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Home > Fire Sprinklers > Permits > Plan Review Checklist

Fire Marshal's Plan Review Checklist (for new NFPA 13 jobs with more than 100 heads)

There is a list of what is required for a full plans review submittal in the 2010 edition of NFPA 13, in Chapter 22, with a list in section 22.1.3. I find this list to be vague and not well organized so I took that list and rearranged & expanded it into a "specifics check-list" to help the fire sprinkler designer. It is arranged in the sequence by which I do a plan review. Only 1 set of plans and calculations is required.

I do not require “Preliminary Plans” for submittals, only “Shop Drawings”, which NFPA calls “Working Plans”.  At the preliminary stage of design, please contact me if there are any questions about basic design concepts.  I do not require a copy of the Owner’s Information Certificate to be submitted to me, but beware that other standards may apply if there are “more-than-incidental” quantities of special hazards, such as flammable/combustible liquids, aerosols, plastics, compressed gas cylinders, idle pallets, oxidizers, etc.

Be sure to read the Technical Policy, Part 2 for all of the "red flags" for fire sprinkler system designers. It is found on this website under "Laws, Codes, & Standards" which is under “Fire Sprinklers”, found at     

For doing a plan review for a permit for a new NFPA 13 fire sprinkler system that has more than 100 fire sprinkler heads, I require the following info as part of the permit submittal package.  (For smaller NFPA 13 jobs, NFPA 13R, Maine Life Safety, Hydro-Pro and renovation jobs not as much detail is required. For NFPA 13D systems a site plan and cross section are not required. Note also that electronic files are preferred and that the drawings may come as dwg, dwf, pdf or similar file formats.  The calcs may come in any format, although in Maine the industry's preference seems to be Hydratec.  Our office stays current with the latest editions of AutoCAD & Hydratec software in order to serve the industry efficiently.)

1. Job Record Info, (from online submittal data entry or from hard-copy application form)

            a. Includes License # of Contractor and License # of RMS

            b. Includes permit fee

            c. Includes other basic info that may also be required elsewhere in the submittal.

2. Job Scope Notes

            a. This may be in comment field, accompanying email, cover letter, or in “General Notes” on the drawings.

            b. This describes the “forest” before we get lost in it. 

                        Examples are: “This is phase 2 of a 3-phase project.”

                        “This is conversion of a wet system to a dry system.”

                        “This is the only tenant space under our contract.  Other spaces are to be bid on later.”

                        “This is a spec building with no known occupancy type.”

                        “The maximum height of storage and the commodity will depend upon new tenant’s use.”

                        “Renovation is only for the clouded portions.  The rest of the building has existing coverage.”

                        “This is a resubmittal with the major change being increasing pipe size of the grid mains.”

                        “This is a new wet system with 2 zones.”

3. Shop Drawings

            I have taken section 22.1.3 of NFPA 13, 2010 and reorganized it into a “sectional-format” that is easy to check, and then numbered each item within each section.  Note that my numbering is different from NFPA, that I omitted a few of their line items such as seismic bracing and then added a few practical comments.

            I generally review a plan by examining each of the following sections in a sequential order as shown.

            (Note that x-ref files are tied to your file directory, not mine, and therefore won’t open on my computer)

            The shop drawings shall include the following where applicable:           

            A. Title Block:

                        1. Job name, (To be consistent with the job name on application, and also the job name on the calcs.)

                        2. Name of owner and/or tenant.  This may or may not be the job name.

                        3. Location, including street address.

                        4. Name of fire sprinkler Contractor, Responsible Managing Supervisor, and the designer.

                        5. A graphic representation of the scale used on all plans, (this can be on the drawing itself)

                        6. Date of completion/revision of each drawing.

                        7. Number all drawings in format of “1of 4”.  If a sequence sheet is missing, indicate why.

                        8. Your company’s unique “job file number”.                       

            B. General Notes, (typically located on the drawings)

                        1. This includes a description of info not shown on the drawings.

                                    Examples: Spare head box with wrench and 12 spare heads are provided.

                                                     Grid has a ¼” relief valve.

                                                      The canopies are not shown because they are less than 4’ wide.

                        2. Design criteria for different areas

                                    This gives code references for unusual designs for how design criteria were determined.

