Topic: Building & Life Safety

An Overview of NFPA 110

Emergency power generators are an integral component in many fire and life safety systems. For this reason, NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, is referenced by many of the most widely used codes and standards. NFPA 110 addresses performance requirements for emergency and standby power systems. These systems provide an alternate source of electrical power in buildings when the normal electrical power source fails. Emergency power systems are made up of several components that need to work together to make sure electrical power is restored. These include power sources, transfer equipment, controls, supervisory equipment, and accessory equipment needed to supply electrical power to the selected circuits. This blog is meant to give an overview of the standard and its key chapters, but it’s not a replacement for reading and knowing the exact requirements of NFPA 110. What is an emergency and standby power system? In NFPA 110, there are two main terms used for emergency power or standby power. Those terms are emergency power supply and emergency power supply system. The emergency power supply is the source of the electrical power and includes everything necessary to generate the power. This includes the fuel supply (energy source), the equipment used to convert the fuel to electrical energy (energy converter), as well as the necessary accessories, such as the starting system and batteries. An emergency power supply system is a system that includes the emergency power supply as well as a system of conductors, disconnecting means, overcurrent protective devices, transfer switches, and all control, supervisory, and support devices up to and including the load terminals of the transfer equipment needed for the system to operate as a safe and reliable source of electric power. Chapter 4 ­– Classification of Emergency Power Supply Systems Emergency power supply systems are used in many different applications. Requirements that fit one situation might not be appropriate for another situation. When other codes or standards require an emergency power supply system, they typically call out the class, type, and level of system that is required. NFPA 110 contains the information for what these classes, types, and levels mean. Ultimately, these terms describe the capabilities of the system. Class – The class describes the minimum time that the emergency power supply system is designed to operate at its rated load without being refueled or recharged. It’s measured in hours, so a Class 0.25 needs to be able to provide power for 15 minutes and a Class 6 needs to provide power for 6 hours. The only class that falls outside of these rules is a Class X, which needs to provide power for “other time, in hours, as required by the application, code or user.” Type – The type describes the maximum time between when power is lost and when power is restored. This is measured in seconds, so a Type 10 needs to restore power within 10 seconds. There are two unique types that don’t follow this format. Type U, which needs to be basically uninterruptible—similar to an uninterruptible power supply system—and a Type M, which has no time limit and can be manually activated. Level – The level has to do with whether or not failure of the equipment could result in the loss of life or serious injury. It’s pretty straightforward. If failure of the equipment could result in the loss of life or serious injury. then it’s a Level 1. Otherwise, the emergency power supply system is a Level 2. The following table includes more information about classes, types, and levels. Chapter 5 – Emergency Power Supply: Energy Sources, Converters, and Accessories There are several different types of sources, or fuels, that can be used as an energy source, including liquified petroleum, liquified petroleum gas, natural gas, synthetic gas, and hydrogen gas. The most common is diesel fuel, which falls under the liquified petroleum category. Regardless of the type of fuel, it needs to be sized to 133 percent of the fuel required to run the generator for the time required by the class of the system. An energy source can’t do much without being converted into electrical energy. This can be done through a variety of means that are categorized into two groups: rotating equipment (generators) and fuel cells. Since reliability is one of the biggest concerns for an emergency power supply system, there are many requirements for equipment to be listed, designed, assembled, and tested to ensure it will function under emergency conditions. Chapter 6 – Transfer Switch Equipment A transfer switch does exactly what its name implies. It is a switch that, once activated, transfers the electrical load from one power source (normal power) to another (emergency power). They can be classified as an automatic transfer switch, a delayed automatic transfer switch, or a manual transfer switch, depending on the load being served and the required type of emergency power supply system. Automatic transfer switches, as well as delayed automatic, constantly monitor the source of normal power so, in the event of a power failure, the transfer switch moves the electrical load to the emergency power supply system. Chapter 6 of NFPA 110 contains performance requirements for transfer switches and their associated equipment. Chapter 7 – Installation and Environmental Considerations There are a lot of factors that can affect the performance of an emergency power supply system, one of which is the correct initial installation. Chapter 7 addresses the location and environmental considerations of installation that are essential for successful startup and performance, as well as safe operation and utilization of the emergency power supply system. This includes the following considerations: -        Location -        Lighting -        Mounting -        Vibration -        Noise -        HVAC -        Cooling system -        Fuel system -        Exhaust system -        Protection -        Distribution It is also crucial to know that the installed system will perform as expected without waiting for the initial operation to occur during the first power outage. Acceptance testing is required in order to confirm that the system will perform as required. Chapter 8 – Routine Maintenance and Operational Testing Emergency power supply systems are made of many components and subassemblies, all of which are required for reliable operation in order to provide emergency power in the event that primary power to a building is lost. The failure of one or more of these subsystems could compromise the ability of the emergency power system to deliver electricity in an emergency. For example, if the batteries in a diesel generator fail, then the entire system will not operate; in fact, battery failure is the most common cause of generator failure. Diligent maintenance of a building’s emergency power supply system, including routine inspections, system testing, and frequent maintenance, helps ensure proper operation. Some of the key considerations for the inspection, testing, and maintenance of emergency power supply systems are discussed in this blog. In general, the emergency power supply system needs to be inspected weekly, exercised monthly, and tested at least once every 36 months. NFPA 110 is a very commonly referenced standard and contains performance requirements for emergency power supply systems, most commonly generators. Hopefully this blog helped shed some light on the requirements and layout of the standard. For more information and training on NFPA 110, check out our online training as well as related certifications on the topic.

