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This guide has been prepared for you, the business community, to

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This guide has been prepared for you, the business community, to

VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT

    Fire Marshals Office

    Public Information Bulletin

    January 2008

    SELECTING A SERVICE CONTRACTOR

    FOR YOUR AUTOMATIC FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM

GENERAL

    This bulletin has been prepared for you, the business community, to use when you are “comparison shopping” for a

    service provider to inspect, test and maintain your automatic fire sprinkler system. You may also wish to review

    additional bulletins that have been prepared that detail various fire protection components and their respective

    testing frequencies. Please feel free to contact the Fire Marshals Office to request copies of additional bulletins or if

    you have any questions that may need further clarification.

Before selecting a contractor it is necessary to understand some industry jargon which may help you ultimately

    understand the service proposals that are provided by potential contractors.

    As-Builts (Record Drawings) These are Fire Alarm System Fire alarm systems consist of a documents that show the locations of automatic fire fire alarm control panel (FACP), which monitors sprinkler equipment after construction is complete in various types of devices and notifies a monitoring relation to the structure layout. Often, piping may be agency of changes in the system status. Buildings routed in slightly different directions than indicated on with a fire sprinkler system, will typically have at building plans initially approved by the City of minimum, a FACP that monitors a water flow Vancouver. These changes can be approved in the condition from an activated sprinkler head. Larger field during inspections and are the result of buildings may also have smoke and heat detectors in configuration changes, which may arise due to addition to a fire sprinkler system. In all cases, the ductwork or other building construction obstructions, electrical components attached to the sprinkler not originally included on the plans. NFPA 25 system as well as the FACP is required to be requires that original records be retained for the life of inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with the system. These are necessary for the contractor to the Fire Alarm System requirements of NFPA 72. review. It is critical that these be maintained so that Please see the Public Information Bulletins on the any changes in the building floor plan can be requirements for testing fire alarm systems and reviewed to verify proper sprinkler coverage. selecting a fire alarm service contractor.

Contractors Test and Materials Certificate Licensed Sprinkler Contractor Any contractor

    (CT&MC) The Underground and Aboveground that inspects, installs, tests or maintains an automatic CT&MC‟s are required to be completed and fire sprinkler system or a water based fire protection submitted by the installing contractor(s) at the time a system in WA must posses a contractor‟s license system is approved and identify the types of issued through the WA Department of Labor and equipment installed, instructions have been provided, Industries and be licensed by the WA State Fire water supply conditions and any other special Marshal‟s Office as a sprinkler contractor. In July of explanations at the conclusion of the installation. 2009, all fire protection contractors will be required to

     obtain an Endorsement from the City of Vancouver NFPA 13 and 25 require that these documents be that proves they are licensed by the state and kept on file for the life of the system. This information employees meet minimum licensing requirements. can help identify if the water supply conditions have

    NFPA 25 Standard published by the National Fire changed or when a representative sample of

    sprinkler heads may need to be remove and sent for Protection Association for the Inspection, Testing and testing. Additionally, there have been several Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection voluntary recalls of sprinkler heads and having this Systems. NFPA 13 is the installation standard. information readily available can help to identify if

    your products are association with any recall and in Following are some questions that you may consider need of replacement. asking potential contractors.

    VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT FIRE MARSHALS OFFICE - vanfire.org

    900 W Evergreen Blvd. ? Vancouver, WA 98660 ? Phone: 360-696-8166 ? Fax: 360-696-8163

    Page 1 of 5

    VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT

    Fire Marshals Office

    Questions to Ask Potential Service Providers

    1) May I see proof that your company has all applicable state, county and city licenses? Such as:

    a. State of Washington UBI number, City of Vancouver Business License

    b. Professional liability and/or errors & omissions insurance

    c. Licensed contractor as issued by WA Labor & Industries and State Fire Marshal‟s Office

    2) What is the minimum level of certification or training for employees that will be inspecting/testing or

    maintaining my system? Do they carry proof of certification or employee identification cards (wallet cards)

    that I can verify while they are on site? Minimum and recommended are:

    a. Certified by the WA State Fire Marshal‟s Office as an Inspection Testing Technician (ITT Level)

    b. National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies Level II Inspection, Testing and

    Maintenance for Fire Sprinkler Systems

    c. Inspection, testing and maintenance on fire pumps, pre-action, deluge type or foam based sprinkler

    systems requires additional training and experience. Ask if employees are factory trained and

    certified by the specific manufacturer for any of the equipment tested on the property

    d. A current WA journeyman electrical (or limited energy) license for persons „testing‟ electrical control

    circuits that may be part of the water flow monitoring valves, FACP, fire pump, pre-action, deluge or

    foam systems is required by WA State Department of Labor & Industries

    3) Are you willing to name my business/property as an additional insured on the commercial general liability

    policy, and be shown as an additional insured, not as a certificate holder?

