Joint Commission test appears to conflict with NFPA 25

Hospital Safety Insider, June 24, 2009

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In an exclusive story from HCPro, it appears The Joint Commission’s provisions for main drain tests go beyond what is required by NFPA 25, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.
The conflict centers on whether a main drain test can occur at sprinkler system risers and the system low point--as The Joint Commission allows under element of performance (EP) 9 of standard EC.02.03.05--or only at system risers, as required by the 1998 edition of NFPA 25, which the commission references.
And the bigger question may be what other authorities, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, think about the matter.
After numerous discussions with Healthcare Life Safety Compliance, representatives from The Joint Commission and the NFPA remain steadfast in their respective positions.
“The Joint Commission will accept the performance of the required test at EC.02.03.05, EP 9 at either the individual sprinkler risers or from the low point in the system for the standpipes, which would be the main drain test,” says Elizabeth Zhani, spokesperson for The Joint Commission.
“What I will tell you is that low-point drains are just that: Drains for low points in the sprinkler system, that is all,” says James Lake, senior fire protection specialist at the NFPA. Further, “there is no purpose, nor any relevant information that would be attained, by testing a low-point drain other than the fact that the low point drain in fact drains. NFPA 25 does not require the testing of low point drains.”
Read the full story in the current Healthcare Life Safety Compliance, the only publication devoted exclusively to life safety strategies in hospitals.

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