Topic: Building & Life Safety

What are the code requirements for haunted house attractions?

A version of this blog written by Kristin Bigda, publications strategy director at NFPA, first appeared in 2016. The article has been edited to reflect more recent code editions. With Halloween quickly approaching, thoughts of candy, ghosts, and haunted houses are surely on your mind. While haunted houses may be an entertaining way to spend an October evening, there can be devastating consequences if a fire were to break out and proper protections aren’t in place. What are haunted houses and special amusement buildings? Haunted houses may be temporary in nature or permanently installed. Sometimes, they are used only near Halloween, while others may be open year-round. This was the case in the tragic Haunted Castle fire that occurred at a permanently installed, year-round haunted house located at a Six Flags amusement park in New Jersey on May 11, 1984. Eight teenagers died in that blaze.  To prevent a similar tragedy to the Six Flags haunted house fire, provisions were added to NFPA 1, Fire Code, and NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, to address special amusement buildings—the category in which haunted houses typically fall. According to the 2021 edition of NFPA 1, a special amusement building is “a building or portion thereof that is temporary, permanent, or mobile and contains a ride or device that conveys patrons where the patrons can be contained or restrained, or provides a walkway along, around, or over a course in any direction as a form of amusement or entertainment, and arranged so that the egress path is not readily apparent due to visual or audio distractions, contains an intentionally confounded egress path, or is not readily available due to the mode of conveyance through the building or structure.” A special amusement building is an assembly occupancy regardless of occupant load. Special amusement buildings often use special effects, scenery, props, and audio and visual distractions that may cause egress paths to become difficult to identify. In haunted houses, in particular, the presence of combustible materials and special scenery can also contribute to the fuel load and, may result in rapid fire spread should a fire occur.   “ Haunted houses use special effects, scenery, props, and audio and visual distractions that may cause egress paths to become difficult to identify What does the code say? Code provisions for special amusement buildings are found in Section 20.1.4 of NFPA 1. The code requirements for haunted houses are summarized below: Haunted houses must apply the provisions for assembly occupancies in addition to the provisions of Section 20.1.4. Automatic sprinklers are required for all haunted houses unless it is less than 10 feet (3050 millimeters) in height and has less than 160 square feet (15 square meters) of aggregate horizontal projections. If the haunted house is considered moveable or portable, an approved temporary means is permitted to be used for water supply.  Smoke detection is required throughout all haunted houses.  The actuation of any smoke detection device in a mobile or temporary haunted house must sound an alarm at a constantly attended location on the premises. A fire alarm system is required in all permanently installed haunted houses.   The fire alarm system in all permanently installed haunted houses must be initiated by required smoke detection, the required automatic sprinkler system, and manual means at a constantly attended location under continuous supervision by competent persons when the haunted house is open to patrons. Actuation of sprinklers, or any suppression systems, as well as smoke detection systems (having cross-zoning capability) must provide an increase in illumination of the means of egress and termination of other confusing visuals or sounds. The one exception is for haunted houses that are in permanently installed special amusement buildings that use a ride (or similar device) that occupants are contained in and unable to evacuate themselves without the help of a ride operator and that meet specific criteria. Exit marking and floor proximity exit signs are required. Where designs are such that the egress path is not apparent, additional directional exit marking is required. Interior wall and ceiling finish materials must be Class A throughout. Per Section 10.8.1, emergency action plans are required. Other requirements, not specific just to haunted houses or special amusement buildings, may also apply, such as:  Permits (see Section 1.12) Seasonal buildings (see Section 10.12) Special outdoor events, fairs, and carnivals (see Section 10.14) As we move into the Halloween and haunted house season, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and overlook the safety issues that may arise. Through the provisions in NFPA 1, which can assist code officials and fire departments in enforcing safe haunted houses, and NFPA’s Halloween resources for consumers, everyone can stay safe this season.

