest point at 2,855 according to a 2017 report issued by the U.S. Fire Administration.

As the predominant standards-setting organization in the U.S. for fire protection, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has developed more than 300 detailed and complex consensus codes to establish the highest levels of fire defense. Redundancies within each code and across codes are intentional to account for all conceivable scenarios in order to ensure maximum protection.

For instance, these closely related codes, NFPA 13: Standard for Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 20: Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection and NFPA 101: Life Safety Code, are commonly applied to high-rise buildings. Tall buildings pose unique fire protection challenges due to population, longer and more complicated exit routes and other risks associated with increased building height.

The good news is that there has also been a downward trend in high-rise fires over the last few decades. According to a 2016 report by NFPA, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 14,500 reported structure fires in high-rise buildings per year from 2009-2013. That is down from the 2005-2009 reporting period in which high-rise structure fires averaged 15,700 annually. This trend appears to track with growing use of fire prevention systems including wet pipe sprinklers, changes in building codes and standards and improvements in fire-resistive construction. Due to these and other safety measures, fires in high-rise buildings are much less likely to spread beyond the room or floor of origin, according to the NFPA report.

Pump/system design

Reliable, code-compliant fire protection systems begin with the consulting engineer or designer, tasked with meeting the overall project objectives and selecting the necessary systems for the project. NICET-certified (National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies) professionals who are knowledgeable in each component of the system understand how each component will affect the selection of another component, and how they will all work together.

Without question, the fire pump is one of the most critical pieces of equipment inside a building. NFPA 20: Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection protects life and property by providing requirements for the selection and installation of pumps to ensure that systems will work as intended to deliver adequate and reliable water supplies in a fire emergency.

By setting uniform standards for both fire pump design and fire protection system design, there is greater safety for both building occupants and emergency responders. The NFPA 20 Technical Committee on Fire Pumps consists of experts representing fire departments, fire equipment manufacturers, listing authorities, government, academia, engineering, insurers, associations, unions and other groups who undertake the years-long process of reviewing current codes and updating codes every three years. During the interim periods, technical bulletins are issued as warranted.

Latest updates

The 2016 edition of the NFPA 20: Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection includes new rules that specifically address fire pumps installed in high-rise buildings, with the intent of standardizing fire pump design in these types of structures to ensure an appropriate level of reliability.

The NFPA 20 Technical Committee on Fire Pumps developed specific provisions regarding the fire pump and water supply arrangement. Under the new requirements, even if a single piece of equipment becomes impaired, the full fire protection demand of the building can still be met.

One of the most significant changes in fire pump design for high-rise buildings is that fire pumps operating in a series can no longer be located on different floors unless some very stringent criteria are met to ensure safe operation of all pumps. The practice of vertical staging — placing the second and third fire pump in series on higher floors — requires that the discharge pressure from the lower pump be sufficient enough to feed the pumps on the higher floors. Consequently, if the fire pump at the lowest level fails, the rest of the fire pumps in series will also fail for lack of adequate suction pressure.

Under the new NFPA 20 provisions, fire pumps in series must be installed in the same pump room. This new requirement increases the reliability of the overall fire pump operation. When the pumps are located on the same floor, failure of a lower level pump will no longer result in cavitation and damage to the higher-level pumps that it feeds. In the updated arrangement, if the first pump in series fails, there would still be significant enough pressure to the other pumps in series to pressurize the system. NFPA 20 4.20.2.3 states that no more than three pumps shall be allowed to operate in series as a part of a series fire pump unit.

Locating fire pumps in series in the same pump room provides additional options for firefighters to pump water into building sprinkler systems and reduces the complexity of fire department connection. In addition, it simplifies fire pump maintenance and restores fire pumps in the event of an emergency during maintenance.

Protection for first responders

More reliable fire pump operation isn’t the only reason for requiring fire pumps in series to be in the same pump room. The new requirement also ensures firefighters can safely respond and assess pump operation during a fire in accordance with NFPA 20 standards. When responding to an alarm, firefighters go immediately to the pump room to make sure equipment is operating properly. When pump rooms are on multiple floors, it increases the risk for firefighters, who must take elevators or stairways to access pump rooms, which can put them in harm’s way if they encounter smoke, the fire itself or other issues.

The code still permits vertical staging, but only if the NFPA 20 provisions that protect firefighters are incorporated into the design of the fire protection system.

When multiple pump rooms are acceptable

Although there are considerable benefits to requiring fire pumps in series to be housed in the same room, the NFPA 20 Technical Committee acknowledges that there are exceptions. The 2016 edition of the NFPA 20 clarifies five conditions under which fire pump units are permitted to be in separate pump rooms:

  • Arranging fire pumps so that all pumps operating in a series can be manually stopped or started from all pump rooms housing the series fire pumps.
  • Displaying the suction and discharge pressures from all pumps operating in series in all pump rooms housing the series fire pumps.
  • The presence of alarms and signals that sound in other pump rooms for all pumps that are part of the series fire pump unit.
  • Standard compliant interconnect control wiring between the controllers in different pump rooms.
  • A standard compliant pump room communication system.

