Q: Does the Life Safety code require a sprinkler under a 4′ canopy? I find this hard to believe so I would like to know if you have a reference for this.
A: The LSC does not say how to install sprinklers, it just says that you do or you don’t need to install them. If you are required to install sprinklers (new construction, renovation, or construction type) then you must follow NFPA 13 (2010) edition on how to install them.
Section 18.104.22.168 of NFPA 13 says sprinklers must be installed under exterior roofs or canopies exceeding 4 feet in width. An exception to this requirement is if canopy or roof is of noncombustible or limited combustible construction. Also, sprinklers must be installed under roofs or canopies over areas where combustibles are stored and handled. The annex portion of this standard says vehicles that are temporary parked are not considered to be in storage. And the Annex says limited combustibles such as newspaper vending machines do not constitute storage of combustibles.
So, if your canopy is 4 feet in width or less, then you are not required to install sprinklers, according to NFPA 13. Also, you need to install sprinklers where the local or state authorities tell you do so. I suggest you check with them to determine if your arrangement requires sprinklers.