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NPFA 13 Versus NPFA 13R

Fire protection systems are sprinkler systems that are designed to offer different degrees of protection to people and to buildings. For new residential buildings that require a sprinkler, it's important to understand the difference between NPFA 13 versus 13R fire protection systems.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) set out the standards to which the fire sprinkler systems are designed.

Sprinkler systems for low-rise condos and apartments can be designed to the less comprehensive NFPA 13R standard.

Sprinkler systems for low-rise condos and apartments can be designed to the less comprehensive NFPA 13R standard.

The NFPA 13 standard is for buildings that are required to be 'fully sprinklered'. These offer life safety to the occupants and protection to the building. Sprinkler heads are located throughout the facility including attics, closets, storage areas and other unoccupied rooms.

The NFPA 13R standard is for low-rise residential buildings. These offer a 'moderately sprinklered' system. These buildings do not pose the same fire risks and evacuation hazards as large towers, commercial buildings or industrial facilities. Even though they are less comprehensive, they still require a fire alarm system if it has more than 9 sprinkler heads.

Characteristics of NFPA 13R for fire protection systems:

  • The goal is life safety in case of fire with moderate protection of the building and its contents.
  • Applicable to low rise residential buildings with a maximum of 4 storeys.
  • Sprinkler heads can be omitted from various unoccupied areas like attic and crawlspaces.
  • Sprinkler heads can be omitted from closets and bathrooms.
  • Different types of sprinkler devices, component listings and testing procedures than NFPA 13.
  • Lower water discharge which means the system can be designed with smaller pipes.
  • Shorter duration water deluge.
    • The larger fire protection systems designed to NFPA 13 provide life safety protection to get people out of the building and to extinguish the fire. When fire protection of the building's content and to the structure is required, a full sprinkler system should be designed into your project.

      Should My Building Have an NFPA 13 or 13R Sprinkler System?

      Typical NFPA 13R Buildings:

      • Motels and low-rise hotels.
      • Low rise condos and apartment buildings.

      Typical NFPA 13 Buildings:

      • Nursing homes.
      • Mid-rise condos and apartment buildings.

      Mechanical engineering consultants design fire protection system. These systems meet all component listing, hydraulic calculations and multipurpose piping systems as specified in the NFPA 13 or 13R standards.

      Before starting any project, it's important to determine the level of fire hazard and the required fire protection system as regulated by the Alberta or BC provincial building and fire codes. Both NFPA 13 and 13R sprinkler systems ensure that lives are protected but with differing degrees of protection to the contents and the structure of the building.