The NFPA 20 Technical Committee on Fire Pumps is currently considering new provisions for the 2019 update, including further protection for high-rise buildings. The committee is assessing the need for a common means to remotely access fire pump controller data; currently, each manufacturer has a proprietary means. Also, as construction practices evolve and buildings become ever taller, codes become obsolete and refinements must be made to them.

Brian Buscher is a global marketing manager for Xylem’s A-C Fire Pump brand with expertise in centrifugal pump systems for fire suppression in industrial and commercial facilities. He is a principal member on the NFPA 20 Technical Committee on Fire Pumps. Buscher holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University. Any comments/opinions made are the author’s own and not those of NFPA.

Original article: http://www.plumbingengineer.com/content/nfpa-20-2016-impact

Posted in News Articles

Firestopping, Part 2

By: Samuel S. Dannaway

The design of firestop systems is quickly becoming a highly complicated and highly specialized area. A particular building design may have the need for several different firestop systems to cover all the possibilities. One often sees plan sets that contain one or more sheets dedicated to firestop system details.

The construction side of the equation is getting equally complicated and specialized. It used to be that if you as the subcontractor made the penetration it was your job to firestop. Increasingly, this model is no longer working. Greater numbers of general contractors are beginning to look for specialty subcontractors who can handle a project’s firestopping needs.

The 2015 edition of UL’s Fire Resistance Directory contains a complete listing of all of their listed firestop systems in Volumes 2A and 2B of the set. Each listing is provided with a detail containing call-outs for each required component in the system. There are approximately 3,000 pages dedicated to through penetration firestop systems in the two volumes.

If you are not inclined to purchase the hard copy, you can find information on any of the thousands of listed firestop systems at http://database.ul.com. Though the database is extensive and can be searched, it may be difficult to find what you need unless you are able to narrow the search. To do this it would help to have some information on the UL numbering system for through penetration firestopping. Let’s take for example the UL system number C-AJ-1002. The first letter indicates the general type of penetrated item: W-  Wall Penetration; F – Floor Penetration; and C –  both Floor and Wall.

The second letter of set of letters provides more specific information on the penetrated construction:

A – for concrete floors less than or equal to 5 inches thick (minimum) B – for concrete floors greater than 5 inches thick (minimum) C –  for framed floors D – for deck construction E to I – not used J – for concrete or masonry walls less than or equal to 8 inches thick (minimum) K – for concrete or masonry walls greater than 8 inches thick (minimum) L – for framed walls M – for bulkheads N to Z – not used

The numbers describe the general type of penetrating item:

0000-0999  None 1000-1999  Metal pipe, conduit, or tubing 2000-2999  Non-metallic pipe, conduit, or tubing 3000-3999  Cables 4000-4999 Cables in a cable tray 5000-5999  Insulated pipes 6000-6999  Miscellaneous electrical penetrants 6000-7000  Miscellaneous mechanical penetrants 8000-8999  Groupings of penetrations containing any of the above 9000-9999  Not used

So, our example system, C-AJ-1002, would be a through penetration fire stop system that can be applied to a wall or floor penetration, penetrating  concrete floors of 5 inches or less, or penetrating a concrete or masonry wall of 8 inches or less, penetrated by metal pipe, conduit or tubing.   I do find the website helpful when reviewing designs or submittals to confirm that the correct systems are being applied. As a design aid, the UL directory and website are a bit too cumbersome for me.

If you are looking for a firestop system for a specific application, a good place to start is with the firestop product manufacturers. Several of the major manufacturers have websites with firestop system selection guides that can help you find a system that works best for your needs.

Another valuable service offered by some of the major firestop manufacturers is the engineering evaluation. In the event your particular application cannot be met by a specific listed system, the product manufacturers can develop a system, which though not listed as a system, can be deemed to meet the requirements based on engineering judgment. This usually involves using listed components to make up a complete system.

Certain jurisdictions now require that firestopped penetrations be provided with identification labels. These labels provide information to facilitate firestop maintenance, repair and inspection. Information would include date of installation, listed system number, hourly rating, and the name of the installer.

Starting with the 2012 edition, the International Building Code requires special inspection of firestop systems for high-rise buildings and buildings with an assigned Risk Category of III or IV (Section 1705.17 of IBC 2015). Section 1705.17.1 requires that these inspections be conducted by an approved inspection agency and that these inspections be performed in accordance with ASTM E2174, Standard Practice for On-Site Inspection of Installed Firestops. This standard requires the inspector to observe the installation of at least 10 percent of each type of firestop system. If the installation cannot be observed then destructive testing of 10 percent of the completed installations shall be performed.

Seems like gone are the days when the plumber carried a tube of red firestopping in the tool chest.