A level of Safety – NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend The 1st University of Maryland/NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem Symposium, in College Park, Maryland, U.S.A, where fire and life safety experts from across the globe gathered to discuss the principals of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™ and its application to address today’s fire safety issues. For those of you who are not familiar with the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™, it is “a framework that identifies the components that must work together to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries and death from fire, electrical and other hazards.” In other words, it identifies the items NFPA feels contribute to achieving the expected level of safety when it comes to fire and electrical hazards. Each component is depicted as a cog, each of which connect to form a circle. Over the two day symposium attendees reviewed case studies on the Ghost Ship Warehouse fire in Oakland, CA (2016); the Grenfell Tower Fire in London, UK (2017); and the Camp Fire, Butt County, CA (2018); and also discussed emerging issues involving residential fires; the safe use of alternative energy; and how to think about fire safety when using new building materials. Each topic was evaluated through the lens of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™.  In many of the case studies multiple components of the ecosystem failed or lacked effectiveness. When discussing the emerging issues, no single component would solve the challenge presented. This seemed to lend to the idea that all the cogs must be working together to ensure the expected level of safety, so what happens if just one isn’t operating at peak performance? Does the ecosystem still provide a level of safety because the cogs remain connected? One example that came up several times was the need to mandate automatic fire sprinkler systems in all new and existing high-rise buildings. According to research done by NFPA, fire Sprinklers have been shown to be an extremely effective of increasing life safety with an 89% reduction in fire deaths in properties with automatic fire sprinklers as compared to those without. So, sprinklers would certainly make an impact on reducing deaths in fires. NFPA 1 Fire Code requires automatic fire sprinklers systems in all new high-rise building and all existing high-rise buildings within 12 years of the code becoming law. Mandating compliance with the most recent edition of this code through legislation falls under government responsibility cog. If the government responsibility cog was effective, this incorporation of NFPA 101 Life Safety Code would be one way they could create laws which prioritizes public safety needs.  However, as is sometimes the case a local government also could incorporate into law a modified NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, one which doesn’t mandate sprinklers in all high-rise buildings, specifically existing buildings. In the second case, one could argue that this cog would not be functioning at its optimal potential. How does this impact the level of safety in existing high-rise buildings? There are many examples of major fires in non-sprinklered or partially sprinklered high-rise buildings including the One Meridian Plaza fire (1991), the Cook County Administration Building fire in Chicago (2003), the Marco Polo Apartment Building Fire in Hawaii (2017) and the Twin Parks Northwest fire in New York City (2022). In all these cases a review of the fire concluded fire sprinklers could have made an impact, however all had multiple challenges; One Meridian Plaza had issues with water supply in the standpipe system; the Cook County Administration Building had locked doors preventing reentry on the floors above the fire; and both the Marco Polo and Twin Parks Northwest fires both had issues with self-closing doors. These challenges touch the Skilled Workforce, Code Compliance, and Investment in Safety cogs, resulting in the entire system failing. As I reflect on the discussion during the first NFPA Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem Summit, I can’t help but wonder if another part of the ecosystem concept is the resiliency of the anticipated level of safety in buildings. Each cog is interlaced with the next, adding elements of safety which can work together in an emergency to prevent a major tragedy. When one cog is not functioning at its optimal potential does the circular concept of the ecosystem allow the others to “turn” or function which will provide some level of safety, reducing the likelihood of a significant incident? As we wrap up fire prevention week, let’s think about all the cogs and how they’ll advance the level of safety for the public. Government Responsibility, Development and Use of Current Codes, Reference Standards, Investment in Safety, Skilled Workforce, Code Compliance, Preparedness and Emergency Response, and Informed Public all work together. Buildings which are designed, constructed, and operated with all these in mind really do have a level of safety which works to protect their occupants. Check out the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™page for more on the concept, an assessment tool as well as the 2020 & 2021 Year in Review reports on the state of the ecosystem.

