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Legislative Review 2020

Codes, Standards, and Regulations in the U.S. and Canada

This issue of Sprinkler Age features our 33rd 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 (D.C.), and the provinces of Canada in September 2020. If a response was not received, information that appeared in the 2019 Legislative Review (November/December 2019 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 chart. 

Survey Questions and Responses 

The 2020 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 Housing, 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. Does your jurisdiction offer any incentives or initiatives to encourage property owners to install residential and/or commercial fire sprinklers in your area/state?

17. 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.

18. Does your state require certification of Plan Reviewers? Inspectors (AHJs)?

19. Does your state require licensing for: Fire Sprinkler Contractors? Fire Sprinkler Fitters? Fire Sprinkler Designers? Fire Sprinkler Inspections? Fire Alarm Inspections (separate from sprinkler)?

20. Does your state require licensing for sprinkler drawings: P.E./Architect Seal? NICET Level III? NICET Level IV? Other (i.e., NFPA-CWBSD, etc.)

21. 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)? 

22. 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 33 provide the answers to most of the survey questions. The table on page 32 provides licensing and certification information (questions 18-20). The tables on page 33 provide the telephone numbers requested in questions 12 and 17 and the answers to questions 21 and 22.

Survey Findings 

Regarding pending sprinkler legislation (question 9) for the 50 United States and the D.C., California has pending legislation for accessory dwelling units. Indiana indicated pending legislation for fire sprinklers “to transfer to the fire code from building code.” New Hampshire* follows NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, regarding fire sprinkler legislation. Oregon* is considering legislation for high-rises. West Virginia has more restrictive legislation pending for hotels and apartments, dwelling and lodging housing, health care, nursing homes, education, public assembly business occupancies, mercantile, and institutional. The state also has less restrictive legislation pending for high-rises.

Question 10 concerns the 2018 IRC. Most states indicated they were not adopting that edition for this year’s survey. States that responded “yes” include Florida, Hawaii (intact for state one- and two-family dwelling projects, but state law prohibits counties from requiring sprinklers with exceptions), Idaho (sprinklers not required in one- and two-family dwellings), and Maryland (with the residential sprinkler requirement intact). 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.”

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. 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*, Indiana*, Massachusetts*, Nevada*, and Oregon* indicated they were not adopting the IRC. South Carolina* has adopted it with modifications and directed readers to see 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. Scroll down to the bottom of the web page and 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, D.C.* 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*, Florida, 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* has 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). West Virginia has retrofit requirements for institutions.

For hotels and apartments, Florida has retrofit requirements, while Connecticut* retrofits only hotels. New Jersey* retrofits institutional occupancies. Illinois, New Jersey* and Wyoming have requirements for college dorms. Florida also has requirements to retrofit dwelling and lodging housing. 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 except for Florida which provided a website for details: visit myfloridacfo.com/division/SFM/BFP and scroll down to “Local Amendments.”

Question 15 asked about residential fire sprinkler ordinances in local jurisdictions. Illinois indicated that approximately 15 communities have adopted ordinances. Maryland has ordinances for single- and multi-family and high-rise condos/apartments. Multiple jurisdictions have residential sprinkler requirements. All are addressed by reference to the State Fire Prevention Code and IRS, 2018 edition. South Dakota has ordinances for multi-family and high-rise condos/apartments. 

Question 16 asked if any jurisdictions were offering incentives or initiatives to encourage property owners to install residential and/or commercial fire sprinklers in their area. All of this year’s respondents reported “no” or did not answer the question.

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, 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 2020 Legislative Review in PDF format with all tables included, visit AFSA’s website and click on Membership – Documents Center – Publications.


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