 

Samuel S. Dannaway, P.E., is a registered fire protection engineer and mechanical engineer with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering. He is past president and a Fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. He is president of S. S. Dannaway Associates Inc., a 15-person fire protection engineering firm with offices in Honolulu and Guam. He can be reached via email at SDannaway@ssdafire.com.

 

Original Article: http://plumbingengineer.com/content/firestopping-part-2

Posted: March 2016

Posted in News Articles

Firestopping, Part I

By: Samuel S. Dannaway

What is that red, silly putty all over those pipes and penetrating the wall? If it is red, is it really good. What if it is not red? Do pipes penetrating gypsum board stud walls require an approved firestopping system? Is firestopping one word?

In this set of columns, I will attempt to address these and other questions related to firestopping. The focus of these columns will be those issues affecting the plumbing engineer.

Let us start with some firestopping basics. References will be to the 2015 IBC unless otherwise noted.

The firestopping requirements are found in Section 714 Penetrations. Generally, a penetration of a fire-resistant rated wall requires some form of protection. Likewise, the penetration of a fire-resistant rated horizontal assembly not protected with a shaft also requires protection.

Section 714.3 addresses penetrations of walls, including fire walls, fire barriers, fire partitions and smoke barrier walls. Penetrations are classified in one of two categories. A through penetration is defined as, “a breach in both sides of a floor, floor-ceiling or wall assembly to accommodate an item passing through the breaches.”  Here is a case where violating the prohibition against using the word in the definition of the word would have made sense.

The other type of penetration is the membrane penetration defined as a, “breach (ugh!) in one side of a floor-ceiling, roof-ceiling or wall assembly to accommodate an item installed into or passing through the breach.” For example, an electrical receptacle located in a stud wall which only penetrates one side of the wall.

Through penetrations in general must be protected with an approved through penetration firestop system which has been tested in accordance with ASTM E814 or UL 179. There are some important exceptions to this. If maximum 6-inch diameter steel or copper pipes, tubes or conduits penetrate a concrete or masonry wall, the annular space around the penetrating items can be filled with concrete, grout or mortar to the full thickness of the wall provided the penetration is less than 144-square inches. Keep in mind that if this is done with sprinkler piping requiring earthquake protection then flexible couplings will be needed on either side of the wall.

A firestop system is also not required if the fill material prevents the passage of flame and hot gas as specified in 714.3.1 Exception 2. I think this provision could be used to permit a judgment that one may patch small penetrations of gypsum wallboard with joint compound. Through penetration firestop systems must have an F rating equal to or greater than the fire resistance of the assembly. F rating is defined as, “the time period that the through-penetration firestop system limits the spread of fire through the penetration when tested in accordance with ASTM E 814 or UL 1479.”

Section 714.3.2 addresses protection of membrane penetrations of walls requiring an approved fire stop system complying with Section 714.3.1. There are several exceptions, most of which are related to membrane penetration by electrical items.  Exception 4 applies to non-electrical boxes. This can be applied in cases where plumbing is provided in rated chase walls. This exception also requires an approved membrane penetration firestop system with both an F rating and a T rating. T rating is defined as, “the time period that the penetration firestop system, including the penetrating item, limits the maximum temperature rise to 325 F (163 C) above its initial temperature through the penetration on the nonfire side when tested in accordance with ASTM E 814 or UL 1479.”

Exception 5 allows a non-firestopped annular space created by the penetration of a sprinkler as long as the space is covered by a metal escutcheon plate. Note that this is for membrane penetration only. A through-penetration of the wall by a sprinkler pipe on one side to sprinkler head on the other side would not be able to use this exception.

Section 714.4 addresses horizontal assemblies. There are exceptions similar to those contained in Section 713 for walls. There is also an exception for listed electrical boxes that have been tested in the assembly. Section 714.4.1 requires through-penetrations be protected with an approved through-penetration firestop system with both an F rating and T rating. There are three exceptions to the T rating requirement, two being applicable to the plumbing trades. The T rating is not required for floor penetrations that occur with the cavity of a wall, and floor penetrations by, “floor drains, tub drains or shower drains contained and located within the concealed space of a horizontal assembly.”

Section 714.4.2 addresses membrane penetrations of floors. Of the several exceptions, Exception 1 deals with penetrations of, “steel, ferrous or copper conduits, pipes, tubes or vents.” Exception 5 is the permission for sprinklers with metal escutcheons.

The penetration of smoke barriers is addressed in Section 714.4.4. The penetration must be protected by an approved through-penetration firestopping system that also is leakage rated, i.e., has an L rating. L rating is defined as, “the air leakage rating of a through penetration firestop system or a fire-resistant joint system when tested in accordance with UL 1479 or UL 2079, respectively.”

The last section, 714.5 contains provisions addressing penetrations of floor/ceiling and roof/ceiling assemblies that do not carry a fire resistance rating. The requirements for firestopping in NFPA 5000 are very similar, see Section 8.8 of the 2015 edition.