A Closer Look at Some Assembly Occupancy Requirements

The fire at a Thai nightclub in early August 2022 was all too familiar. It started during a live music performance killing 20 people and injuring 25. Many of the details emerging are eerily similar to The Station nightclub fire which claimed the lives of 100 people and injured 230 more in February of 2003. In both instances, flammable interior finish and blocked exits were believed to have played a role in the fast-spreading fires and high number of fatalities. The 2003 tragedy led to a number of changes to NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, while also reiterating the importance of interior finish and means of egress requirements for assembly occupancies. Interior finishes are the interior surfaces of a building that are generally secured in place like wall and ceiling coverings. They have proven to be a contributing factor in how quickly a fire spreads. To minimize the impact interior finish has on fire spread, Chapter 10 of the 2021 edition NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, establishes basic requirements for interior wall, ceiling, and floor finishes. Chapter 10 outlines two testing options: 1) testing in accordance with NFPA 286, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Contribution of Wall and Ceiling Interior Finish to Room Fire Growth; or 2) testing in accordance with ASTM E84 or UL 723.  Paragraph 10.2.3.1.2 of the 2021 edition of NFPA 101, outlines acceptance criteria for materials tested in accordance with NFPA 286. The acceptance criteria includes: limitations on the spread of flames; peak heat release rate less than 800 kW; and for new installations the total smoke released throughout the test cannot exceed 1000 m2. Any material that meets the criteria outlined in 10.2.3.1.2 can be used wherever a Class A material is permitted. The alternative test method (ASTM E84 or UL 723) results in the material being grouped into a class. There are three classes- Class A, Class B, and Class C which are determined by a material’s flame spread index and smoke developed index. Class A materials will have the lowest flame spread index of the three classifications. The smoke developed index is the same range for all three classifications. For newly installed materials both the flame spread index and smoke developed index is considered, whereas for existing materials only flame spread index is considered. Occupancy chapters may further regulate interior finish beyond what is contained in Chapter 10. In both fires, acoustic material is believed to have been a major contributing factor in the rapid spread of fire. Assembly occupancies do further regulate interior finish. The requirements are the same for new and existing assembly occupancies. In general assembly areas with an occupant load of 300 or fewer, ceiling and wall materials must be Class A, B, or C. In general assembly areas with an occupant load of more than 300, and in corridors, and lobbies, interior wall and ceiling finishes must be Class A or B. In enclosed stairs interior finish materials must be Class A. One other contributing factor was the availability of exits. In both the fire in Thailand and at The Station nightclub, one of the doors to the outside was blocked for use by occupants to allow the band performing to have their own separate entrance/exit. One of the fundamental components of the Life Safety Code is the concept of free egress. Prohibiting people from entering the building via a door is one thing, but not allowing occupants to exit the building via the nearest door is unacceptable. Additionally, NFPA 101 prohibits the means of egress for assembly occupancies from going through hazardous areas such as kitchens, storerooms, closets, stages, and platforms. There are also requirements related to the size of a main entrance/exit, where one exists. History has shown that occupants tend to go out the way they came, even if there is an exit closer. The main entrance/exit provisions are intended to prevent crowd crush situations. In existing assembly occupancies, the main entrance/exit needs to be sized to accommodate at least one-half the total occupant load. For new assembly occupancies that are dance halls, discotheques, nightclubs, or that have festival seating, the main entrance/exits must be wide enough to accommodate two-thirds of the total occupant load. The main entrance/exit for all other new assembly occupancies must be sized to accommodate one-half the total occupant load. If the assembly occupancy is more than one level, then each level must have access to the main entrance/exit and that access must be sized to handle two-thirds (for new assembly occupancies) or one-half (for existing) of the occupant load of that level. The main entrance/exit requirements for certain types of new assembly occupancies was increased from one-half to two-thirds the total occupant load due to a crowd crush event during The Station nightclub fire. Another way the Life Safety Code strives to reduce the risk of crowd crush is by requiring trained crowd managers. All assembly occupancies, with the exception of certain ones used exclusively for religious worship, are required to have at least one trained crowd manager. Depending on the total occupant load, additional crowd managers may be required. Typically, there should be one crowd manager for every 250 occupants. Prior to the 2006 Edition, crowd managers were only required for assembly occupancies with occupant loads of more than 1000. After The Station nightclub fire, the Life Safety Code was changed to require at least one crowd manager for all assembly occupancies. Within 2 minutes of the fire starting at The Station nightclub, there was crowd crush at the main entrance/exit. This led to the main entrance/exit being almost completely impassable. The crowd manager’s responsibilities include understanding crowd management, understanding methods of evacuation, being familiar with the facility evacuation plan, being familiar with the emergency response procedures, and understanding procedures for reporting emergencies. While the cause of the recent fire at the Thai nightclub is still under investigation, The Station nightclub fire was caused by pyrotechnics. To reduce the risk of open flames or pyrotechnics starting a fire in an assembly occupancy they are prohibited unless certain conditions are met. In order for pyrotechnics to be used on stage before proximate audiences, precautions to prevent ignition of any combustible material, satisfactory to the authority having jurisdiction must be met and the use of the pyrotechnic device must comply with NFPA 1126, Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics Before a Proximate Audience. As we have seen countless times, fires in assembly occupancies, and in particular nightclubs, can result in a high number of fatalities. By carefully considering the use of open flames and pyrotechnics we can eliminate potential ignition sources in these types of occupancies. Additionally, ensuring the interior finish requirements for assembly occupancies are met can help slow the spread of fire. Fires in an assembly occupancy have the added risk of leading to a crowd crush event. Compliance with the means of egress and crowd manager requirements will help reduce the risk of crowd crush events during emergency situations. 
People looking at plans

How does NFPA 101 categorize work in an existing building?