Accessible Means of Egress and the Life Safety Code

From 1927 until 1963, what is now NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, was called the Building Exits Code. Although it now covers a variety of topics, there is still a large focus on the means of egress within NFPA 101. For upper stories, we often think of exit stair enclosures as the primary exit option. But what about people with mobility impairments, such as those who use a wheelchair? How does the Life Safety Code protect people with mobility challenges? The Life Safety Code is not intended to be an accessibility code; however, there are some accessibility requirements for new buildings that have areas accessible to people with severe mobility impairments. Generally speaking, these buildings would require at least two accessible means of egress unless one of the conditions for a single means of egress can be satisfied.   What is an “accessible means of egress”?   An accessible means of egress is defined as a means of egress that provides a path to an area of refuge, a horizontal exit, or a public way. The path must comply with NFPA 101 and ICC A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities. While the definition is very specific as to what constitutes an accessible means of egress, a designer still has the choice in how to satisfy the need for accessible means of egress.   Access to a public way   Accessible means of egress in single-story buildings tend to be easier to provide. A door with a path to the public way could be considered an accessible means of egress. If there are elevation changes, providing ramps instead of, or in addition to, stairs ensures the path remains accessible. In the image below, a single-story building utilizes ramps to accomplish the elevation change between the building and the public way.     However, ramps or direct access to the public way are not always viable options. The code also allows for the use of a horizontal exit or an area of refuge.   What is a “horizontal exit”?   A horizontal exit is defined as “a way of passage from one building to an area of refuge in another building on approximately the same level, or a way of passage through or around a fire barrier to an area of refuge on approximately the same level in the same building that affords safety from fire and smoke originating from the area of incidence and areas communicating therewith.” A horizontal exit uses fire-rated construction to separate occupants from the dangers associated with fire. Because fire-rated construction is used, there is often no need for an elevation change. A horizontal exit could be located in the middle of a story allowing an occupant to simply travel through a fire door in a fire-rated wall. There are a number of other criteria outlined in 7.2.4 of the 2021 edition of NFPA 101 that need to be met in order for something to be considered a horizontal exit. The image below shows an example of a horizontal exit that could serve as an accessible means of egress. The red wall would have a 2-hour fire-resistance rating and the door opening would need to be protected appropriately.     What is an “area of refuge”?   An area of refuge is defined as “either (1) a story in a building where the building is protected throughout by an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system and has not less than two accessible rooms or spaces separated from each other by smoke-resisting partitions; or (2) a space located in a path of travel leading to a public way that is protected from the effects of fire, either by means of separation from other spaces in the same building or by virtue of location, thereby permitting a delay in egress travel from any level.” There are a number of ways to meet this, so be on the lookout for my next blog, which will discuss the different options for areas of refuge.   While NFPA 101 is not an accessibility code, it is necessary that people with disabilities have the ability to move to a safe location during a fire event or other emergency. The accessible means of egress requirements are there to ensure that happens. If you are interested in learning more about emergency evacuation planning for people with disabilities, check out this recently updated guide from NFPA.

