3/11/2013 9:10:00 AM Ask the contractor: Fire sprinklers only required under certain conditions
Sandy Griffis Yavapai County Contractor’s Association
Q: We're moving to Prescott, and we'll be building a home in Timber Ridge. We've heard rumors that fire sprinklers are going to be mandatory in every home. Is this accurate?-Bob and Pam, Nevada
A: First, let me welcome you to Prescott, the greatest small city to live in on the planet!
You are correct that you may have to install a fire sprinkler system if you decide to build a home in Prescott. However, this is not the case for every home in Prescott. This rumor has been making its way through our community, but I will be happy to give you the facts.
As you are aware, Prescott is a community within a forest. For that reason, there are two fire codes that apply to construction. Since you are planning to locate your home in the Timber Ridge subdivision, both the International Fire Code (IFC) and the Wildland/Urban Interface (WUI) Code will apply to the construction of your home. The WUI code applies to areas in our community that have been designated as being heavily affected by surrounding vegetation, topography, and proximity to our neighboring forest, such as Timber Ridge.
Following is the criteria used to determine if your new home will be required to have a residential fire sprinkler system installed:
1. Is the home more than 5,000 square feet, including the garage and storage spaces, but not including decks and patios?
2. Is there a fire hydrant within 500 feet of your property?
3. Is the street you are building your home on a dead end greater than 1,300 feet in length?
4. Is the grade of your street more than 12 percent?
5. Is the distance from the street to the most distant point on your house greater than 150 feet?
6. Is your home only accessible through a low water crossing and there is no other way to access your house if the low water crossing is impassable?
7. Are there more than 10 people living in your home?
8. Will the home will be greater than two stories tall?
Of the above conditions requiring a sprinkler system to be installed, the one that seems to be creating the most press is the "150 foot" requirement. While all the other requirements make sense when you consider that ability to get fire trucks and fireman to your home in all weather conditions, the "150 foot" rule is the one that most people do not understand.
I have talked with the fire marshal to help clarify this requirement. After reviewing plans looking at home layouts and placement on lots, this requirement is really a pretty simple process and makes a lot of sense.
Obviously, firefighters fight fires with water from the hoses that are attached to their trucks. In Prescott and the surrounding area, as well as a vast majority of other fire departments, I am told, the length of the fire hoses that are pre-connected and pulled of the truck to attack a fire are 200 feet long. So, using the 150 foot measurement, the fire department knows that their hoses will reach to the most distant point on the home so they can put water on a fire that is burning inside, and go inside from there if needed. If the home is situated on the lot (beyond the 150 feet), the fire hoses cannot reach the most distant point on the home, and the fire is impossible to contain and control.
Those are the basic parameters when a standard home in Prescott would be required to have a fire sprinkler system installed. As I said though, the fact that your property is also in the Wildland/Urban interface, there are some additional criteria and requirements that come into play.
If your driveway is longer than 150 feet, not only will you have to install fire sprinklers, you will also have to install an "operational platform" next to the home, measuring 20x30 feet. (A driveway is anything less than 20 feet wide, can support a fire truck, and has 13 feet, 6 inches of height clearance).
Our fire department has told me that they will be happy to meet with anyone who would like to hear more about these requirements, either at their station, at your property or with your builder.
Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities.
Call YCCA for information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or through www.ycca.org.