    4) Given the installation of new or repair/replacement of certain fire sprinkler equipment requires a permit from

    the City of Vancouver Development Review Services, are the permit fees or charges included in your

    contract price (i.e. adding a sprinkler head under a roll up garage door)?

    5) Will you provide me with a written quotation that details:

    a. Applicable equipment manufacturer‟s warranties

    b. Replacement costs for damaged, non-functioning or recalled equipment (i.e. gaskets, etc.)

    c. Additional service fees for standard or emergency maintenance

    d. Minimum service time or trip charges for required testing or emergency maintenance

    e. Applicable service and labor warranties

    f. Pricing based on term of the contract (1 year, 2 years, 3 years, etc.) and self-renewal intervals

    g. Time (in hours) expected it will take your firm to complete the inspection and testing of system

    h. Any additional recurring fees

    i. Runner service costs for responding to an alarm or water flow situation, and who responds to

    signals and how long will it take for a qualified technician to arrive at my property to fix the problem

    j. How quickly service calls can be performed

    6) Will you provide any necessary training on required weekly or monthly inspections to my staff on our

    sprinkler system as part of the contract price?

    7) Do you guarantee customer satisfaction and, if I am dissatisfied with your service, am I able to terminate

    my contract with no obligation?

    8) Will I receive a pro-rated refund? What are the cancellation options?

    9) Will your technician leave me a copy of an unalterable field report upon completion of the testing? 10) If parts of my sprinkler system are needed for repairs or to keep my system in service, how long will it take

    you to obtain the parts and replace them?

    11) Are your inspectors qualified to make repairs at the time deficiencies are found or will you need to send

    another employee back? How long will it take to schedule a return visit to make the repairs? 12) The fire code requires that the Fire Marshals Office be notified when a system is not functioning, will your

    firm contact them on my behalf with a description of the problem and your correction plan or will I need to

    do it? Does your firm utilize a “tag out” procedure for identifying systems that are inoperable?

    13) If my fire alarm and/or sprinkler system becomes inoperable, will your company provide and maintain the

    necessary fire watch as required by the fire code? What would be the hourly rate we would be charged for

    that?

    14) The Fire Marshals Office requires owners to maintain copies of test reports onsite and contractors to

    submit copies of the annual test reports to their office for review. Are you willing to leave a copy onsite and

    provide them with copies of all test reports on my behalf as testing is completed?

    VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT FIRE MARSHALS OFFICE - vanfire.org

    900 W Evergreen Blvd. ? Vancouver, WA 98660 ? Phone: 360-696-8166 ? Fax: 360-696-8163

    Page 2 of 5

    VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT

    Fire Marshals Office

    Fire Sprinkler Equipment Questions

    The following questions are more specific and will help you identify the portions of the system that will be tested by

    the contractor as well as information they will provide on the test report. Please see our Public Information Bulletin

    on Fire Sprinkler testing requirements for a detailed description of the frequency and procedure/protocol for

    conducting these tests. A portion of the questions below may or may not be applicable to your particular facility. 15) What is the Contractor‟s Test and Materials Certificate and do I need to provide it to you prior to conducting

    any testing or maintenance work? What should I do if I have not kept the original or updated copy on file? 16) Will you need a copy of “as-built” or record drawings of my facility to ensure a comprehensive maintenance

    program is established?

    17) I don't have a copy of the manufacturer's literature or record drawings on file as required by NFPA 25. Do

    you really need them and how do you suggest we solve this deficiency?

    18) I don‟t have a copy of NFPA 25, am I supposed to have one available?

