ITM Data Projects
With data seeming to be the next form of currency, we are collecting data on everything we can possibly think of. The question is, what are we doing with the data collected? That depends on what we want as an outcome. For example, take the fire sprinkler industry, there are several data collection projects currently in process. We can collect data on anything that we want, but what information do we want to get from the data? Do we want to know how many control valves are closed, or how many main drain tests we are conducting? If we do not know what the target is, then the data we are collecting is useless to the industry. Inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) data has value for many stakeholders involved, such as contractors, building owners, manufacturers, code officials and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ’s).
The NFSA currently is engaged in several ITM data collection projects. These projects are in collaboration with national stakeholders and are seeking, collecting and scanning ITM reports to obtain the knowledge to correct and adjust codes and standards.
The NFPA’s Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) is also currently working on a data collection project, titled ITM Data Exchange, for the ITM of fire protection systems.
The information from these projects can help determine if current frequency requirements are acceptable or to continue to conduct ITM requirements based on current frequencies. Throughout the fire protection industry there is growing interest in risk-based or occupancy-based performance ITM requirements.
The need for data to review the way we conduct ITM is not easily collected. Even though digital data collection is on the rise, there is still a wide variety on how ITM is being reported across the country, making it sometimes difficult to collect specific information. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a standardized format for submitting data? Currently, there are no standards on how data is collected, stored, or shared, which makes it difficult to gather and analyze. Unfortunately, this issue will always be a hurdle, but if we want to move forward with fire protection systems being maintained to perform when needed, data collection is necessary. As the industry and research foundation moves forward with their projects, participation from stakeholders providing them with data in formats needed will make these projects successful.