When Are Fire Sprinklers Required in Commercial Buildings?

  • March 12, 2024
When are fire sprinklers required in commercial buildings

It’s always good to have a plan in place should your commercial building ever be damaged by a fire, but could there be such a thing as fire protection overkill? (The answer: no!)

Fire sprinklers, for instance, are common in many commercial buildings since they are a terrific first defense against fires. But if you’re considering whether to install them, here’s everything you should know.

About Fire Sprinkler Systems

Fire sprinkler systems are often the most powerful tool in a building’s fire protection arsenal. Most sprinkler installations include a water supply, piping to distribute the water (or chemicals), and sprinkler heads to discharge the water when the system detects a fire.

Smoke usually won’t activate a system, as most activate when the sprinkler senses heat. Many commercial buildings will invest in a more holistic approach to fire protection, incorporating smoke detectors, fire sprinkler systems, and other fire mitigation techniques.

About Fire Sprinkler System Regulations and Requirements

Most buildings will follow a specific standard for fire sprinkler usage set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This regulation gives building managers and business owners the necessary criteria to prepare their buildings against fires.

When are Fire Sprinklers Required in Commercial Buildings?

Many states will have separate requirements and recommendations, making it difficult to understand which rules you must follow. However, the NFPA clarifies that ambiguity by giving firm guidelines on which commercial buildings should have a fire sprinkler system:

  • Buildings over 55 feet tall 
  • Commercial structures with a fire area of more than 5,000 square feet
  • Remodels that expand existing fire areas beyond 5,000 square feet
  • Townhomes with more than two residential units

Refer to the NFPA’s fire safety laws and guidelines for more details on state or city-specific fire sprinkler requirements, and leverage their handbooks to increase your building’s fire safety further.

Can You Protect Your Building Without a Fire Sprinkler System?

There are virtually no negatives to having a fire sprinkler system other than the up-front cost. If a brand new fire sprinkler installation isn’t in your budget, consider a remodel of an existing system. In addition to fire sprinklers, you should invest in:

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are similar to fire sprinkler systems in that they are a form of active fire protection that prevents fires from worsening. Fire alarms and smoke detectors are also considered active fire prevention assets.

Fire extinguishers are a requirement in most buildings, especially if there is no established sprinkler system. But using them on your own can be dangerous if the fire is already significant. If the fire is growing, get out as quickly as possible and leave the rest to professionals.

Fire-Rated Walls and Floors

In contrast to the tools above, passive fire protection efforts are all about preventing fires from starting. If a commercial building doesn’t have a fire sprinkler system, it needs to have fire-rated walls, floors, or doors as a consistent means of fire mitigation.

Remember, though, that passive fire protection is no substitute for active fire protection. Instead, these two systems work together to provide your building with ample protection and mitigation from fire’s devastation.

Guard Your Commercial Building Well With A&A Fire Protection

Your building is more than a structure. It is where your lives and the lives of your employees start each day. Therefore, as a building owner or manager, it’s your duty to ensure the safety of everything from coworkers, family, and friends to assets and irreplaceable information and equipment.

That’s where A&A Fire Protection steps in, offering complete fire mitigation and protection systems designed with your well-being and safety in mind. Contact us today to learn more about our services.