Under NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, once a building has been approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and a new version of the code is adopted, that building becomes an existing building. Any changes to an existing building, from as small as touching up paint to as large as gutting an entire building, are covered in Chapter 43. The first step in determining the requirements for a specific change is to categorize the work being done in one of the seven work categories. The work category will drive the code requirements for the work areas so selecting the correct one is important. This blog will review the categories and walk through some examples of different projects and the category or categories they could fall under. The seven work categories are as follows: Repair - The patching, restoration, or painting of materials, elements, equipment, or fixtures for the purpose of maintaining such materials, elements, equipment, or fixtures in good or sound condition (NFPA 101 - 43.2.2.1.1 2021 edition). Renovation - The replacement in kind, strengthening, or upgrading of building elements, materials, equipment, or fixtures, that does not result in a reconfiguration of the building spaces within (NFPA 101 – 43.2.2.1.2  2021 edition). Modification - The reconfiguration of any space; the addition, relocation, or elimination of any door or window; the addition or elimination of load-bearing elements; the reconfiguration or extension of any system; or the installation of any additional equipment (NFPA 101 – 43.2.2.1.3  2021 edition). Reconstruction - The reconfiguration of a space that affects an exit or a corridor shared by more than one occupant space; or the reconfiguration of a space such that the rehabilitation work area is not permitted to be occupied because existing means of egress and fire protection systems, or their equivalent, are not in place or continuously maintained. (NFPA 101 – 43.2.2.1.4  2021 edition). Addition - An increase in the building area, aggregate floor area, building height, or number of stories of a structure (NFPA 101 – 43.2.2.1.7  2021 edition). Change of Use - A change in the purpose or level of activity within a structure that involves a change in application of the requirements of the Code (NFPA 101 – 43.2.2.1.5  2021 edition). Change of Occupancy Classification - The change in the occupancy classification of a structure or portion of a structure (NFPA 101 – 43.2.2.1.6  2021 edition). To help identify the appropriate category the flow chart below is one way to walk through the decision points for a particular work area to arrive at the rehabilitation work category. Each work area should be considered separately to ensure all requirements are captured. See a larger view of this diagram. In this method, the initial decision point is whether the work will result in a change to how the building will be used or occupied. 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. Although these are their own rehabilitation categories, it’s important to continue to evaluate the work associated with this change to ensure it complies with all the code requirements as a change in use or occupancy often result in additional work being performed. The second decision point will be if the work will add any areas, height or increase the number of stories, in which that case it will be classified as an addition. If not an addition, will any space or system be reconfigured? If so, it will either be a modification or reconstruction based on the level and type of work being done. If not, then the classification will be a repair where nothing is replaced or a renovation if construction elements or systems are replaced in kind. Let’s walk through a few examples of how different projects would be classified. You own and operate a warehouse and need to hire a team to manage the warehouse. The team is new to your operation and no office space exists. To address this need, you plan to convert some of the warehouse space into offices. This type of work would change how the building or space is being utilized, specifically you’d be changing from a warehouse which is a storage occupancy to offices which is a business occupancy. The work project would be classified in the change of occupancy rehabilitation work category.  Since this work also include reconfiguring space, you’ll need to continue to evaluate to see if other rehabilitation categories apply. You won’t be adding any area, height, or stories to the building. If you’re impacting an exit, the fire protection systems cannot remain operational, or the area is more than 50% of the floor the work would also be classified as a reconstruction. Otherwise, the work would also be considered a modification. Another example would be reconfiguring the entire second floor of your office building to convert the space to better serve a new tenant. The old tenant had several small offices off a hallway that provided access to the exit stairs. The new tenant would like two open office areas separated by the original corridor on the second floor. They also need a large office on the first floor, so you plan to convert two small offices into a larger one. In this instance, the use and occupancy would remain the same and the project would not add any area, height, or increase the number of floors to the building. The work would involve reconfiguring space. It would not impact a corridor or exit that is shared by more than one occupant space, and the fire protection systems and egress systems could continue to function during the construction. The work would not encompass the entire building, but since the work would involve more than 50% of the building area, it would be classified as a reconstruction. After the work has been classified in the appropriate rehabilitation work category or categories the next step would be to determine the requirements from Chapter 43. Each rehabilitation work category has a section in Chapter 43 of NFPA 101, which outlines the requirements. It is possible to have multiple categories in a single work project, that under certain conditions can be considered independently, for example the reconfiguration of a second-floor office area and the renovation of the first-floor lobby. Each of these areas would need to comply with the requirements of their specific category.  Historic buildings have their own section in Chapter 43. This is because sometimes special consideration is needed to balance historic perseveration and code compliance. To help address this, NFPA 101 allows three options for historic buildings, they can comply with: Section 43.10 for historic buildings, The applicable work category from chapter 43 or NFPA 914, Code for the Protection of Historic Structures. It may be best to investigate all three options to determine which best suits the historic structure being rehabilitated. When making changes to an existing building, whether as minor as replacing a ceiling in kind or as major as an addition NFPA 101 provides a roadmap for completing the work. The appropriate rehabilitation category will drive relevant requirements.  For more information on how to apply chapter 43 of NFPA 101 to a given building check out this blog How do I apply the provisions for rehabilitation to work at my building?, and for more on existing buildings check out this blog on Do all buildings have to comply with the latest code?