Next month, my column will continue to look at firestopping.

 

Samuel S. Dannaway, P.E., is a registered fire protection engineer and mechanical engineer with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering. He is past president and a Fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. He is president of S. S. Dannaway Associates Inc., a 15-person fire protection engineering firm with offices in Honolulu and Guam. He can be reached via email at SDannaway@ssdafire.com

 

Original article: http://plumbingengineer.com/content/firestopping-part-I

Posted: February 2016

Posted in News Articles

National Safety Stand-Down

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other federal safety agencies announced today that they have designated May 2-6, 2016, for the third annual National Safety Stand-Down. The event is a nationwide effort to remind and educate employers and workers in the construction industry of the serious dangers of falls – the cause of the highest number of industry deaths in the construction industry.

OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Center for Construction Research and Training are leading the effort to encourage employers to pause during their workday for topic discussions, demonstrations, and training on how to recognize hazards and prevent falls.

“Falls still kill far too many construction workers,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “While we regularly work with employers, industry groups and worker organizations on preventing falls and saving lives, the National Safety Stand-Down encourages all employers – from small businesses to large companies operating at many job sites – to be part of our effort to ensure every worker makes it to the end of their shift safely.”

More than four million workers participated in the National Safety Stand-Downs in 2014 and 2015, and OSHA expects thousands of employers across the nation to join the 2016 event. To guide their efforts, OSHA has developed the official National Safety Stand-Down web site with information on conducting a successful stand-down. After their events, employers are encouraged to provide feedback and will receive a personalized certificate of participation.

“In many workplaces, falls are a real and persistent hazard. Given the nature of the work, the construction industry sees the highest frequency of fall-related deaths and serious, sometimes debilitating injuries,” said Dr. John Howard, Director of NIOSH. “Since the effort began in 2014, the National Safety Stand-Down serves as an important opportunity for both employers and workers to stop and take time in the workday to identify existing fall hazards, and then offer demonstrations and training to emphasize how to stay safe on the job.”

The National Safety Stand-Down in 2016 is part of OSHA’s ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign. Begun in 2012, the campaign was developed in partnership with the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda program. It provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to take steps to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for their workers, and train all employees in the proper use of that equipment. OSHA has also produced a brief video with more information about the 2016 Stand-Down in English and Spanish.

For more information on the success of last year’s Stand-Down, see the final data report. To learn how to partner with OSHA in this Stand-Down, visit http://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/. The page provides details on how to conduct a stand-down; receive a certificate of participation; and access free education and training resources, fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish. To learn more about preventing falls in construction visit http://www.osha.gov/stopfalls/.

Media Contacts:

Brian Hawthorne, 202-693-4681, hawthorne.brian.a@dol.gov
Amanda McClure, 202-693-4672, mcclure.amanda.c@dol.gov

Release Number: 16-316-NAT

Original article: https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=29574

Release date: 2/16/16

Posted in News Articles

Proposed plumbing code change to require insulation of hot water piping in new buildings

The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have reached an agreement on a landmark proposal to save energy and water in new buildings. The two organizations jointly submitted a proposal to the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) to require the insulation of hot water piping in new buildings.

To curtail water waste in new buildings, NRDC and the UA proposed that the 2015 edition of IAPMO’s Uniform Plumbing Code require insulation of all hot water piping systems such as those serving lavatories, showers, dishwashers and kitchen sinks. The Uniform Plumbing Code is the model for local and state plumbing codes now in force in at least 19 states.

The following is a statement from William P. Hite, General President of the United Association:

“As IAPMO drafts its next set of codes, we recommend insulating hot water piping to reduce the waste of energy and water in hot water systems.  This proposal is indicative of the UA’s commitment in construction, service and maintenance practices required for energy efficient green buildings.  Throughout the construction industry, there are untapped opportunities to make our buildings and our economy more efficient, and we should seize these opportunities to create good jobs for American workers.”

Peter Lehner, Executive Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued the following statement:

“This proposal is a commonsense solution to an everyday problem that we can all warm up to. Most of us waste too much time, energy and money waiting for hot water to come out of our faucets and showers. By combining efficient designs, proven energy-saving materials, and skilled labor, we can build smarter buildings that curb this waste and improve the amenity of new buildings. This proposal will not only save homeowners and renters money on their monthly utility bills but also protects our environment by cutting energy and water use.”

A typical American home will save on water, energy bills

In a typical, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, an estimated 12% of all hot-water use is wasted, according to a 2009 analysis led by Robert Hendron of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Purging at showers, kitchen sinks and lavatory faucets was responsible for 95% of the estimated total of nearly 3,000 gallons of hot water waste annually.

NRDC estimates pipe insulation can reduce this waste of water and energy by 15-30%. Of course, many new homes are built with more hot water outlets than the NREL model’s base case, and with hot water distribution systems that are far less efficient.

