Drew sits down with NFPA’s Shawn Mahoney on today’s episode of The Fire Protection Podcast to discuss all things NFPA 25, including the most recent code changes and what to expect as AHJs begin adopting the 2023 edition.

Drew and Shawn discuss key changes fire protection professionals and facility owners need to be aware of in the 2023 edition of NFPA 25 as AHJs begin to move to the latest version of the standard. “I’m happy that we’re talking about it now, that people are starting to use it now. They want to know what the changes are, what the impacts are,” Shawn says. They touch on key updates including antifreeze testing, maintenance, and types; sprinkler testing and maintenance; and standards and testing for nitrogen systems.

They also get excited for the annual NFPA Conference and Expo, taking place in June in Orlando, Florida. Shawn shares about the technical learning sessions throughout the conference and what attendees can expect.

Join Drew for Episode 63 to get firsthand insight into what the changes to NFPA 25 mean for you and what you can expect to see in future editions of NFPA codes and standards.

Notes:
Antifreeze Requirements Fact Sheet

Timecodes:

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 02:34 – Shawn’s Background & NFPA Tech Services
  • 07:21 – Water Mist Systems
  • 08:58 – NFPA 25, 2023 Edition
  • 11:17 – Antifreeze
  • 17:24 – Sprinklers: Paint Loading, Sprinkler Guards, & Testing Requirements
  • 23:37 – Nitrogen Systems
  • 28:41 – New Technology, Standards, & Testing
  • 37:26 – NFPA Conference and Expo
  • 42:30 – Conclusion

 

Full Transcript

Drew Slocum:
This is episode 63 of The Fire Protection Podcast, powered by Inspect Point. Today, my guest is Shawn Mahoney. Shawn works for NFPA, the National Fire Protection Association. He’s in their tech services group. Funny enough, I ran into him. I’ve always wanted to get him on the podcast, and he throws a lot of great technical knowledge out there on social media, in different webinars and learning tools that NFPA has. And I recently connected with him and got him on the podcast. 

So in today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about NFPA 25 changes in the 2023 edition, which was adopted over probably a year and a half ago, but a lot of jurisdictions are starting to move on it. So we kind of went over the top changes from that, which is pretty cool to see. Obviously Inspecy Point has any 2023 changes–we’re releasing that here soon. On top of that, we get into the NFPA Conference and Expo, which is coming up in June, I think the second or third week of June. It’s the 16th through the 20th in Orlando, Florida. We’ll be there as The Fire Protection Podcast. Inspect Point will be there. Obviously, NFPA and Shawn will be there. It’s the best of the best trade shows. So hope to see you there at the NFPA Conference and Expo in June. And onto the podcast. Thanks again for liking and supporting. 

Thank you, Shawn, for stopping on the podcast today.

Shawn Mahoney:
Thanks for having me.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, we were having lunch–Shawn and I were having lunch a couple of weeks ago at the AFAA Fire Alarm show in Providence, and I think I saw you at the table. I was like, you know what? I probably should go talk to Shawn at some point.

Shawn Mahoney:
I saw you there, and I was like, I should probably go talk to Drew at some point, and then he just sat next to me, and there we go.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah. Then Chad was next to, I was in the middle of you and Chad Duffy, so I was in the nexus of NFPA.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, we’re all that.

Drew Slocum:
Well, thanks for coming on. I guess give the listenership who you are. Most people probably know who you are, but give a little rundown.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah. So, my name’s Shawn Mahoney. I’m a Senior Technical Services Engineer at NFPA. I’m a fire protection engineer, so I work in our technical services group. So just a quick highlight of how we’re organized: In NFPA, we’ve got our engineering group, and our engineering group has a codes and standards group, and then we have our technical services group. Codes and standards group has the staff liaisons, all the administrators that run our codes and standards process. So, like Chad Duffy, he runs the group that, they have NFPA 13. He’s the staff liaison for NFPA 25. They run the process, they run the technical committees. I’m in tech services, so I’m in a position where I get to work on products that help our membership and our stakeholders apply and use the codes and standards. So, I’m in a group where I’m not directly involved in the development of the codes and standards, but I get to help create trainings, write blogs, do podcasts, go present at shows, to help our stakeholders understand what the codes and standards are doing, how they can best apply them, and just provide that information and knowledge to our membership.

