This week's resource was a fun one to put together.
Frequent Questions about NFPA 13 vs. 13R
I've been asked a handful of times in early project planning phases on whether NFPA 13R would be allowed in lieu of NFPA 13 for a project. In short, the two standards have very different objectives and as a result require very different means.
While those who ask are generally looking for ways to save on construction for the project, the differences are important and worth discussing early in a project.
Designed for Different Purposes
It's important to note that NFPA 13R systems are designed primarily with the intent for life safety (extending the amount of time occupants have to escape a burning building). It's stated purpose is to additional "prevent flashover in the room of fire origin, where sprinklered" (NFPA 13R 2019 1.2.2).
Unlike NFPA 13, NFPA 13R works to make the installation of the sprinkler system more affordable and accessible for residential occupancies by targeting the areas of highest fire risk to life safety with sprinkler systems. Swapping NFPA 13 and NFPA 13R is not simply a one-for-one exchange, as their goals are overall quite different.
Summary of Differences
Here's the summary of differences I use between NFPA 13, 13R, and 13D as a downloadable PDF (at the bottom of this page). References to the building code are to the International Building Code, as it's typically the most prevalent used in the US.
As always, there's far more detail to many of these requirements than can be summarized in two pages - so be sure to use the supplied section references to gather more information on specifics for your project.
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Joseph Meyer, PE, is a Fire Protection Engineer in St. Louis, Missouri. See bio on About page.