Does An NYC Sprinkler Code Really Exist? – Notes for Property Owners


In the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks on 9/11 2001, a wide range of building regulations were introduced in an effort to make buildings safer in the event of unexpected fires. These requirements were summed up in a new set of laws that came to be known as Local Law 26/ 2004 and one of their more serious requirements was that all buildings for business occupancies that were more than 100 feet tall install sprinklers in them as a measure against the outbreak of fires. With this in mind, it is now common for many property owners in the city to wonder whether there is an NYC sprinkler code in place and whether they need to comply with the same.

Is There Really Any NYC Sprinkler Code?

Well, the answer to this question is neither simple nor straight forward. While there is no specific document out there that explicitly outlines the codes for sprinkler installation but, if you should choose to install automatic sprinklers then they will have to comply with some codes. Sounds complicated? Here’s the thing, all sprinkler installations in the city, be they for new buildings or sprinklers installed as part of a renovation project, have to be inspected by the NYC Department of Building. The Department has its own compliance regulations that have to be met when such installations are made and they will carry out physical inspections to make sure that this is done. So, to put it all in simple terms, you can say that when working with automated sprinkler systems then there are two types of compliance that have to be met.

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The first compliance is that the installations have to be carried out by professionals who are experienced and fully licensed in New York City. That means that for any sprinkler design in the city to receive approval from the Department of Buildings it has to have been done by a Registered Design Professional.  In addition, the only people who can receive work permits in order to carry out the installation of the systems are Licensed Fire Suppression Contractors or Licensed Master Plumbers.

The second compliance is a little more confusing than the first and it is what makes up what can loosely be referred to as the existing NYC Sprinkler code. As indicated before, it is not a single code but rather a collection of requirements drawn from several national and local codes. Among the most important of these are the codes from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which is the primary authority for all matters related to fire protection in the entire country. To be more specific, the most important code here is the NFPA 13 code which covers and stipulates the standards for sprinkler system installations. It explains and outlines the installation and design requirements as well as special applications. However, most of the requirements of these codes are for large buildings and residential sprinkler systems are addressed under the less demanding sections which are NFPA13D and NFPA 13R.

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