    19) I‟m unable to produce records that the specified 5 year interval testing has been done and the date(s) it

    was last completed. What will happen if you mark that down on your report as needing to be completed at

    this time? Will it cost me additional money for your service after the Fire Marshal‟s Office rejects the test

    report as incomplete without that record available? Can this be done at the time of your first inspection? 20) Do your technicians have a copy of applicable fire codes and installation/maintenance standards and can

    they explain to me what‟s required now versus when the system was installed?

    21) What is the difference between a visual inspection versus a comprehensive inspection and testing program?

    Does your pricing include just a visual inspection or a comprehensive program in full accordance with

    NFPA 25?

    22) The submission of a confidence test report showing a deficiency will result in the fire department coming

    out to do an on-site evaluation of the problem. If valid, this will result in an additional inspection fee from the

    City of Vancouver. If deficiencies are found, will you correct them automatically before submitting the test

    report to the fire department so the information submitted identifies that all problems found have been

    repaired in order to save me the additional inspection fee?

    23) Will your inspectors be verifying that my current storage conditions are satisfactory for the current sprinkler

    system so I don't get issued a Correction Notice by the fire department‟s inspectors during their inspection

    for having inadequate protection based on my storage arrangement? Would this be done by your inspector

    or by someone else in your company?

    24) Will your inspection clearly identify that the current sprinkler system meets the protection requirements for

    my current occupancy and/or storage configuration such that my insurance company wouldn't be able to

    deny any fire loss claim due to improper installation/storage arrangements?

    25) Does it matter that we‟ve changed the layout of our building by adding or removing a few walls during our

    last space improvement since our last system inspection?

    26) Will the technician testing the supervision of control circuits (water flow alarms, fire pump, etc.) be a

    licensed electrician and possess the requirements for obtaining the applicable Vancouver Fire Marshal‟s

    Endorsement in July 2009 for working on electrical circuits? If not, will you be able to coordinate having a

    qualified person on site at the time of your inspection to test all of the systems, including electrical

    components at once?

    27) Will the individuals inspecting my property be evaluating my system with regards to the following items or

    just making sure the system is „visually installed and present‟?

    a. Sprinkler heads installed are properly spaced (i.e. no obstructions or improperly spaced heads)

    b. Sprinkler heads or other equipment installed is not part of any type of product recall and if they are

    will advised accordingly so that they can be replaced in accordance with the fire code

    c. Sprinkler system is adequate for particular hazard or current storage arrangements of our facility

    i. Design density is adequate for high piled storage arrangement

    ii. Hazardous material quantities within sprinklered area are within fire code requirements

    d. All sprinkler riser hydraulic design, Sprinkler Riser Room, Fire Department Connection signage,

    etc., is in place and meets the fire code requirements

    e. Pressure gauges are properly calibrated or replaced accordingly

    VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT FIRE MARSHALS OFFICE - vanfire.org

    900 W Evergreen Blvd. ? Vancouver, WA 98660 ? Phone: 360-696-8166 ? Fax: 360-696-8163

    Page 3 of 5

    VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT

    Fire Marshals Office

    Standpipes

    1. Does my building/facility have standpipes? If so, what kind? (wet, dry, combination) 2. NFPA 25, Section 6.3.1.1 requires that a flow test be conducted every 5 years for each zone of automatic

    standpipe systems. Do my standpipes need this test? How does your company conduct these flow tests?

    Where will the water source come from and what will the flow rate need to be?

    3. Will I have to pay to rent a water meter if you connect a hose to a fire hydrant or is the water usage costs

    included in the price quote?

    4. Does your basic inspection quote include the rental fee of a large pump if necessary or the hiring of off-duty

    fire department personnel to achieve the proper water flow rate at roof level of our high-rise building? 5. Will your test report indicate the water source used during the test and if necessary, the type of pump? 6. Will your test report clearly identify the location that the flow tests were conducted so that the Vancouver

    Fire Department will know it was the hydraulically most remote segment to be tested?

    7. Does our standpipe include any type of Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV)? Will your report indicate which

    floors or areas these PRV‟s are located and the pressure the PRV‟s are set at?

    8. How do you verify that these are all set at the proper operating pressure that meet the Vancouver Fire

    Department‟s operating guidelines? (Failure to do this could result in inadequate water pressure in

    firefighter hose lines in the event of a fire)

    Foam Systems

    1. Please describe the type of foam system within my facility and the required testing needed (hydrostatic

    testing of tanks, pump, etc.)