How To Maintain Building and Equipment Access for the Responding Fire Department

When facility managers and building owners think of fire department access, they typically think about keeping a fire lane clear, so the responding fire department has a place to set up their equipment in case of an emergency. While this is critical to an effective response, there are many other aspects of a building that need to be properly maintained to provide appropriate fire department access to the building, as well as crucial fire and life safety equipment.  Building Identification To assist emergency responders in locating properties, building address numbers must be visible from the street. Premises or building identification is covered in Section 10.11 of NFPA 1, Fire Code. Address numbers can be mounted either on the building itself or, if the building is not visible from the street, on a post located on the street. The numbers should be designed to contrast the background of the building or post and be large enough to be easily seen from the street. Fire Apparatus Access Road To provide effective manual fire suppression operations, the fire department must be able to gain reasonable access to a building. Chapter 18 of NFPA 1 provides requirements for fire apparatus access. According to the Fire Code, access roads must be provided and maintained to allow the fire apparatus to be able to get within 50 ft (15 m) of at least one exterior door and to be within at least 150 ft (46m) of all exterior portions of the first story—this is increased to 450 ft (137 m) if the building is sprinklered. These access roads should be kept unobstructed to a width of not less than 20 ft (6.1 m) and a height of not less than 13 ft 6 in. (4.1 m). Keep in mind that these widths and heights may be altered by the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to accommodate responding apparatus. It is also important to maintain the proper turning radius needed for the responding apparatus and ensure that any required turnaround space is also kept clear. If the access road has a dead end that is greater than 150 ft (46m), a turnaround space is required. To ensure that your fire apparatus access roads are unobstructed from any parked vehicles or other obstructions, it may be a good idea to provide signs or roadway markings. This is something that may also be required by the AHJ. Access Boxes The fire department must be able to open any doors leading into the building that may be locked. This means an access box may be required by the AHJ to give the fire department the ability to obtain keys to unlock the building during an emergency. Typically, these access boxes are located near the front entrance of the building. If these access boxes are not provided, it is likely that the first responders may need to perform some forcible entry to gain access to the building, which means doors may be damaged or destroyed. If access to the premises is secured by a locked gate, then the fire department must be provided with an approved device or system to unlock the gate. This could be done with the installation of an access box on or near the gate that contains keys to the gate, or the responding fire department can be provided with an access card or other security device. Fire Hydrants The fire department also needs access to water. This is typically done by connecting to fire hydrants located on or near the property. All fire hydrants should be maintained so that a clear space of not less than 36 in. (914 mm) is provided all the way around the hydrant. Additionally, a clear space of 60 in. (1524 mm) needs to be provided in the front of a hydrant if it has a connection that is greater than 2 1⁄2 in. (64 mm). This clear space is provided to allow the connection and routing of hose lines. If you live in a cold climate, this means that all snow must be removed from around the hydrant after each storm. Fire Department Connection Your building may also have a fire department connection. This is a hose connection or series of hose connections located on the exterior of the building that connect either to a standpipe system or to the sprinkler system. Connections to standpipe systems allow the fire department to pressurize the standpipe system in the building so they can connect their hose lines to pre-installed hose connections within the building to fight the fire. Connections to the sprinkler system allow the fire department to pump additional water into the sprinkler system increasing the amount of available water and pressure within the system to control the fire. If your building has a fire department connection it is important to maintain proper access, which is outlined in Chapter 13 of NFPA 1. Most importantly, the code requires that a minimum of 36 in. (915 mm) of clear space be maintained to ensure the fire department can not only see the fire department connections but can also make use of them. This includes making sure any tree branches or vegetation are cut back and no other obstructions, such as trash cans, are present. Fire Alarm Control Unit If your building has a fire alarm and signaling system, it is important that the fire alarm control unit (FACU)—also known as the fire alarm panel—is accessible. The FACU allows the fire department to identify which initiating devices are in alarm to help them better locate the fire. If the fire alarm system also contains an emergency voice communication system, then the fire department can also use the system to communicate with occupants in the building to give them direction. Typically, the fire alarm control unit is going to be located near a main entrance in an area such as the lobby. It is also possible that the fire alarm control unit is in a different place and a fire alarm annunciator is placed near the main entrance. This fire alarm annunciator is connected to the fire alarm control unit and allows the first responders to see all of the displays on the fire alarm control unit from a remote location. Both the fire alarm control unit and any fire alarm annunciators must be free of any obstructions and must be visible at all times. If either the fire alarm control unit or the annunciator is locked, it is important to provide the fire department with keys so they can operate the system. Emergency Command Center If your building is a high-rise, meaning that it’s a building where the floor of an occupiable story is greater than 75 ft (23 m) above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access, then it is likely that your building has an emergency command center or a fire command center. This is a space that is separated from the remainder of the building with fire resistance–rated construction and provides a space for the fire department to set up their command if there is an emergency or fire in the building. The emergency command center may contain the following: ·      The fire department communication unit ·      A telephone for fire department use ·      Schematic building plans detailing the floor plan, means of egress, fire protection systems, firefighting equipment, and fire department access ·      A work table ·      The fire alarm control unit (fire alarm panel) or annunciator ·      Elevator location indicators ·      Emergency and standby power indicators ·      Fire pump status indicators ·      Smoke control system controls Typically, these rooms are located near the main entrance of the building or off the main lobby. It is crucial that these spaces remain accessible and are free from all storage or obstructions.  Fire Pump Room A fire pump may be required in your building to provide the required water pressure for a standpipe system or an automatic sprinkler system. Fire pumps are required to be in a room that is separated from the remainder of the building with fire resistance­–rated construction. If your building has a fire pump room, it is important that this room be properly identified and free of all storage and equipment that is not essential to the operation of the fire pump. Fire pump rooms are required to be accessed from a protected interior pathway or from an exterior door, so it is also important to ensure that the protected interior pathway or the path to the exterior door of the pump room is also free and clear of obstructions. Summary As you can see, there are many more aspects to fire department access than just keeping a fire lane clear. We want to make sure that the fire department and first responders can properly identify the building as well as access all of the building equipment that they may need during their response. It is important to get into a habit of regularly checking these items as you never know when you might need the fire department or first responders at your building, and in the case of an emergency, every second counts. Interested in learning more? Take a look at this video excerpt (below) from our Fire and Life Safety Operator Online Training, which goes over items that need to be maintained to assist the fire department.