                        3. Description of pipe, antifreeze, pumps, etc is typically given here.

                        4. Code references for omission of head coverage are given here or on the prints.

                        5. Non-typical spacing of heads with head spec design criteria for that spacing is here or on the prints

                        6. Edition year of NFPA 13 used & any other standards that may apply.

                        7. Generic notes, such as “All wiring of devices by others”

                        8. Some of this info may be located in the Title Block instead of on the drawings.


            C. Site Plan:

                        1. North arrow

                        2. Building location relative to adjacent roads, etc so that it can be located in the field

                        3. Water supply relative to building, including:

                                    a. Size, distance & pipe type for all underground piping from hydrants to system riser.

                                    b. Indication of 1 or 2 hydrant test, which hydrant was flowed and which was gauged.

                                    c. Elevations of the hydrants and the bottom of system riser relative to each other

                                    d. Hydraulic reference nodes back to the city main.

                                    e. Indicate whether the city supply is circulating or dead-end.

                                                 If dead-end, then indicate distance to the nearest circulating main.               

                                    f. Valves, valve pits, shutoffs & meters between the city supply and system riser

                                    g. The depth that the top of the pipe is laid below grade 

                                                (This is optional since the underground is typically by others)

                                    Note that clearly labeled close-up satellite photos make great site plans.

                        4. Water Data:

                                    a. Static pressure in psi

                                    b. Residual pressure in psi

                                    c. Flow in gpm

                                    d. Date of test, including time of day.

                                    e. Source of the water data, (Ex: water district, engineer analysis, main drain test, etc).

                                    f. Any additional water supplies, (pumps, gravity tanks, pressure tanks, etc).

            D. Building Cross Section:

                        1. Ceiling/roof heights

                        2. Indicate structural members to the extent that this info affects the design.

                        3. Indicate construction type to the extent that this info affects the design.

                        4. Label of cross section included below the section.

                        5. Section “designation” drawn thru building where section was taken from

                        6. Unsprinklered concealed spaces “noted”.

                        7. More than one building cross section may be needed to help explain design.

            E. System Riser Detail:

                        1. A way to shut it off including means of supervision, (tamper, seal, or lock)

                        2. A way to drain it

                        3. A way to sound an alarm, (indicate whether electric or water motor gong)

                        4. A way to measure pressure on each side of the system check valve.

                                    This is to include a pressure gauge on the supply side of the backflow preventer.

                        5. Bypass valve on dry systems

                        6. Low-air alarm on dry systems in addition to low-air compressor switch     

            F. Sprinkler Plans (some of the following may be located under “General Notes”):

                        1. Location of partitions

                        2. Location of fire separation walls and notation of whether they are fire walls or fire-barrier walls.

                                    (Fire walls provide structural stability of one side from collapse on the other side.)

                        3. Label rooms by their intended use, (including closets, attics & bathrooms where not obvious).

                                    The intended use of the occupancy must be stated when room labels don’t make it obvious. (Examples are “B & B”, “Small Residential Board & Care”, “Mercantile”, etc.

                        4. Notes for unsprinklered room compartments, (“open to above”, “roof below”, “chase”, etc.)

                        5. Indicate make, type, model, & K-factor of sprinklers including sprinkler identification number.

                        6. Temperature rating and location of high-temperature sprinklers

                                    Indicate location of “heat zones” such as from ceiling heaters.

                        7. Note location for auxiliary drains

                        8. Note location of inspector’s test for each zone when it is not at the system riser.

                        9. Indicate branch line spacing, which includes the following:

                                    Dimensions between branch lines

                                    Dimension from end of branch line to nearest wall

                                    Dimension between branch line closest to the wall and the wall beside it

                        10. Overall building dimensions

                        11. Indicate dimensions for all mains from structure and/or grids.

                        12. Nominal pipe size and cutting lengths of pipe (or center-to-center dimensions)

                                    Have pipe and heads distinctly legible from the building layout & associated details.

....................... 13. Where typical branch lines prevail, it shall be necessary to size only one typical line.

                        14. Location and size of riser nipples/sprig-ups

                                    Draw symbols for sprinklers larger than for nipples/sprigs, etc.

                        15. Provide detail for any complex or hard-to-read areas.

                        16. Location of all welds & bends.

                        17. Specify sections to be shop welded and the type of fittings or formations to be used.

                        18. Type and locations of hangers, sleeves, braces, and methods of securing sprinklers

                        19. All control valves and check valves

                                    Make, type, model, and size of alarm or dry pipe valve.