    2. NFPA 25 requires that the fire department be notified when testing is done on a foam system. Will you

    coordinate that notification on my behalf?

    3. Will your technician be taking a sample of foam during a full flow test to verify the foam-water concentration? 4. What method will be used to verify the concentration for the foam-water solution?

    5. Will your company obtain a sample of the foam concentrate for testing? Will your company test the foam

    concentrate or will that be done offsite? If offsite, who does the testing and is that cost included in your

    proposal.

    6. Will the technicians confirm that the piping and discharge devices are listed for use as a complete system? 7. Will the technicians verify that there is an adequate drainage area?

    8. What environmental issues might arise with the discharge of foam during the testing and how can that be

    mitigated to prevent problems with the water/environmental agencies? Do I need to notify any other

    agencies that foam will be produced on-site and possibly discharged into the sewer or river system? 9. Will your technicians be confirming that the water supply in my facility is adequate for the foam system? 10. Is my facility equipped with open spray devices and if so, will you be verifying the spray discharge pattern

    every year as part of the contract price? If this interrupts our daily operations, can you do this at an off-peak

    time for the same fee?

    Fire Pumps

    1. Is there a fire pump connected to my fire sprinkler system?

    2. What type of driver powers my fire pump, electric or diesel engine?

    3. What is the difference between the weekly automatic pump run and annual test?

    4. Does the pump start automatically or is it started manually?

    5. Will you provide a copy of the flow chart along with a comparison from the original unadjusted field

    acceptance test curve or performance characteristics as indicated on the pump nameplate? 6. Do you need to discharge any water through hoses while testing the flow of the fire pump? 7. What type of flow meter does your company use to verify the flow rate of the water?

    8. Will you simulate a power failure condition while the pump is running in accordance with NFPA 25, 8.3.3.4

    and verify the transfer switch transfers power to the alternate power source, pump performs a peak load

    and remove the power failure condition and verify the system returns to the normal power source? 9. Is you company qualified to test the automatic transfer switches and exercise them in accordance with

    NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems?

    VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT FIRE MARSHALS OFFICE - vanfire.org

    900 W Evergreen Blvd. ? Vancouver, WA 98660 ? Phone: 360-696-8166 ? Fax: 360-696-8163

    Page 4 of 5

VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT

    Fire Marshals Office

    OTHER SUGGESTIONS

    1) Contact your insurance company to request a referral

    2) Request several companies to perform a site inspection and provide a detailed quote in writing, indicating the length of time the quote is

    valid (30 days for example), specific equipment that will be serviced and frequency, a description of how the devices will be tested and the

    number of staff that will be conducting the inspection. It is suggested to obtain a minimum of three quotes before making a decision.

    Company Company Company Company Question or Topic 1 2 3 4 Years in business for company and average years in business for all technicians. Willing to provide references from local businesses and written quote (Y/N)? Willing to provide proof of licenses and technician certifications (Y/N)? Customer satisfaction guarantee? (Y/N) Minimum/maximum staff qualification and percentage of licensed or certified staff. Estimated time (hours) to complete testing of system, number of qualified persons/trainees onsite and additional equipment that may be necessary (i.e. scissor lifts, scaffolding).

    Onsite staff training included; additional cost for training? (Y/N)

    Explained need for „Contractors Test & Materials Certificates” prior to testing (Y/N) Will you send a copy of the report to the Fire Marshals Office (FMO) within 30 business days as required by the Vancouver Municipal Code? (Y/N)

    Willing to make repairs to deficiencies and identify deficiencies are corrected prior to sending to the FMO to save on additional City of Vancouver inspection fees? (Y/N)

Qualified and licensed to test pre-action, deluge, standpipes, foam systems and fire pumps? (Y/N)

    Willing to contact the fire department to coordinate testing of foam systems? (Y/N) Aware of any local regulatory issues with the creation of foam-water solution runoff? (Y/N) Individuals testing fire pumps are qualified to interpret the test results? (Y/N) Individuals testing fire pumps are knowledgeable in power supply testing requirements? (Y/N)

     $ $ $ $

    VANCOUVER FIRE DEPARTMENT FIRE MARSHALS OFFICE - vanfire.org

    900 W Evergreen Blvd. ? Vancouver, WA 98660 ? Phone: 360-696-8166 ? Fax: 360-696-8163

    Page 5 of 5

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