It is extremely important that all fire detection systems are maintained properly & in accordance with the British Standard 5839 2013 Section 6; if the fire alarm system is NOT maintained properly not only will you as the customer be contravening the British Standard but you could also be invalidating your own insurance.
The purpose of a fire alarm system in occupied buildings is firstly to protect LIFE and secondly to protect the building itself.
Maintenance is an extremely vital part of good husbandry as an owner / occupier it is your responsibility to ensure that the LIFE system is fully operational at ALL times.
In relation to Room Integrity Testing similar to above it is extremely important to ensure that the area that has a Fire Suppression system installed is fully sealed; the way that this is undertaken is to carry out a Room Integrity Test once a year or if the area has been breached e.g. by installing additional cabling etc the protected area MUST have a Room Integrity Test carried out after the additional works have been completed. If this test is not carried out the protected area might well not be sealed enough to retain the fire suppression gas for a long enough time to be effective; after all you as the customer have spent a vast amount of money installing the system in the first place and if in the event of a genuine fire the system discharges the fire suppression system does not work due to holes that have been drilled and not filled correctly.
Room Integrity Testing
i) Before testing, the Extinguishant will be isolated in the relevant areas.
ii) Any sealing of the protected area must be carried out by others unless the sealing of the room is part of our contract.
iii) For the duration of the test all access doors and intake dampers will need to be closed. Air conditioning units & any plant / computer equipment that is connected to the Extinguishant Control Panel may also need to be closed during the test to simulate an actual fire condition carried out by the extinguishing panel. The re-setting of ALL Plant – Air Conditioning & any other plant that may be connected will have to be re-started by the client or client’s representative.
iv) Each test will last approximately 30-45 minutes. A re-test may be required depending on the results achieved from the initial test.
v) The time required for the room to retain the correct extinguishant concentration for the correct amount of time dependant on the extinguishing agent used.
vi) For the test to be carried out there must be a 240-volt 13A mains supply within the area being tested.
Sealing Of Rooms For Door Fan Testing
Proper Containment Of Extinguishant Gas
This checklist has been prepared to assist anyone who must seal a room for an extinguishant system and for engineers conducting a Door Fan Test (this must be carried out by others unless clearly stated in our quotation). Obviously, if an extinguishant concentration test could be run, the room would need to be tight to pass that test. Even if no concentration test is required, the room will still need to be sealed. It is the nature of extinguishants to suppress all flame and fire spread but it cannot in every instance extinguish the initial source of ignition (for instance, deep seated fire and severe electrical short circuit). It is therefore critical that the extinguishant remain in the protected area until emergency personnel have a chance to deal with a possible continuing source of ignition. The normal minimum specified time is 10 minutes. Before commencing the actual Door Fan Test it is recommended that the existing system be ISOLATED to ensure that dust that may be blown into point type fire detectors cannot discharge the system.
- All doors leading from the extinguishant protected areas or into another extinguishant zone shall have seals on the bottom, weather stripping around the jams, latching mechanisms and door closure hardware. In addition, double doors shall have a weather-stripped astragal to prevent leakage between doors and a co-ordinator to assure proper sequence of closure. In general, doors shall be treated as through they are being weatherproofed for outside use with the least amount of light possible passing around all sides. Doors, which for any reason cannot be kept normally closed, should be equipped with electromagnets designed to release on alarm. Doors without latches must be open into the protected area.
- All ductwork leading from or into a protected area if unused may be permanently sealed off, air tight, with metal plates caulked and screwed into place. Ductwork left in service from the building air handling units must have dampers installed, preferably butterfly blade type with neoprene seals. Dampers shall be spring loaded or motor operated to provide 100% air shut off. It is further recommended that the building air-handling units be shut down to prevent the spread of smoke or extinguishant into other areas of the building. Operation at all times must be tested during commissioning and shut down for the door fan test.
- Self contained air handling units within the protected zone may be left in service at the owner’s option. Under a fire condition however, one must consider the possibility that the air-handling unit could spread, or be the source or, the fire. Systems not manned 24 hours a day should be tied-in to a shut down circuit. These units must be shut down for the door fan test.
- Protected areas should be enclosed with wall partitions, which extend slab-to-slab. In areas where this is not possible, the ceiling tiles should be clipped. If the ceiling rests on the top of the walls, all tiles should be clipped and a caulk bead applied around the entire perimeter where the tiles touch the walls. In either case, all tiles should be clipped in place within 4 feet of any discharge nozzle. Where the partition walls are not sealed slab-to-slab, it may be necessary to modify the test procedure to obtain a Below Ceiling Leakage Area. This is not always a practical solution so, wherever possible, seal off slab-to-slab.
- All holes, cracks or penetrations leading into or out of the protected area shall be sealed. This includes pipe chases and wire troughs. All walls should be caulked around the inside perimeter of the room where the walls rest on the floor slab and where the walls intersect with the ceiling slab above.
- If a raised door continues out of an extinguishant protected area into adjoining rooms. Bulkheads must be installed under the floor directly under above-floor border partitions. These bulkheads should be caulked top and bottom. If the adjoining rooms with separate extinguishant systems share the same underfloor air plenum, then the bulkheads must have dampers installed the same as required for ductwork. See Item 2.
- All floor drains shall have traps and the traps should be designed to have water in them at all times.
- Porous block walls must be sealed slab-to-slab to prevent gas from passing through the block. Two or three coats of paint are normally required. Unpainted block walls are totally unacceptable.
- In general, the basis intent is to make the extinguishant protected areas as tight as possible for the door fan test and also in case of an extinguishant discharge. Extinguishants are heavier than air and therefore, openings below floors are usually more critical than those above a ceiling. However, during discharge the room does become pressurised to a small extend and any gas that can exit the room will not return. Smaller rooms are much harder to seal than large rooms because each little crack becomes more significant as the surface area to volume ratio changes.
- Once the gas has been discharged, it must remain in the room at its designed concentration for at least ten minutes. The length of time that the gas will remain is directly proportional to the “air tightness” of the room. The extinguishant discharge test simulation program will predict the drop of the extinguishant interface in 10 minutes assuming the worst-case leakage conditions.
- The protected area should be clean and complete in respect of any building work. No other trades are to be working in or around the protected area.
- Prior to the test date it is important to know the size of the access doorway to the protected area to ensure that the door fan frame will fit correctly. A 240v single-phase 13-amp supply is required to power each fan unit utilised for the test.
- An important fact that must be considered for every test is a feature termed “BACK VOLUME”. This refers to the space outside the protected area around the location of the door fan unit. The back volume must be of sufficient size to allow free passage of air and ensure that during the test you are actually testing the protected area and not the corridor outside.
- Wherever practical, staff and materials should be available at the time of the test to carry out remedial repairs to achieve a pass condition.
- Compare the volume of the Protected Area with the weight of the extinguishant supplied to determine the designed concentration.
- The following item refers mainly to new installations but should also be checked;
- Check that the correct warning signs are fitted to all entrances to the protected area and manual extinguishant call points.