Efforts to water down sprinkler codes fall short

The largest U.S. building code organization brushed off calls for more manageable rules, citing the need for stringent safety in buildings vulnerable to attacks.


The International Code Council (ICC) has rebuffed requests by the General Services Administration (GSA) and Building Owners and Managers Assn. (BOMA) to weaken skyscraper code enhancements, which had been adopted last year in response to the World Trade Center attack, reveals a New York Times article . The groups’ objections focused on requirements for additional emergency stairwells, stronger fireproofing, and use of glow-in-the-dark paint in stairwells. Two of the objections were withdrawn before the ICC meeting last week; a third (which would cut a requirement for an additional stairwell in buildings taller than 420 ft) was defeated in a vote.

One compromise pushed by the GSA did past muster: in office skyscrapers higher than 420 ft, an additional stairwell will not be required if the building includes special elevators that can be used to evacuate occupants during an emergency. The elevators would have to continue running during a fire, even if sprinklers were activated. The traditional ban on using an elevator during a fire would be lifted in the new towers.

Other building code revisions put forth by the ICC include requirement of a backup water supply for sprinkler systems, so that if the primary supply is terminated (as was the case in the World Trade Center attack), sprinklers will remain functional.

In addition, ICC members moved to require a minimum of 30 ft between emergency stairwells in buildings 75 ft or higher, or about six stories, to prevent an event, from blocking all the exits, as also happened in the north tower of the World Trade Center.

No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Commissioning lighting control systems; 2016 Commissioning Giants; Design high-efficiency hot water systems for hospitals; Evaluating condensation and condensate
Solving HVAC challenges; Thermal comfort criteria; Liquid-immersion cooling; Specifying VRF systems; 2016 Product of the Year winners
MEP Giants; MEP Annual Report; Mergers and acquisitions; Passive, active fire protection; LED retrofits; HVAC energy efficiency
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing Arc Flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
click me