Here are some questions we receive related to code & standard references to what is “approved by the authority having jurisdiction”. Some of these questions are clearly answered in the code or standard but we get asked frequently anyway.
General Fire Protection Questions
Only issues within the scope of the T.I. permit are required to be made compliant with the current code. An exception is a fire alarm addition to system with a non-working panel. The new devices would not be testable without a working panel.
Bracing, spacing, obstructions etc., if found outside the scope of the permit will be a correction to the building owner but should not hold up final approval of the T.I. permit.
Exterior audible water flow gong or horn is required and should be positioned where it might be heard. Ref .IFC 903.4.2 Exterior water flow visual devices are not required. If voluntarily installed, it should be positioned where it might be seen.
DOUBLE CHECK VALVE ASSEMBLIES
DCVAs are allowed by VFD to be installed inside a building on an exterior wall that is accessible for inspection, testing and maintenance. A vault may be used but presents problems for electronic supervision due to potential water accumulation. Please check with Vancouver’s Water Quality Department to determine if the DCVA/DDVA is allowed to be installed inside the building or is required to be installed closer to the City water main.
WATER QUALITY FOR NFPA 13D SYSTEMS
For NFPA 13D fire sprinkler systems, Vancouver’s Water Quality Department requires either a backflow preventer on the sprinkler system or a remote flow through point such as a toilet on each level of the home that has water piping.
FIRE DEPARTMENT CONNECTIONS
Installation heights for FDC ports are 18 inches to 48 inches above grade.
Required for all NFPA 13D systems and some NFPA 13R systems where the hydraulic calculations leave very little safety factor – unless the construction has a 2″ or larger water supply.
CONTRACTOR MATERIALS & TEST CERTIFICATES (CMTC)
CMTCs are required for NFPA 13 & 13-R systems but not for 13-D systems.
CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR SPACING FOR COMMERCIAL PROTECTED PREMISES
184.108.40.206 Requirements for Carbon Monoxide Detectors
220.127.116.11.1 Carbon monoxide detectors shall be installed as specified in the manufacturer’s published instructions in accordance with 18.104.22.168.1(1) and 22.214.171.124.1(2), or 126.96.36.199.1(3):
(1)*On the ceiling in the same room as permanently installed fuel-burning appliances
(2)*Centrally located on every habitable level and in every HVAC zone of the building
(3) A performance-based design in accordance with 188.8.131.52.2
184.108.40.206.2 Performance-Based Design
220.127.116.11.2.1 Performance-based designs submitted to the authority having jurisdiction for review and approval shall include documentation, in an approved format, of each performance objective and applicable scenario, together with any calculations, modeling, or other technical substantiation used in establishing the proposed design’s life safety performance.
Heat tape is not allowed for systems or large areas, it must be dry or antifreeze.
Heat tape can be used for branch lines. The tape must be listed for branch lines and be electronically supervised. Listed sprinkler pipe heat tape can be used for small unheated areas like external architectural features but must be electronically supervised.
Ref 2007 NFPA 13 Sections 18.104.22.168.2 through .5
22.214.171.124.3 Heat tape shall not be used in lieu of heated valve enclosures to protect the dry pipe valve and supply pipe against freezing.
System development charges are not increased when up-sizing the water meter is triggered by the fire sprinkler system. For NFPA 13D or IRC P2904 systems, typically a 1 inch meter is provided at the system development charge cost of a 5/8 inch meter.
For all other uses where NFPA 13 is required, it shall be required throughout the building regardless of fire areas. (exception, 3-hour horizontal fire separation between occupancy floors.)
For multi-family residential dwellings with parking below that is accessory to the group R and not for public parking, NFPA 13 OH1 can be used for the parking area and NFPA 13-R above.
POST INDICATOR VALVES
In Vancouver, PIVs are not additionally required to be installed because all fire water valves are required to be electronically supervised.
Where installed, PIVs shall be electronically supervised and should also be locked in the open position.
FIRE WATER STANDPIPES
Where both a Fire Department standpipe is required in a stairwell, Vancouver requires this standpipe to be in the same stairwell as the roof access stairwell.
UNDERGROUND FIRE LINES
FIRE HYDRANTS and mains are to be in a public easement and become the property and responsibility of the City once approved.
FIRE LINES: Fire lines between the City main and the structure are entirely private regardless of the location of the double check valve assembly. See illustrations regarding WAC 212-80 for Washington State Licensing requirements.
All fire protection water supply valves shall be electronically supervised. Where an individual situation makes this impractical, the applicant may submit an appeal to the fire marshal for an alternate method of supervising the valve’s open position.
