Building  Owners  and  Managers  Association  International

Building Owners and Managers Association International

Retrofits of Fire Sprinkler Systems in Existing Buildings

BOMA POSITION

BOMA International opposes provisions in national model building codes mandating the retrofit of automatic sprinkler systems in all existing buildings.  BOMA also opposes such provisions intended specifically for existing high-rise buildings

Background

Proposals to modify national model codes to require the retrofit of automatic sprinkler systems in existing buildings have been submitted for consideration by model code development organizations such as the International Code Council over the past several years.  BOMA has consistently opposed such proposals and has been successful in advocating for the disapproval of these proposals by ICC voting members.

In preparation for ICC’s 2012-2014 code development cycle, ICC’s Fire Code Action Committee considered developing a proposal to mandate retroactive installation of automatic sprinkler systems in existing high-rise buildings over 75 feet in height.  BOMA representatives strongly opposed this effort by the Committee.  However, because representatives of the fire service and others supporting sprinkler retrofit in all high-rise buildings constituted a majority of the Committee, BOMA also participated in negotiations to develop alternatives that could minimize the negative impacts of such requirements.  Those negotiations resulted in an agreement to develop an appendix chapter containing the technical requirements for retroactive installation of sprinkler systems in high-rise buildings that would be appropriate for the ICC codes including those governing new buildings, fire provisions, and existing buildings.  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 retroactive high-rise sprinkler installation mandates as the 2015 ICC codes are considered for state and local code adoption.

In 2013 and with BOMA’s support, the Fire Code Action Committee submitted its proposal to include an appendix chapter containing technical guidelines for the retrofit of sprinklers in high-rise buildings in the International Fire Code (IFC).  This proposal was approved by the ICC voting members and this appendix will be included in the 2015 edition of the IFC.​