While it seems obvious that a gymnasium might need a different type of sprinkler design than a theater, it is nevertheless critical that designers to do their homework when determining the proper occupancy classification for a building, writes Matt Klaus, principal fire protection engineer at NFPA, in his “In Compliance” column in the July/August issue of NFPA Journal.
Chapter 5 of NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, includes detailed descriptions of the various occupancy classifications. To help designers determine the correct classification, there is also a list of examples in the annex for each of the hazard classifications.
It is important to use both resources, Klaus writes.
“Unfortunately, many people have taken these lists as the sole source of information on assigning occupancy classification and fail to read the descriptions,” he writes. “While the lists in the annex may be appropriate for many cases, they do not always capture the features and fuel loads that may ultimately dictate the appropriate classification.”
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