New 2013 edition of NFPA 13, 13R and 13D, Part 1
By Samuel S. Dannaway, PE,
President, S.S. Dannaway Associates, Inc., Honolulu
When you read this it is likely that the NFPA membership has voted to approve the 2013 editions of NFPA 13, 13R and 13D at the technical sessions that were held in Las Vegas on June 14 and 15. Yes, it’s a new edition of NFPA 13. Jeepers! The cover of my 2010 edition hasn’t even started to lose its sheen or become even slightly dog-eared.
After formal approval by the NFPA Standards Council, the documents should be publicly available later this year. There are several significant and useful changes. The bulk of the material for this column is “borrowed” from the excellent article, “13 Things You Need to Know About the 2013 Edition of NFPA 13,” written by Matt Klaus and published in the May/June 2012 NFPE Journal. Klaus is a senior fire protection engineer and staff liaison for NFPA 13, 13R and 13D technical committees. Some points to consider:
• Compatibly issues with CPVC. There have been reports of stress fractures resulting in leaks and joint failures in CPVC piping used in conjunction with steel pipe (e.g., steel risers to supply CPVP piping). The culprits appear to be petroleum or hydrocarbon-based cutting oils and antimicrobial chemicals used in the installation of steel piping systems. New NFPA 13 provisions will require any cutting oils or corrosion inhibiters used in steel systems that also have CPVC pipe be proven compatible with CPVC pipe. The committee went further and prohibited the use of any material that comes in contact with CPVC piping that has not been proven compatible with CPVC. So, if you are painting that pipe a pretty bright orange, you ought to make sure the paint is compatible.
• Freeze protection. The antifreeze provisions that were issued as Tentative Interim Amendments have been incorporated into the standards. There are also new requirements for systems using heat trace to prevent freezing. The heat trace system must be supervised and must provide a visual indication that the system is active. The standard also now permits that a water-filled pipe may be unprotected if a heat load calculation prepared by a professional engineer confirms the pipe will not freeze.
• Elevators and sprinklers. There are now specific provisions that will allow the omission of sprinklers from elevator machine rooms and hoistways for all but hydraulic elevators if certain conditions are met, including compliance with the applicable building code and NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code. Hooray! I suppose that now my AHJ friend in Frostbite Falls will have to find some other obscure and difficult-to-accomplish provision in the standard to drive us righteous and always well-meaning consultants to madness.
• Small bathrooms. NFPA 13 will restrict the omission of sprinkler protection in small bathrooms (less than 55 square feet) to those within dwelling units of hotels and motels only. Apartment buildings will require sprinkler protection for dwelling unit bathrooms regardless of size.
• Backflow preventers. To codify something many of us have already been including in our design and installations, all 13 and 13R systems with backflow preventers must be provided with a test connection. And, in the continuing effort to thwart our friends in Frostbite Falls, NFPA 13 will now permit the backflow preventer to serve as the system control valve. Imagine that — a provision that reduces the amount of stuff required!
• Other uses for storage sprinklers. Prior editions of NFPA 13 were silent as to whether or not CMSA and ESFR sprinklers may be used for other than storage applications. The 2013 edition now specifically permits the use of these sprinklers in light and ordinary-hazard occupancy classifications. This will help with existing renovations where the use is changed from storage to some light or ordinary-hazard use. Apparently, some authorities were requiring replacement of CMSA or ESFR sprinklers. This edition notes that these sprinklers may not be used in extra-hazard occupancies.
• PBD chapter for storage applications. Chapter 21, “Alternative Sprinkler System Designs for Chapters 12 through 20,” establishes a framework for a performance-based design for storage. This is an excellent advancement in the standard. The storage protection requirements in chapters 12 to 20 are based on fire testing data. It is hoped that the new chapter 21 will promote testing that can address some of the issues the standard testing facilities have been unable to address, such as sloped ceilings. I am guessing that, if this proves of value, we should expect the performance-based approach to be expanded to other uses besides storage.
• New document title for 13R. The title has been changed from “Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Residential Occupancies up to and Including Four Stories in Height” to “Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies.” Along with the change, the standard’s applicability will be increased to permit the use of a 13R system in a maximum four-story (and maximum 60 feet) high residential occupancy that sits atop a noncombustible podium, such as a parking structure.
• 13D sprinkler obstructions. NFPA 13D has included a new concept to deal with areas where sprinkler coverage may not reach due to obstructions. The standard will permit a maximum 15-square-foot Shadow Area per sprinkler. The 13 and 13R committees looked at this concept and rejected it, based on the fact that those standards already have extensive provisions dealing with obstructions.
• Residential sprinklers and sloped ceilings. Based on research sponsored by the National Fire Protection Research Foundations, provisions have been added to NFPA 13R and 13D to identify sloped ceiling arrangements that will permit the use of two-sprinkler design for 13D and four-sprinkler design for 13R without requiring specially listed sprinklers. In previous editions, the standards only provided guidance as what to do with sloped sprinklers and that since residential sprinklers are not listed for slope ceilings one may needto provide additional sprinklers in the design.
• What is a sprinkler system? NFPA 13 has revised the definition of a sprinkler system. The new definition reads:
“An integrated network of piping designed in accordance with fire protection engineering standards that includes a water supply source, a water control valve, a water flow alarm and a drain. The portion of the sprinkler system above ground is a network of specifically sized or hydraulically designed piping installed in a building, structure or area, generally overhead, and to which sprinklers are attached in a systematic pattern. The system is activated by heat from a fire and discharges water over the fire area.”
In his article, Mr. Klaus notes that this is a change that could have significant consequences. I tend to agree. He notes that floors with floor control valves are now considered as a separate system.
Next month we will continue to look at the changes contained in the 2013 editions of 13, 13D and 13R.
2012 Annual Meeting: Professional Development Conference and Exposition, October 14 – 19, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency Savannah in Savannah, Ga. For the most up-to-date information about the annual meeting, visit http://bit.ly/KMNujc.
NCEES is seeking licensed fire protection engineers to participate in its Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam committee. The FE committee is comprised of individuals from various technical disciplines who meet approximately four times per year in Clemson, S.C. to prepare and review upcoming examinations. Committee members find these meetings a rewarding experience full of intellectually challenging work and good fellowship.
Volunteers do not have to participate in every meeting, and they receive continuing education credits for time spent working with the committee. NCEES pays all travel expenses. Volunteers must be licensed professional engineers (PEs), and it is considered a conflict if the individual teaches an FE exam review course while working on the exam committee.
If you are interested, contact Chris Jelenewicz at Chris@sfpe.org.
Samuel S. Dannaway, PE, is a registered fire protection engineer and mechanical engineer with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering. He is past president and a Fellow of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. He is president of S. S. Dannaway Associates Inc., a 15-person fire protection engineering firm with offices in Honolulu and Guam. He can be reached via email at SDannaway@ssdafire.com.