New automatic sprinkler standard

Building Officials and Code Administrators International Proposed Standard for Design and Installation of the Suppression System for Life Safety (BOCA No. 13) The search for solutions to the high rise fire problem by such concerned interdisciplinary groups as the Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings and General Services Administration, Public Buildings Service, has concentrated on balancing requirements in terms of both safety objectives and economic realities. The concensus of fire safety specialists who are looking for the best answers that will not penalize construction is that future codes should be based on acceptable alternatives, designed on the basis of systems analysis. Another objective is that the degree of protection legally mandated for existing structures must be necessarily reduced to the minimum level which will afford reasonable safety. While generally conceded that the early fire control concept -a complete automatic fire sprinkler system — is the best and most complete solution, it is also the most expensive as presently designed. Because it is the most desirable, however, it deserves the most code trade-offs, insurance credit ratings, and tax incentives. Also, if more attractive and more economical sprinkler systems were designed, significant additional value would result and the owner could depreciate the investment over a period of years. Conditions implicit in approaching a reasonably adequate level of protection without introducing an unreasonable level of additional cost for owners and occupants of high rise buildings are: 1) Allow a choice of concepts leading to the optimum solution for each project; 2) Write requirements as true performance criteria; 3) Enforce codes by evaluating individual designs in terms of ability to meet the intent, not the letter of the law; 4) Reduce the cost of sprinkler systems by changing the standards for design and installation; 5) Allow trade-offs of basic construction design requirements for complete sprinkler protection (most authorities agree that we have a lot of overdesign to play with) . The life safety sprinkler system tested in the Pioneer International Hotel in Tucson, Arizona (sometimes referred to as the "Patton Research Project" — see BUILDINGS, January 1973, The Patton Plan for Fire Safety), overcomes many previous objections to automatic sprinkler systems. The new system makes sprinklers a more viable, economic solution because it represents a significantly reduced design standard for high rise building light hazard applications. Fundamental concept of the life safety sprinkler system is to specifically fit the sprinkler (with an improved deflector design) to the area to be protected, and then hydraulically design the system to provide the orifice pressure necessary. Size of the piping is reduced and the water system supplying it is greatly simplified -- in some applications, off a domestic water line. The system is monitored with a quick response device to adequately warn of fire at the incipient stage. In light of the reduced hazard potential inherent in fully sprinklered buildings, automatic fire suppression as described in the following extracts from BOCA's proposed standard may hand the owner a nearly total — and economically feasible — solution to prompt automatic control of fire in high rise buildings. — SHIRLEY BOYCE Managing Editor
.4IE•••• For more data, circle No. 140 on inquiry card

If the high rise fire problem is not obvious to most developers, it may be because of the natural mental block that goes along with the thought of spending more money. The problem of incorporating code amendments, which will undoubtedly increase the cost of high rise buildings, is real and must be carefully studied to ;equire only features which can be shown of definite need and of reasonable cost. Our position has been to study problems of high rise buildings on a systematic scientific basis, so we can formulate code amendments which will provide the proper degree of safety commensurate with the economic realities of life, In effect, we realize that standardizing high rise requirements will keep Big Brother off our backs in the form of a national building code administered by some bureaucrat in Washington.... It appears very likely that cost of sprinkler systems can be reduced in the near future by changing the standards, making early fire control the most logical of all possibilities."
Chairman Task Force on Codes & Safety Chicago Committee on High Rise Buildings (Fire Protection Seminar — December, 1971)



Automatic sprinkler protection for a high quality building has usually been calculated between 1 34 to 21/4% of total cost, but the economic objection was eliminated in the case of the tallest building in Melbourne, Australia. Through credits or 'trade-offs,' an additional $80,000 annual rental income was gained through recovered space. This means that the building is cheaper and safer.
The traditional sprinkler system installation conforms to an insurance-oriented standard; its components are tested by insurance laboratories; its approval, and therefore interpretation of the standard, rests with insurance interests. This traditional sprinkler system is primarily an industrial and commercial fire protection tool used for fire insurance rating credits. also recognizes that it is impractical to eliminate the fire problem through regulating the structure's contents. Man lives in a combustible environment and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Fire protection specialists have begun to realize that NFPA 13, originally developed for industrial protection, is not the ultimate tool for protecting human life. Therefore, this new fire protection theory called for development of a fire detection and suppression system specifically designed to protect human life. Such a system would optimumly be a supplement or an alternative to some aspects of structural fire protection regulations.

