What’s new to NFPA 13 and what to expect in future editions


The recommendations of the task group have been accepted, and the 2019 edition of NFPA 13 will be reorganized as noted below.

Chapters 1 and 2 will continue to address the administrative requirements and referenced publications with no reorganizational changes.

Chapter 3, which addresses definitions, will be reorganized. The definitions currently are divided into subcategories within the chapter, and items are alphabetized within the subcategory. If a user is not aware of the subcategory where a definition would reside, it can be difficult to find. All of the definitions will be in alphabetical order and the subcategories will be deleted.

Chapter 4 will contain the general requirements for sprinkler systems. These requirements are currently scattered amongst Chapters 5, 8, and 23.

Chapter 5 will contain the requirements for water supplies that currently reside in Chapter 24.

Chapter 6 will contain the requirements for underground piping currently in Chapter 10.

Figure 3: This photo shows the use of sprinklers as part of a code modification to allow a glass floor within an elevator lobby. Note that the sprinklers are provided in each bay to wet the floor above. They are also closer than 6 feet on center, however, the structure creates baffles to prevent cold soldering of adjacent sprinklers.

Chapter 7 will contain the requirements for system components and hardware.

Chapter 8 will address system types and requirements. The current Chapter 8 is being split into multiple chapters, and the current requirements in Chapter 7 will be moved to the new Chapter 8.

Chapter 9 will include sprinkler-location requirements that are currently in Chapter 8. Allowances for sprinkler omissions and protection for special situations will be located in the new Chapter 9. Criteria for the protection area per sprinkler and spacing also will be located in Chapter 9.

Chapters 10 through 15 will contain the design and installation criteria for the various types of sprinklers that are currently all located within Chapter 8.

Chapters 16 and 17 will address piping valves and appurtenances and hanging and support requirements.

Chapter 18 will address seismic design requirements, and Chapter 19 will provide design and calculation requirements.

Chapter 20 will provide general requirements for storage, and chapters 21 through 25 will address specific storage requirements and in-rack sprinkler requirements.

Chapter 26 will address special-occupancy requirements. System testing will be addressed in Chapter 27. Chapter 28 will address modifications to existing systems, and 29 will address marine systems. Chapter 30 will address system inspection, testing, and maintenance.

There will also be technical changes to the standard, as there are in every revision cycle. The committees have tried to limit significant technical changes during this cycle due to the major reorganization.

This article highlights many of the changes in the 2016 edition of NFPA 13. These identified changes are ones that are deemed to have a more critical impact on the standard and should not be considered inclusive of all changes.

The 2019 edition should be much improved from a usability perspective. As can be seen by the organization, the intent is to be able to apply the document as one would go through the steps of designing or reviewing a system. As always, the standards are in a continual state of change to allow for improvement and acceptance of new technologies and approaches.

Raymond A. Grill is a principal with Arup. He is chair of the of the NFPA 13 Technical Committee on Sprinkler System Installation Criteria and serves on the Technical Committee on Building Services and Fire Protection Equipment for NFPA 101/5000. He is a member of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer editorial advisory board.

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