Q: Do all electrical rooms have to have automatic sprinklers installed in them? Our electrician tells us there are exceptions to installing sprinklers in an electrical room even when the entire building is required to be sprinklered. Are you aware of these exceptions?
A: The Life Safety Code does not require electrical rooms to be fire rated. However, there are some exceptions which are found in NFPA 13 Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems 1999 edition, section 5-13.11. While this standard requires sprinkler protection in electrical equipment rooms, it does provide an exception in lieu of having to install sprinklers. The room has to be dedicated to electrical equipment only, and only dry-type electrical equipment is allowed in the room. The room has to be protected with 2-hour fire rated barriers with 1½ hour fire rated doors that are self-closing and positively latching. Even though the room is dedicated to electrical equipment only, you are not allowed to have any combustible items stored in the room, which would include cardboard boxes. If you choose to comply with this exception and not install sprinklers in the electrical rooms, then this option does not otherwise cause your building to be non-compliant with any requirement to be fully sprinklered.