• to develop a performance standard as an alternative to existing specification type, equipment-oriented standards • to define a fire suppression system whose primary purpose is to protect life as well as property • to define a fire suppression system acceptable to industry and fire safety and code enforcement officials' organizations • to define design methods based on rational fire protection principles • to conceptualize a system of composite protection whereby the detection, supervisory and sprinkler sub-systems work together as a whole • to develop a concept of fire protection that encourages system improvements and refinements through usage and experience • to define a system whose high reliability qualifies it for structural fire resistivity trade-offs • to establish methods of protecting property of low fire-loading by means of small water supplies and piping systems while maintaining adequate water densities • to develop the concept that successful fire suppression requires the coordination of the detection and suppression systems with the fire brigade and fire service • to define total systems concepts that will encourage the improvement of fire-fighting equipment used by non-professionals

Search for the ultimate tool
Meanwhile from the viewpoint of life safety in other occupancies, the fire protection profession has generally relied on construction regulation to achieve an adequate level of safety. These regulations have emphasized fire-resistive construction, slow-burning interior finish and adequate enclosed exitways. The sprinkler system has rarely been considered the primary fire protection tool for life safety. However, serious fires continue to occur in "fireproof" buildings with adequate exits and structural fire protection. Each major fire loss has produced a new round of structural regulations. Recent fires in fire-resistive high rise buildings have further increased public concern. The latest concept of fire protection recognizes that interior combustible furnishings can burn within a fire-resistive building. Life safety from fire cannot be guaranteed through regulating the basic structure. This theory
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International experience
Although American sprinkler system development has remained relatively static since 1886, international experience has, in many respects, developed along more progressive lines. In Europe and the United Kingdom, sprinklers with reasonable water supplies, including pressure tank supplies, are in common use. Although available water supply to operate these systems is often a fraction of that considered necessary in the United States, the performance record of foreign systems has been better. Limited water supply systems, including pressure tanks, have been briefly covered by American standards, but have been rarely used.

