The 2023 edition of NFPA 25 Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems has now released. It can be viewed online at nfpa.org. Below is a discussion of the changes from the 2020 edition to the 2023 edition that affect various laboratory services offered by Dyne Fire Protection Labs.
Foam Concentrate Testing
Inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) of fire firefighting foam systems previously appeared in NFPA 11 Standard for Low-, Medium, and High-Expansion Foam and NFPA 16 Standard for the Installation of Foam-Water Sprinkler and Foam-Water Spray Systems but is being combined and transitioned to NFPA 25 Chapter 11 Foam Systems. These documents may overlap for a time during this transition.
Regarding the frequency of testing foam concentrate, the 2020 edition previously stated that “sample[s] of foam concentrates shall be sent to the manufacturer or qualified laboratory for quality condition testing at the frequency recommended by the manufacturer.” (11.4.2) The 2023 edition, however, now states “foam concentrate testing shall be conducted annually” (220.127.116.11) to better match the requirements that are/were found in NFPA 11 and NFPA 16.
Regarding the frequency of testing fast response sprinklers, the 2020 edition of NFPA 25 previously required the testing or replacement 20 years after install. (18.104.22.168.1.3) The 2023 edition of NFPA 25 has kept this interval for ESFR and CMSA sprinklers (22.214.171.124.1.2) but all other sprinklers with a fast response element are now not initially due for testing or replacement until 25 years after install. (126.96.36.199.1.1)
Regarding the frequency of testing dry sprinklers, the 2020 edition of NFPA 25 previously required the testing or replacement 15 years after install (188.8.131.52.1.6). The 2023 edition of NFPA 25 now states the initial test or replacement should occur after 20 years (184.108.40.206.1.5)
These frequency changes are based on the failure statistics found by various laboratories. The initial test/replacement for fast response sprinklers was initially sooner given the new technology but continues to be pushed back as more data becomes available supporting such an increase. Likewise, the dry sprinkler initial test/replacement also continues to be pushed back as more and more dry sprinklers featuring an O-ring water seal design leave the market thus improving the failure rate drastically.
Regarding the sampling of sprinklers for the field service test, the intent remains the same between the 2020 edition (in conjunction with the explanatory material in Annex A) and the 2023 edition of NFPA 25 but the verbiage has been changed to provide more clarity:
220.127.116.11 A representative sample of sprinklers for testing per 18.104.22.168 shall consist of a minimum of not less than four sprinklers or 1 percent of the number of sprinklers per individual sprinkler sample, whichever is greater.
22.214.171.124 A representative sample of sprinklers for testing in accordance with 126.96.36.199 shall consist of either a minimum of four sprinklers or 1 percent of the number of sprinklers per sample area, whichever is greater.
188.8.131.52.1 Each sprinkler type and manufacturer in the sample area shall be represented in the sample.
184.108.40.206.2 Sprinklers tested shall not include any sprinklers that were replaced at prior testing intervals.
As a reminder, the sample area is determined by the building owner and/or their designated representative. It can be as large or as small as desired and can, but does not have to be, based on environment or system.
The 2023 edition of NFPA 25 is the first edition after the original sunset date for legacy antifreeze solution of September 30th 2022 and, as one can imagine, there are quite few changes:
220.127.116.11.1 For systems installed prior to September 30, 2012, listed antifreeze solutions shall not be required until September 30, 2022, where one of the following conditions is met:
(1) The concentration of the antifreeze solution shall be limited to 30 percent propylene glycol by volume or 38 percent glycerine by volume.
(2) Antifreeze systems with concentrations in excess of 30 percent but not more than 40 percent propylene glycol by volume and 38 percent but not more than 50 percent glycerine by volume shall be permitted based upon an approved deterministic risk assessment prepared by a qualified person approved by the authority having jurisdiction.
18.104.22.168.2 An existing antifreeze solution shall be permitted to remain in a system, provided the concentration of the factory premixed antifreeze solution is limited to 30 percent propylene glycol by volume or 38 percent glycerine by volume.
There are two big changes here. First, according to the 2023 edition of NFPA 25, legacy antifreeze solution is permitted to remain in a system past September 30th, 2022. It only needs to be changed to a listed antifreeze solution when it becomes necessary to drain and replace (e.g. antifreeze solution fails annual tests, system must be drained for other maintenance/repairs, etc.). Second, the 2023 edition of NFPA 25 has removed the allowance for higher concentrations of propylene glycol (30-40%) and glycerine (38-50) based on an approved deterministic risk assessment. The maximum allowable concentration of propylene glycol and glycerine is 30% and 38%, respectively, regardless of the outcomes of any risk assessments conducted. This does mean that for those systems utilizing 30-40% propylene glycol or 38-50% glycerine currently, they would now be expected to drain and replace with listed antifreeze, or if one is not available, an alternative means of freeze protection (dry sprinklers, heat tracing, etc.) would need to be implemented. However, regarding the availability of a suitable listed antifreeze, note the following was also added to the 2023 edition of NFPA 25:
22.214.171.124.1 Where used to replace nonlisted antifreeze solutions, listed antifreeze solutions shall be permitted to be used outside their listing limitations, provided the temperature range limitations are not exceeded.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact Dyne Fire Protection Labs at email@example.com or (800) 632-2304.
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