In a NFPA Journal online exclusive, senior fire protection engineer Matt Klaus, highlights the definition of commissioning and explains:

“At present there is no standardized approach for an owner to track the design and construction process. Often times an owner has a level of expectation of what he is paying for, but the finished product doesn’t match up. Historically, there was really no way to quantify or monitor those expectations. That’s what commissioning does. It’s to make sure that there’s a process that walks you through pre-planning, design, construction, and occupancy, and what’s expected with all of a building’s active and passive systems at all of those steps. It’s designed so that building owners can rest at night knowing they got what they paid for and everything’s been done the right way. Often times owners are really in the dark. They’re not building experts, they’re not fire protection experts, they’re not roofing experts. They have to put a lot of trust in the people they hire.”

This reminds me of a project we did for a major banking facility where the client became extremely concerned with the performance of their fire protection contractor:

Our fire protection engineers reviewed the existing project documents, as well as the system components that were in place and provided information and guidance to the client. The existing contract was ultimately terminated, and we were retained to carry out an assessment to determine the fire protection systems and features needed. We also designed the suppression and detection systems.

Working closely with the client and the contractor, installation drawings were quickly developed and approved, and the systems were installed, reviewed, tested, and commissioned within a very short timeframe. The total time from initial assessment to system commissioning was approximately eight weeks, allowing the client to meet their regulatory commitment to improve the overall fire protection for the facility.

Commissioning is vitally important in fire protection. It establishes a checks and balances system to ensure that your assets are protected and that you get what you pay for.

By Jeff Harrington, CEO and Founder of Harrington Group, Inc.