Drew Slocum:
That’s great. So, if you’re an NFPA member–if they call tech services, are they getting you?

Shawn Mahoney:
No. So, our technical question service actually goes to the staff liaison responsible for that document. It goes into codes and standards. There are times where we’ll take over and answer some questions or people will send me questions and I can take over that, too. But that goes through our codes and standards group. Because for the most part, a lot of it is understanding a code requirement. So a lot of the staff liaisons understand some of that a little bit better than we would. So that’s why. Also just the sheer volume of questions that they get from all of our codes and standards.

Drew Slocum:
Can’t imagine. Yeah. Imagine all over the world.

Shawn Mahoney:
NFPA 13, they assign one person that each day that’s their thing, 13 questions that come and they answer, we get a good amount of ’em.

Drew Slocum:
Wow, that’s nuts. Yeah, that is nuts. It’s one person there. So I guess, how did you get, I always ask how’d you get into fire protection and what got you here?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, so growing up, my dad was a volunteer firefighter, so I spent a lot of time Friday nights and weekends at the firehouse with all the other kids as our dads were there. So I kind of grew up around that. And then, when I turned 16, I joined my local fire department with my brother. So we were volunteers for a couple years. And then it was–when I graduated high school, I always was very interested in engineering. I did a lot of home renovations and stuff with my dad, so involved with codes and standards and requirements. And when I started to be able to connect the dots and be like, “oh, there’s a reason why this is a requirement and it’s for this,” I got really interested in that. Found out about fire protection engineering through some people at my dad’s firehouse growing up that got involved in it.

So then I got into it, went to University of New Haven for a semester, and then actually transferred out and went to WPI in Worcester, got my bachelor’s in mechanical, master’s in fire protection. So then I graduated from there and started working at Tyco Fire Protection Products, at the time. Did mechanical–worked in the mechanical group, so did a lot of groove couplings and all that stuff. All that was really interesting. It was a lot of the mechanical part of my degree, which was really fun. And then switched over into the special hazards group there. So, I did research and development for…water mist systems was my primary focus when I was there. So, did a lot of water mist stuff and then did code consulting for a couple of years, and then I’ve been at NFPA since 2017.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah. That’s funny. It’s funny, we were talking the other day, and I started out of a different Polytechnic Institute–Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, then I went right into Tyco Fire Products or engineered products and services, it was called at the time, making the dry valve. I think we kind of crossed paths, maybe didn’t know it. I was working on a lot of water mist systems while I was at Tyco Fire Products in New York City and you were just getting into it. So it was funny mentioning that the other day.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, I think we probably overlapped a couple months, I think it was that we, yeah, so definitely.

Drew Slocum:
Water mist has, weirdly enough, kind of taken off the last couple years and just different applications it’s being potentially used for. Because back then, it was kind of just tossed to the side a little bit like, all right, we have all these other solutions, but now it seems to be coming up a little bit more.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, it was big. A lot of the work that we did was outside of the U.S. I think in the U.S., we take for granted–or we’re just very used to–having a really good municipal water supply, so we never have to think that much about our water supply. But in a lot of older cities, especially like Europe, Spain, they don’t have municipal water supply, so they have to store everything on site. So water mist has the advantage of, you don’t need that quantity of water. You use it a lot over there.

Drew Slocum:
It is. Funny enough, I went to a fire protection symposium in Bermuda. You know, a small island off North Carolina or whatever. They have no water, and most of their water comes from cisterns, right? Rain collection. So, there’s a lot of water mist there, and there’s really nice buildings there. There’s a big insurance industry. So water mist, water mist is baked in there. That was kind of interesting to learn.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, I think we’re seeing the switch now in the U.S. because a lot of the stuff happening with special suppression agents and stuff where it’s just–it’s been out there for a while, always been tried and true solution, being a little bit more beneficial.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, no. So I wanted to focus today mainly on, and I would love to have you on again to talk about NFPA 72. But really NFPA 25. I sit as an alternate on the committee and am involved in the meetings and everything there–we’re working on 2026, that’s coming next, but 2023, it’s been out for over a year or a little, maybe not even…

Shawn Mahoney:
It comes out at the end of 2022. So it’s been out for a while.

