Codes, Standards, and Regulations in the U.S. and Canada
This issue of Sprinkler Age features our 32nd annual legislative review. This summary of legislation and codes offers a quick overview of regulations affecting the fire sprinkler industry in individual states and Canadian provinces. The information in these charts was gathered from a survey sent to the fire marshals of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the provinces of Canada in September 2019. If a response was not received, information that appeared in the 2018 Legislative Review (November/ December 2018 Sprinkler Age) has been reprinted, and the fact that the information is a repeat is denoted by an asterisk (*) after the state or province name in the left column of the chart.
Survey Questions and Responses The 2019 AFSA Legislative Survey asked the following questions:
1. What, if any, national codes have been adopted by your state?
2a. In adopting the national codes, were any amendments or modifications made to the code or referenced standard (i.e., NFPA 13, 101, etc. or state supplemental rules) that affect fire sprinklers?
2b. If yes, what were the significant modifications (or provide a Web address to reference)?
3a. Which edition of NFPA 13 have you adopted, either directly or indirectly by code reference?
3b. If you haven’t adopted the latest edition of NFPA 13, do you allow local jurisdictions to use the latest edition?
4. Do the codes adopted by your state have a minimum base or a minimum/ maximum for enforcement purposes?
5. Is the scope of state code enforcement limited to the type of occupancy and/or other requirements (i.e., public assembly over 100, business over 50 ft, etc.) or is it all encompassing?
6. If buildings are not included in the state jurisdiction, is there a recognized code adoption recommended for local authorities or is it on individual preference?
7. Are you in a code revision/adoption cycle now? If yes, what codes and years do you anticipate adopting?
8. Has your state adopted NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems?
9. Does your state have any pending legislation regarding fire sprinklers, more restrictive or less restrictive, for Hotels & Apartments, Dwellings & Lodging Hous-ing, Health Care, High-Rise, Nursing Homes, Education, Public Assembly, Business Occupancies, Mercantile, Institutional, Other.
10. Are you adopting the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC)? If yes, will it be adopted with the residential sprinkler requirement intact or modified/ removed? If modified, please specify modifications.
11. Does your state have fire sprinkler retrofitting requirements for the following occupancies? Hotels & Apartments, Dwellings & Lodging Housing, High- Rise, Health Care, Nursing Homes, Education, Public Assembly, Business Occupancies, Mercantile, Institutional, College Dormitories, Other.
12. Are there any towns/cities that you are aware of that have retrofitting requirements in excess of the state requirement? List a contact person and phone number for retrofitting information.
13. Does your state require a P.E. to do sprinkler design concepts (i.e., identify occupancies and water supply)?
14. Does the Office of the State Fire Marshal have authority over all projects in the state or only over state-owned or state-financed projects?
15. Are there any local jurisdictions that you know of in your state that have residential ordinances for the following occupancies? Single-family, multi-family, high-rise condo/apartment? Please list.
16. Please provide a telephone number that a person can call if he/she has questions about jurisdiction in your state (i.e. state vs. local authorities) regarding fire sprinkler plan review/inspection.
17. Does your state require certification of Plan Reviewers? Inspectors (AHJs)?
18. Does your state require licensing for Fire Sprinkler Contractors? Fire Sprinkler Fitters? Fire Sprinkler Designers? Fire Sprinkler Inspections? Fire Alarm Inspections (separate from sprinkler)?
19. Does your state require licensing for sprinkler drawings: P.E./Architect Seal? NICET Level III? NICET Level IV? Other (i.e., NFPA-CWBSD, etc.)
20. Does your state require any of the following for those who perform inspection, testing and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems? NICET Level I? NICET Level II? NICET Level III? Other (e.g., CSA, Local)?
21. Does your state require seismic protection on fire sprinkler systems?
22. Do you require a signed copy of the owner’s certification (see NFPA 13, section 4.3) as part of the working plan submittal?
The tables on pages 26 through 31 provide the answers to most of the survey questions. The table on page 32 provides licensing and certification information (questions 17-19). The tables on page 33 provide the telephone numbers requested in questions 12 and 16 and the answers to questions 20 and 21.
Survey Findings Regarding pending sprinkler legislation (question 9) for the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, California has pending legislation for accessory dwelling units. Florida has pending legislation for high-rises that will be more restrictive. Hawaii has pending legislation for dwelling and lodging housing that is less restrictive and pending legislation for healthcare that is more restrictive. Indiana indicated pending legislation for fire sprinklers “to transfer to the fire code from building code.” New Hamp-shire follows NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, regarding fire sprinkler legislation. Oregon is considering legislation for high-rises.
