Remote Inspections: The New Normal?

Remote inspections may never have been considered by most AHJs, but they have been gaining acceptance in the post-COVID environment.

Remote Inspections: The New Normal?

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

A new NFPA standard, 915, Standard for Remote Inspections has been in development since 2019, and most of the work was completed by the Technical Committee virtually due to COVID. The final step will be to see if any Certified Amending Motions are to be made at next year’s NFPA annual meeting. If none are received, it will then be a consent document and will go into publication by early next year.  

This is a standard that was primarily written with and for the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in mind. The document is intended to allow an AHJ to oversee an inspection, such as a pre-wire or final without having to be physically on-site. While this may never have been considered by most AHJs prior to COVID, it has been gaining acceptance in the COVID and post-COVID environment.  

The scope of the document is: 

This standard shall provide the minimum requirements for the procedures, methods, transmission, data collection, and documentation associated with remote inspections and tests, automated inspection and testing, and distance monitoring performed in accordance with other governing laws, codes, and standards. 

While the word “tests” is contained within the scope statement, the Technical Committee did during the second draft meeting, remove from the main body of the standard references to testing, so that it was clear that this Standard is to be used for the inspection of a system or systems at a protected premises.  

This is not to state that an AHJ cannot remotely witness a test that is being conducted by a contractor, owner or third-party who is at the site. With advancements in smartphones, pads and drones, the remote inspector can be virtually with the “operator” who is conducting the on-site work. The remote inspection is defined as: 

The use of audio/visual devices and/or other technologies to perform an inspection or witness a test for the purpose of remote verification. 

Verification is an important requirement of this standard. The AHJ needs to have an absolute assurance that the location of the remote work is the actual physical location of the building that is being inspected. Verification is also required of the actual inspection or test that is being performed that it passed. 

Test is defined as: A procedure intended to establish the operational status or performance of a system or component. 

NFPA 915 does not provide any procedures as to how an inspection or test is to be conducted. This is to be from a standard that covers a particular system. Thus, the final inspection of a sprinkler system would follow NFPA 13, 13R or 13D as well as 25. For a fire alarm it would be NFPA 72. For an electrical system it would be NFPA 70 and so on. 

The AHJ will be responsible for providing the criteria for the suitability of performing the remote inspection and or test, limitations, documentation, technology to be used, submission format, scheduling and record retention.  

It is therefore the AHJ that is in control of the remote inspection. This is really no different than an inspection or test that is conducted “live” at a protected premises. It is intended that the AHJ direct these inspections.  

An inspection or test plan is to be developed by the owner or contractor for the systems that are to undergo the remote work. The AHJ then is to approve this inspection or test plan. This is a requirement that is already a part of NFPA 72.  

With changes that have occurred due to COVID, what might have never been considered a few years ago, may over time become the new normal for pre-and final inspections and tests for a building. This will allow an AHJ to inspect more locations during a single day from their office as opposed to having to drive from location to location. The future is here. 

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author


Shane Clary, Ph.D., is Security Sales & Integration’s “Fire Side Chat” columnist. He has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is vice president of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pancheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm Co.

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.

A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Newsletters