Drew Slocum:
But now there’s not many jurisdictions that are using it. There’s maybe some national insurance AHJs that want to utilize it. I think Wisconsin is rolling to it, and again, so it’s starting to come into effect, and I feel like right when the standard comes out, it’s nice to talk about those changes, but until it’s adopted, that’s when you really need to talk about it, because that’s when you have to worry about it. Right?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, there’s always this big lag too. We’re talking about 2023. We were working on the handbook two years ago, and  we’re already starting on the 2026. So it’s funny that there’s just the lag between the use of the standard that we got to be on top of that kind of stuff too. So I’m happy that we’re talking about it now, that people are starting to use it now. They want to know what the changes are, what the impacts are.

Drew Slocum:
And again, kind of comparing it, I guess, to 2020. That’s kind of the big thing I wanted to hit. It’s like, Hey, and then we can tee–if you have any forward-looking things to 2026 of what’s being discussed, we could throw that in there too.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, sure. Yeah, there’s a couple of things. First Draft Report was published last month or so, so there are a couple items that we know of, that are starting to get talked about, so we can always bring those up when they come up.

Drew Slocum:
So I don’t think we gave it a top 10 or whatever, but I know we went through it the other day–kind of some of the big topics, not in any order. But what are the big things that you’ve seen for 25, 2023 edition?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, so one of the ones that I want to bring up, and it’s something that’s been happening for a while–the antifreeze in the codes and standards, trying to get the changes incorporated into there. And I feel like we’ve hit the end of the–25 had that sunset period where moving to the listed antifreeze–and that sunset period has hit. The requirements are now in there. So just looking at now in 25, the requirements for, basically you’ve got to test the antifreeze. You first have to identify what the antifreeze is in there, right? And determine if it’s acceptable or not. Basically if it’s listed or it’s not. If you can’t determine what it is or if it’s no longer in an acceptable range, you’ve got to drain the system and refill it with a listed antifreeze. And that’s something that, now that we have some listed antifreezes on the market, it’s something that is possible to happen.

So you’ll see that change in there now, requiring you to do that annual test and then potentially drain and refill with a listed antifreeze. The interesting thing in there now is, as part of the listing, so UL has the listing for the antifreeze and the tests in there cover things like toxicity, corrosion, combustibility, electrical conductivity. There’s a lot of things that are covered in that. In order to pass some of those requirements, you’ll get a maximum volume size. 

So some of them still have a maximum volume size that they can be used to. But now 25 allows you, if you have to put in a listed antifreeze, you can potentially use it outside of that listing–provided you’re still looking at things like the freeze point, the compatibility with materials. But the biggest thing there is that, if you have a big system and you got to refill it and there’s no listed antifreeze for your size, 25 is allowing you to use that antifreeze for that bigger system outside…

Drew Slocum:
Volume. Yeah, yeah, it makes sense. Yeah. Testing, is that out to a lab or is that the refractometer test, or is it both?

Shawn Mahoney:
So, it’s all based on the manufacturer’s instructions, and a lot of the listed antifreezes now are, I want to say they push away from the refractometer and it’s now hydrometer, hygrometer to do the specific gravity.

Drew Slocum:
So bring it back. You can’t do that in the field. You got to bring that back to the…

Shawn Mahoney:
You can do some of it. You can do some, yeah. I mean, it depends. If you bring the test equipment with you, you can do it on site. But yeah, it’s all based on the listing of that specific antifreeze. So you have to, as part of the product listing, the manufacturer’s instructions get reviewed by the listing agency. So those instructions are part of it. So you have to follow those when it comes to testing. So it is different–you have to pay attention. Okay, what is it? What type of antifreeze is it? And then how do I test it? And then what is the acceptable range? And we have to look at the manufacturer stuff. It’s no longer like–25 can’t tell you. It’s got to be between this specific gravity. Right? Because all based on the product.

Drew Slocum:
Is there a quick guide on this? This would be a nice quick guide. I don’t know if you guys have produced anything.

Shawn Mahoney:
So because I felt like we were kind of at the end of all the antifreeze stuff, we did put together a fact sheet that goes over all the antifreeze requirements out of 13, 13R, 13D for new systems and existing systems, as well as–I put together some flow charts, which are like, how do you do the test? When do you make the decision to switch? So all of that if you wanted, that’s all on our website. It’s the antifreeze fact sheet going over all that.

Drew Slocum:
Nice. Yeah, I’ll put it in the show notes. So anybody listening, we’ll link it right to the website.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, sure. And if you use NFPA Link, all of the requirements in 13R, 13D, 25, and 13, the sections that apply, if you go into the enhanced content, that fact sheet will be there as well as all the applicable information.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, that enhanced content’s awesome. I was going through it the other day on something else. It was just like, oh, man, just like, the click of a button, it’s right there.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, it’s nice. So that, our group tech services, that’s one of the main things we provide content for, putting stuff into enhanced content as well as building stuff in direct, which is our situational navigation. But it’s awesome because we used to have our hands tied with handbooks, because it had to be printed. It had to be printed, and you couldn’t update it. Now we can be a little more creative and we can give more timely information, and we can always go back and change it. And the media wise, we’re starting to put in more videos and things that go over requirements, and creating in-cycle, creating information, enhanced content that goes in there. So the antifreeze stuff, that’s all–the 2022 edition of 13 has that, I made that last year. It wouldn’t have been able to go in the handbook. The handbook was already printed. So we’re constantly updating.

Drew Slocum:
That’s great. Yeah, it’s nice. It’s real time. And you can add video, you can add videos to that. And I was on the Dope and Tape Show last night, and they were talking about a pre-action or dry valve, and they’re like, man, this video, this three-minute video just, it’s a complicated valve, but after that video, it’s like anybody could do it.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, I would love–we’re working on starting to put videos. Right now, I’m working on all the valve types. We’ve created animations on how they all work. So we’re working on putting that stuff in there, so we start to see a lot of cool enhanced content.

Drew Slocum:
I love it. Yeah. All right. We got the antifreeze. Yeah. What have we got next? Any other big ones?

Shawn Mahoney:
I mean, there’s a couple big ones. So the next one, it’s a small change, but I think it’s an interesting one. Because it’s always a question that we get often and it’s about paint loading on sprinklers. So in chapter five, when you inspect a sprinkler, it states that you’ve got to replace it if there are signs of leaking or corrosion, physical damage, or loss of fluids and things, and then there’s a sign of paint. And it’s always the question of, okay, well if there’s a tiny little dot of paint or something that could load the sprinkler that you can’t get off, how much is too much or–a little speck of paint might not actually be detrimental. So now it’s added in there that, paint applied other than the manufacturer’s is detrimental to the sprinkler performance.

Some could argue it’s becoming a little bit more vague, because it’s not just like a hard-set rule, but now it’s allowing you the ability as an inspector–or say the owner has a bunch of sprinklers with just a little bit of something on it. If you look in the annex, it does state, you could send out a representative sample and have them tested and see if it actually is detrimental to the performance, and you can make your decision based on that. So it’s giving you a little bit of allowance in that.

Drew Slocum:
Interesting. Who does the testing for a spray detrimental? That’s interesting.

Shawn Mahoney:
So the biggest thing you could do–I guess it all depends on where the paint is located…

Drew Slocum:
Right? If it’s on one of the arms. It’s like…

Shawn Mahoney:
Then you’re looking at RTI, but if it’s not, then I mean, you could send it back to the manufacturer. They could always look at bucket tests and see if it still passes.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah.

Shawn Mahoney:
Again, all that again, little bit more. There’s still some vagueness in there, but it is giving a little bit more allowance in there. And there’s…

Drew Slocum:
You know what? I’m sorry to interrupt you. That was one you mentioned to me the other day. One that I didn’t see is the sprinkler guard, if the sprinkler guard’s damaged. That’s new. It’s brand new, I think.

Shawn Mahoney:
Is it? Let me check.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah. We just did our 2023 code and that one popped up and I was like, oh, we forgot to add sprinkler guards. Was it new? I was on Link the other day.

Drew Slocum:
It was right past the loadings.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, so that’s a new section in there. Sorry, I was just pulling it up on Link real quick.

Drew Slocum:
Guards probably get damaged a lot if you’re in an area where it’s going to get damaged.

Shawn Mahoney:
Well, the other thing to pay attention to on guards is, and this is a big thing, the guard has to be listed for use with the sprinkler. And the biggest thing they’re looking at is response time and the spray pattern. The spray pattern is tested with that guard. You make sure it still passes its test with the guard. If the guard gets moved or bent or damaged, it could be in a way that now the spray pattern is no longer efficient. Right? Yeah, it makes complete sense that if the guard was damaged, you don’t know how it’s going to affect that spray pattern. It should be replaced.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah. Well, are you on the code right now? Does it mention listed?