Ref IFC 903.4
KITCHEN SUPPRESSION SYSTEM MONITORING
Only required when there is a building full fire alarm system. It is required to be monitored (supervisory ok if a sprinklered building, alarm if not).
Not required for buildings with dedicated function panels (sprinkler monitoring).
SMOKE DETECTOR COVERAGE
LIMITED AREA DETECTION is allowed and does not necessarily have to meet the spacing requirements of NFPA 72. Building smoke/heat detection or area fire detection is required to meet the minimum spacing requirements.
PORTIONS OF A FIRE AREA with smoke detection and notification undergoing a T.I. and not meeting the current NFPA 72 spacing requirements shall be made complaint with the current edition of the code. Hallways and rooms outside the scope of the permit are not required to be retroactively brought into compliance.
NUISANCE ALARMS shall be taken into consideration when designing a monitored fire alarm system. Areas subject to dust, steam, fumes or cooking smoke may be required to have alternative detection such as heat detectors rather than smoke detectors. Examples of these areas include kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, attics and areas frequently exposed to the outside elements such as near a main entry door.
LOW FREQUENCY SOUNDERS FOR SLEEPING AREAS
These are required in Vancouver for new projects.
NFPA 72, 126.96.36.199* Effective January 1, 2014, audible appliances provided for the sleeping areas to awaken occupants shall produce a low frequency alarm signal that complies with the following:
(1) The alarm signal shall be a square wave or provide equivalent awakening ability.
(2) The wave shall have a fundamental frequency of 520 Hz ± 10 percent.
This means that the practice of installing piezo horns in the sleeping rooms is no longer acceptable.
FIRE ALARM WIRING ONLY
Fire alarm wiring may be installed under the building’s general electrical permit. Any devices or connections must be made under a separate fire alarm permit.
Duct detectors (NFPA 72 188.8.131.52); CO detection and fire extinguisher monitoring (NFPA 72 – 184.108.40.206) should be transmitted to the supervising station as “supervisory” signals, not general alarm.
FIRE ALARM PANEL REPLACEMENT FORMAL INTERPRETATION
This formal interpretation clarifies the difference between a new fire alarm system and a partial existing system upgrade.
A fire alarm panel is a component of a fire alarm system. The replacement of a panel does not equate to a new fire alarm system.
1.1 FIRE ALARM SYSTEM: More than one device interconnected for the purpose of detecting or notifying people who may not be aware of an emergency condition.
1.2 FIRE ALARM PANEL: A component of a fire alarm system.
2.1 New fire alarm systems
2.1.1 New systems shall be installed it in accordance with the requirements of the standards referenced by the current edition of the Fire Code, the component listings.
2.2 Existing fire alarm systems
2.2.1 Existing systems that were code-compliant at the time of their installation may have components replaced and/or upgraded provided that they are compatible and provided that the replacements are not part of a large scale building renovation.
2.2.1 Existing systems that were not installed under a permit or were not in compliance with the code and/or referenced standard and/or the component listings at the time of the original installation shall be treated as a “new fire alarm system” when a fire alarm panel is upgraded or replaced and brought into compliance with current codes and standards.
2.2.2 Existing systems that are altered or upgraded as part of a larger scale building renovation listings shall be treated as a “new fire alarm system” and brought into compliance with current codes and standards.
2.3 Fire alarm panel replacement or upgrade where current code required voice evacuation.
2.3.1 In the case of occupancies required by the current edition of the code to provide voice evacuation, the applicant shall be advised that if there are any future system additions (a new portable classroom for example), the voice evacuation requirement will be in effect for that addition. We will encourage, but not require them to install a panel with the capability to support voice evacuation with an eye to the future.
3.1.1 Fire alarm panels
A replacement fire alarm panel may be installed under a permit with a minimum fee base of a new system plus one device. (The affidavit permit is specifically prohibited by City ordinance from being used for a fire alarm panel).
Documentation demonstrating inter-compatibility of all components with the new panel shall be provided.
Voltage drop calculations shall be provided.
The final acceptance test will entail random devices within different zones and a full panel test including a report from the monitoring company.
3.1.2 Fire alarm components other than panels
Like for like twist-in devices that do not require disconnecting electrical conductors may be replaced as normal maintenance. A permit is not required for this work; however, the FMO shall be notified of all component failures with a description of the failure and the product information. Send such notification to email@example.com
Other initiating, notification and supervisory devices are handled under the usual affidavit or alarm system permit as the scope dictates. Documentation proving compatibility of all components shall be provided.
3.1.3 Emergency repairs
Catastrophic panel failures may be repaired immediately. A permit for the work and inspections are required to be acquired by the fire alarm contractor by the next business day.
What part of the water supply is considered “Fire Underground”?