2024 ICC Group A Proposals Part I

On January 11th, the deadline to submit proposals to change the 2024 ICC Group A model codes passed. As usual, there are several thousand proposals that must be processed and heard. In a previous blog, the process by which proposals make it into the model codes was discussed. The National Fire Sprinkler Association submitted 17 proposals to further the cause of the automatic fire sprinkler industry. Over the next couple of blogs, the proposals that were submitted will be reviewed and discussed.

As a brief reminder the next step in the model code development process is the release of the monograph that includes every proposal that was submitted by individuals from around the world. Once that monograph is released, the NFSA’s Code Development Team will review the proposals that affect the fire sprinkler industry. The team will then develop a strategy to work with others to support or oppose those proposals. That strategy will then be executed at the Committee Action Hearings in April.

The first proposal concerns itself with the record keeping requirements for owners in the International Fire Code (IFC). It modifies and adds language to Section 701.6. The intent of this proposal is to provide correlation and consistency for recordkeeping requirements throughout the IFC. The previous requirements provided no guidance for owners to maintain their records to Section 108.3. Section 108.3 provides recordkeeping requirements for maintenance and inspections. Having the requirement for a record of inspections and repairs buried in the center of the IFC hides the requirement for uniform maintenance.

The next proposal addresses undivided areas and draft curtains. This proposal modifies the language of Section 910.2.1 in the IBC. The IBC is not clear on what is meant by the term “undivided area.” However, the intent is to provide the ability to manage smoke in large spaces. Draft curtains, or potentially any physical separation (regardless of rating), would provide such division. The commentary specifies what constitutes construction that bounds smoke and the passage of smoke, and it states that draft curtains are typically 6-feet in depth. NFPA 204, the Standard for Smoke and Heat Venting, requires draft curtains to be 20% of the total ceiling height. Having construction requirements in the commentary is a clear indication that the code text needs some prescriptive requirements. The proposal provides requirements of what constitutes a divided area by putting requirements on draft curtain depth and the other passive systems found in Chapter 7 of the IBC.

This next proposal is a simple editorial change. The word draftstopping is used multiple times throughout the IBC, IFC, IMC (International Mechanical Code) and IPC (International Plumbing Code) with no definition. However, the term draftstop is a defined term in the IBC and IFC. These are the same terms. This development replaces all occurrences of draftstopping with the defined term of “draftstop.” Additionally, this development inserts the definition for draftstop into the IMC and IPC.

The final proposal that is discussed in this edition will be a major addition in automatic sprinkler requirements in assembly occupancies. This proposal will require automatic sprinkler systems in fire areas where alcoholic beverages are being consumed for assembly occupancies with more than 100 occupants. The nature of assembly occupancies has evolved over time and the protection of those occupancies should evolve as well. New types of assembly spaces are being created, and with the

creation of those spaces so should the protection. Additionally, with these new types of assembly occupancies, new types of fire loads are appearing. When these things are combined with increased occupancy loads of individuals under the influence of alcohol; the opportunity for tragedy increases exponentially.

One of these new occupancies is the use of “wedding barns.” These are barns that are being built or retrofit to hold wedding ceremonies and receptions. Naturally, these barns have unique fire loads that many occupancies would not normally have present. (I.e., hay bales for seating and decoration, lanterns for lighting and décor, heating equipment for winter months, etc.) The National Fire Protection Association conducted a study on structure fires in barns. The study shows that during a four-year period there were 830 structure fires in barns with one civilian death, 10 civilian injuries and around $28 million in property damage annually. The leading causes for these fires were heating equipment, electrical distribution and lighting. As with most wedding events, substantial amounts of alcohol are involved. All these factors combined create a hazardous space filled with occupants whose reactions times and thought processes are slowed and impaired.

Additionally, A-1 occupancies such as movie theatres and concert halls are evolving to become more of a luxury event. Many movie theatres and concert venues across the nation are now selling alcohol to patrons or are renting the space for private parties. Also, many other types of occupancies within the assembly category provide alcohol to attendees. Protecting these spaces with automatic sprinkler systems is a need that has been present for some time.

For a full breakdown of all the proposals that have been submitted by the NFSA, click here.