Testing Integrated Fire Systems
The new CAN/ULC-S1001 standard sets out the testing required to ensure that fire protection and life safety systems work in concert. It will be included in the new version of the National Building Code.
From the January-February 2016 print edition, page 25.
The upcoming 2015 National Building and Fire Codes of Canada will include for the first time a reference to CAN/ULC‑S1001‑11, Integrated Systems Testing of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems.
The CAN/ULC‑S1001 standard was developed in response to requirements incorporated in the 2010 National Building and Fire Codes of Canada for the “commissioning” of integrated fire protection and life safety systems: 2010 NBC 188.8.131.52 and NFC 184.108.40.206 — “Where life safety and fire protection systems are installed to comply with the provisions of this Code or the NBC/NFC, the commissioning of these integrated systems must be performed as a whole to ensure the proper operation and inter‑relationship between systems.”
The 2010 Codes’ use of the term “commissioning” created confusion as to the intent of the requirements. While the fire protection industry used the term “commissioning” to mean acceptance testing, the building commissioning industry understood commissioning as a process that includes testing and verification, but also documentation, adjustment and training to ensure a facility operates in accordance with documented project requirements.
The ULC Subcommittee on Commissioning, with input from the National Research Council of Canada, therefore set out to define the process of Integrated Systems Testing to differentiate between the testing required by the National Codes and the more involved process of building commissioning. The result, CAN/ULC‑S1001‑11, is now being incorporated in the new 2015 National Codes as the recognized methodology for testing integrated fire protection and life safety systems.
This article aims to provide an overview of the new standard.
In situ testing of integrations
CAN/ULC‑S1001, originally published in September 2011, provides the methodology to confirm that two or more systems are functioning together. Whereas standards governing the installation of individual fire protection systems allow for system testing and verification in isolation, ULC-S1001 ensures the correct integration between systems by requiring the functional in situ testing of integrations.
For example, the verification for a fire alarm does not require an operational test of ancillary devices. Rather, ancillary device circuits are commonly “tested to the relay,” proving the operation of the circuit but not subsequent operation of the ancillary device.
If we consider a common interconnection, supervision of a fire pump by the fire alarm, the fire pump may be installed and tested by one contractor and the fire alarm verification by another. While the fire pump contractor will confirm their output relays work, and the fire alarm contractor will confirm that their inputs work, there may not be a final coordinated test. To address this gap, Integrated Systems Testing requires running the fire pump to confirm a “Fire Pump Running” indicator on the fire alarm.
Integrated Testing Plan
Although Integrated Systems Testing is unique for each project, a standardized process was developed. This includes collecting the relevant information for the facility and systems, and developing an Integrated Testing Plan from this information. The Integrated Testing Plan details the objectives of system integrations, the sequence of operation for systems, and the testing protocols.
Meeting the requirements
ULC‑S1001 provides the performance objectives for developing testing requirements. Performance objectives were used as it was recognized that prescriptive requirements were not appropriate as systems will differ from project to project.
The testing requirements are to demonstrate the operation of each integration. To test an integration, an input device is operated and the resultant outputs are reviewed to confirm the results are in accordance with the sequence of operation.
As an example consider a smoke exhaust system. ULC‑S1001 requires the integrations between this system and other fire protection and life safety systems to be tested to confirm correct operation. These integrations would include the input/output correlations to the fire alarm for different system components, such as fan and damper control, fan and damper status monitoring, and system control through the firefighter’s smoke control station.
Each integration is tested to ensure it functions in accordance with the smoke control sequence of operation. But only one input needs to be activated to test each integration. The smoke control system, for example, could be activated by either a water‑flow switch or two smoke detectors. For integrated testing, one type of input would be initiated and the operation of fans, dampers, and system components (outputs) would be confirmed to ensure the correct function of the integrations only.
As Integrated Systems Testing tests the operation of integrations only, the testing does not replace a design professional’s responsibility to review the system installation. For the smoke control system, performance would still be confirmed by the general review of the system performed by the design professional.
Additionally, to prevent duplicate testing ULC‑S1001 allows the documented verification of an integration between two systems in lieu of requiring repeat testing. For example, a fire alarm verification requires the operation of sprinkler valves and the flowing of water to test water flow switches. The standard allows the fire alarm system verification report to be accepted as the record of the testing of these integrations, instead of requiring repeat testing.
A living document
ULC‑S1001 requires that Integrated Systems Testing be documented and amalgamated into an Integrated Testing Report. This report includes the Integrated Testing Plan, records of testing, and system documentation gathered from the design professionals, installing contractors and verifying parties. The Integrated Testing Report is intended to be a living document, maintained throughout the life of a building, to provide a resource on the fire protection and life safety system installations.
Application to existing buildings
Integrated Systems Testing in existing buildings was included in ULC-S1001. It provides for periodic testing for buildings, retroactively implementing Integrated Systems Testing in buildings which never underwent initial testing, and testing after modifications.
For Periodic Integrated Systems Testing, an Integrated System Test is required to be conducted one year after the initial test to confirm that the integrations are still functioning correctly. Over a year a building’s systems may have been modified as the building functions differently throughout all four seasons. After this one-year test, the frequency of integrated testing is every five years.
With Retro Integrated Systems Testing the process is essentially the same as for a new building. However, since all the design professionals may not be involved in an existing building, and since documentation on the fire protection and life safety systems may be lacking, additional investigations and inspections may be necessary to establish the design and design sequence of operation for the existing systems.
Where a building undergoes renovation, or when fire protection and life safety systems are retrofitted, there is also a potential impact on the integrations between systems. For modifications, ULC‑S1001 requires that an Integrated Systems Test be performed only for those modifications that were impacted by the modification.
Appendix — rationales
The standard’s appendix material assists users and officials in understanding the rationale and implementation of the requirements. Appendix A provides background, supporting information, and discussion on the intent of the requirements. Appendix B provides specific guidance on the development of Integrated Testing Plans.
Future documents for
fire commissioning and designer guidance
As companion documents to ULC‑S1001, the ULC Subcommittee on Commissioning is currently developing a series of documents for fire commissioning.
ULC‑S1002, Guidelines on the Fire Commissioning Process, will detail the methodology for implementing fire commissioning and the role of the commissioning team during pre‑design, design, construction, acceptance, and close-out phases of a construction project.
ULC‑S1003, Recommended Practices for Acceptance Testing of Active Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems, and ULC‑S1004, Recommended Practices for Acceptance Testing of Passive Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems, are being developed as guides for design professionals. They will include acceptance testing criteria for the design, construction, and acceptance phases of a project.cce
Simon Crosby, LEL, CET, CFPS, is a project manager in Toronto with Jensen Hughes Consulting Canada. He consults on fire protection, commissioning, safety systems and code compliance. He is also the chair of the ULC Subcommittee on Commissioning. E-mail email@example.com, www.rbacodes.com