Question 10 concerns the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC). Most states indicated they were not adopting that edition. Georgia House Bill 1196 (2010 legislative session) prohibits any residential sprinkler requirement, past or future. Maryland and Montana have adopted the code. Minnesota has adopted the IRC with “single-family and duplex exempt from sprinkler protection; townhomes (three or more under same roof) required to be sprinkler protected.” New York adopted the code with the “removal of NFPA 13D one- and two-family requirement.” North Dakota adopted but “removed the requirement due to state law.” Tennessee adopted the IRC, noting that “TCA 68-120-101(a)(8) does not allow mandatory adoption so Section R313 is removed.” West Virginia adopted the code with the residential sprinkler requirement intact.
For states that indicated “no changes” from last year’s survey and for those that did not respond this year, responses are for the 2015 edition of the IRC. California has adopted the code (water supply) and Colorado has adopted it for dwellings associated with public schools. Connecticut indicated it has adopted the code. The 2015 Michigan Residential Code was to become effective in February 2016 and was to adopt by reference the 2015 edition of the IRC with amendments, deletions, and additions deemed necessary for use in the state. North Dakota is adopting but sprinklers are not able to be required in single-family homes. Washington state adopted the 2015 IRC but did not adopt chapters 11-25 and notes residential sprinklers, if added, need to meet IRC P2904 or NFPA 13D. West Virginia has also adopted the code but refers readers to section 87-4-5 of the state building code. Arkansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire New Jersey, North Carolina, and Rhode Island are adopting the IRC with the residential sprinkler requirement removed. In Ohio, there are construction trade-offs for the adopted IRC. South Dakota is not adopting the 2012 IRC and indicated the state fire marshal has no authority in most residential occupancies (i.e., one- and two-family dwellings – only six stories or higher). Arizona, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon indicated they were not adopting the IRC. South Carolina has adopted it with modifications and directed readers to see the 2012 International Code Council (ICC) modifications at llr.state.sc.us.pol/bcc.
While the legislative charts in this issue indicate the most recent responses received from the individual states, some states did not provide updated information to this year’s survey in regards to the 2018 edition of the IRC. Therefore, Sprinkler Age recommends that readers visit the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Fire Sprinkler Initiative website, firesprinklerinitiative.org/ on a regular basis. Click on the “Legislation & Adoptions” tab to find the most up-to-date information on local and state adoption of residential fire sprinkler requirements, as well as anti-sprinkler legislation that has been introduced.
When asked about sprinkler retrofit requirements for occupancies (question 11), numerous states indicated they have requirements. Washington, DC answered “yes” for all occupancies and noted that “all work to be performed in/on existing buildings will be based on the requirements from the ICC International Existing Building Code (IEBC) 2012, as is currently adopted. The 2015 IEBC is the new anticipated code to be adopted. The 2015 IBC chapter on Installation Standards will list the applicable editions that will be adopted.” Regarding nursing homes, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Tennessee have retrofit requirements. Georgia has requirements for existing personal care homes upgrading to assisted living homes. Retrofit requirements for healthcare can be found in Florida, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Connecticut 2019has requirements for elderly occupancies. Minnesota retrofits hospitals.
Florida has retrofit requirements for high-rises. Georgia and New Jersey have retrofit requirements for public assemblies (PAs). For hotels and apartments, Florida has retrofit requirements, and Connecticut retrofits only hotels. New Jersey retrofits institutional occupancies. New Jersey and Wyoming have requirements for college dorms, and Illinois for dorms and Greek houses.
New Hampshire retrofits per NFPA 101, Iowa and North Dakota per Chapter 11 of the International Fire Code (IFC), and South Carolina per Section 1103.5 of the 2015 ICC.
When asked about towns or cities having retrofit requirements in excess of state requirements (question 12a), several states indicated “yes;” however, most did not provide a list of cities, towns, and/or villages.
Conclusion The AFSA staff has made every effort to provide the most accurate and current information. Because of the time-lapse between gathering the information and publication of these charts, changes may have occurred. Also, code adoption cycles/processes vary from state to state, but most statewide codes are updated once every three years. So states that are not listed as considering adoptions within the next year may, in fact, be initiating the process of reviewing all available codes. Contact the respective AHJ for more detailed information for particular states. We thank the many individual state fire marshals, deputy state fire marshals, deputy chiefs, fire protection engineers, code specialists, and others who participated in this year’s survey. Some respondents did not provide a specific telephone number for questions regarding jurisdiction over fire sprinkler plan review/inspections. In those cases, we have listed the telephone number for the state fire marshal’s office, with the hope that a state representative can direct contractors to the appropriate authority.
To view the 2019 Legislative Review in PDF format with tables included, visit Membership – Documents Center – Publications on AFSA’s website.