Are fire sprinklers required?

Fire sprinklers are considered an active fire protection method because they directly fight fires in emergency situations. With more fire sprinkler systems being used today in various different buildings, rather than solely factories and large commercial buildings, the statistics show that 96% of fires have been controlled by sprinklers alone.

There are a number of factors that influence the matter of needing fire sprinklers in a facility. The person who is in charge of this decision is the plumbing engineer whose responsibility is the design of the sprinkler system. For this to be done correctly, the engineer has to be very familiar with multiple sections of the International Fire code (IFC) and the International Building Code (IBC). There are several sections throughout that administer important information regarding fire sprinkler systems and what kinds of parameters are pertinent to certain design plans.

Sprinkler System Requirements

The first place to check would be chapter 9 of the IBC titled “Fire Protection Systems.” It focuses on occupancy and how that directly translates to fire sprinkler requirements. In addition, there are a handful of types of buildings that are always required to have fire sprinkler systems, these are:

  • High risk areas
  • Institutional buildings
  • Residential buildings
  • Retail outfits

One must also take into account the allowable area for buildings that are sprinklered or non-sprinklered. Naturally, the ones that have a sprinkler system tend to be larger buildings, so they are more protected in case of emergency. Larger buildings are required to have sprinkler systems; new buildings that are 5,000 square feet must have them as well as existing structures that expand to over 12,000 square feet.

The aforementioned regulations are only a handful in comparison to all the minute details that have yet to be mentioned. Because of that, another good place to check for these rules is the National Fire Sprinkler Association. The non-profit organization develops standards and works closely with lawmakers (both state and local) to promote the use of sprinklers that often end up saving lives. Because of this, the NFSA are experts on the IBC and IFC regulations that are needed for code compliant construction and fire protection systems like fire sprinklers.

Overall, the essential question everyone needs to ask is where fire sprinklers should be put into action. This is simply because they essential for safety and should be implemented wherever they can regardless.



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