How To Commission New Hangars

Building or renovating an aircraft hangar is a decision that is entered into with much prior planning and large capital investment. Besides the cost of the building itself, these hangars protect contents that are valued in the millions of dollars. A fire incident that would cause these buildings or their contents to be devalued would be catastrophic.

It is for this reason that a large portion of a hangar’s construction costs are invested in fire protection. An adequate fire protection plan will include both, active and passive, fire protection components (these requirements are outlined in NFPA 409, Standard on Aircraft Hangars). The primary active protection are the building’s fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems, while passive components consist of items such as properly constructed fire walls, and dampers in duct work.

It would be a shame to invest all this money in these complex systems only to find, when they were most needed, that they did not function properly, or work appropriately in conjunction with the building’s other components. To prevent this from occurring the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)—dedicated to reducing the burden of fire and other hazards to life safety by providing consensus codes and standards, research and education—produced document NFPA 3, Recommended Practice for Commissioning and Integrated Testing of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems. This standard was created to give clear guidance to the integrated testing of fire systems, and provide a reliable means of ensuring that all active and passive fire and life safety systems work as they are intended.


What is Commissioning?

Fire and Life Safety Commissioning (Cx) is defined as, “a systematic process that provides documented confirmation that fire and life safety systems function according to the intended design criteria set forth in the project documents and satisfy the owner’s operational needs, including compliance with requirements of any applicable laws, regulations, codes and standards requiring fire and life safety systems.”

Fire and life safety commissioning is a system put into place to ensure that all systems are installed properly and meet applicable codes, standards and local regulations. Once installed, fire and life safety commissioning is in place to ensure that all these systems work as they should and in harmony with all other systems.


Who Can Provide Commissioning?

Although, NFPA 3 does not require any type of certification for commissioning agents, it does outline knowledge and skills that a commissioning agent should possess. The Fire Commissioning Agent (FCxA) is the person or entity who leads, plans, schedules, documents and coordinates the fire protection and life safety commissioning team, implements the commissioning process, and ensures that integrated systems testing is appropriately conducted.

With this as the primary objective a FCxA should possess the following: