Post Indicator Valves

Q: I have 3 Post Indicator Valves (PIV) and 1 Wall Post Indicator Valve (WPIV). I’m not finding anything in NFPA in regards to the testing frequency. My PIVs and WPIV do not have Tamper Switches. Are these required to be tested once a week or once a month?

A: NFPA 25 (1998 edition), sections 1-3.9 and 9-3.1 define a control valve as a valve that controls the flow of water to a water-based fire protection system. A Post Indicator Valve (PIV) does control water to the fire protection system; so therefore, a PIV is a control valve by definition.

According to section 9-3.3.1 in NFPA 25 (1998 edition), all control valves are required to be inspected weekly, unless they are chained and locked, or ‘supervised in accordance with other NFPA standards’, then they need to be inspected monthly. The inspection is to confirm the following:

  • Ensure the valve is in the normal position (open or closed)
  • Properly sealed, locked or supervised
  • Accessible
  • Appropriate wrenches are provided (i.e. PIV)
  • Free from leaks
  • Properly identified

According to section 9-3.4 of NFAP 25, control valves are required to be tested on an annual basis (which is defined by the accreditation organizations to be 12 months from the previous test, plus or minus 30 days). Each control valve must be operated through its full range and returned to its normal position. In other words, each valve must be closed; then opened. After the closed/open exercise, PIVs must be opened until spring or torsion is felt on the rod, indicating that the rod has not become detached from the valve. PIVs and OS&Y valves must be backed a ¼ turn from the fully open position to prevent jamming.Control valves (and this includes PIV) must be electronically supervised, according to section of the 2000 edition of the Life Safety Code (LSC). Chains and locks are fine if you want them, but they are not an acceptable substitute for electronic supervision (tamper switches). Tamper switches must be tested on a semi-annual basis, which means 6 months from the previous test, plus or minus 20 days.

I would say your 3 PIV and 1 WPIV are non-compliant with the LSC requirements for electronic supervision; and furthermore, it is extremely dangerous for your hospital not to electronically monitor those valves. What if an unauthorized individual closed one of those non-supervised PIV (or WPIV) and you had a fire in the facility? There would be no water for the sprinklers after the static pressure was released from the piping. My advice is to get this resolved as soon as possible, and to start an Interim Life Safety Measure (ILSM) today and continue until the valves are electronically supervised, that includes once-a-shift daily inspections of those valves to ensure they are open.