For example, some new homes are built with their hot-water heaters located in the garage, far away from showers and faucets. The proposed revision to Uniform Plumbing Code will ensure that hot water pipes supplying these fixtures are fully insulated.

Article from Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine Posted on January 7, 2014.

http://www.pmmag.com/articles/96172-proposed-plumbing-code-change-to-require-insulation-of-hot-water-piping-in-new-buildings

*Please note that this potential change may affect our Massachusetts business region if approved.

Posted in News Articles

What’s new in the next edition of NFPA 25

By Samuel S. Dannaway, PE,
President, S.S. Dannaway Associates, Inc., Honolulu

A regular feature of this column is to look at the changes in codes and standards affecting our profession. This month, let us look at what is new in the next edition of NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing and Maintenance (ITM) of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.

The NFPA Standards Council recently issued the 2014 edition, which will be available for purchase within a few months. The 2014 edition incorporates the requirements for Antifreeze Systems previously issued as a Tentative Interim Amendment to the 2011 edition of NFPA 25.

Here are some of the significant changes. Note that paragraph numbering used here is subject to change when the final document is published:
• 5.4.1.1 Sprinkler Replacement. This provision requires that when an installed sprinkler is removed, for any reason, it shall not be reinstalled. This matches the requirement in NFPA 13.

• A.5.2.1.1.6 Concealed Spaces Not Requiring Inspection. NFPA 25 currently does not require the inspection of sprinklers, pipe and fittings in concealed spaces. The annex note is revised to clarify that the no-inspection-requirement applies even in the case of lay-in ceilings or where access panels or hatches are provided.

• New Chapter 16 Special Requirements from Other NFPA Documents. In the 2011 edition, the document scope was revised to clarify that NFPA 25 did not apply to NFPA 13D sprinkler systems. The primary concern was to avoid burdening homeowners with mandatory ITM requirements that could affect decisions to sprinkler homes and create an enforcement issue for AHJ’s. This new chapter is intended for systems required by other NFPA documents that may have special ITM requirements different from NFPA 25. NFPA 13D sprinkler systems installed in Small Residential Board and Care Occupancies, as a requirement of NFPA 101, are the first resident of this chapter.

• 8.3.1 Testing Frequency (Fire Pumps). In the previous edition, the frequency for running electric motor driven fire pumps was changed from weekly to monthly. This was done primarily as a result of information provided by the NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation. You can view the report, Fire Pump Field Data Collection and Analysis, at: www.nfpa.org/research/fire-protection-research-foundation. The issue was revisited this cycle. As a result, the frequency was changed back to weekly for certain types of electric motor driven fire pumps. Specifically, the frequencies will be weekly for electric motor driven fire pumps serving high rise buildings, vertical turbine fire pumps, electric motor driven fire pumps with limited service controllers, and fire pumps taking suction from ground level tanks or a water source that does not provide sufficient pressure to be of material value without the pump. It was decided that these pumps represent a higher risk and therefore need more frequent attention. Other electric motor driven pumps remain at a monthly test interval. There has been no change to diesel engine driven fire pumps, which remain at a weekly test interval.

• 3.6.4 Definition of a Sprinkler System. The definition was changed to coincide with NFPA 13. The portion of the definition describing a sprinkler system as having, “a water supply source, a water control valve, a waterflow alarm, and a drain,” has significant impact. Any portion of a sprinkler system that has a floor control valve is now considered a separate system. The next bullet point will demonstrate the impact of this new definition.

• 14.2 Assessment of Internal Condition. The requirements for internal inspection of sprinkler piping were modified. The phrase “internal inspection” is now referred to as an “internal assessment.” A proposal that included elimination of the mandatory 5-year inspection frequency failed to get through the committee. The internal assessment must be performed on each sprinkler system. As noted above, if each sprinklered floor of a building has a floor control valve, the system on that floor is by the definition a separate sprinkler system. A sprinklered 40-story building would have 40 sprinkler systems and would require internal assessment on each floor.

• The requirements for ITM of water mist systems are now under the purview of NFPA 25. Rather than simply extracting the ITM material from NFPA 750, the NFPA 25 technical committee is now responsible for establishing ITM criteria for water mist systems.

• 13.3.1.2.1 Valve Status Test. There is a new requirement to conduct a “valve status test” whenever a control valve is returned to service after being closed for any reason. The intent is to insure that the valve is open.

• 5.2.1.1.8 and 5.2.1.1.9 Escutcheons and Cover Plates. Escutcheons and cover plates for recessed, flush and concealed sprinklers shall be replaced if found missing during the inspection. Escutcheons and cover plates for other sprinklers need not be replaced. The distinction made here is that in the case of recessed, flush, and concealed sprinklers, escutcheons and cover plates they can affect the operation of the sprinkler and may actually be part of the listing for the sprinkler, and therefore require correction.

• 8.3.4.1 Diesel Fuel Testing. There is a new requirement for diesel fuel to be tested annually. Fuel determined to be nonconforming shall be reconditioned or replaced, the tank shall be cleaned, and filters shall be replaced.