NFPA Releases New Edition of Guide to Assist People with Disabilities

NFPA has released a new edition of a guide that helps the disabled community prepare for emergency evacuation. As I mentioned briefly in a blog post earlier this year, NFPA had been working with several stakeholders to publish an update to this important resource, which is written by the NFPA Disability Access Review and Advisory Committee (DARAC) with assistance from NFPA staff and others. In November, NFPA published the third edition of the Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities. The main purpose of the guide is to provide building occupants, as well as building managers in non-residential buildings, guidance on how to develop an emergency evacuation plan that is inclusive of people with disabilities.   For the new edition, the guide has been reimagined and redesigned from the ground up. It utilizes a simplified layout, with content arranged in four unique parts.   Part I: Preparing an Emergency Evacuation First, the user is presented with helpful steps in order to create and implement an emergency evacuation plan. This section is critical as it establishes planning team resources and considerations, including who should be on the planning team. (Hint: Occupants who self-identity as having a disability are essential!) Additionally, plan logistics, such as developing, practicing, and updating plans, is covered in greater detail.   Part II: Stages of an Emergency Evacuation In this section, the user is guided through the five stages of emergency evacuation. Practical considerations are reviewed, along with the use of visual images to assist the user with specific concepts, such as what emergency announcements they might hear and what exit signs they might see.     While references to specific NFPA documents, such as NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®, and NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, are provided, expertise with these documents is not necessary to be able to utilize the contents of the guide. The concepts provided in this section will also assist planning teams in a review of their facilities emergency readiness. Part III: Checklist for Emergency Evacuation Planning   In this section of the guide, users are able to answer questions in a detailed checklist, which is organized based on the stages of an emergency evacuation outlined in Part II. There are more than a dozen questions, such as Does the alarm system include verbal instructions for all occupants? and Does evacuation require the use of exit stairs? Answering these questions will assist the user, as well as the planning team, in uncovering any obstacles or gaps that can be addressed for all occupants.   Part IV: NFPA Publications and Other Resources Lastly, the guide provides users with a list of resources from NFPA and other organizations for further review. Embedded links within the document are provided to assist the user in quickly locating the resources provided.   The Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities is available as a free download. It is important to note that all or portions of the guide may be reproduced, displayed, or distributed for personal or non-commercial purposes. Commercial reproduction, display, or distribution, however, may only be done with the permission of NFPA. We hope that you find the guide to be a useful tool to assist you with emergency evacuation planning. Please contact your authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for information regarding your responsibilities in your jurisdiction. If you have questions or comments about the guide, NFPA would appreciate hearing from you. Contact Kevin Carr at   Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay inclusive.

