In the July 2009 edition of MADCAD.com Newsletter
, some of the important changes in IBC 2009, Chapter 7, Fire and Smoke Protection Features were highlighted. These changes were related to passive fire protection
systems such as fire barriers, fire walls and fire-resistance rated exterior walls.
This month’s featured article will cover some of the changes related to active fire protection
. Requirements for active fire protection, which includes systems such as automatic sprinklers, standpipe systems and fire alarms, are specified in Chapter 9, Fire Protection Systems.
Clicking on the section hyperlinks within the article will provide you temporary online access to IBC 2009 at MADCAD.com eLibrary. Temporary access will expire on 10/16/2009.
The definition of the fire area is revised in IBC 2009 to include unenclosed areas of the building that are within the projection of the roof or floor above.
The square footage of a fire area is a factor in determining the fire protection requirements of a building. Other factors include the occupant load of the fire area or proximity of the fire area to a level of exit discharge.
In the previous IBC 2006, a fire area was defined as “the aggregate floor area enclosed and bounded by fire walls, fire barriers, exterior walls or fire-resistance-rated horizontal assemblies of a building”. This definition did not address whether unenclosed building areas should be included in the calculation of the square footage of the fire area.
IBC 2009 provided clarification to this issue by revising the definition of the fire area. According to Section 902.1
, “Areas of the building not provided with surrounding walls shall be included in the fire area if such areas are included within the horizontal projection of the roof or floor next above.”
In IBC 2006, automatic sprinkler systems were required in Group E fire areas greater than 20,000 square feet. This threshold was higher than most other occupancies such as Group F1, M and S1.
The threshold to provide sprinklers in Group E fire areas was reduced in IBC 2009 in order to provide increased life safety and property protection in educational facilities. According to the revised Section 903.2.3
, an automatic fire sprinkler system must be provided “throughout all Group E fire areas greater than 12,000 square feet”.
GROUP S-2 ENCLOSED PARKING GARAGES
Photo: Gabor Izso
According to IBC 2009, a Group S-2 enclosed parking garage is not required to have sprinklers if the fire area does not exceed the newly established threshold and is not located beneath other occupancy groups.
According to IBC 2006, an automatic sprinkler system must be provided throughout the building when a fire area of a Group S-1 occupancy exceeds 12,000 square feet.
However, a building classified as an enclosed parking garage, which is a lower hazard Group S-2 occupancy, is required to be sprinklered regardless of the size of the fire area.
In order to address the inconsistency of a more restrictive requirement for a less hazardous occupancy, IBC 2009 established a threshold for Group S-2 enclosed parking garages.
According to the revised Section 903.2.10
, sprinklers are not required if the fire area of the enclosed parking garage does not exceed 12,000 square feet, provided that the garage is not located beneath other groups. See Section 903.2.10
BALCONIES AND DECKS
In IBC 2006, sprinkler protection was required for “exterior balconies, decks and ground floor patios of dwelling units where the building is of Type V construction”.
IBC 2009 revised this requirement based on a concern voiced by the National Fire Sprinkler Association that a sprinkler will not operate properly without a roof to collect the heat and activate it, and may even decrease the reliability of the sprinkler system as a whole.
According to the revised Section 903.3.1.2.1
, sprinkler protection must be provided only when there is a roof or deck above the exterior balcony, deck and ground floor patio.
COVERED MALL BUILDINGS
Photo: Andy Medina
Coverage requirements for hose connections in covered mall buildings are revised in IBC 2009.
IBC 2009 revised the requirements for the design of standpipe systems and location of hose connections in covered mall buildings.
The revised Section 905.3.3
newly established a pressure level for the standpipe system by requiring it to be designed “not to exceed a 50 pounds per square inch (psi) (345 kPa) residual pressure loss with a flow of 250 gallons per minute (946.4 L/min) from the fire department connection to the hydraulically most remote hose connection”.
Another change was made to the coverage requirements for hose connections. According to Section 905.3.3
, hose connections must be located so that the distance between a hose connection and any portion of a tenant space does not exceed 200 feet.
PORTABLE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
IBC 2009 for the first time established requirements for portable fire extinguishers with the new Section 906
. As done with various other sections of IBC, text from the International Fire Code (IFC) is used.
This change will allow jurisdictions, which do not adopt the IFC, to require for portable fire extinguishers without the need to make state/local amendments to the IBC.
FIRE ALARM AND DETECTION SYSTEMS
Photo: Sam Chan
IBC 2009 reduced the maximum sound pressure level for audible alarm notification appliances to 110 dBA to lower the risk of noise induced hearing loss.
, which covers fire alarm systems and their components, has been significantly reorganized in IBC 2009. Various technical revisions were also made to the code; some applied proper use of terminology, while others addressed changes in NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm Code.
One of the changes in this section revised the maximum sound pressure level for audible alarm notification appliances. In IBC 2006, the maximum sound pressure level was 120 dBA, which is a "painful" noise level according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
In order to reduce the risk of noise induced hearing loss, Section 907.5.2.1.2
revised the maximum sound pressure level to 110 dBA.
FIRE COMMAND CENTER
IBC 2009 reorganized and modified Section 911
which establishes the requirements for the fire command center.
In order to provide added work space for the emergency responders, the minimum size of the fire command center was increased from 96 square feet (with a minimum dimension of 8 feet) in IBC 2006 to 200 square feet (with a minimum dimension of 10 feet) in IBC 2009, Section 911.1.3
Additionally, a fire command center is now required to include schematic building plans indicating the location of fire walls, fire barriers, fire partitions, smoke barriers and smoke partitions; an elevator fire recall switch in accordance with ASME A17.1; and elevator emergency or standby power selector switches, where emergency or standby power is provided.