Shawn Mahoney:
A damaged sprinkler guard shall be replaced with a guard listed for the spray.

Drew Slocum:
Cool. Cool, cool.

Shawn Mahoney:
And 13 says it too.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, I knew 13 said it. Yeah, yeah.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah. I think a lot of people might just throw on whatever guard they have in the truck. I went through that issue, I had a sprinkler system installed in my house and I had just some residential pendants in the basement and I wanted to put a guard on it. I reached out to the manufacturer and they’re like, we don’t have a guard for that one.

Drew Slocum:
They don’t have ’em for residential for

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah.

Drew Slocum:
You should just put it on anyway.

Shawn Mahoney:
We’ll see. I’m waiting to, I just got to be extra careful right now, right?

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, yeah. You don’t want to have a fire. Anyway. All right. So we got sprinklers. Again, small change, but potentially big change.

Shawn Mahoney:
Along the same lines for sprinklers is going to be the testing requirements for sprinklers. So in the past, dry sprinklers were required to be pulled out in a representative sample, tested every 15 years. That’s now been increased to 20 years. You’ve got to pull a representative sample out and test them, and then after that, you retest them every 10 years. So that increase is based on a better understanding on how those sprinklers have been doing, since we’re reaching that point where we’re starting to get the sprinklers tested. So they’re looking at how they’re doing passing those tests, and then also just the manufacturing process, the move from the dynamic O-ring, something a little bit more reliable is now allowing us to increase that test frequency more.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, nice. And then the quick or fast response change too, right?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yep. Fast response went from 20 years to 25 years, except for ESFR and CMSA sprinklers. Those stayed at 20 years because those are a little bit more special. We just don’t have enough data on how those were doing.

Drew Slocum:
Maybe not. Obviously, there’s a lot more fast response, quick response commercial sprinklers out there, so maybe it’s just a dataset. And I know UL and Dyne Labs have given a lot of data to the standard, which is really cool. That’s one part of the standard where you can see, it changed because of the data.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, it’s good. It’s good that we’re starting to see that and tweaking it as it goes, which is certainly good to use data to back up a lot of the stuff.

Drew Slocum:
They don’t get as many test frequencies because of it, but it’s progressing the standard, which is what you want, right?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, exactly.

Drew Slocum:
All right. What else we got here?

Shawn Mahoney:
So the next one that I thought was interesting–and this we can tie into some of the stuff we’re seeing for the 2026 edition–is nitrogen systems. So, NFPA 13 allows you to increase your C value when you’re hydraulically calculating a sprinkler system, if you’re going to have nitrogen in the pipe. The idea is nitrogen is in a significantly reduced corrosion, so it’s going to reduce the friction in the pipe, so you can use a higher C factor, which means you’re going to have lower friction loss in the piping. Which can allow you to use smaller sprinkler, smaller piping, to get that system designed. So sometimes a designer might do that.

Now it comes into a maintenance thing where we have something that’s required by the design standard. We need to have that nitrogen in the piping in order to design the system. So, 25 now requires, in chapter four, it requires that the owner needs to maintain that nitrogen supply for the system, whether it’s the generator or you have physical bottles of nitrol. And then in chapter 13, for both pre-action and dry systems, you need to test semi-annually to make sure that you have at least 98% nitrogen. That’s if you’re not monitoring at all, if you’re monitoring it at some constantly attended location, then you can test it annually.

Drew Slocum:
Oh, I didn’t know that. I thought it was still semi-annual, okay. But that monitoring, I know there’s some digital monitors. I’m assuming that’s going back to the fire alarm panel or supervisory, and is that what you mean by the…monitoring?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, they use the term constantly attended location in a lot of different standards, like 101 will do it too. The fire alarm is probably the best way, the way that most people are going to do that. If it’s going to be a supervised system, that’s going to send the signals to a constantly attended location.

Drew Slocum:
Gotcha.

Shawn Mahoney:
I mean, the way it’s written, you could be–if you have a control room that someone’s always there and you’ve got something that’s going to notify you, that could still do that as well.