New Semester, New Responsibilities: A Reminder about Campus Fire Safety as Students Head into the New School Year

As the new school year draws closer, college students across the country are gearing up to return to campus, especially with in-person learning in full swing again. No matter if they are new or returning students, the journey back to campus marks new experiences and a new chapter in their lives. However, with new experiences and chapters, comes a set of new responsibilities. Now that they’re living on their own (or with a friendly roommate or two) students will be in charge of taking care of themselves, their living space, and their safety. It’s not nearly as bad or as hard as it sounds though, as there is an abundance of resources dedicated to helping them through this process, such as the annual Campus Fire Safety for Students campaign from NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS). NFPA and CCFS work together every September for Campus Fire Safety Month to raise awareness about the threat of fires in both on- and off-campus housing. By putting relevant information in the hands of the students, their parents, and campus housing staff and administrators, the hope is to encourage everyone to share this life-saving information and take proactive measures to protect students from fires and make their living spaces as safe as possible upon their return to school. Data from NFPA research shows that from 2015 to 2019, US fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,840 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties, causing a yearly average of 29 civilian injuries and $11 million in direct damages. The first two months of the school year (September and October) were the peak months for these fires, especially during the evenings between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., with 87 percent caused by cooking equipment. Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for NFPA, and CCFS Advisory Council member, says, “It is important for [students] to review fire safety tips to learn how to prevent fires. The more prepared students are, the more we can do to reduce fire risk. Campus Fire Safety Month provides a great opportunity to share materials and action steps and foster a culture of awareness and preparedness about fire safety on our college campuses.” Here are some quick tips from NFPA and CCFS to help students reduce the risk of fires and save lives: Know and practice the building’s evacuation plan, as well as alternate routes. Cook in intended areas only, and never leave cooking equipment unattended when in use, even briefly. Test smoke alarms monthly in an apartment or a house. Ensure smoke alarms are installed in all sleeping areas, outside of all sleeping areas, and on every level of the apartment or house. NEVER remove or disable smoke alarms. Keep combustible items away from heat sources and never overload electrical outlets, extension cords, or power strips. Many fires are caused by portable light and heat sources, like space heaters and halogen lamps. Keep common areas and hallways free of possessions and debris. Never block exit routes. As part of its continuing education about fire safety on college campuses, CCFS will host an in-person Campus Fire Forum, “A Look Back and Forward to the Future of Fire Safety,” from November 1 - 3, 2022. As part of the Forum, a special panel will examine the Boland Hall Fire, a fatal fire that took place in a freshman residence on the Seton Hall University campus in January 2002 and named one of the deadliest college fires in recent U.S. history. It took the lives of three students and injured 58. During the panel discussions, participants will explore and learn about the progression of fire safety education over the last 20 years, including research, advanced technologies, legislation, and more. Learn about the Forum and register to attend today.  Find shareable videos, checklists, infographics, and additional information about the Campus Fire Safety for Students campaign at nfpa.org/campus or on the CCFS website and its Share! For Students webpage. Photo by Parker Gibbons on Unsplash
HazMat

