Does My Commercial Building Need a Fire Sprinkler?
If you’re constructing or renovating a commercial building in Houston, you may be wondering whether you need to install a fire sprinkler system. You want to protect your building, people, and merchandise, but you also have a budget to abide by. So, when are fire sprinklers required in commercial buildings? There are several scenarios which require installation of fire sprinklers in your building to stay up to code which we will list below.
Fire Sprinkler Requirements in Houston, TX
Automatic sprinklers aren’t required everywhere, so it’s reasonable to wonder if your building needs them. In general, you should plan to install fire sprinklers if any of the following conditions apply to your Houston building:
- The layout exceeds 12,000 square feet.
- The occupancy limit is 300 people or more.
- The building is more than three stories tall.
NFPA 13 Section J104 requires all existing high-rise buildings within Houston city limits to feature automatic fire sprinklers. The current requirement states that 50% or more of all floors in your building must feature operational sprinklers. By December 31, 2017, the entire building must be sprinklered.
Still, certain areas of a building are exempt from sprinkler installation, including:
- Rooms with sensitive electrical equipment, historical archives, or other items that would suffer considerable damage if exposed to water. (In these instances, you may want to install an automatic fire suppression system instead.)
- Generator or transformer rooms with a wall, floor, and ceiling having a fire-resistance rating of two hours or longer.
- Rooms built solely from noncombustible materials and housing only noncombustible content.
- Elevator machine rooms, as long as they’re separate from the rest of the building and contain smoke detectors.
Benefits of Fire Sprinklers
Even if fire codes don’t strictly require you to install a fire sprinkler system, you may still want to go above and beyond by installing one anyway. All homes and businesses benefit from fire sprinklers, as long as they’re designed, installed, and maintained properly. Here are some of the benefits you can expect:
- Save lives: According to the National Fire Protection Association, adding sprinklers to a manufacturing facility lowers the chance of death in a fire by 88%. Similarly, sprinklered homes reduce the death rate from fires by 82%.
- Reduce fire damage: The response time from the fire department averages nine to 12 minutes. In this time, a fire can spread rapidly to destroy more of your building. Because sprinklers activate almost immediately when triggered by high heat from a blaze below, they drastically minimize fire damage.
- Reduce water damage: In two-thirds of fires, only one or two sprinkler heads are needed to extinguish the flames. If you wait for firefighters to arrive, they will douse your building with 125 gallons per minute, resulting in more water damage.
- Lower your insurance premiums: Even if your building never experiences a fire, the lower insurance premiums help the investment pay for itself.
Contact Kauffman Co. for More Information on Fire Sprinkler Design & Installation
The best way to assess whether your building needs a fire sprinkler system — and the potential benefits you stand to gain by installing one — is to speak with a fire protection expert. Based in Houston, TX, Kauffman Co. is the right company for the job. We have over 35 years of experience providing fire and life safety services to residents and businesses throughout the area.
We can conduct a walkthrough of your building to determine which sprinkler code requirements apply to you. We can also design and install a system to meet your needs, as well as perform maintenance to keep your sprinklers up and running for years to come.
For a free fire sprinkler installation estimate, please call (713) 893-1090 or contact us online today.