• 4.1.4 Correction and Repairs. In my view, this may be the most significant change to NFPA 25. Previously, there was no time limit on correction deficiencies. Annex language used phrases like “as soon as possible,” “timely fashion” and “reasonable time period.” The proposals to provide definite time limits originally rejected by the technical committee were presented as Certified Amending Motions to the Standards Council, and passed. NFPA 25 now incorporates time limits for each type of deficiency. Critical deficiencies must be corrected within 30 days. Non-critical deficiencies must be corrected within 90 days.

One issue that did not have a big impact in terms of code changes but that is now receiving a lot of attention relates to the scope of NFPA 25. Specifically, to what extent should inspectors be capable of identifying system deficiencies that fall go beyond normal inspection? These are system deficiencies related to hazard analysis or design evaluation. Water-based system inspection companies, in general, do not use engineers or sprinkler designers to conduct inspections of fire sprinkler systems. As such, the technician performing the work may not understand detailed requirements of NFPA 13 (or 14, 20, etc.) and may not be able to evaluate whether or not the original system design intent is still being achieved.

NFPA 25 has tried to avoid giving the inspector these types of responsibilities and places the burden for identifying and correcting these items with the owner. The problem is the owner also is not capable of making these evaluations and, more importantly, is not able to identify whether or not a problem exists. The classic example is in storage occupancies where the hazard has changed because the storage arrangement, height, or commodity class may have changed. Furthermore, as noted by William Koffel, PE, in a presentation at the NFPA Conference in Chicago, many system owners have an expectation that compliance with NFPA 25 means their system is OK and will put the fire out. They are unaware that there may be deficiencies not intended to be identified by a NFPA 25 inspection and deficiencies not related to change of use or design that may burn a building down.

NFPA 25 staff liaison Matt Klaus is very aware of this issue and indicated that the NFPA may hold a workshop with owners and technicians to develop a way to deal with what amounts to a significant gap in the measures needed to assure that, once installed, water-based fire protection systems can do their job. Possible solutions could include such things as reliance on the permitting process to catch changes in the hazard, improved enforcement by AHJ’s, educating owners on the scope of NFPA 25 and having owners increase the scope (and cost) of inspection services to include design evaluation. Also, there may be a role for the retro-commissioning process as described in NFPA 3. Stay tuned.

Samuel S. Dannaway, PE, is a registered fire protection engineer and mechanical engineer with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering. He is past president and a Fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. He is president of S. S. Dannaway Associates Inc., a 15-person fire protection engineering firm with offices in Honolulu and Guam. He can be reached via email at SDannaway@ssdafire.com.

http://www.plumbingengineer.com/sept_13/fire.php

Posted in News Articles

What is the difference between standards and codes?

By Ron George,CPD,
President, Ron George Design & Consulting Svcs.

I often talk to attorneys and people who ask questions about what is required for a given installation. In these conversations, the words code and standard are used interchangeably. But, there is a difference between codes and standards.

Standards

I find that often people who are not familiar with the process think that a standard is a government document or code. This is not true. Standards are usually developed by standards developing organizations (SDOs) that serve as a secretariat for a standard. I usually have to explain the a standard is a document that is developed in an open, public consensus process that informs interested parties of the intent to develop or update an industry standard for a product, system design, or personnel qualification. The interested parties can serve on the working group tasked with drafting the standard, and when the draft is complete, it is released for public review.

The SDO body overseeing the standard development process votes on all of the proposed changes, which can be either editorial or substantive. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) occasionally audits SDOs to ensure that standards are developed properly and that all public comments are properly addressed. If a comment is not considered germane, the person who made the comment must be notified that their proposed change is not being incorporated into the draft, along with a rationale explaining why a majority of the committee rejected the change. The person has the ability to appeal the decision if they choose, and each SDO has a procedure for dealing with appeals. All comments must be addressed before the standard can move forward.

When all of the comments are addressed, the standard can be submitted to ANSI for approval. If the standard is approved, it becomes an American National Standard. At this point it is simply an industry consensus standard, and it has no real force of law. For a standard to have the force of law, it must be referenced in a model code that is then adopted by a jurisdiction as the code for that jurisdiction

Codes

A model code is just a document intended for jurisdiction to adopt as the code in the jurisdiction. It has no force of law unless it has been adopted by a local jurisdiction with some form of legislative process or ordinance. A jurisdiction must pass an ordinance by adopting a particular year edition of a model code as the plumbing code, mechanical code, building code, etc. for that jurisdiction. When an ordinance references a code as the code for that jurisdiction, it then becomes the code that must be enforced by the inspectors in that jurisdiction.

There are three model plumbing codes in the U.S. The codes are (in alphabetical order): the International Plumbing Code (IPC), National Standard Plumbing Code (NSPC) and Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC). The model codes are typically updated on a three year cycle. The 2015 codes are in the final stages of code hearings and are getting ready for publication in 2014 in order to be able to be purchased and reviewed by various jurisdictions in late 2014 for adoption in 2015. The proposed code changes for the 2018 codes will be due in 2015 and the three year code change cycle begins all over again.

