Every Friday I will be highlighting a topic contained in NFPA 1, Fire Code, or an issue currently being considered by the Fire Code Technical Committee during this revision cycle.
NFPA 1 addresses many areas of fire and life safety for nearly all occupancies and facilities. It provides minimum levels of protection needed to provide for life safety from fire to building occupants, property protection, and enhanced emergency responder safety.
Let's start with indoor children's play structures. Why? Well, I am a mom, and it's winter in New England, and indoor play areas seem to be on my horizon. I have seen many facilities featuring these play structures pop up recently, and safety is paramount.
Section 10.19 of NFPA 1 addresses these indoor play structures that exceed 10 ft in height and 160 ft2 in area. Think places such as a McDonald's PlayPlace or this.
With foams, and plastics and composite materials, these play structures can account for a very high fuel load in a relatively small area. They accommodate children and other occupants that are unfamiliar with their surroundings and may need assistance to evacuate. NFPA 1 provisions focus on the materials used for the construction of these indoor play structures. Per NFPA 1, it is required that they be constructed out of noncombustible materials, or combustible materials complying with one of the options provided in Section 10.19.1.1. Even balls used in ball pools/ball pits must comply with a specified heat release rate. Additional provisions are listed in Section 10.19.1.2 for when light-transmitting plastics are used.
There is also a requirement for the separation of indoor play structures from one another and as well as a size limitation. The size limitation of 300 ft2 can be increased where approved by the local AHJ.
For addition details, please refer to the 2015 edition of NFPA 1, Fire Code, which can be viewed for free at www.nfpa.org/1 or NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2015 edition, sections 12.4.8 and 13.4.8.
Principal Fire Protection Engineer, NFPA