                        20. Make, type, model, and size of preaction or deluge valve.

                        21. Drain pipes, and test connections with their termination locations noted

                        22. Size and location of standpipe risers, hose outlets, hand hose, & monitor nozzles

                        23. Where the equipment is to be installed as an addition to an existing system, enough of the existing system indicated on the plans to make all conditions clear.

                        24. If room design method is used, all unprotected wall openings throughout the floor

                        25. Hydraulic reference points, (Do not use circl-use polygons)

                        26. Hydraulically remote areas clearly outlined

                        27. For hydraulically designed systems, hydraulic summaries for each remote area which include:

                                                Name of area, (Ex:  “Area 1”, “Zone 6”, “Attic”, etc. Use same name on calcs)        

                                                Number of heads calculated

                                                Size of area

                                                Water density used for design

                                                Total pressure demand

                                                Total flow demand

                                                Safety margin in psi

                        28. The water required for both inside and outside hose streams

                        29. The required size of the hydraulically remote design area

                        30. The required water density           

                        31. In-rack sprinkler demand

                        32. The total water flow & the pressure required noted at a common reference point for each system.

                        33. Pipe centerline elevations

                        34. Ceiling/roof heights and slopes not shown in the full height cross section.

                        35. Define ceiling types & elevations by compartment.

                        36. Size, location, and piping arrangement of fire department connections

                                    (Verify with the local fire department)

                        37. Note that automatic ball drips are required in fire department connections in Maine.

                        38. Provide a key plan on each sheet for large projects, tenant spaces & phase-in jobs.

                        (The following items are often listed under “General Notes”, which is fine)


                        39. Total area protected by each system on each floor for large jobs

                        40. Total number of sprinklers on each dry pipe system, preaction system, combined dry pipe-preaction system, or deluge system

                        41. Total number of sprinklers for the job

                        42. Approximate capacity in gallons of each dry pipe system

                        43. Pipe type and schedule of wall thickness

                        44. Type of fittings and joints

                        45. Piping provisions for flushing noted.

                        46. The setting for pressure-reducing valves

                        47. Information about backflow preventers (specs including manufacturer, size, type with psi loss at given flows).

                        48. Antifreeze type, amount and concentration


Here are some items that I commonly run into during a plan review:

  • Plans:

    • Is the Responsible Managing Supervisor indicated on the plans?
    • Is there a site plan? Does the site plan show the water test data relative to the job site?
    • Where are the flow & test hydrants located? How far from the riser?
    • What difference is there in elevation between hydrant test and bottom of riser?
    • Is the site plan detailed enough so that I could use it to find the building in the field?
    • Is North indicated? Are adjacent buildings & roads indicated?
    • Does the riser detail show a way to shut it off?…to drain it?…to sound an check the pressure?
    • Is there a pressure gauge on the supply side of the backflow preventer?
    • Does fire pump detail show correct hook-up for both fire pump & jockey pump sensing lines?
    • Where is the inspector's test connection for dry systems?
    • Is there a low-air alarm?
    • Is there an air bypass?
    • Is there a building cross-section? More than one may be necessary depending upon the building.
    • Are sprinkler head legends complete including the total number of heads?
    • Are system capacities noted for dry systems & antifreeze systems?
    • Is the scale indicated?
    • Is coverage complete? Is spacing correct? Are there notations for why some areas are not covered?
    • Are there shutoffs outside of elevator shafts & elevator machine equipment rooms?
    • Are hydraulically remote areas clearly indicated & labeled? Are they of correct size?
    • Is there a hydraulic data summary tag on the print for each remote area?
    • Are there general notes to summarize the scope of the job?
    • When there is storage, are all necessary parameters given, such as commodity type, type of plastic, storage configuration, aisle width, encapsulation, etc?
  • Calculations:

    • Are the calcs included with a hydrologrithmic graph done to a legible scale?
    • Has elevation pressure loss been figured in?…backflow preventer pressure loss?
    • Has the hose demand been added in, if required?
    • Is there at least a 7 psi minimum for the hydraulically most remote sprinkler head?
    • Is the density correct for type of head and area of coverage?
    • Are code references and summary given for the rationale for determining the density and remote area size when there is storage?