Benchmark report on fire/life safety device inspection data released

This first report is ‘a 30,000-foot view of the inspection data’; more detailed reports to follow
Tuesday, October 7, 2014

SUWANEE, Ga.— BuildingReports, an inspection reporting services company, recently released its first benchmark report based on inspection data from more than 120 million fire and life safety devices. And the company plans to follow up with additional reports that provide a more detailed look at the data.

“The inaugural report is a 30,000-foot view of the inspection data and provides a solid foundation, but it’s a foundation we’ll build upon in quarterly addendums and annual reports moving forward,” Jason Kronz, president and CTO of BuildingReports, which is based here, told Security Systems News.

He said that among findings in the 2014 BuildingReports Fire & Life Safety Inspection Benchmark Report was a confirmation of “the conventional wisdom of the industry, in that addressable systems appear to be much more reliable than non-addressable systems.
The industry has believed that for many years, Kronz said, “but there really wasn’t enough data to back it up.”

The addressable systems' failure rate was 2.33 percent compared to 3.05 percent for non-addressable systems, a 25 percent difference. The addressable and conventional device sample was 46 million devices connected to one or the other of those two types of systems.
One surprise finding of the report was that “for sprinkler systems, especially for NFPA 25 and 13 systems, we saw just a little over 5 percent of devices were failed because of improper signage,” Kronz said.

He said that presents an “educational opportunity” for companies that do testing and maintenance, as well as others, such as AHJ’s. “This is something that building owners and facility engineers need to be aware of, that signage plays a significant role in those systems,” he said.

What kind of signage was missing? That question will be the subject of an upcoming smaller report Building Reports will put out, Kronz said. “I don’t have the specifics on that. We’re going to study that further. We didn’t have time to compile the specific devices.”
He explained, “We feel we asked more questions than we answered in this first industry report.” So, in addition to an annual benchmark report, BuildingReports plans to do “some smaller ones quarterly to address some of these questions that need to have more in depth on them, but that we didn’t have the opportunity to do on the first report since we were analyzing so many things.”

Another surprise find was that “a little over 7 percent of fire devices failed because they were blocked or inaccessible,” Kronz said. “So that means the inspector couldn’t get to the device.”

He said, “We believe this is a good opportunity for the industry to have more of an educational [role] … tenants need to be reminded that these devices are there for the protection of life and property.”

Among other findings was that the device failure rate for health care facilities was 1.78 percent, much lower than the overall industry average failure rate of 3.67 percent for all occupancy types. The report's data includes more than 190,000 inspections performed in hospitals.
BuildingReports attributes that to additional oversight health care facilities are subject to by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and its accreditation partners, such as The Joint Commission. “We feel that frankly, this is the direct result of having that third party helping enforce the codes,” Kronz said. That’s something the industry may want to consider for other occupancy types, he said.