St. Louis Area Fire Departments Begin ITM Program
In an effort to improve inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) of fire protection systems in their jurisdictions, two fire districts have begun using “ITM stickers.”
Fire Inspector Kevin Glock of the Metro West Fire Protection District explained that the program started last summer in order to improve compliance with NFPA 25 ITM requirements. “Many times, the system would be tagged; however, violations and deficiencies would not be written on the inspection tag. In addition, identifying and thus enforcing the correction of these violations were dependent on the record-keeping of each business owner,” said Glock. He stated that most owners could not readily provide the documents and with the new system, “the business owners really appreciate not having to search for the report or even having to contact their service provider to obtain another copy.”
The small red stickers with instructions on where to send ITM reports are placed on sprinkler system risers, standpipes, fire alarms, and commercial hood systems. Metro West fire inspectors place the stickers near the inspection tag and, in some cases, place two stickers on the sprinkler system to ensure compliance. The district has a dedicated email address where the reports can be sent.
Compliance with the program has been outstanding, according to Glock. “We created a process where once the report is received it is reviewed for any violations. The reports are then downloaded and attached to that occupancy.”
Glock has found that fire protection contractors like the program. “The technicians can inspect and identify deficiencies all they want; however, they lack the legal authority to enforce compliance. Thus, some business owners may opt to disregard the technicians report. This process fosters a more efficient manner in which to ensure the safety of those individuals relying on these systems to operate as designed. Which is why these codes and ordinances have been established: to protect our communities and the citizens within.”
Assistant Chief Ryan Roberts of the Cottleville Fire Protection District has similar feelings about the program. Roberts stated that an efficient ITM program, with inspection reports being submitted directly to the fire department, can also help to account for the number and location of fire protection systems in the jurisdiction. He explained that Cottleville changed to a new records management software platform as well. “This switch has provided us with the ability to track all of these systems, along with their current due date for testing. Seeing which systems are overdue for testing is as easy as running a report,” he said.
Before beginning an ITM sticker and documentation program, Roberts warned that the AHJ should have an ordinance that requires the contractor to submit the documentation directly, otherwise the AHJ could be faced with potential legal complications.
To learn more about Inspection Testing and Maintenance, see NFSA resources at www.nfsa.org/itm