Drew Slocum:
I’m really curious to see how that goes. I sold and helped and put in a lot of nitrogen systems around the New York metro area, and it was really tough to hold them at 98% nitrogen. And it had nothing to do with the generator or the test–it was more just the piping network. And obviously, if it’s a new system, you don’t have as much moisture. And again, I’m interested to see how that goes now that it’s in the standard that you’re going to have to be tested. And a lot of times those test points are at the far end of the system. Making sure you get to those and have it accessible when you design it is important too.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah. I think the next part too is, 25 says you only need to do it if you’re using the nitrogen for the increased C value. So now you have to track, the designer has to identify, yeah, I’m using this nitrogen system for the increased C value, and that now has to get tracked through the life of the system that this is a required system that needs to be tested.

Drew Slocum:
Does the placard–the placard has a C value, right?

Shawn Mahoney:
I think so, I don’t know off the top of my head.

Drew Slocum:
I mean, right there is a reason to change the placard to have C factor, right?

Shawn Mahoney:
But then again, how many systems have you been to that? I mean, it’s required to check in 25, right? You’re required to check if it’s there. It could be a deficiency if it’s not there, but if you lose it, getting it back, it’s another maintenance item.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, nightmare on nitrogen. And traditionally nitrogen, it’s great for corrosion, right? But maintenance wise, those things are expensive and tough to maintain. And I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes.

I know the vapor barriers are coming out in what the next standard, right?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah. So 13, I have to say proposed, still. We have a tech session coming up at C & E, but it’s in 13 right now to allow an increased C factor if you have the vapor guard system. So we’re seeing that move into 25 similarly, that you need to, if you’re using it for the increased C value in 13, you need to ensure that you’re maintaining it.

Drew Slocum:
Nice.

Shawn Mahoney:
So we’re seeing that move forward…

Drew Slocum:
New technology. And I think that one of the other new technologies that I think you’re probably going to bring it up, but it’s just the self-test water is a water flow alarm, right?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah. So that one isn’t, we’re just seeing a lot of new technology come in. I mean, this is happening in all of our standards, in 72 for fire alarms, in 20 for fire pumps. 25 is no different. We have a lot of these abilities to do self testing. So there’s a new requirement in chapter 13 about, if you’ve got a water flow alarm device, which is listed to self-tests. So there are products out there that what they basically do is they have a way that they can pull the vein back, the water flow vein and then measure how much time it takes for it to respond back. And it can test to make sure that it’s all there and it’s still going to respond. You can use that, but then every three years you still need to flow water. You can’t just keep using that.

And the same thing with water flow. If you’ve got–now there’s the self-test recirculating pumps that you can use, which will recirculate the water equivalent to the lowest K factor sprinkler. You can do that, but then every three years you still have to flow water. So, it’s just making sure that we’re not solely relying on that one thing.

Drew Slocum:
Do you have to be there? Do you have to be in, I don’t know if it was mentioned, do you have to physically be present when you do that test? What I’m getting at is can that be hooked to a remote station where that’s done automatically?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, I think a lot of that’s going to be into 915 territory.

Drew Slocum:
Well, no, that won’t be 915, I sit on 915. 915 kind of pushes back to 25. So that’s more of a specific for 25. So I’ll have to read it again. I’m sure we’ll get a comment in the video or something. Somebody knowing about it.

Shawn Mahoney:
I can try to pull it up.

Drew Slocum:
Jason Webb from Potter will definitely be commenting on it. 

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, he definitely knows. I’m pretty sure there’s a section in remotely monitored automated testing at in chapter–oh, that is…

Drew Slocum:
Oh, there is a chapter. You’re right. Or a sub-chapter.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, chapter eight has it. Let me see. There should be one…remote….

Drew Slocum:
I know they addressed it with fire pump and if nobody’s on site, they got to be there in X amount of minutes for the turn test, stuff like that.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, it looks like chapter eight has all of that. I’m trying to see. I’m remembering that there was something in–I mean this is in chapter 13, there might, I just dunno off the top of my head.

