ICC Disapproves Two Fire-Resistance Code Change
May 17, 2010
The International Code Council (ICC) did not approve the proposed
change to the International Building Codes (IBC) Means of
Egress section that would have mandated both automatic sprinklers
and one-hour fire-rated exit corridors be used in educational occupancies
with fire areas greater than 12,000 square feet (E113/09-10). Glass
industry professionals have long debated the importance of using
proactive solutions, such as fire-rated glazing materials, as well
as reactive systems, such as sprinklers, in public buildings. CLICK
HERE to read an article from USGlass on the importance
of using fire-rated building materials, including glass, and sprinkler
systems in new construction.
Currently, educational occupancies with fire areas less than 12,000
square feet (typically small schools often in rural areas) are not
required to include automatic sprinkler systems, though one-hour
fire-rated exit corridors are required. In fire areas exceeding
12,000 square feet, however, the code does require the installation
of automatic sprinklers, but the one-hour fire-rated exit corridor
requirement is eliminated. (CLICK
HERE for more information.)
In disapproving the action, the code hearing committee had reasoned
that removing the trade-off for sprinklers versus fire-rated corridors
would result in many more schools designed without sprinklers. According
to the committee:
Sprinklered schools are safer during a fire event than schools
with rated corridors. The antidotal data vs. the NFPA data does
not justify the significant increase in the cost of construction.
In addition there will be issues with maintaining the fire resistance
rating of the walls especially to automatic closers on the doors
being in-place and functional. The fire doors with automatic closers
will be a problem for access to classrooms. This would also require
rated corridors in day care facilities, which would be excessive.
Information was not provided for the justification for the 30
occupant exception for the proposed ratings.
The committee further noted that the change proponents continually
referred to the possibility of a fire event during a lockdown situation,
which led the committee to rule:
Rating of a corridor is a means of egress issue, not a security
issue. Rated corridors will not protect students from terrorists
during a lockdown situation. If there is a concern for a fire
event during a lock-down that needs to be addressed with the emergency
responders in the fire and safety evacuation plans, not through
a corridor rating.
In addition, there are other safety concerns in schools. Schools
commonly have doors with vision panels and sidelights for observation
of the classrooms and student/teacher interaction. Requiring rated
doors at these locations would either significantly raise the
costs for the opening protective and/or result in solid doors
without this necessary observation feature.
The code hearing committee likewise disapproved a proposal to require
Category III and IV buildings in hurricane prone and seismic areas
to include one-hour fire resistance rated corridors (E114-09/10).
The code hearing committee reasoned:
Buildings in earthquake and hurricane areas are already designed
to a higher standard, therefore this rated corridor requirement
is not needed. Structural robustness is not related to fire-resistance-rated
corridors. Technical justification was not providing indicating
that the fire incidences are higher for the specified buildings
in earthquake and hurricane areas. This would require rated corridors
in schools, police stations, fire stations, all emergency shelters
(i.e., churches, schools, community centers, football stadiums).
This would be a serious operational issue for Group I-2 functions
where this would require rated corridors.
The ICCs code change proposal hearings take place this week
through May 23 in Dallas. Stay tuned to USGNN.com for code
change hearing updates.
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