Last Week's Survey Results
Last week I sent a survey asking for "challenges associated with sprinkler identification and design selection."
I really appreciate the input provided, there was really helpful and great feedback: common challenges people noted in the survey included sprinkler market availability, listing and approvals, field identification, adherence with product data, price, storage limitations, pressure requirements, and spacing requirements.
Anticipation for the Big Launch
I am very excited to say that I've been developing a live resource over the past couple years to address almost exactly those challenges. Stay tuned, as more details will be available about the launch in a few weeks.
In the meantime, I'm also excited that the blog posts over next three weeks (starting with today) will feature tools designed to help streamline and speed workflow for inspectors, designers and engineers.
Part I of III: The Cloud Ceiling Calculator
This first week covers the relatively new allowances for cloud ceilings.
"Cloud" Ceilings where directly addressed in NFPA 13 beginning with the 2016 Edition
Cloud Ceilings include any ceiling installed in the same plane with horizontal openings to the structure above on all sides (NFPA 13-2016 22.214.171.124). The "cloud" is simply in reference to the appearance that the ceiling "floats".
The new provisions in NFPA 13-2016 allows sprinklers to be omitted above cloud ceilings where the gap between clouds (or clouds and walls) meets a maximum allowable dimension based on the floor-to-cloud ceiling height.
Backed by Research
What I love about this new verbiage is not just that the NFPA 13 committee addressed a specific topic that many had asked about for some time, but that the development of the rules for this section are based on a commissioned project by the Fire Protection Research Foundation.
So what is the guidance based on the research findings? Spaces above cloud ceilings do not require sprinklers where the openings have a combined total area of not more than 20 percent of the ceiling, construction feature, or plane used to determine the boundaries of the concealed space and the cloud ceiling arrangement meets Section 126.96.36.199 (NFPA 13-2016 188.8.131.52.1.3).
I've already mentioned that the opening between all cloud ceilings can't be more than 20% of the total room area, but there's a few others that also apply:
Ceiling Spacing Calculator
If these limitations can be met, sprinklers may be omitted above where the spacing below the ceiling complies with Table 184.108.40.206. The table addresses the maximum protection area based upon the research, and is a little less than intuitive.
Here's a quick calculator that takes your parameters and gathers the appropriate maximum sprinkler protection area (click the link to see the full tool, with a schematic section of the ceiling arrangement):
Enter your project parameters in the red highlighted cells to test your situation. Give it tool a try and let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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Joseph Meyer, PE, is a Fire Protection Engineer in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.