NFPA Journal - May/June 2013 - (Page 42)

>>BUZZWORDS wayne d. moore, p.e., fsfpe ALARM + DETECTION SYSTEMS Right the First Time W hy do we always have time to do it over, but never have time to do it right? I’m not sure of the origin of this saying, but I often use it when I uncover mistakes that require correction. Where I live, the jurisdiction requires contractors to pretest newly installed fire alarm systems with a representative from the supplier before conducting the final acceptance test. This process avoids wasting fire In my experIence the majority of problems have to do with misidentifying devices—the most common issue—or with the improper operation of connected devices or systems. inspectors’ time during testing while contractors fix what they should have discovered and previously fixed during a pretest. Even so, contractors still interrupt acceptance tests by saying, “We need to reprogram this before we can continue”—words I’ve heard too many times. The real problem begins with a lack of planning and documentation. While devices do sometimes fail during a test, beyond the control of the contractor, in my experience the majority of the problems have to do with misidentifying devices—the most common issue—or improper operation of connected devices or systems. Contractors need to be able to identify devices or systems; they need to obtain and verify this information before the installation begins, and they need to reverify the identification of the device during the pretest. 42 NFPA JOURNAL MAY/JUNE 2013 The 2013 edition of NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, contains a list of 14 minimum documentation requirements for a fire alarm system. Included in those requirements is a written narrative providing intent and system description and a sequence of operation in either an input/output matrix or narrative format. If contractors paid closer attention to these two items, it would mitigate the most common problems that result in wasted time during testing. Most contractors plan their installations to determine the location of raceways and the wiring needed to connect all of the devices and appliances to the fire alarm control unit. As part of that plan, they review the design drawings and determine how they can efficiently install the devices, appliances, and control equipment. That’s why the system description needs to clearly identify every device and its location, and why the contractor should verify this information before the programming occurs. The system designers should provide the input/output matrix when they develop the design, and the contractor should follow this matrix when determining the correct operational sequence of the system. Of the two requirements cited, the input/output matrix is the most important. This documentation will guide the programmer to ensure that when a device actuates, the proper response and operation will occur. For example, when someone closes a sprinkler gate valve, the operational sequence of the system should initiate a supervisory signal. Or, when a smoke detector actuates in an elevator lobby, the operational sequence should cause an alarm to sound and initiate the designated elevator recall. An early professional lesson is that wasting others’ time will eventually cost a firm both in reputation and in profits—and it’s a lesson that’s too easily forgotten or ignored. There is no need to waste your time, or an inspector’s time, by redoing mistakes in programming or installation because you felt rushed and didn’t have time to do it right the first time. Planning your installation all the way through to the acceptance tests and developing the minimum required documentation outlined in NFPA 72 will help avoid these lost time issues when you’re trying to finish the fire alarm system installation on time and on budget. wayne d. moore, p.e., fsfpe, is a principal with Hughes Associates. Illustration: Richard A. Goldberg Installation, acceptance testing, and the development of minimum required documentation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NFPA Journal - May/June 2013

NFPA Journal - May/June 2013
First Word
In a Flash
Heads Up
Structural Ops
In Compliance
Electrical Safety
Wildfire Watch
Treasurer's Report
Work in Progress
Amping It Up
Drill Team
Working Together
Code Process 2.0
Routine Maintenance
Here, There, Everywhere
Section Spotlight
Expo Preview: Exhibitors' Showcase
Looking Back

NFPA Journal - May/June 2013