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Are Fire Sprinklers Required Everywhere?

As the debate continues for the use and implementation of fire sprinkler systems, there are some things that home inspectors should know. Currently only the entire state of California require sprinkler systems in all single family and larger residences. Many individual municipalities are requiring residential sprinkler systems. Multiple units and commercial buildings already have the requirement in place in most areas. Some materials approved are steel pipe, black iron, PEX, copper, and CPVC (orange in color). I see mostly orange CPVC. Probably due to cost and ease of installation, however there are some issues associated with its use. Some products may degrade CPVC and must be considered before employing it. Some types of caulk, fire stopping products, mold / antimicrobial products, certain types of pipe tape, certain thread sealants, some leak detector fluids, coated pipe hangers, and one type of waterproofing. Any of these products may degrade CPVC and should not come in contact with it. Fire sprinkler pipes need to be secured to ensure they do not uplift under pressure. Where are the areas that fire sprinklers are not required according to NFPA 13 – 903. & 2;

903. Exempt Locations

Automatic sprinklers shall not be required in the following rooms or areas where such rooms or areas are protected with an approved automatic fire detection system in accordance with Section 907.2 that will respond to visible or invisible particles of combustion. Sprinklers shall not be omitted from a room merely because it is damp, of fire-resistance-rated construction or contains electrical equipment.

  1. A room where the application of water, or flame and water, constitutes a serious life or fire hazard.
  2. A room or space where sprinklers are considered undesirable because of the nature of the contents, where approved by the fire code official.
  3. Generator and transformer rooms separated from the remainder of the building by wallsand floor/ceiling or roof/ceiling assemblies having a fire-resistance rating of not less than 2 hours.
  4. Rooms or areas that are of noncombustible construction with wholly noncombustible contents.
  5. Fire service access elevator machine rooms and machinery spaces.
  6. Machine rooms, machinery spaces, control rooms and control spaces associated with occupant evacuation elevators designed in accordance with Section 3008.

903. Bathrooms

In Group R occupancies, other than Group R-4occupancies, sprinklers shall not be required in bathrooms that do not exceed 55 square feet (5 m2) in area and are located within individual dwelling units or sleeping units, provided that walls and ceilings, including the walls and ceilings behind a shower enclosure or tub, are of noncombustible or limited-combustible materials with a 15-minute thermal barrier rating.

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