Twitter HQ Investigation Highlights Importance of Catching Changes of Occupancy

Elon Musk has found himself in hot water with the city of San Francisco after reports surfaced that the newly minted Twitter owner had arranged for sleeping quarters to be added to the social media company’s San Francisco headquarters.   The San Francisco Department of Buildings Inspection said on December 7 that it would launch an investigation into the reported renovations. In a tweet, Musk called the investigation an “attack” and questioned the city’s priorities. Coming to his aid, some Twitter users then urged the billionaire entrepreneur, who also owns Tesla and SpaceX, to move Twitter’s main offices out of California.   So city of SF attacks companies providing beds for tired employees instead of making sure kids are safe from fentanyl. Where are your priorities @LondonBreed!? — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 6, 2022 But experts say the reality is that, in essentially any jurisdiction, if a change of occupancy occurs, codes and standards are in place to ensure that the fire and life safety features of a building also change to appropriately protect the new occupancy. And for good reason—deviating from a building’s intended occupancy classification has resulted in deadly consequences in past instances.   What is ‘change of occupancy’?   A change of occupancy is defined by NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, as a “change in the occupancy classification of a structure or portion of a structure.” It’s important to note that change of occupancy differs from change of use.  “ The reality is if a change of occupancy occurs, codes and standards are in place to ensure that the fire and life safety features of a building also change to appropriately protect the new occupancy   In a blog published in September, Robin Zevotek, a principal fire protection engineer at NFPA, explained it by saying, “If the work being done creates a change to the occupancy classification it is a change of occupancy, if not, it is a change of use.” In other words, adding flammable liquids to an area of a storage warehouse not intended to store flammable liquids would be change of use; turning that warehouse into an Airbnb would be change of occupancy. RELATED  Read more about occupancy classifications in codes   When either a change of occupancy or a change of use occurs, a review must take place to determine the fire protection systems or other life safety features that might now be required. An assembly occupancy like a nightclub, for instance, will have different code requirements than a hotel.   In the case of Twitter’s offices, a change from an office building to something more akin to a lodging or rooming house occupancy classification could require additional smoke and carbon monoxide alarms that an office space might not. “When the building, fire, and life safety systems were designed and installed, it was under the assumption that people would use this building as a normal office building and that people wouldn’t sleep there,” said Brian O’Connor, a fire protection engineer at NFPA.   Codes and standards even account for the way people behave in different occupancy types. “In a business occupancy, for instance, we expect a certain level of awareness and responsiveness from occupants since they are alert and awake,” said Valeria Ziavras, a fire protection engineer at NFPA. “Additionally, we would expect them to have some familiarity with the building and how to get out in the event of an emergency. Compare that to an occupancy like a lodging and rooming house, where we expect occupants to be sleeping, at least part of the time, which drastically affects the level of awareness and how quickly they can respond to an emergency situation. They may or may not be familiar with the building and how to get out.”   A spokesman for the San Francisco Department of Buildings Inspection echoed these points in a statement sent to CBS News. “We need to make sure the building is being used as intended,” said Patrick Hannan, the department’s communications director. “There are different building code requirements for residential buildings, including those being used for short-term stays. These codes make sure people are using spaces safely.”   Unregulated changes of occupancy can have potentially devastating consequences. Perhaps no example illustrates this better than the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed 36 people in Oakland in December 2016. Dozens of people had been illegally living and working in the abandoned warehouse prior to the fire. At the time, the warehouse hadn’t been inspected in three decades, city records showed, and few seemed to know what was actually going on inside.     “If changes in occupancy or use occur with disregard to the code implications, this could put people’s lives at risk, result in the loss of the property, and have a negative impact on either the local or global economy,” said O’Connor. “Sometimes, we take it for granted when we assume that the lives of the occupants were taken into consideration when changes to the building are made. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, so if you see a change in occupancy or a major change in use occur, be sure to notify your local fire department.” Top photograph: MatthewKeys via Wikipedia

Fire Safety for Electric Vehicles and Other Modern Vehicles in Parking Structures