NFPA and IBC Occupancy Classifications when Hazardous Materials are Present

Hazardous materials are those chemicals or substances that are classified as a physical hazard material or a health hazard material (see this blog for more information). There's often some confusion around what the appropriate occupancy classification is when hazardous materials are present. Unfortunately, there isn't a straight answer. It is going to depend on what code is applicable in your particular situation. This blog is going to take a closer look at the differences in occupancy classification when using NFPA Codes and the International Building Code (IBC). For some basic information regarding the differences in occupancy classification check out this blog. Before digging into the actual differences between the codes it's helpful to understand the concepts of maximum allowable quantity (MAQ) and control areas. Although NFPA Codes and the IBC both address these concepts in their own documents, the overall approach is similar. For a closer look at how to determine a MAQ using NFPA 1, Fire Code, be sure to look at this blog. NFPA Approach One of the major differences between the way the IBC and NFPA codes address occupancy classification for spaces using hazardous materials, is the actual creation of a unique occupancy classification within the IBC. NFPA codes do not create a separate occupancy classification specific to hazardous materials. Instead, regardless of whether they contain hazardous materials or not, all buildings are given an occupancy classification(s) based on how the space is being used and the expected characteristics of the occupants. Then, if the building contains hazardous materials additional provisions must be met. If the hazardous materials in a given control area exceed the MAQ, additional protections are required. These are called Protection Levels and they range from Protection Level 1 to Protection Level 5. It is important to note that although a building must comply with the additional protection levels, the occupancy classification itself does not change. This means when the MAQ is exceeded and NFPA documents apply, you are required to comply with both the requirements specific to that occupancy as well as the appropriate protection level requirements for that hazardous material. NFPA Approach- Protection Levels Features for Protection Level 1 through Protection Level 3 are intended primarily to provide protection from physical hazards. Protection Level 1 is the highest level of protection. This protection level is required when high hazard Level 1 contents exceed the MAQ. These materials are unstable and can pose a detonation hazard. Examples of high hazard level 1 contents include Class 4 oxidizers; detonable pyrophoric solids or liquids; Class 3 detonable and Class 4 unstable (reactive) solids, liquids, or gases; and detonable organic peroxides. This protection level requires that the materials be stored in a one story in height, detached building that is used for no other purpose. Protection Level 2 is designed to limit the spread of fire from materials that deflagrate or accelerate burning. Additionally, the protection features are designed to limit the potential for fire to spread from an outside source and affect the hazardous materials in the building. This protection level is required when high hazard Level 2 contents exceed the MAQ. These materials present a deflagration hazard or a hazard from accelerated burning. Examples of high hazard Level 2 contents include Combustible dusts that are stored, used, or generated in a manner that creates a severe fire or explosion hazard; Class I organic peroxides; flammable gases; nondetonable pyrophoric solids, liquids, or gases; and Class 3 water-reactive solids and liquids. Protection Level 3 is one of the most common protection levels encountered in the general inspection of storage and industrial operations that use hazardous materials. These types of operations and storage facilities normally operate with amounts of hazardous materials greater than the MAQ while conducting business. This protection level is required when high hazard Level 3 contents exceed the MAQ. These materials readily support combustion or present a physical hazard. Examples of high hazard level 3 contents include Class IIA, Class IIB, and Class III organic peroxides; Class 2 solid or liquid oxidizers; Class 2 unstable (reactive) materials; and oxidizing gases. Protection Level 4 is intended to mitigate the acute health hazards resulting from the storage, use, or handling of high hazard Level 4 materials. These contents include corrosives, highly toxic materials, and toxic materials. The objective is to protect evacuating occupants and arriving first responders from being injured by these hazardous materials. Protection Level 5 applies to semiconductor fabrication facilities. Buildings that require Protection Level 5 must comply with NFPA 318, Standard for the Protection of Semiconductor Fabrication Facilities. IBC Approach The IBC uses a High-Hazard Group H, occupancy classification for buildings that, among others, manufacture, process, generate, or store hazardous materials in excess of the MAQ in a control area. There are 5 sub-categories within the High Hazard Group H occupancy, H-1 through H-5 which closely resemble the protection levels in NFPA documents. IBC Approach- Occupancy Subclassifications H-1 is the subclassification for buildings that contain hazardous materials that pose a detonation hazard. H-2 is the subclassification for buildings that contain hazardous materials that pose a deflagration hazard or a hazard from accelerated burning. H-3 is the subclassification for buildings that contain hazardous materials that readily support combustion or that pose a physical hazard. H-4 is the subclassification for buildings that contain hazardous materials that are health hazards. H-5 is the subclassification for semiconductor fabrication facilities and comparable research and development areas. Although at first glance it seems like NFPA and the IBC handle things extremely different, the overall concepts are actually not all that different. The IBC creates an entirely separate occupancy classification while NFPA uses protection levels. In both cases, compliance with additional provisions is going to be required to minimize the risk associated with the presence of hazardous materials in those quantities.  
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