Brian Buscher is a global marketing manager for Xylem’s A-C Fire brand with expertise in centrifugal pump systems for fire suppression in industrial and commercial facilities. He is a principal member of the NFPA 20 Technical Committee on Fire Pumps, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University. His two-part series, “Fire Codes: A Foundation of Safety for a Rapidly Changing World,” appears in the April and May issues, and he sat down with MPT to discuss the changing codes and regulations relating to fire safety in commercial buildings, from standards on insulation and inspection to the installation of stationary pumps for fire protection.
MPT: What role can manufacturers of fire protection equipment play in shaping technical regulations on fire protection?
Brian Buscher: Manufacturers have been sitting on the technical committees for the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, almost since the beginning. The organization mostly began as representatives from insurance companies, but they quickly realized that manufacturers—specifically pump manufacturers, controls manufacturers, and sprinkler manufacturers—would be better equipped to sit on the technical committees that help write the codes. For example, I currently sit on the NFPA 20 Technical Committee, which is the code that covers the insulation and maintenance of fire pumps.
With our background and training, we definitely influence and improve the codes. When we have new technologies introduced or possible misuse of current technology, we’re there to ensure that the codes and the standards are best aligned to keep people safe.
MPT: You mention that the NFPA has more than 300 consensus codes that have been adopted throughout the world. How does this factor into the product offerings of the A-C Fire brand?
Brian Buscher: Most NFPA codes don’t apply directly to the fire pump itself, but to the overall system. However, some codes do come into our thinking specifically. NFPA 20, that I mentioned earlier, applies to the system as a whole but has special importance on the pump. NFPA 25, which is the code for the subsequent inspection, testing, and maintenance of the system relates to A-C Fire’s offerings as well. And then NFPA 13, which regulates the sprinkler system itself, also relates to our business. NFPA has done a great job in making sure that these rules-making committees, the technical committees, remain up to date on the changes in technology by making sure that these related industries all talk to one another.
MPT: As fire protection equipment technology outpaces system capabilities, how can the industry best work with regulators to keep them informed? What areas require special emphasis in the coming decades?
Brian Buscher: We see that happening all the time. In fact, on the NFPA 20 committee right now, we’re in “revision cycle” for the 2019 version of the standard. One of the big updates we’re looking at concerns the Internet of Things (IoT), how connectivity between pieces of equipment in the pump room, the pump controller itself and the connectivity from that controller, works best with the monitoring system.
This is an important concern for both the NFPA and manufacturers because, with fire pump systems, being able to control that system remotely might seem like a good idea, but by the same idea token it introduces potential risks. If you’re an arsonist or a hacker, then remote access to that control system becomes a target.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to fire pump systems, as contrasted with HVAC or irrigation systems, is that these controls are in place to keep those pumps running for as long as they can, which can mean up to their destruction. That’s because most control systems are meant to protect the equipment, but fire pump control systems are meant to protect lives. ◆
MODERN PUMPING TODAY, May 2017
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