Acceptance Testing of Fire Protection Systems & Special Locks


The Fire Marshal enforces the Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) on behalf of the Fairfax County Building Official (DPWES) providing a variety of building code services relating to the installation of and modification to fire protection systems and means of egress special locking arrangements. The services provided on behalf of DPWES include plans review, processing and issuing related construction permits, conducting inspections and witnessed acceptance testing, and granting final approval.

The Office of the Fire Marshal recognizes the unique needs of the business community and construction industry regarding acceptance inspections and testing, and will continue to improve inspection services and scheduling procedures to meet the needs of the customer with respect to fire protection systems and means of egress special locking arrangements.


ACCEPTANCE INSPECTIONS & TESTS

There are two categories of acceptance inspections/tests that may be scheduled with the Acceptance Testing Unit of the Fire Protection Systems Branch:

  • Visual Inspection/Test
  • 2-Hour Inspection/Test

  Visual Inspection/Test

A visual inspection/test, also known as a visual test or visual, is an inspection or test that can be conducted by one inspector within a 15 to 30 minute time period.

The following is a partial list of inspections or tests that may be scheduled for a visual inspection/test:

  • Underground Fire Line Visual Inspection
  • Underground Fire Line Flush Inspection
  • Fire Pump Settings Visual Inspection
  • NFPA 13D Sprinkler System Hydrostatic Test
  • NFPA 13D Sprinkler System Water Supply Tie-in Inspection
  • Sprinkler Visual Final Inspection (Individual Dwelling/Tenant Spaces Only) *
  • Sprinkler Visual Test (Flow Switch/Tamper Tie-in Only)
  • Special Locking Arrangement Inspection/Test (1 Locking Device Only)
  • Standpipe Flush Inspection (Each Riser)
  • Dry Pipe Trip Test (1 System Only)
  • Fire Alarm Test (Audio-Visual Indicating Devices Only)
  • Fire Alarm Test (1-2 Initiating Devices Only)
  • Central Station Test
  • Main Drain Test

* Sprinkler visual final inspections may require more time (multiple visual inspections/tests) depending on the size of the area to be inspected.

Scheduling a Visual Inspection/Test.  Visual inspections/tests are scheduled in 15 minute time slots. When you call to request a visual inspection/test time slot, only the date will be scheduled. The business day preceding the scheduled inspection, the Fire Protection Systems Branch will confirm with the designated point of contact via telephone and give a 2-hour time frame for the inspection/test (e.g., 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.). Your representative must remain at the requested inspection location for the entire 2-hour time frame to meet the inspector.

  2-Hour Inspection/Test

A 2-hour test, also known as a full test time slot, can be one of three designated 2-hour time periods scheduled Monday through Friday as follows:

  • 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (Morning)
  • 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (Mid-morning)
  • 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Afternoon)

Note: With proper notice and coordination, provided fire marshal staffing is available, earlier or expanded time periods may be scheduled. Earlier time periods may include a 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. inspection/test (Early-morning). Expanded time periods may be arranged for inspections and testing requiring multiple inspectors for greater than 2 hour time periods (Multiple 2-hour inspections/tests). After-hours and weekend inspection and testing services are not routinely available at this time. Call 703-246-4821 for additional information.

The following is a partial list of inspections or tests that may be scheduled for a 2-hour inspection/test:

  • 2-Hour Hydrostatic Test (Except NFPA 13D Systems)
  • Sprinkler Visual Final Inspection (Building Shell)
  • Fire Alarm System Test
  • Special Locking Arrangement Inspection/Test (Multiple Locking Devices)
  • Fire Suppression System Trip Tests (Multiple Systems)
  • Clean Agent Suppression System Test
  • Preaction Sprinkler System Inspection/Test

There are too many combinations of the above 2-hour inspections/tests to list separately. When scheduling for inspections or tests, it is important for contractors to communicate his/her exact needs so sufficient time can be allotted for each inspection/test.

