NFPA Codes Now Require Fire Sprinklers in Vulnerable Facilities

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff September 7, 2005

The codes and standards development oversight body of the National Fire Protection Assn. known as the Standards Council,

The provisions apply to the 2006 editions of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code and NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code ; they went into effect on August 18. The Standards Council action endorsed the report of the applicable NFPA technical committees and the subsequent membership action at the NFPA World Safety Conference & Exposition

“The code provision for sprinklers in new one- and two-family dwellings is a milestone in fire protection,” said James M. Shannon, NFPA president. “It is a significant step in reducing the rate of fire death and injury in the place where people are at most risk for fire–their own homes.”

The nightclub provision for sprinklers–which mandates sprinklers for new nightclubs, generally applicable to more than 50-occupant capacities–was first added to NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000, after a TIA, or tentative interim amendment, had been approved by the Standards Council in 2003. A similar TIA was issued for NFPA 101 for existing nightclubs with capacities over 100.

These TIAs came in the aftermath of the February 2003 Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I. , where 100 people had died. In the NFPA code development process, TIAs are presented as proposals for the next edition of the code, in this case, the 2006 edition.

Also in 2003, horrific nursing home fires in Hartford and Nashville propelled the health care industry, as well as NFPA, to respond with a push for better fire protection in these facilities, specifically calling for enhancing the current requirement in NFPA 101 for sprinklers in all new nursing homes by also requiring sprinklers in all existing nursing homes. In a news release issued by NFPA in October of that year, NFPA President James M. Shannon said, “These tragedies have taught us that we must do more to keep our elderly and disabled safe from fire.”

NFPA’s report on the Hartford nursing home fire , in which 16 died, was recently issued.