One of the most common and basic issues many of us encounter in fire sprinkler design or during on-site review is whether a sprinkler is considered to be obstructed. While the premise of the obstruction tables within NFPA 13 is fairly straightforward, there are a handful of variations in the tables that are dependent upon the edition of 13 being used, the sprinkler type, and in some cases the orientation of the sprinkler.
This reference tool below was built to quickly determine whether a ceiling-mounted element is considered an obstruction. It can be especially helpful during sprinkler layout or during site review where lugging the entire code volume might not be practical
Common examples of where obstructions are considered are with sprinklers adjacent to surface-mounted lights, soffits (not against a wall), mechanical equipment in walk-in coolers and freezers, signage, banners, lowered ceilings, thresholds above large openings, raised ceiling pockets, or exit lighting.
Give this a try and let us know what you think in the comment section below (the red highlighted cells are input values). Having trouble viewing? Click here to see the full tool.
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Joseph Meyer, PE, is a Fire Protection Engineer in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.