Scheduling a 2-Hour Inspection/Test. 2-hour inspections/tests are scheduled according to the type of inspection/test requested. Typically, one sprinkler system hydrostatic test or a small fire alarm system test can be performed in a single 2-hour inspection/test period. However, more complex systems may require multiple 2-hour inspections/tests. For example, a new high-rise building fire alarm system may require as many as 8 to 10 days (24-30 2-hour inspections/tests) to inspect and test; whereas, a warehouse building may only require one 2-hour inspection/test period. Generally, with the exception of a 2-hour hydrostatic inspection/test, 2 or more inspectors are required to conduct these inspections/tests.

 
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SCHEDULING GUIDELINES

Permits Required. Before requesting an inspection/test, construction permits related to the scope of work involving the installation of or modification to fire protection equipment and systems must be posted at the inspection or test location. For detailed information about FPD and DPWES construction permit requirements, consult the permit requirements section of our website.

Who Can Request an Inspection/Test? Appointments for acceptance inspections/tests shall only be requested by either the installing contractor, the person who obtained the FPD Permit, or the party responsible for payment. No Exceptions!

Scheduling an Inspection/Test. Acceptance inspections and tests may be scheduled as follows:

  1. Schedule by Telephone. Call 703-246-4821, during scheduling hours, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Due to the increased workload of office personnel, you may be asked to request an inspection or test by fax.
  2. Schedule by Fax. Fax the appropriate request form to 703-246-9173. Please use the one of the following acceptance inspection/test request forms:

 

Water-Based Fire Protection System (PDF)

 

Fire Alarm, Door Lock & Alternative Fire-Extinguishing System (PDF)

Fire Alarm Testing. Based on past experience, fire alarm contractors are encouraged to schedule fire alarm system tests 30-days prior to projected occupancy to allow time to correct deficiencies. The system shall be pre-tested prior to the scheduled acceptance inspection/test date.

Multiple Contractors Installing One Fireline. Where two or more different contractors are performing work on different portions of an underground fireline, each contractor shall obtain the appropriate construction permits for their portion of the fireline. When calling to schedule an inspection or test, the contractor shall specify which portion of the fireline is to be inspected or tested and provide the correct permit numbers. Fire lines are typically portioned into the following configurations:

  • From street valve to 5' outside building.
  • From 5' outside building to flange inside building.
  • Entire UG fire line from street valve to flange inside building.

Waiting List. A waiting list will be established for contractors with work that is complete. The equipment or system shall be ready for immediate testing and shall have been pre-tested prior to being placed on the waiting list. As cancellations occur, the waiting list will be utilized in the order inspection requests were received. To have an inspection request placed on the waiting list, call 703-246-4821  during scheduling hours, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please be prepared to provide the telephone phone number of a contact person available before 7 a.m. so notifications can be made about an available inspection/test for a given day

 
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CANCELLATION GUIDELINES

Scheduled inspections/tests must be cancelled with a minimum notice of 24 hours (one full business day) to avoid a reinspection fee. Cancellation requests with less than 24 hours notice (except for extenuating circumstances) will result in a reinspection fee which will be billed to the contractor for the allotted inspection/test scheduled. Reinspection fees shall be based on the hours reserved to perform the test and will be charged at the rate of $128.00 per hour calculated on the quarter hour or part thereof, per required inspector. The fee is charged when an inspection is not cancelled in time to save an unnecessary trip by inspectors. Some circumstances will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Read More About Cancellation Guidelines ...


PREPARING FOR THE INSPECTION OR TEST

Approved Plans Required. The original signed and approved plans, cut sheets, and submittals shall be onsite for the inspector to reference/review or the inspection/test will be failed.

Pre-testing Required. All work shall be completed, systems ready and pre-tested prior to the arrival of the inspector. Failure to pre-test may result in a cancellation or inspection/test failure.

Testing Guidelines. In addition to the applicable requirements of the USBC and referenced standards, many requirements and procedures for the acceptance inspection and testing of fire protection equipment and systems, as well as special locking arrangements, are described in the Code Reference Package.


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Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
Office of the Fire Marshal
10700 Page Avenue
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Telephone: 703-246-4800
Fax: 703-691-0209
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Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. Reasonable accommodations will be provided upon request. In addition, materials such as forms and publications may be available in alternate formats. To request reasonable ADA accommodations or materials in alternative formats, call the Office of the Fire Marshal at 703-246-4803 (TTY: 711 or 1-800-828-1120) or write us at the following address: 10700 Page Avenue, Fairfax, VA 22030.


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