Key nonstructural changes to 2012 IBC


Sprinklers in ambulatory care facilities: Recognizing that ambulatory care facilities are often located in office buildings in which the fire resistance rating of the floor may not be adequate to define a separate fire area, Paragraph 903.2.2 has been revised to require automatic sprinkler protection throughout the entire floor containing an ambulatory care facility, all floors below the ambulatory care facility, and all floors between the ambulatory care facility and the level of exit discharge. However, if there are floors above the ambulatory care facility, they need not be protected with an automatic sprinkler system even if the fire resistance rating of the floor is less than what is required to separate fire areas.

Manufacture, display, and storage of upholstered furniture and mattresses: The threshold for mandating sprinkler protection in Groups F-1 and S-1 has been revised to include a requirement for sprinkler protection if upholstered furniture or mattresses are manufactured or stored and the area exceeds 2,500 sq ft. In addition, the existing requirement for sprinkler protection in Group M occupancies used for the display and sale of upholstered furniture in excess of 5,000 sq ft has been expanded to include the display and sale of mattresses (Paragraphs 903.2.4, 903.2.7, and 903.2.9).

Emergency voice/alarm communication captions: In stadiums, arenas, and grandstands, the emergency voice/alarm communication system shall include the ability to display captions where audible public announcements are also required to include captions by Paragraph 1108.2.7.3 (Paragraph 907.

Voice alarm systems in schools: The fire alarm system in Group E occupancies shall now include an emergency voice/alarm communication system. In addition, the threshold for when a fire alarm system is required in a Group E occupancy has been reduced to an occupant load of more than 30 (previously it was 50 or more) (Paragraph 907.2.3). As noted below, where automatic sprinkler protection and emergency voice/alarm communication systems are provided, lower egress capacity factors may be used.

College and university residential buildings: Where there is an interior corridor serving sleeping rooms, college and university buildings containing a Group R-2 occupancy are required to have an automatic smoke detection system in the corridors, common spaces, laundry rooms, mechanical equipment rooms, and storage rooms. In addition, the smoke alarms in Group R-2 college and university buildings are required to be interconnected with the building fire alarm system  (Paragraph 907.2.9.3).

Carbon monoxide detection: A new section (908.7) has been added to require carbon monoxide alarms or carbon monoxide detection systems in Group I and Group R occupancies where the building contains fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage.

Egress capacity factors: Where automatic sprinkler protection and emergency voice/alarm communication systems are installed in other than Group H and I-2 occupancies, a reduced egress capacity shall be permitted to be used (Section 1005.3).

Floor-level exit signs: Where exit signs are required in Group R-1 occupancies, additional low-level exit signs shall be provided in all areas serving guest rooms. In addition to increasing the level of safety for the building occupants, the substantiation also noted that such signs will also increase firefighter safety (Section 1011.2).

Attic ventilation: The 2012 Edition of the IBC provides for reduction in the vent area for attics; when determined to not be necessary by the building official, attic ventilation shall not be required (Section 1203.2).

Photovoltaic systems: New provisions have been added for photovoltaic elements (modules/shingles or systems) including requirements to meet the existing requirements for roofing materials and rooftop structures (Sections 1505.8, 1507.17, 1509.7, and 3111).

Special inspections: A new requirement for special inspections of through penetration firestop systems and fire-resistant joint systems has been added for high-rise buildings and for buildings assigned a Risk Category III or IV in accordance with Section 1604.5. The special inspections are to be conducted in accordance with ASTM E2174 or ASTM E2393 (Section 1705.16).

In addition to the above items, registered design professionals should review the 2012 Edition of the IBC in its entirety to identify all the proposed changes that may impact their practice of engineering.

William E. Koffel is president of Koffel Associates Inc. He has been an active participant in the International Code Council process since the inception of the ICC, serving on numerous committees and currently serving on the ICC Code Technology Committee. He was the 2010 recipient of the ICC Affiliate Award.

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