Vote on 2021 IFC and 2021 IBC — ICC Group A

Online Governmental Consensus Vote

This short guide highlights the top-two positions for fire sprinkler systems in the proposed 2021 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC). Both positions are on the Cycle A Online Governmental Consensus Vote (OGCV) agenda from November 19-December 7. To vote, go to the website.

F110-18: Fire Sprinkler Systems in Open Parking Garages

NFSA Recommends OGCV Action: Vote for “As Modified”

This proposal eliminates the blanket exception for fire sprinklers in open parking garages in the IBC. Additionally, the proposal provides two new major thresholds to trigger the installation of fire sprinklers:

  1. New open parking garages over 55 feet in height or
  2. New open parking garages over 48,000 sq. ft. in fire area.

This proposal increases firefighter safety while responding to open parking at heights and areas that are often challenging, given the increased fire hazard of modern automobiles. Cars today are primarily combustible materials with over 50% plastic—including plastic fuel tanks and polyurethane seating—and lithium-ion battery systems. If these products were stored separately or collectively under any other name than “a car,” the structure would be considered an S-1 occupancy and trigger the installation of automatic sprinkler systems in accordance with Section 903.2.9 of the International Building Code (2018).

F117-18: NFPA 13R Maximum Height in IBC and IFC

NFSA Recommends OGCV Action: Vote for Disapproval

This proposal 1) reduces the maximum height of allowing an NFPA 13R system to a maximum of 30 feet to the floor of the topmost floor, and 2) eliminates measuring stories from a podium/pedestal top.

The average fourth-floor height of most US hotels and apartments is over 30 feet. Under this proposal, these structures would be required to increase to an NFPA 13 system. Since 1987, NFPA 13R has been a life safety fire sprinkler standard, and it has thousands of sprinkler saves (lives!) to its credit in four-story residential structures.

This proposal appears to eliminate wood four-story NFPA 13R residential structures on top of a podium or pedestal building; however, the text of this change does not correlate to Chapter 5 of the IBC 2018. If this proposal passes, then Chapter 5 of the IBC would conflict with Chapter 9.

It is important to note that the 2018 IBC and 2018 IFC addressed combustible attics by applying increased fire protection of residential attics over 55 feet in height. Most states and jurisdictions have not adopted or do not have the fire experience of using the increased protection of the 2018 IBC/IFC at this time. This proposal could needlessly increase the construction, water supply, and housing costs without knowing the full effects of the 2018 changes that the ICC membership approved.

As a member of the fire sprinkler industry, you have the ability to vote and influence fire codes and standards. For more information about upcoming changes, NFSA members can reach out via our website or call 443-863-4464. Not an NFSA member yet? Join today!




For over a century, the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) has served as the voice of the fire sprinkler industry. Our mission: advocating to protect lives and property through the widespread acceptance of the fire sprinkler concept. To join NFSA or learn more about the ways membership can benefit your organization, visit