AUTHOR: Kristin Bigda


NFPA 1: How the Fire Code and Life Safety Code work together.

Today I am packing my bags for a week of committee meetings in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Next week, the Safety to Life and Building Code occupancy Technical Committees will be holding their Second Draft meetings. Eight different committees will meet to develop the Second Draft of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code and NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code.  Just a few weeks back, the committees for the core chapters met at the same location.     Did you know that NFPA 1, Fire Code extracts from NFPA 101 more than any other document?  NFPA 1 extracts from more than 50 NFPA codes and standards, but approximately 100 pages of the 650(ish) page Fire Code are directly from NFPA 101.  The Code includes provisions from NFPA 101 that address occupancy classification, building services, features of fire protection, means of egress, special structures, and occupancy specific provisions for fire protection systems, interior finish, furnishings and decorations, drills, and operating features. Do you know how to recognize if a provision in the Code is "extracted" from another document?     A requirement extracted from another standard will contain a reference to the code/standard number and section in brackets at the end of the requirement in NFPA 1.  The edition of the document being extracted can be found in Chapter 2 of NFPA 1.  When a provision is extracted into an NFPA code, such as NFPA 1, it cannot be modified. So, while my time next week will be spent with Technical Committees developing provisions for the 2018 editions of NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000, the work of those committees will directly impact the 2018 edition of NFPA 1 as well.  Some of the technical issues that will be up for discussion next week that may find their way into NFPA 1 are as follows: occupant load factors for business occupanciesdoor locking for unwanted entry open and enclosed mall structures risk analyses for mass notification systems carbon monoxide alarms grab bars for bathtubs and showers You can follow the work of the NFPA 1, NFPA 101, and NFPA 5000 Technical Committees by visiting their document information pages ( Off to Fort Lauderdale!  Have a great week! You can follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA. 

FAQ Friday, NFPA 80 - Can labels on fire doors be painted?

Labels on fire doors, fire door frames, or other components of a fire door assembly, are the identifying mark that the door or component has been tested to the required first test standards and has passed the criteria required by those test standards.  Labels prove to inspectors, AHJs, building owners, or anyone else observing the fire door assembly that it (as tested) will protect the opening as it did when tested. NFPA 80, 2013 edition, contains the following language regarding labeled products: 4.2.1* Listed items shall be identified by a label. 4.2.2 Labels shall be applied in locations that are readily visible and convenient for identification by the AHJ after installation of the assembly. Associated annex language to Section 4.2.1 sheds some light on the intent of the labeling provisions in NFPA 80: A.4.2.1 Labels can be permitted to be of metal, paper, or plastics or can be permitted to be stamped or diecast into the item. Labels should not be removed, defaced, or made illegible while the door is in service. If the label on an existing fire door has been removed or is no longer legible, it is acceptable to verify the rating of the fire door through other means acceptable to the AHJ such as an inspection or certification service that provides acceptable documentation. One of the most frequently asked questions that I received regarding labels is whether or not they can be painted.  Paint most often will render the label illegible, thus it is not recommended that labels be painted.  Proper training and education should be provided to those in buildings who may be doing repair or maintenance work to doors to ensure they are aware of the risks associated with painting fire door labels.  Labels are required in a number of applications on all types fire door assemblies. Where NFPA 80 mandates a label be present, it should meet the requirements of Chapter 4 as noted above.
Fire damper

FAQ Friday, NFPA 80 - What is the inspection and testing frequency for fire dampers?

As the name implies, NFPA 80 provides requirements for more than just fire doors. The installation, inspection, testing, and maintenance of other opening protectives such as fire windows, glass block assemblies, fabric fire safety curtains and fire dampers are also included within the scope of NFPA 80. Three editions ago (2007), the requirements for the installation, inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire dampers were moved from NFPA 90A to NFPA 80.  One of the questions I get asked most often is with regards to the inspection and test frequency of fire dampers. Like all opening protectives, continued maintenance and inspection is critical and will help ensure that the doors, windows, shutters, dampers, etc.  will operate properly under fire conditions. First, an  operational test must be completed after the installation of the fire damper is complete. Then, each fire damper must be tested and inspected one year after the installation. After that one year mark, fire dampers must then be tested and inspected every four years except for hospitals which have a six year frequency. This begs a follow up question:  why the difference in the testing and inspection frequency between hospitals and other types of building uses? Most users expect provisions related to hospitals to be more restrictive than for other types of buildings. The healthcare industry presented the technical committee with significant evidence that a four-year inspection frequency for fire dampers in hospitals, in these buildings, is a hindrance. Hospitals are unique in that they have many building systems critical to the life safety and health of their occupants (patients). Personnel accessing fire dampers every four years would entail the risk of interfering with or potentially damaging the many systems (HVAC, medical gas systems, sprinkler piping, electrical systems) that are located near the fire dampers and above ceilings. The six-year frequency allows for a reasonable but safe length of time between inspections and also ensures the integrity of the hospital operations. Additional details regarding the inspection criteria and documentation can be found in Chapter 19 of NFPA 80.
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