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June 2007: NFPA 25 vs. VdS CEA Guidelines for Sprinkler Systems

The standard commonly used in the United States for sprinkler system testing and maintenance is NFPA 25, "Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems."

In Europe, the common standard is the "VdS CEA Guidelines for Sprinkler Systems, Planning and Installation." This specification was developed by a group from the protection section of CEA (Comite Europeen des Assurances) in line with the experts of EUROFEU (European Committee of the Manufacturers of Fire Protection and Safety Equipment and Fire Fighting Vehicles). The VdS standard not only addresses testing and maintenance, but also references installation requirements similar to NFPA 13, "Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems."

For the purposes of this article, we will focus only on comparing general sprinkler system testing and maintenance requirements between NFPA 25 and the VdS standard. While there are numerous tests and maintenance procedures in both standards, the chart below will address only those most commonly noted during a Property Loss Prevention Survey.

Requirement
VdS Frequency
NFPA 25 Frequency
Gauge readings on installations, trunk mains & pressure tanks
Weekly
Monthly (wet system)
Weekly (dry, preaction & deluge)
Water motor alarm test
Weekly
Quarterly
Fire Pump Churn Test
Weekly
Weekly
Fire Pump Full Flow Test
Annual
Annual
Visual Sprinkler Valve Inspection
Weekly
Weekly
Waterflow Alarm Test
Quarterly
Quarterly
Valve "Turn Down Test"
Quarterly
Annual (Position, Operation)
Semi-Ann (Supervisory)
Dry Pipe Valve Tests
Semi-Annually
Yearly
Water Tank Corrosion Inspection
Every 3 years
Every 5 years
Foam Proportioning Systems
Annual
Annual
Pipework and Pipe Supports
Quarterly
Annual

Based on the VdS standard, monitoring of sprinkler systems (valve tamper, tank level, system pressure, waterflow alarms, pump alarm, etc.) is required only under the following conditions:

According to the VdS standard, all testing and maintenance must be performed by a VdS approved installer.

If you are responsible for the installation, maintenance and testing of sprinkler systems for a European facility, Risk Logic Inc. recommends you obtain a copy of the current VdS standard and review all the necessary data for your project. If you would like to schedule a survey to review the fire protection testing and maintenance procedures, please contact Risk Logic.