Some jurisdictions are known to procrastinate and can take 10 years or more when it comes to officially passing an ordinance to adopt the most current code language. This delay often comes from a state or local jurisdiction having to form a local code committee to review the model code language and propose revisions for the local jurisdiction. The revision process may take up to a year or more, and then when the revision process is done the jurisdiction must print its own version of the local code with both the model code language and the local amendments. Dealing with multiple versions of codes can get confusing for contractors and engineers that do work in areas that border several jurisdictions and have to use multiple codes with different year editions of the codes.

The International Plumbing Code change process

The International Plumbing Code (IPC) is part of the Group “A” Codes that are heard in the first year of the code three-year code change cycle. The Group “B” codes are heard in the second year and the Group “C” codes are heard in the third year. The code change process begins with a published deadline for submitting proposed code changes that are generally due to be submitted in the first month of the first year of a code change cycle. The code change agenda is then published in March of the code change cycle’s first year.

There is typically a Committee Development Hearing (CDH) in the spring of the first year of the code change cycle. After the code committees and the assembly meet, discuss and vote on the proposed code changes, there is a period when the public can propose comments on the proposed code changes for consideration at the Public Comment Hearings (PCH). The PCHs are usually in the late summer or early fall of the first year of a code change cycle. After the PCHs, the results are published and the new edition of the code is ready for publication after the group “B” and Group “C” codes are complete with code change cycles.

Retroactive code changes need to be considered

This scenario plays out about twice a month in my office and the story tends to get old. It seems like déjà vu all over again every time an attorney starts talking. Attorneys introduce themselves and go on to tell me a story about a child, elderly person or handicapped person who was seriously scalded in a tub/shower or shower with an old two handle shower valve. The attorney will go on to ask, “The code shouldn’t allow scalding hot water to come from a shower, should it?”

The first part of the attorney’s statement is always as confident and forceful as a public address speaker, and the last two words tend to get a little desperate. Attorneys are always asking how water so hot can be allowed to flow from a shower.

“Is it allowed to be over 120 °F?” the attorney will ask.

I say it depends. The attorney usually goes on to tell a horrible story with all the details about how a person was scalded in the tub/shower. This story repeats itself over and over again and it begins to sound like a broken record player.

The plumbing industry has been dancing around code language that has an exception for existing installations to remain if they were code compliant when the building was built and as long as no hazard or unsanitary condition is present. Then it gets into the interpretation of what a hazard is and what is grandfathered as an existing condition. The codes can only be enforced when a building is built or renovated.

Following, are excerpts from the 2012 IPC that show the language that is often misinterpreted as allowing an existing unsafe condition to exist. The code official must recognize old two-handle shower valves as a safety hazard, and start enforcing this language in order to make a difference.

A code change could be submitted to specify that that non-temperature or non-pressure compensating shower valves are unsafe and should be removed. For existing buildings, the code official does not get to re-inspect an existing condition to enforce this language. But, if the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC)is adopted in a jurisdiction and an inspector declares a two-handle non-compensating shower valve as a safety hazard, then they can require them to be replace the property maintenance code inspections. Then, hopefully one day my phone calls will be good news instead of bad news.

The excerpts from the 2012 (IPC) are:

• 101.3 Intent. The purpose of this code is to provide minimum standards to safeguard life or limb, health, property and public welfare, by regulating and controlling the design, construction, installation, quality of materials, location, operation and maintenance or use of plumbing equipment and systems.
This section sums it up. The purpose of the code is to provide minimum standards and safeguard.

• 102.2 Existing installations. Plumbing systems lawfully in existence at the time of the adoption of this code shall be permitted to have their use and maintenance continued if the use, maintenance or repair is in accordance with the original design and no hazard to life, health or property is created by such plumbing system.
The key wording in this code section is “and no hazard to life, health or property is created by such plumbing system.” The older, two-handled Non-Temperature or Non-Pressure Compensating shower valves create a serious scalding hazard and should be recognized as a serious hazard with respect to the above code section.

• 102.3 Maintenance. All plumbing systems, materials and appurtenances, both existing and new, and all parts thereof, shall be maintained in proper operating condition in accordance with the original design in a safe and sanitary condition. All devices or safeguards required by this code shall be maintained in compliance with the code edition under which they were installed. The owner or the owner’s designated agent shall be responsible for maintenance of plumbing systems. To determine compliance with this provision, the code official shall have the authority to require any plumbing system to be re-inspected.

• 102.4 Additions, alterations or repairs. Additions, alterations, renovations or repairs to any plumbing system shall conform to that required for a new plumbing system without requiring the existing plumbing system to comply with all the requirements of this code. Additions, alterations or repairs shall not cause an existing system to become unsafe, insanitary or overloaded. Minor additions, alterations, renovations and repairs to existing plumbing systems shall meet the provisions for new construction, unless such work is done in the same manner and arrangement as was in the existing system, is not hazardous and is approved.

