|Excerpted from the Significant Changes to the 2006 International Codes series.
||The Significant Changes series of books have been developed by the International Code Council and published
by Thomson-Delmar Learning to accommodate the transition from the 2003 to the 2006 editions of the International Codes.
To purchase books in the series, visit the Code Council website at www.iccsafe.org/e/category.html.
||Although the Station fire involved a nightclub, the
reduced sprinkler thresholds in the 2006 edition have
been extended to include all uses classified as Group A-2
occupancies. Even restaurants that do not serve alcoholic
beverages are impacted, but to the surprise of many, the restaurant industry did not oppose the change. Consequently,
there was essentially no debate of the impact of
reduced sprinkler thresholds on restaurants during the
code development process, and even fast food restaurants
with large seating areas or an indoor playscape will require
sprinklers because of this change.
The reduction of the sprinkler threshold for Group A-2
occupancies from 300 occupants to 100 occupants reflects
a compromise that was reached among several
competing proposals during the 2003–2004 code development
cycle. Some proposals recommended requiring
fire sprinklers in all Group A occupancies, which essentially
ties the requirement to an occupant load of 50,
based on the definition of Group A, while others recommended
tying the sprinkler threshold to consumption of
alcoholic beverages or the presence of live entertainment.
In the end, the 100-occupant threshold was selected,
in part because it correlated with the threshold for requiring
panic hardware in Group A occupancies in Section
1008.1.9 of the 2003 edition (which was changed
to 50 in 2006). The other aspect of this decision was a
belief by many that smaller assembly occupancies have
a reduced life-safety risk because they can be readily
|International Fire Code
|SUBJECT: Group A-2 Automatic Sprinkler Systems
CHANGE TYPE: Modification
903.2.1.2 Group A-2. An automatic sprinkler system
shall be provided for Group A-2 occupancies
where one of the following conditions exists:
1. The fire area exceeds 5,000 square feet
2. The fire area has an occupant load of
300 100 or more; or
3. The fire area is located on a floor other than
the level of exit discharge.
CHANGE SIGNIFICANCE: Following the Station Nightclub
fire in February 2003, in which 100 people were
killed and more than 200 people were injured, model
code regulations governing assembly occupancies were subjected to a great deal of scrutiny.
Even though the consequences of the Station fire were
largely attributed to multiple code violations that were
present on the night of the fire, particularly improper interior
finish materials and the use of indoor pyrotechnics
without proper precautions, the International Codes responded
by changing the threshold for mandatory sprinklers
in Group A-2 occupancies from 300 occupants to
100 occupants. The approach emphasizes the value of
fire sprinklers as back-up protection for cases where
other safety controls fail.
Assembly occupancies intended for the consumption of food or
drinks, such as this restaurant, will now require an approved
automatic sprinkler system when the occupant load is 100 or
more. (Photo courtesy of Denis Shell, Orange County, California,
|Source: Building Safety Journal | June 2008