Fire Hose Valves

Q: We recently had our fire sprinkler inspection and was informed by the vendor that with the new 2012 LSC updates, every fire hose connection valve weather it is 1½ inch or 2½ inch needs to be tested and operated annually to verify they are in working order. We have had our fire hoses removed quite some time ago per recommendation from our local fire department. Are these fire hose valves (which are not used) still required to be tested?

A: Yes… but not as you say. First of all, removing the occupant use fire hoses does not mean the fire hose valves will not be used. The fire department will bring their own hoses in to hook up to your standpipe system. Secondly, the fire hose valves must be inspected quarterly, and the fire hose valves that are 2½ inches are required to be tested annually, and the fire hose valves that are 1½ inches are required to be tested once every 3-years.

Take a look at NFPA 25-2011, section 13.5.6.1 for quarterly inspections and section 13.5.6.2 for annual/3-year testing requirements. Just because you removed your occupant use fire-hoses does not relieve you of the responsibility of testing, inspecting and maintaining your fire hose valves. You have them – then you must maintain them.

Clarification on Fire Hose Valve Testing

Q: It has been stated that Class 1 and Class 3 fire hose valves are to be tested annually by opening and closing the valve and that full flow is not required. The standpipe in this hospital is a dry manual type. It is not connected to any water source except by the standpipe connections. Does this require me to hook up to the system at the standpipe connections and fill the system? This would require me to hook up to the hydrant or have the local fire department to come out and hook to the system.

A: According to NFPA 25-2011, section 13.5.6.2, fire hose valves located in dry standpipes are not excluded from this testing requirement. However, there is no need to hook the dry standpipe up to a water source. The test is to open and close the fire hose valves… it is not to flow water. You still need to open and close the fire hose valves on a dry standpipe system.

Kitchen Hood Fire Suppression System

imagesWAHA2STKThe fire suppression system that is required to be mounted in kitchen cooking hoods is typically a wet-chemical extinguishing system that automatically releases the extinguishing agent when the system detects a fire. Back in the early 1990’s the common system used then was a dry-chemical system but was found to be ineffective in extinguishing certain cooking-oil based fires. While NFPA, CMS and the Accreditation Organizations has not prohibited the use of dry-chemical extinguishing systems in kitchen cooking hoods, most state authorities have. There was a major undertaking in the fire extinguishing industry to replace all dry-chemical system with the better suited wet-chemical systems.

 The kitchen hood fire extinguishing system is required to be maintained semi-annually and the fusible links replaced annually. However, the owner’s representative (i.e. facility manager) is required to perform monthly inspections of the cooking hood extinguishing system. These requirements can be found in NFPA 17A, 1999 edition (for wet-chemical systems), and at a minimum, the quick check inspection must verify:

  • The extinguishing system is in its proper location
  • The manual actuators (pull stations)  are not obstructed
  • Tamper seals are intact on the pull station
  • The semi-annual maintenance tag is clearly visible and in place
  • There is no obvious physical damage or condition that would prevent operation
  • The pressure gauge is in the operable range
  • The nozzle blowoff caps are intact and undamaged
  • The hood, duct, and protected cooking appliances have not been replaced, modified or relocated

A record of this monthly inspection is required to be maintained, and is usually documented on the semi-annual inspection tag tied to the manual pull station that activates the system.

One of the lessor-known items that surveyors like to do during the building tour is interview a kitchen staff individual who works near the cooking hood, on whether or not they have received training on the correct operation of the hood extinguishing system. Another question surveyors like to ask is where does the kitchen staff individual go to manually activate the extinguishing system? A negative answer on either question will likely result in a finding under a staff fire safety training standard.

Take a look at NFPA 17A (1999 edition) and make sure you are doing two basic things:

  1. Conduct monthly inspections of all cooking hood suppression systems.
  2. Train all kitchen staff on the correct operation of the cooking hood suppression system.

Also, make sure the extinguishing system is being maintained on a semi-annual basis.