Applying Reliability Based Decision Making to ITM Frequency

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Many NFPA codes and standards specify the minimum requirements for periodic inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) for fire protection systems, including for example, NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, and NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. These are often historical requirements that are not based on ITM data or on observed deficiencies. As NFPA develops new documents that involve integrated systems, such as NFPA 4, Integrated Testing of Fire Protection Systems, the need for a more data based approach to ITM frequencies will be important.

In April 2012 the Fire Protection Research Foundation published a report on Fire Pump Field Data Collection and Analysis. The research objective of this study was to provide credible and statistically valid fire pump performance data that substantiates testing frequencies and protocols. This was completed by reviewing the landscape of existing field data, establishing data collection needs, and developing a framework for how the data can be used in a credible manner. Among the conclusions of this report was a recommendation that NFPA and/or others establish a web based portal for the collection and analysis of fire pump data on a broad scale (see report Chapter 12).

Further meetings and research efforts to address this topic followed. Of particular note was a Foundation workshop held in July 2012 on Guide to Applying Reliability Based Decision Making to ITM Frequency for Fire Protection Systems and Equipment, with the proceedings published in April 2013. This effort further clarified the need to consolidate the multiple approaches used to collect an ITM data, to support the analytics that can ultimately be used to apply reliability based decision making for specific fire protection equipment or systems.

Both of these activities identified additional work that needed to be done to evaluate and correlate reliability with code requirements. A key issue is standardizing relevant data collection so that the data can be effectively analyzed. This includes standardizing the data collection format, submission process, data security parameters, and data analysis procedures. A standardized framework is needed for the efficient collection, storage, and analysis of the most relevant ITM data. The NFPA is now uniquely positioned to support the analytical-focused activities previously sought by the aforementioned studies and proceedings.

Research goal: This current effort seeks to apply reliability-based-decision-making using ITM data, using a pilot case study focus on fire pumps with the anticipation of extrapolating this approach to other fire protection equipment and systems. The objectives to achieve this goal include:

  • Summarize fire pump failure assessment methodologies in support of ITM data;
  • Identify and obtain available retrospective fire pump ITM data, and establish a working data pool;
  • Establish a standardized framework for ITM data collection with protocols for stakeholder participation, including identifying perceived barriers, in support of a universal data platform;
  • Demonstrate analytics and a predictive failure model for applying reliability-based-decision-making using ITM data; and
  • Recommend how best to extrapolate the approach to all fire protection equipment and systems.

Download the project summary. (PDF)