Australian and New Zealand experience in fires in office, hotel, and similar light hazard occupancies which are sprinklered, show that only one fatality occurred in 82 years — an elderly woman died through contact burns from a cigarette fire in foam rubber upholstery, although one sprinkler head quickly controlled the fire. Out of 247 office building fires, 93.9 were extinguished by two sprinkler heads or less. Average fire and smoke damage was estimated at $700 per fire.
In Australia and New Zealand, the sprinkler system is considered incomplete unless valves are electrically supervised, alarm signals are automatically transmitted to the fire department and system maintenance is contracted to the system installer or manufacturer. Such practices have been unknown in this country; however, in Australia and New Zealand, they are virtually the rule — not the exception. 99.76% performance record Because of these safeguards, sprinkler systems in those countries have had better performance records. The American performance record has been 96.2%; in Australia, the performance record for the years between 1886 and 1968 was 99.76%. During that period, only 14 sprinkler failures, out of a total of 5,734 operations under fire conditions, were noted. This record suggests that properly designed sprinkler systems can be a reliable tool for increasing life safety. Another significant aspect of Australia's and New Zealand's experiences is that an average of less than 2.0 sprinklers opened as a result of fire in light hazard occupancies, including residential, assembly, educational, institutional and office classifications. This record proves that supervised or monitored sprinkler systems utilizing small water supplies and piping systems, provide reliable and safe protection for light hazard occupancies where life safety is the main concern. These conclusions are further substantiated by other research. For example, British studies have shown that fires in light hazard occupancies can be controlled with water densities as light as 0.05 GPM per sq. ft. This research reinforces the theory that light hazard occupancies can be protected with economical sprinkler systems utilizing small piping networks. Development of the new system In 1970, the Copper Development Association agreed to finance a research and develo p -mentproga,bcdue by Patton Fire Protection and Research, Inc., for the purpose of developing low cost fire protection for life safety in light hazard occupancies, based on this new life-oriented fire protection theory and on existing international experience. Preliminary research was conducted at a fire department training facility in Mahwah, New Jersey. In March of 1971, a series of tests was conducted in a large residence in Newton, New Jersey, which was attended by fire protection specialists representing various organizations throughout the country. Twentytwo fire tests were conducted, and certain basic concepts were formulated from the results, which were incorporated into this standard. These concepts included the following: • use of wide angle deflectors to cover large areas and the fitting of the spray pattern to the plat (nozzle area) protected • room partitioning as a definite limiting factor on the number of sprinklers that will open • effectiveness of the use of small water supplies and light densities • effectiveness of the use of low cost soldered copper tubing • effectiveness of varying orifice sizes to fit water density demands instead of changing head spacing • use of a total systems design approach, including selection of spray pattern, orifice and piping sizes, water supply and supervision or monitoring System prototype successful A prototype system was installed and scheduled for testing at the Pioneer International Hotel, Tucson, Arizona, in August, 1971. Fire safety experts from all parts of the country were again invited to witness the testing. It was decided that if the system prototype successfully controlled fires during the testing program, essentially, the system would be proven. This decision was based on the fact that the concepts used to develop the system had already been substantiated by available research After the tests were completed,


It is conceivable that the future may see invention of a system superior to the automatic sprinkler system, but the principle at issue now is that the many complex problems arising from unuontrolled growth of fire can be solved if the fire is controlled in the early stages before exponential growth takes o\,er. After all, Shakespeare knew this hundreds of years c3go when he said in Henry IV: 'A little fire is quickly trodden out; Which, being suffered, rivers cannot quen
a committee was formed to develop a design standard which would more accurately reflect current technology. This group grew out of the committee of fire experts that planned and evaluated the above-mentioned testing programs and its members represented the three professional building officials' organizations — Building Officials and Code Administrators International (BOCA International), the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and the Southern Building Code Congress (SBCC). Generally, the electronic portion is intended to monitor the hydraulic portion and automatically issue warnings on system failure. It is also intended to sound a fire alarm and alert the fire department. In low fire potential locations where water spray can cause severe problems, fast-acting fire detectors may be substituted for water spray nozzles. However, such substitution of fire detection for fire suppression must be made with caution and only where justified, since the basic intention of this standard is to automatically control fire as well as to detect it. Fire detection should never be substituted for fire suppression unless adequate manual fire controls are also available

Standards Committee
John F. Behrens; Chairman International Conference of Building Officials Richard M. Patton; Secretary Patton Fire Protection and Research Irwin A. Benjamin Fire Research Section, National Bureau of Standards GayIon R. Claiborne Building Officials and Code Administrators International John G. Degenkolb International Association of Fire Chiefs H. W. Marryatt Australian Fire Protection Association L. F. Peterson Fire Chief, City of Tucson, Arizona Robert Sullivan Southern Building Code Congress

Standards Advisory Committee
T. H. Carter International Conference of Building Officials F. H. Deeg American Mutual Insurance Alliance John Foehl Copper Development Association Jim MacDonald The Travelers Insurance Company A. F. McCrary American Hospital Association Phil H. Merdinyan Grinnell Company Marshall E. Petersen Rolf Jensen & Associates J. L. Randall
City of Fresno, California E. J. Reilly National Automatic Sprinkler and Fire Control Association John Ed Ryan National Forest Products Association Gary Sheperd Ohio Nursing Home Association Walter Wells American Iron and Steel Institute

