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December 2006: Changes in NFPA 13

The recent release of the 2007 edition of NFPA 13 brought with it various changes with respect to general protection for Class I – IV commodities and miscellaneous occupancies.

Organization of the standard has been greatly improved. In the previous 2002 edition, Chapter 12 addressed virtually all storage arrangements and commodities. In the 2007 edition, the storage arrangement for various commodities are addressed in separate Chapters.

The titles of Chapters 1 to 11 have remained the same. The new chapters titles are as follows:

Chapter 12: General Requirements for Storage
Chapter 13: Storage of Miscellaneous Commodities
Chapter 14: Storage of Palletized, Solid Pile, Bin Box & Shelf Storage, Class I-IV
Chapter 15: Storage of Palletized, Solid Pile, Bin Box & Shelf Storage of Plastics
Chapter 16: Rack Storage of Class I through IV Commodities
Chapter 17: Rack Storage of Plastic Commodities
Chapter 18: Protection of Rubber Tire Storage
Chapter 19: Protection of Roll Paper
Chapter 20: Special Designs
Chapter 21: Special Occupancy Requirements
Chapter 22: Plan and Calculations
Chapter 23: Water Supplies
Chapter 24: System Acceptance
Chapter 25: Marine Systems
Chapter 26: System Inspection, Testing and Maintenance

Following is a brief description of the major changes that affect the design and protection of various occupancies/commodities:

Chapter 5, Classification of Occupancies & Commodities

Section 5.2, Libraries: A distinction has been made between libraries and library stack rooms. Libraries should be protected as a Light Hazard occupancy while stack rooms should be protected as an Ordinary Hazard occupancy.

Section 5.3.1, Definition of OH1: Ordinary hazard (Group 1) occupancies shall be defined as occupancies or portions of other occupancies where combustibility is low, quantity of combustibles is moderate, stockpiles of combustibles do not exceed 8 ft. and fires with moderate rates of heat release are expected.

Section 5.3.2, Definition of OH2: Ordinary hazard (Group 2) occupancies shall be defined as occupancies or portions of other occupancies where the quantity and combustibility of contents are moderate to high, where stockpiles of contents with moderate rates of heat release do not exceed 12 ft. and stockpiles of contents with high rates of heat release do not exceed 8 ft.

Chapter 7, System Requirements

Section 7.3.2.3, Double Interlock Preaction Systems: Now have three options for determining the maximum allowable size of the system. They include:

1) Deliver water in 60 sec. to inspectors test connection
2) Use listed computer program to prove water delivery in accordance with standard
3) Water delivery to a multiple orifice test manifold in accordance with standard

Chapter 8, Installation Requirements

Section A8.1.1, Heights in excess of 50 ft. (lobbies, vaults): Based upon experience and testing, sprinklers have been found to be effective and necessary at heights in excess of 50 ft. For a building to meet the intended level of protection afforded by NFPA 13, sprinklers must not be omitted from such high ceiling spaces.

Section 8.2.4, Multiple Buildings: Multiple buildings attached by canopies, covered breezeways, common roofs, or a common wall(s) shall be permitted to be supplied by a single fire sprinkler riser. The maximum system size shall comply with 8.2.1.

Section 8.2.5.1, Detached Buildings: Detached buildings, regardless of separation distance, that do not meet the criteria of 8.2.4 shall be provided with separate fire sprinkler systems.

Section 8.5.4.1.2, Metal Deck: For corrugated metal deck roofs up to 3 in. in depth, the distance shall be measured to the sprinkler from the bottom of the deck. For deeper decks, the distance shall be measured to the highest point on the deck.

Section 8.12.2.3, ESFR Spacing: The minimum allowable protection area for ESFR head was reduced from 80 sq. ft. to 64 sq. ft.

Section A8.15.1.2.1, Concealed Spaces: Minor quantities of combustible materials such as but not limited to: cabling, nonmetallic plumbing piping, non-structural wood, etc. can be present in concealed spaces constructed of limited or noncombustible materials but should not typically be viewed as requiring sprinklers.

Section A8.15.7.2, Porte-Cochers added to title of 8.15.7: Vehicles that are temporarily parked are not considered storage. Areas located at drive-in bank windows or porte-cocheres at hotels and motels normally do not require sprinklers where there is no occupancy above, where the area is entirely constructed of noncombustible or limited-combustible materials or fire retardant treated lumber, and where the area is not the only means of egress.

Section 8.15.7.3, Sprinklers under Canopies: Sprinklers can be omitted from below exterior roofs or canopies if the exposed material is noncombustible, limited combustible or FRT wood and the concealed space within is sprinklered or meets one of the following:

1) Filled entirely with noncombustible insulation
2) Attached directly to the bottom of solid wood joists with volumes less than 160 sq. ft.
3) Do not exceed 55 sq. ft. in area.

Chapter 12, General Requirements for Storage

Section 12.2, Hose Stations: Requirement was modified to only require hose stations where the AHJ requires hose stations.

Chapter 24, System Acceptance

Section 24.6.1, Design Data Signs: The installing contractor shall provide a general information sign used to determine system design basis and information relevant to the inspection, testing, and maintenance requirements required by NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. Such general information shall be provided with a permanently marked weatherproof metal or rigid plastic sign, secured with corrosion-resistant wire, chain, or other acceptable means. Such signs shall be placed at each system control riser, antifreeze loop, and auxiliary system control valve.

Section 24.6.2: The sign shall include the following information:

1) Name and location of the facility protected
2) Presence of high-piled and/or rack storage
3) Maximum height of storage planed
4) Aisle width planned
5) Commodity classification
6) Encapsulation of pallet loads
7) Presence of solid shelving
8) Flow test data
9) Presence of flammable/combustible liquids
10) Presence of hazardous materials
11) Presence of other special storage
12) Location of auxiliary drains and low point drains
13) Original results of main drain flow test
14) Name of installing contractor or designer
15) Indication of presence and location of antifreeze or other auxiliary systems

There are numerous other changes covering sprinkler head and piping installation requirements, construction considerations and requirements for residential protection.

The complete standard can be obtained directly from the NFPA. Risk Logic can assist in analyzing the current level of protection at any manufacturing/storage facility and, if necessary, generate recommendations to bring the current level of protection up to current standards.