Has anyone else been asked to add sprinklers to a non-combustable attic space because of a new interpretation of the NFPA 13 lack of description of exactly what an attic is relating to concealed spaces?
About 2 years ago, a former NFPA staff member issued an interpretation to a health care organization on this issue and apparently it is spreading.
The original interpretation that was issued is, in my opinion, incorrect. This opinion stated that attics are not concealed spaces and that all attics require sprinkler protection per NFPA 13.
As stated above, I do not agree with this interpretation, as it is inconsistent with the wording of the standard and discussions/intent of the Technical Committee for Sprinkler System Installation Criteria.
First and foremost, an attic can be a concealed space if it is constructed and "used" (or not used as the case may be) as a concealed space as outlined in 220.127.116.11.1 of NFPA 13.
An attic that is constructed of noncombustible construction (including FRT lumber products) that provides limited access for inspection and maintenance purposes is not required to be protected with automatic sprinklers. This space cannot be used for storage and must have a minimum amount of combustibles (wire sheathing, plastic restraint clips, wire ties …etc). Section 18.104.22.168.1 of NFPA 13, 2016 edition, addresses concealed spaces and would permit the omission of sprinklers in an attic that is constructed this way.
My apologies for any confusion the former interpretation has caused. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Principal Fire Protection Engineer
Thanks for your response. This is a large issue here in Indiana with life safety that they are pushing very heavily. To do the sprinkler install in our facility attics will be a very large undertaking costing a lot of money. They are pushing this because of a meeting the said they had with CMS and NFPA 13 committee that said attics are no longer considered concealed spaces. I will keep you informed as to their response after your response.
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