Guidelines for system design
This standard is a performance-type standard, developed with the intention of providing engineering methods by which fire protection engineers can design fire protection systems. The standard establishes the basic criteria, and the designer must fit the system to the property in question so that the full benefits of the system may be realized. It is the intent of the standard to protect all areas where there is a significant potential for fire. Partial protection is undesirable, both because it permits fires to develop in unprotected areas and because it wrongfully implies that the designer can predict where the fire will occur. The system is a combined electronic and hydraulic system.
88/Apri1 1973

Densities and fire loading
This system follows a total design approach. The building to be protected is divided into plats and a nozzle located in each so that the entire plat will he wetted with a water spray of proper density. The spray pattern must satisfactorily cover the plat at a density that is consistent with the fire loading. After the plats are determined and the nozzles selected, sectional water demands must be determined. A section represents the maximum number of nozzles (or plats) expected to be opened in a given area by fire. Nozzles will

Despite the fact that we have had relatively few fires in high rise buildings vs. those in other buildings, the severity potential is so high — we run the risk of losing so many lives in one fire — that it overrides any consideration of the statistical frequency with which fires occur and with which lives have been lost so far. With some buildings containing 3,000 to 5,000 people during business hours, the fact that a terrible disaster has not yet occurred can only be attributed to good fortune, not to the fire-safe design of such buildings.
not be expected to open outside the section or room of fire origin. In larger areas, the plat size shall be determined in accordance with a table based on average conditions. However, section sizes should be enlarged for unusual conditions, such as the potential for a rapidly spreading or extremely hot fire. The piping system must be able to deliver the water from the source to the section. In some instances, there will be a set water supply available, and it will then be necessary to size the piping system and select the nozzles so that adequate density will be obtained from the existing supply. In other instances, private water supplies or booster pumps will be part of the system's installation, and the designer will be able to select the water supply at the source. The required average density shall be a function of the occupancy's fire loading as prescribed by one Section of this Standard. Systems design shall be based on approved nozzle density curves which show the pressure ranges and required above-floor height for proper coverage. It is not expected that each and every plat will be separately and individually evaluated for fire loading and density, so density is generally prescribed on a class basis. However, the designer must correct for significant deviations from the norm Design must be predicated on supplying an adequate water density to the critical, most hydraulically remote key sections. When the water supply and piping system are adequate to meet the needs of these sections, there will be adequate water and pressure to protect the other sections.
Allowances for the future

Safety factors should be included in the design of the primary distribution system if there is a chance new key section water demands (that are beyond the capacity of feed mains) will be created. Such safety factors could include the following: • oversizing the feed line • providing for future cross-connections between feed mains to increase the system looping and reduce friction loss in the system • making allowances for future pressure increases at the source • planning for future physical subdivision of the sections to reduce the section size and its water demands. In order to obtain a hydraulically balanced system with no steep pressure gradients, looped and gridded piping layouts are recommended. Long dead end feed mains and branch lines are undesirable. Feed main loops may be uniformly sized throughout. A branch line may be of unlimited

length, provided it is connected to a feed main at both ends; it may also be uniformly sized, provided it will simultaneously feed all nozzles on the line that lie within any section. A branch line may also travel through two or more sections. Only those nozzles that are placed within a given section will be expected to be operable by fire in that section. Suggested changes, requested interpretations, or design review, research reports on system equipment, or any questions regarding this standard or its use should be directed to Building Officials & Code Administrators International, 1313 East 60th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637. Telephone: (312) 324-3400.
The complete 43-page proposed standard for automatic sprinklers has been published and is available from BOCA at the above address. It will be presented as a tentative standard at a public hearing the second week of June. After the hearing, the responsible committee will modify the standard if necesary and make a recommendation to the BOCA Executive Committee either to publish the standard as it stands, or as modified, or to continue the standard for further study and hearing. If affirmatively referred to the Executive Committee, it will be submitted as a formal change to the Basic Building Code before the end of August.


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