Drew Slocum:
I’d be interested to see if they’re starting to be used. Because if you’re designing a system, you’re installing a system, right? You’re probably not going to use one of those. And a lot of this goes to installation and maintenance, right? Where you design it per the installation standards, and this goes all fire protection, but a lot of times it’s not because you install it, usually that contractor’s not doing the maintenance. So they have that one year period that they have to kind of hold that construction of that new construction for, and then it’s kind of out of their hands. So if they’re bidding a project, they’ve got 10 risers, what makes it benefit them to put in some of the better maintenance stuff? Obviously that should go back to the engineer that’s doing this for the building owner and all that, but I have a feeling it’s probably not happening as much, and you and I mentioned, hey, we got to start designing systems that look at maintenance better, because that raises the cost to the building tremendously.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, I’ve heard a lot of these discussions and a lot of it seems to just be a very proactive owner will look at that kind of stuff and be able to track it. Because the problem is, and I’ve talked to some facility managers about this, the problem is the installation of a new system is whatever, capital expense, it’s a different bucket than operations. They just want to keep the capital expense as low as possible without comparing it to like, Hey, our operations is going to be lower if we spend more money upfront. So it’s a lot of that conversation where it’s tough because, and then if you look at the bidding, you’re just trying to get the most cost effective system that you can, which doesn’t include a lot of some of the extra features that might make a system easier to maintain and test down the road.

Drew Slocum:
Right.

Shawn Mahoney:
Even just simple things as–like I was talking to facility manager, he started in his buildings with his all new projects. Anytime a check valve goes in, you’re putting a butterfly valve under and on top, he said, because now you could just close those valves. I mean, they’re supervised, they’re allowed to be there, close those valves, open up your check valve, do your internal, close it back up, open the valves up, you’re good. You didn’t have to drain down the system. You’ve saved so much time from a–you don’t need a fire watch, you don’t have an impairment. Do that so quickly. It’s just, understanding the cost of that extra to go back and retrofit, it’s so expensive.

Drew Slocum:
Totally. 

Shawn Mahoney:
Butterfly alve in design is so small.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, butterfly valves, a few hundred bucks and then install it’s, it’s less than a thousand bucks to put a butterfly valve in. Any more changes you saw for the 2023 edition?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, so there was one, let’s see. You brought up earlier today about the added requirement for inspecting and testing automatic air vents. This is another one that–the 2019 edition of 13 added the requirement for automatic air vents in sprinkler systems, or some way to remove the air out of the piping network. We found that at that air-to-water interface in the sprinkler piping is where you find that accelerated corrosion. So, trying to get all the air out. So then you add this requirement for automatic air vents, and now we see this requirement come in for inspecting and testing them, and we all know that most–you know you’re required to put it at that high point. Where is that high point? It’s usually very hard to get it to that spot. Granted, 25 only requires you to inspect it from the floor annually to make sure it’s not damaged. But you do have to get up there every five years to pull any strainers or filters out and check it.

Drew Slocum:
And flush it.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, you still got to get up there every once in a while. That’s a tough one.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, I just had it on wet systems, it’s like, oh man, it’s way up in the ceiling. It’s like, alright, I’m glad we brought that up because it is going to be a big thing. And again, it’s the newer systems going in, but five, 10 years down the road, it’s interesting to see new technology and how it’s going to adapt or kind of evolve over time of how the maintenance goes. Because new technology hasn’t been in the field, so how do we know what’s going to happen to it?

Shawn Mahoney:
So as you start changing those components, definitely the way you do things are going to change a bit. 

Drew Slocum:
This is awesome. Yeah, this is great, Shawn. Obviously want to do this with 72 as well, some new stuff. We’ve got the 2022 edition proposed coming out, right?

Shawn Mahoney:
The 2022 edition is out, the 2026 edition, 2025 edition is up at technical meeting this year. And then will hopefully be released in September, October of this year along with 13.

Drew Slocum:
Nice. Yeah, so a little plug. We’ll do something here in a couple months after. Hopefully that’s solidified at C & E, right?

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah. Yeah. There’s a lot of interesting talking about new technology coming into that, like the cybersecurity requirements in 72. Definitely an interesting one to talk about, some of that stuff coming up.

Drew Slocum:
And speaking of C & E, that’s exciting. What’s it a month or a month or so from this recording? We’re going to have this episode out a few weeks beforehand, but any big highlights at the NFPA Conference and Expo in June?

