2024 ICC Group A Proposals Part III

On March 1st, the monograph for all the proposed changes to the 2024 ICC Group A model codes will be released. As usual, there are several thousand proposals that must be processed through the code development committees over the span of several weeks in April and May. The National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) submitted 17 proposals to further the cause of the automatic fire sprinkler industry. This is part three of the proposals that were submitted by the NFSA.

Once the monograph is released, the NFSA’s Engineering and Standards (E&S) Committee and 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 Committee Action Hearings are normally held in person, however, due to the pandemic, they will be held virtually. Anyone can still participate in the hearing process. The process will be similar to the usual expected layout as an in-person hearing. You MUST register to participate. It is free to participate in the hearings. You can register here. This blog finishes with a couple important proposals by the NFSA.

Protection in Animal Housing

Sprinkler protection in animal housing has been a bit of a controversial topic in the building code world over the last couple of cycles. Many feel that it is important to protect the lives of animals in various types of settings from veterinary to large livestock barns, while others feel the codes are for the protection of human lives. This difference of opinion has caused several failed attempts in passing a successful proposal. The NFSA set out to address the concerns of the code committees, but also provide adequate protection for this industry.

This proposal does two things: it addresses a special type of occupancy that is not covered by the International Building Code (IBC) or International Fire Code (IFC) by providing a definition of animal housing, and it addresses when residential occupancies are mixed with animal housing facilities. It is important for the IBC to recognize the special operations that take place in these unique facilities, where a secondary population is wholly reliant on a primary population for the necessary, prompt attention required during a fire emergency. Additionally, this proposal addresses the concerns of the code committee from previous cycles. Further clarification is provided within the definition of what type of facilities are considered animal housing facilities. This proposal’s main goal is to make the protection of human occupants paramount, i.e., where residential dwelling or sleeping units are part of the animal housing facility. It also addresses the concern from the committee that the protection of occupants’ lives was secondary. The model codes do not currently adequately address facilities in which people may delay evacuation for the care of animals.

Removing Zones from the IBC

The final proposal that will be discussed is the removing of “zones” from the IBC. This proposal is to remove the word “zone” from the IBC as it pertains to automatic sprinkler systems. The word “zone” is used and defined by NFPA 14 (standpipes), NFPA 20 (fire pumps) and NFPA 72 (fire alarms), however it is not used or defined by NFPA 13 or the IBC. It is confusing to apply “zone” to a sprinkler system when other installation standards use the term in a way that accounts for multiple floors or systems. Sprinkler systems for high-rises are individual to each floor, meaning, each sprinkler system is required to have a floor control assembly which, by NFPA 13 and NFPA 25 definition, serves as a separate system. For example, a 50-story building, has at least 50 sprinkler systems, or one per floor. The term “fire protection system” is defined by the IBC and IFC, and when used with the term “zone”, is better correlated with the other fire protection installation standards.

This proposal also removes the word “riser”. Riser is meant to be the water supply through the standpipe system or directly in the express main(s) through the fire pump system. Using riser is not incorrect, but it confuses the terms used by NFPA 13. A riser is a vertical supply pipe in NFPA 13, but in high rises are usually combined with the standpipe system. To state “riser” in the IBC implies a separate feed to just the sprinkler system where the common practice (and intent of this section) is to use the standpipe system to be the water supply to each sprinkler system per floor.

There are many other proposals that the NFSA submitted, and we encourage all members to be a part of the Committee Action Hearings, starting on April 11th and running through May 5th. For a full breakdown of all the proposal that have been submitted by the NFSA, click here. For a full schedule of the hearings and a complete monograph of all proposals submitted, click here.