Proposed updates to NFPA 13 aim to enhance fire safety standards for 2025

April 26, 2024

Proposed revisions to the NFPA 13 standard

On April 24, 2024, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released details of the upcoming revisions to NFPA 13, the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.

These modifications, set for the 2025 editions, aim to address various aspects of fire safety, including enhanced protection under sloped ceilings and new regulations for vacuum systems and seismic bracing.

The changes are expected to be published this fall, following the annual revision cycle that affects twenty-one NFPA codes and standards.

Brian O’Connor, in a recent blog post previewing the changes, highlighted some key areas of focus.

“Storage protection under sloped ceilings has been a significant point of discussion, with new findings from the Fire Protection Research Foundation leading to updated guidelines,” O’Connor noted.

The new testing has shown effective fire control under ceilings sloped up to 4 in 12, approximately 18.5 degrees, leading to adaptations in sprinkler system requirements.

Enhancements in sprinkler system technology

Further changes include updates to the requirements for vacuum systems, also known as negative pressure systems.

These systems, which work by maintaining air under negative gauge pressure in the sprinkler pipes, help reduce oxygen levels and minimize corrosion, thereby improving the longevity and effectiveness of fire suppression systems.

The term “supplemental sprinklers” has also been introduced in the 2025 edition.

These are defined as sprinklers installed below obstructions, with new guidelines on their positioning, spacing, and other characteristics.

Seismic bracing and other updates

Significant revisions have been made to the seismic bracing section to align with the latest updates to ASCE/SEI 7, the standard for design loads in buildings.

These adjustments are aimed at ensuring that sprinkler systems remain functional and intact during earthquakes.

Additional changes focus on the installation requirements in elevator shafts and miscellaneous storage areas.

The updates simplify the guidelines, making them more user-friendly and easier to interpret.

The standard will be discussed at this year’s Technical Meeting at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Orlando. It is expected that the 2025 edition of NFPA 13 will be published in September.

FSJA Comment

The proposed revisions to NFPA 13 reflect a continual evolution in fire safety standards, driven by technological advancements and empirical research.

By integrating new scientific findings and addressing the practical challenges of modern building designs, the NFPA aims to enhance the effectiveness of fire suppression systems and ensure greater safety in residential and commercial structures.

These changes underscore the importance of adaptive regulations in the dynamic field of fire safety.

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