Whether you have recently purchased a commercial property or are building one, before a new company can open for business it will need to be in compliance with local, state and federal fire safety standards. If the property is larger than 5,000 sq. ft. it will need a sprinkler system that meets all regulations. These rules vary from one municipality to another, but the National Fire Protection Association 13 standard is a good place to start when understanding what will be required.
What is NFPA 13?
This is a national standard regarding the installation of sprinkler systems adopted by fire and building departments across the country. Local requirements begin with the NFPA and then are added on by building inspectors and fire department chiefs in order to protect their community.
Will My Commercial Building Need a Sprinkler System?
Most likely. Except where the building may be exempted by a grandfather clause or a very small size, almost every building that is zoned commercial will require a functioning sprinkler system that is inspected and tested annually.
What about Townhouses?
Most cities and towns require homes with more than two units to have automatic sprinklers installed. Older triple-deckers that have not been renovated since new laws have been enacted may not have sprinklers yet, but if a permit is pulled for improvements a system may need to be installed. Also, if the building is taller than 55 feet tall, sprinklers are required as many fire departments lack the right trucks to fight high-rise fires effectively.
A Storage Facility Would Be Exempted, Right?
Wrong. Whether it is a warehouse or self-storage facility, sprinklers are required. Especially in urban neighborhoods, these systems don't just reduce the amount of damage caused to the building it is installed in, they also protect nearby buildings and infrastructure from catching fire and causing major damage to infrastructure.
Always consult with your local building inspector and fire department for exact regulations and requirements for your community.