The following is code language from Section 504 “Plumbing Systems and Fixtures” in the 2012 IPMC:

504.1 General. All plumbing fixtures shall be properly installed and maintained in working order, and shall be kept free from obstructions, leaks and defects and be capable of performing the function for which such plumbing fixtures are designed. All plumbing fixtures shall be maintained in a safe, sanitary and functional condition.

504.3 Plumbing system hazards. Where it is found that a plumbing system in a structure constitutes a hazard to the occupants or the structure by reason of inadequate service, inadequate venting, cross connection, backsiphonage, improper installation, deterioration or damage or for similar reasons, the code official shall require the defects to be corrected to eliminate the hazard. It should be understood that an old two-handle non-temperature or non-pressure compensating shower valve presents a hazard to the building occupants, therefore the international property maintenance code language above should authorize a code official to require building owners to replace non-code shower valves with pressure or temperature compensating type shower valves that have maximum temperature limit stop adjustments that can be set to limit the hot water temperature flowing from a shower to a safe temperature at or below 120°F.

Ron George is president of Plumb-Tech Design and Consulting Services LLC. He has served as chairman of the International Residential Plumbing & Mechanical Code Committee. Visit www.Plumb-TechLLC.com, e-mail Ron@Plumb-TechLLC.com or phone 734/755-1908.

http://www.plumbingengineer.com/sept_13/code.php

Posted in News Articles

OSHA 30 Certification Replacing Building Trades Safety for Building Trade Apprentices

Effective September 2013, Building Trade Safety (A0099) will no longer satisfy the Related Instruction requirement for apprentice safety training and will no longer be offered through the Connecticut Technical High School System Adult Apprentice Program. Building Trade Safety is hereby replaced by OSHA 30 certification. Any appretnice required to take Building Trade Safety who has not already done so will be required to obtain OSHA 30 certification.

Posted in News Articles

PHCC – Massachusetts Continuing Education for Plumbers

Massachusetts Continuing Education for Plumbers – Session 9, This Year’s Program

The new continuing education program for the next license renewal cycle are called Session 9 and is available now.  Credits obtained from attending these classes will be applied towards the May 2016 license renewal.  The appropriate time to attend and fulfill this requirement is anytime during the months January 2016 through May 2016.  PHCC of MA encourages you to register early to secure a convenient date and location.  The majority of their classes will be held on Saturdays (8-8:30) in various towns throughout Massachusetts and in Nashua NH.  Several dinner classes (5-9:00) will also be offered through PHCC of MA chapters.  Non-members may also attend if space permits.  To get more information on Massachusetts Continuing Education go to http://www.phccma.org/local.html.

Posted in Employee News, Manager's News

Construction Education Center – Apprentice Training Programs

The CEC has apprentice classes available and other training options, which include:

  • State approved training programs in D2, S2, P2 and SM2 related instruction
  • Classes will run with low minimums
  • Accepting CT Tech School credits
  • Solutions for apprentices in different types of situations
  • Locations in Rocky Hill, Stratford and South Windsor

Contact Jennifer Philips (jennifer@ctabc.org) at CT Associated Builders and Contractors, for more information or visit the CEC website www.thinkconstruction.org for schedules and class descriptions.

Posted in Employee News, Manager's News

CT Plumbing Continuing Education

The Construction Education Center is an official provider (#1275) of Continuing Education classes for plumbers in the state of Connecticut. It is mandatory for licensed plumbers to attend continuing education classes for a total of 5 or 7 CE hours for license renewal. Journeymen are required to complete 5 hours of continuing education every odd numbered year as a condition of license renewal. Contractors must complete 7 hours of continuing education every even numbered year as a condition of license renewal.

For more information about continuing education, visit the state Department of Consumer Protection website,www.ct.gov/dcp or call us at (860) 529-5886.

For class schedules, registration, and pricing you can contact the Construction Education Center at (800) 358-8825 or visit their website at www.thinkconstruction.org.

Posted in Career News, Employee News

Construction Education Center – License Prep Classes

The CEC offers one-day license prep courses for the D, S, P and SM journeyman license exams as well as key topic overviews for contractor license exams.

Theses courses are taught by license holders who are familiar with the license exams and include a thorough review of all the code books required for each exam.  Materials are available for purchase up to one week prior to the class date. www.thinkconstruction.org

Call today for details 860-529-5886.

Posted in Employee News, Manager's News, News Articles

New Safety Vests

All Hart employees will be  required to wear safety vests while in the Jobsites.

Posted in Employee News

Hand Tool Safety Article

Hand Tool Safety (click on the link to view article) – Proper hand tool safety procedures are essential to daily operations. The attached article by Ohio Casualty covers the topic well.

Posted in News Articles

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