Building  Owners  and  Managers  Association  International

Building Owners and Managers Association International

Firefighter Air Replenishment Systems

BOMA POSITION

BOMA International opposes the inclusion of provisions mandating the installation of firefighter air replenishment systems (FARS) in building, fire, and other national model codes for both newly constructed and existing buildings.

Background

Firefighter air replenishment systems (FARS) facilitate the replenishment of breathing air in self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for firefighters engaged in emergency operations in a building.  FARS are permanently installed within a structure and consist of exterior fire department connection panels, interior air fill stations and an interconnected piping distribution system.  They have been available for several years and are required by code for primarily high-rise buildings in some municipal jurisdictions including Phoenix, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Boynton Beach, FL.  FARS have also been installed voluntarily in a number of high-rise buildings including many owned and operated by BOMA members. 

In 2006, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) amended its Uniform Plumbing Code to include a requirement for a firefighter breathing air replenishment system in high-rise buildings over 75 feet in height.  Provisions for FARS installations are also included in standards and codes developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 

In preparing for the International Code Council’s 2012-2014 code development cycle, ICC’s Fire Code Action Committee considered submission of code change proposals to mandate installation of FARS in the 2015 editions of the ICC Codes for both newly constructed and existing buildings.  BOMA representatives strongly opposed any proposal to mandate retrofit of these systems in existing buildings.  However, because representatives of the fire service and others supporting FARS constituted a majority of the Committee, BOMA also participated in negotiations to develop alternatives that would minimize the negative impacts on BOMA members.  Those negotiations resulted in an agreement to develop a series of code change proposals to put FARS installation provisions in an appendix in specific ICC codes.  ICC appendix chapters are not part of the body of the codes and therefore not automatically included when state and municipal governments adopt ICC codes.  This ensures BOMA affiliates and members will have maximum influence on inclusion of FARS mandates as the 2015 ICC codes are considered for state and local code adoption.

BOMA International supported a compromise proposal to create a FARS appendix chapter in the 2015 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) during 2012 which was approved by the ICC voting members.  A similar proposal to create an appendix in the 2015 International Fire Code (IFC) was introduced with BOMA’s support in 2013.​ ​