Sprinkler Proposal at I-Codes Voted Down

The glass industry was successful this week in seeing the disapproval of two code change proposals that would have allowed the use of sprinklers in place of fire-rated glazing.

Monday, proposals FS 1-15 and FS 2-15 at the I-Codes Committee Action Hearings in Memphis, Tenn., were both voted down. FS 1 sought to change the language of “Section 703.4 Automatic sprinklers,” and FS 2 sought to delete the section entirely. Debate on the proposals lasted approximately an hour each, according to industry consultant Thom Zaremba.

“The fire-rated glazing industry opposed both FS 1 and FS 2 and is very pleased that, for the third International Building Code change cycle in a row, the Fire Safety Technical Committee agreed with our positions, again, disapproving efforts to dilute or delete Section 703.4 from the code,” says Zaremba.

The industry was instrumental in getting Section 703.4 into the code in 2012 and has been committed to maintaining it through 2015.

According to Zaremba, Section 703.4 is necessary “because, before its inclusion in the code, a number of interests were mischaracterizing and misclassifying certain sprinkler protected openings as having a fire-resistance rating which can only be achieved through testing accomplished pursuant to ASTM E119.

“Since E119 does not include the use of sprinklers, it is completely inappropriate to characterize any sprinkler protected opening as having a fire-resistance rating. The adoption of Section 703.4 put a rather prompt end to such mischaracterizations and misclassifications.”

The change to FS 1, proposed by Jeffrey Shapiro of Tyco Fire Protection Products, would have made“it clear that a sprinkler-protected assembly is an alternative to a fire-resistive assembly that requires approval of the building official, as opposed to being a fire-resistive assembly,” the proposal reads. “This ‘alternative to’ approach is consistent with terminology approved by ICC-ES for inclusion AC385 as a basis for evaluating assemblies that use window sprinklers.”

Daniel Nichols of New York State Division of Building Standards and Codes, who proposed FS 2, suggests in the proposal that “the I-Codes should be coordinated to the point that the interaction and reliance between passive and active fire protection systems should be consistent,” something he says isn’t achieved with 703.4 in the code.

Another industry-related proposal disapproved was FS 19-15, which would have added the following language:

“Fire-resistance-rated glazing tested as part of a fire-resistance-rated wall in accordance with ASTM E 119 or UL 263 and labeled in accordance with Section 703.6 shall not be required to comply with Section 716.6 and shall not be included in the aggregate area permitted for protected openings … This proposal allows the same assemblies that are exempt from the interior fire window requirements of Section 716.6 to also be exempt from opening requirements for exterior walls.”

A representative of SaftiFirst urged the committee to disapprove this proposal, as did Zaremba. It was disapproved 14-0 with one representative saying, “It was misplaced in this section and confusing.”

The proposals can be read in full here.

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