( 3) Documentation of the individual systems as required by the
applicable codes or standards
( 4) Integrated test team and additional entities required to be in
( 5) Equipment required for testing
( 6) A comprehensive functional matrix depicting all system inputs
and associated output functions
( 7) List of necessary drawings, including riser diagrams and control
( 8) Narrative description of the test scenarios, including what is
needed for record of completion to document approval by the au-
thority having jurisdiction
( 9) The extent of systems to be tested under the direction of the
Integrated Testing Agent
( 10) Test schedule, including individual systems
( 11) Periodic integrated systems test frequency
You and the integrated system testing agent, along with the other systems
(elevator, HVAC, etc.) installation and testing personnel, are responsible for
ensuring the testing of integrated systems in accordance with the test plan.
Sometimes, an integrated system test might not include an end-to-end test.
For example, consider an integrated system consisting of a fire alarm
system and an elevator system. An end-to-end test would require that the
actuation of the appropriate fire alarm smoke detector and the observation
of the elevator responding to the signal by returning to a specific location,
parking properly and opening the elevator doors. However, another integrated test might only assess the interface between the two systems by
using a menu command on the fire alarm system to actuate the interface
device—a relay powered by the fire alarm system and interfaced to the
You might observe the elevator returning to the proper floor. But, the
test did not originate at the fire alarm initiating device. Therefore, the test
does not constitute an end-to-end integrated system test. The issue, of
course, becomes which test should the testing plan require?
If the fire protection engineer has specified the use of NFPA 4-2015
as the standard of care, plan to perform an end-to-end test. Generally, the
specifications will include additional instructions to ensure you understand
the depth of the integrated system testing expected and required.
Contractors often confuse integrated system testing with system commissioning. The standard uses the “Cx” for commissioning and defines
it as “a systematic process that provides documented confirmation that
building systems function according to the intended design criteria set forth
in the project documents and satisfy the owner’s operational needs, including compliance with applicable laws, regulations, codes, and standards.”
For example, NFPA 72-2016, Chapter 7, now contains a list of all of the
standard documentation for fire alarm and mass notification systems. When
commissioning a system, or participating in the commissioning process, you
will need to follow another document called the “commissioning plan.”
NFPA 4-2015 defines the commissioning plan as a “document prepared for
each project that identifies the processes and procedures necessary for a
successful commissioning process.” The plan establishes and provides the
structure for how to handle and manage commissioning on a given project.
By now, you should have figured out that when you prepared a bid for
the installation of a fire alarm system, simply planning the kind of tests you
may have performed in the past will not meet the current requirements.
And, as you can tell from the information presented in this article, testing
a fire alarm system can become a very complicated process.
It becomes all the more important that you know and understand the
changes taking place in the pertinent codes and standards. You should
also seek to understand the reasoning behind the design documents and
behind the requirements for both integrated testing and commissioning.
Such an effort would be a very good place to start.
MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent
speaker and an expert in the life safety field, is a principal
member and past chair of NFPA 72, Chapter 24. Moore is a
vice president with Jensen Hughes at the Warwick, R.I.,
office. He can be reached at