Shawn Mahoney:
So, big highlights, at least from my point. So I’m responsible for leading the process of selecting our educational sessions and a lot of the technical content that goes into it. And this year, new for this year, we have two learning annexes, which are essentially free educational content for anyone who comes to C & E. You can get an expo pass for free if you get on the floor, you can get into these learning annexes. We put two together: One’s latest information for firefighters, which has got a lot of good sessions. It’s for a line level firefighter or a mid-level management firefighter trying to work their way up, get more involved in codes and standards. This is talking about a lot of the operational and how you manage the firegrounds on fire protection systems for firefighters, fire alarm systems, managing battery/energy storage systems, managing electrical vehicle incidents. So we’ve got a lot of those coming. That’s going to be Monday-Tuesday, that session.

And then we also have a group of sessions for facility managers and builders–is kind of who we focused it towards–on natural disaster preparedness and recovery. So it’s going a lot over on emergency planning. We’ve got sessions on electrical resiliency and creating an emergency plan and talking about every time there’s a natural disaster that occurs. I keep thinking of when Hurricane Sandy came through, and there was that one building right in the path that was still there.

So we have a session from a person going over the buildings that survived. What have we learned from all of this? What was different about that? Understanding how you can make a more resilient building. So a lot of that, I’m really interested for that because this is content. So if you’re in the Orlando area, I highly suggest coming down for a day and seeing what sessions are available. You don’t have to pay for a conference pass if you want to go to those sessions. But then we also have, if you’re coming to the conference, we’ve got over 130 educational sessions Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday for anyone who’s interested in learning everything and anything around fire protection, life safety, electrical, we’ve got sessions covering all that stuff.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, it’s the best of the best conference in fire protection. It’s exciting every year when it’s a few weeks ahead of time and everybody’s like, oh, when you coming to NFPA? And we’re in all sectors of fire protection, so everybody usually goes to that, globally, which is really cool. I’m excited personally for it to come back to Boston in what, two more years I think? Or is it next year?

Shawn Mahoney:
No, I think it’s still a little while before we come back to Boston. We’ve got, we’ll be in Vegas for two years in a row, and then I want to say, I think it’s Nashville after that.

Drew Slocum:
Alright.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, so trying some different places, and then I think it goes back to San Antonio.

Drew Slocum:
Oh, I remember that.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah. So what had happened was, because of COVID, we had open contracts with Mandalay Bay for those few years, we had to use the contracts up. But Vegas tends to be our bigger years anyways. We have a lot bigger of attendance in Vegas than we have.

Drew Slocum:
Yep. It’s local for me, for Boston. That’s why. Well, this is great, Shawn. Thanks again for popping on and obviously look forward to seeing you at NFPA and in Orlando. And  let’s definitely do something again for 72 in the coming months. I think that’ll be important.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah. I’m also interested–maybe your listenership–what editions would you want to hear changes for? We can easily talk about the 2025 edition. We can talk about some of those changes. But if they want to hear about the 2019 or 2022–interested to hear what additions they’re on and we can kind of focus on that. 

Drew Slocum:
That’s a great point. I may poll that within Inspect Point. That’s actually a great poll, and maybe we just focus the next one on that, right? Because nobody’s going to be on 2025 anytime soon. 

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, I mean, it’s good to know. We can talk high level on some of the big changes. But if they’re using more of the earlier stuff. I’m happy to talk about those too.

Drew Slocum:
Recurring guest, Shawn Mahoney.

Shawn Mahoney:
I’m happy to come on and talk. I mean, talking changes is fun, and I just like being able to help everybody understand how to use the codes and standards and where everything’s going.

Drew Slocum:
That’s great. That’s great. Well, where can everybody find you, obviously nfpa.org for anything NFPA.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, so if you want to learn more about Conference and Expo nfpa.org/conference to learn everything about conference and expo. You can find me on LinkedIn or, yeah, it’s probably the easiest way to get a hold of me is to find me on LinkedIn if you got questions about stuff.

Drew Slocum:
Yeah, I’ll throw you in. I’ll tag you in.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, so that’s the best way to,

Drew Slocum:
Yeah. Thanks again, Shawn.

Shawn Mahoney:
Yeah, thanks for having me, Drew.

Drew Slocum:
This has been episode 63 of The Fire Protection Podcast, powered by Inspect Point. I want to thank Shawn Mahoney again for coming on the podcast, discussing new changes within NFPA 25 and more to come, right? Where we potentially have some more podcasts here, talking about some of the changes in the codes, so potential recurring guests. So again, thanks to Shawn and hope to see you at NFPA here in June. Take care.