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public officials urged to continue fire & life safety services, Industry workers titled “essential”.

By Don Mesquit 3.30.2020

the national fire protection association is known for being an industry leader in the knowledge-based understanding of Fire, Electrical and other related hazards. taking the lead comes with responsibility, and sometimes that means taking a stand. on March 26, 2020, in a news release, and subsequent fact sheet entitled, “guidance for maintaining fire protection and life safety systems regardless of occupancy status”, the men and women working in the fire & life safety industry are referred to as “Essential Workers” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. their stance, keep up the fire system inspections.


In the case of a fire

fire protection systems, whether they are wet, dry, pre-action, deluge and more are vital to mitigating the loss of life. these systems provide the life-saving egress within and surrounding structures for tenants. first responders are at risk as well when poor maintenance, or a lack thereof, produces an unsafe environment for anyone entering a building on fire. so it stands to reason that the NFPA places a strong emphasis on maintaining an existing fire suppression system.


ask yourself, if “Essential Workers” such as First Responders are entering a structure that is on fire, shouldn’t an industry that provides protection for them be “Essential” as well?

“There has never been a more critical time to work together to safeguard lives from this public health crisis,” said James Pauley, president and CEO of NFPA. “Regardless of whether COVID-19 has already hit a particular community, its continued threat reinforces the critical importance of communities evaluating their readiness and putting a fully-constructed plan in place.”

-NFPA News Release

what are essential services?

unlike domestic plumbing, fire suppression systems are not used on a daily basis. this is a conducive environment for a host of problems, such as Microbiologically introduced corrosion, but that’s another article altogether. with a regular maintenance schedule, the system piping, valves, fittings, etc. have the stagnated water flushed and clean water introduced. that means everything to the operation of fire sprinklers working to create a curtain of water used as safe passage for egress inside of a structure.

“Most ITM requirements can be executed by a
single ITM service provider limiting the need
for face-to-face interaction. Where two individuals are required to perform an ITM task, the majority of these tasks can be accomplished over
two-way radio.” -NFPA News Release

ITM | inspection, Testing & Maintenance Items (partial)

  • main drain test
  • waterflow alarm test (notification to local fire dept.)
  • valve supervisory notification test (arson and or tamper detection)
  • water pressure gauges
  • fire department connections
  • water control valves
  • building water freeze protection
  • earthquake bracing
  • fire hose inspection
  • fire sprinkler inspection

All commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings should maintain fully operational fire and life safety systems as required by the applicable codes and standards. (NFPA 25, NFPA 72®, NFPA 101®) – NFPA NEWS RELEASE


talk with your authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), see if an “abbreviated” version of your fire system inspections is acceptable. if entering every livable unit or office space isn’t wise, then ask if all other areas can be inspected. make sure your Essential Fire & Life Safety provider has a COVID-19 preventative plan in place. keep your staff educated, and to a minimum while following your chosen guidelines. together we can make fire & life safety a priority.

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