In spite of the global supply chain issues and loss of vehicles in the Felicity Ace cargo ship fire, the sales of electric vehicles (EVs) has been on the move, hitting 6.6 million in 2021, which is more than triple their market share from two years earlier. While this might be good news for our environment, it also brings unique fire challenges to both first responders and fire protection designers. The lithium-ion (or similar) batteries inside of these vehicles fail and burn in a much different way than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. When lithium-ion batteries fail, they go through a process called thermal runaway, where a single cell failure can cause the production of heat and oxygen as well as flammable and toxic gasses. This then spreads to adjacent cells causing potential rapid fire growth or explosion. To give us some perspective about the size of this issue, it is estimated that there are around 16 million electric cars on the road worldwide, and studies have identified nearly 300 EV fires globally between 2010 and 2022. Compare this with ICE vehicle fires and we find that EV vehicle fires are less common of an occurrence, but more complicated of an event, since EVs fires can last longer and have the potential for electrical shock and reignition. While a majority of vehicle fires occur on the road, it’s the fires that occur in parking structures that lead to large economic loss as evidenced by recent fires at Liverpool’s Echo Arena (UK) and at the Stavanger Airport (Norway). What makes a parking garage or parking structure unique? Parking garages, often called parking structures in code books, are a unique type of occupancy. They can be located underground or above ground and are usually located in congested urban areas where large open parking lots aren’t feasible. They can be public or private and store anything from motorcycles and cars to trucks and buses. There might be access for each vehicle to enter and exit or there might be vehicles covering the entire floor area. RELATED: Read a 2019 NFPA Journal feature story about the risks introduced to parking garages by modern vehicles  There can also be several different types of technology integrated into parking structures, such as car stackers or automated parking systems which store and retrieve vehicles without a driver. These types of technologies increase the efficiency of the space being used but also increase the potential hazard by placing vehicles closer together. With all of these variables already existing in parking structures, the introduction of electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging stations adds more considerations that need to be made when designing and protecting these occupancies. What do the codes say? What do the current codes and standard say about electric vehicles in parking garages? While they don’t go into much detail, there are some requirements in NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® (NEC®) and NFPA 88A, Standard for Parking Structures, that address certain safety concerns. The NEC is the go-to code when looking to protect people and property from electrical hazards and so, as appropriate, it has requirements for installing EV charging stations, or “Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment,” as they call it in the code. When conducting service load calculations, Article 220 requires EV Supply Equipment to be calculated at either 7,200 watts or the nameplate rating of the equipment, whichever is larger. This is to ensure the electrical supply will be able to handle the extra load put on by EVs charging. Most of the other requirements for electric vehicle charging stations are going to be located in Article 625, Electric Vehicle Power Transfer System. While this article contains many requirements, some of the highlights include requirements for EV charging equipment to be listed, to have a disconnecting means, and for charging coupling to be a minimum distance above the ground. The other major standard that addresses EVs in parking structures is NFPA 88A. Similar to NFPA 70, it requires the charging stations and equipment to be listed but it gives more details into the exact listing standards it needs to meet. -        Electric vehicle charging stations need to be listed to UL 2202, Standard for Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging System Equipment. -        Electric vehicle charging equipment need to be listed to UL 2594, Standard for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. -        Wireless power transfer equipment needs to be listed to UL 2750, UL LLC Outline of Investigation for Wireless Power Transfer Equipment for Electric Vehicles. Impact of modern vehicles The introduction of EVs into the ecosystem isn’t the only thing to consider when looking at how to properly design and protect parking structures. The fire characteristics of modern vehicles are also changing to include more plastics and other combustibles than ever before. While this benefits the fuel economy and lowers vehicle price, it increases the fuel load and fire growth we see in parking garages. A recent Fire Protection Research Foundation report dives into details about the fire hazard modern vehicles represent to parking garages and marine vessels. In addition, there have also been updates to various standards in response to these increased fire hazards found in parking garages.    The 2022 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, for example, has changed to increase the recommended hazard classification for parking structures from an Ordinary Hazard Group 1 to an Ordinary Hazard Group 2. The effect is a 33 percent increase in the design density, moving from 0.15 gpm/ft2 to 0.2 gpm/ft2. As of January of 2021, FM Global data sheets have also increased the hazard category for parking garages and car parks from a Hazard Category 2 to a Hazard Category 3. New to the 2023 edition of NFPA 88A, all parking garages are now required to have sprinkler systems installed in accordance with NFPA 13. Prior to this edition, sprinklers didn’t have to be installed in open parking structures. Conclusion While technology is constantly evolving, so are NFPA codes, standards, trainings, research, and other resources. The ever-growing presence of lithium-ion batteries in our day-to-day lives are changing the fire characteristics of our built environment. Fire protection professionals need to be able to stay on top of these changes to ensure the safety of people and property. For more information on the resources NFPA provides relates to electric vehicles, check out
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