Common Trade Misunderstandings Part Three: Jurisdictional Differences

Aside from the peace of mind knowing your fire protection system is fully functional, few property or facility managers really enjoy their annual fire inspections because they can seem like a nuisance to your team or your building occupants. But they’re required to keep life, property, and your business safe. These inspections are designed to find issues with any fire protection components, eliminate hazards, and to provide a track record of testing reports to monitor how each of your fire protection systems or accessories are operating.


Codes to govern these systems (including safety training, system testing, component inspections) stem from the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and the IFC (International Fire Code). However, Colorado is one of the unique states in our country in that we do not have a state Fire Marshal. Each local fire jurisdiction in Colorado has the latitude to take NFPA code and CFPA (Colorado) code and adjust those codes based on their area’s unique needs. This can include how many sprinklers and alarms you must install during construction or tenant improvement, when and what types of permits or acceptance letters are needed on a situational basis, and which testing may or may not be fully required.


Sounds complex, doesn’t it? It can be, especially if you have mixed use facilities — office, manufacturing and warehouse spaces in your plant or commercial and residential areas in a high-rise. Each area may have vastly different safety requirements so how can you possibly keep it all straight? You don’t have to! Just give us a call! Integrity Fire Safety Services makes it our business to know the exact standards of every jurisdiction in our Colorado service area. We have outstanding relationships with each local fire jurisdiction and know what each is looking for or how to work with them to determine the best results in unique circumstances. Our relationship with these fire departments means that when you reach out to us for help, you’re getting the fastest and most accurate answers. The time saved means you’re saving money, and the accuracy in which we communicate with the fire department means your buildings will be in good standing and fully compliant.


Often Overlooked Inspections


For example, are you aware that semi-annual and annual inspections are not enough? Most people would say, “I have my whole system tested every year, what more do I need?” Good question, but you don’t actually get the whole system tested every single year. Some parts only require a five-year test:

  1. a) The FDC (Fire Department Connection) is where the Fire Department hooks into the on-site water supply. It has to be hydrotested every five years to ensure the piping can withstand the pressure needed should the Fire Department need to use it.
  2. b) Internal Pipe / Obstruction Inspections involves draining your wet or dry sprinkler system and opening the piping up in a few specific areas defined by code. The goal of this inspection is to determine (and document with pictures) if any areas of piping have large sediment buildup that might hinder the sprinkler system’s ability to get water to the necessary sprinkler heads during a fire.
  3. c) PRVs (Pressure Reducing Valves) are required in certain buildings to regulate the pressure that hits the floor in the event the fire pump kicks on. These have to be tested every five years to ensure they are still functioning as designed, and are not either allowing too much water through or shutting off water supply. There are some unique circumstances with these in that if your building does not have an express drain (to handle all the necessary water flow to meet the testing standards), then you may receive a letter from your fire department that allows you to conduct partial trip testing, at least until you’re able to budget for an express drain installation. As we said above though, we have wonderful relationships with the Fire Departments and will be on your side when it comes to working with them to come up with the best possible solution.
  4. d) Dry Standpipe Hydrotesting is very much like FDC testing. It involves pumping water into the usually-dry pipes to identify any leaks and to ensure that the piping will hold in the event a fire causes the system to trip.


It’s insane to say you have more important things to think about than fire safety, but you probably already have more things to keep an eye on than you can remember. So, don’t!  Let Integrity Fire Safety Services take this worry off your shoulders. Our business is mitigating any chance of you ever filing a fire disaster claim. We combine decades of practical experience with intimate knowledge of all local fire codes and positive relationship with all local Fire Departments and AHJs.