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February 2019: Changes to the 2019 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems

As the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states, "NFPA 13 is the industry benchmark for design and installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems. NFPA 13 addresses sprinkler system design approaches, system installation, and component options to prevent fire deaths and property loss."

All NFPA standards are revised and updated every three to five years, in revision cycles that begin twice each year. Normally a standard's cycle takes approximately two years to complete. NFPA 13, because of its use and popularity, is updated every three years. In contrast, FM Global standards are updated on an as-needed-basis. FM Global Data Sheet 8-9, Storage of Class 1, 2, 3, 4 and Plastic Commodities is updated often because as fire tests are conducted, new test results provide prescriptive design criteria. In most cases, NFPA 13 lags FM DS 8-9 in protection criteria. For example, FM DS 8-9 provided protection criteria for many years for Uncartoned Expanded Plastic (UEP), while NFPA 13 just added criteria for UEP.

This article will focus on the updates and changes to the recently released 2019 edition of NFPA 13. It underwent a major re-organization to improve usability of the standard. In addition, changes were made to address references, to delete redundancies, to provide clarification, and for other various reasons.

Some of the significant changes are summarized below.

Chapter 8

Chapter 8, System Types and Requirements is basically the same as Chapter 7 from the 2016 edition.

Chapter 9

Chapter 8 in the 2016 edition had a great deal of information that was not well organized. Users looking for installation requirements or combustible concealed space requirements were forced to review non-related information to find what they were looking for. The new chapter is divided into several chapters with an improved and more logical organization. For example, the new Chapter 9, Sprinkler Location Requirements contains much of the introductory information contained in the former Chapter 8, while Chapters 10 through 15 contain installation requirements for individual types of sprinklers.

Chapter 11

Chapter 20

The new Chapter 20, General Requirements for Storage is a renumbering exercise of the former Chapter 12, while the rest of the storage chapters (Chapters 21 - 25) have been completely revamped and are now organized by protection method:

New tables summarizing excessive clearance requirements

Chapter 22

Chapter 25

As previously stated, Chapter 25, Protection of Rack Storage Using In-Rack Sprinklers has been re-organized into a rack storage chapter. This approach to determining protection of storage should make this task much easier and finding information much more efficient.

These are just some of the major changes in the 2019 edition of NFPA 13. For all changes please refer to the roadmap in the back of NFPA 13. It provides a cross reference from the 2016 section to the 2019 section. For more details, please contact Risk Logic. Our staff of Fire Protection Engineers has an excellent understanding of NFPA 13 as well as FM Global DS 8-9 and their differences and similarities.