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Changes to the NFPA Building and Fire Codes Consistent with Recommendations from NIST’s WTC Investigation

Approved at the NFPA Annual Meeting and Standards Council Action on 2009 Documents, July 2008

The following are the code changes consistent with the NIST WTC recommendations now required by the NFPA Codes.

  • Full building evacuation (use of elevators). Permits elevators to remain in service (prior to FEO Phase I recall) and to be used by occupants for self-evacuation. Requires a package of protection measures including protected lobbies on every floor with direct access to a stair, real time monitoring and communication, secondary power, protection of wiring and cables, water protection, and full building sprinklers. Requirements contained in an adoptable annex; no thresholds or mandates, and no credit against egress requirements.
  • Fire service access elevator (use of elevators). Requires a minimum of one fire service access elevator for buildings more than 120 ft in height. Includes a package of protection including protected lobbies on every floor, direct access to a stair with a standpipe, secondary power, protection of wires and cables, real time monitoring, and communications.
  • Surviving burnout without collapse. Establishes a required performance-based design scenario that evaluates a high rise building for performance under a fully-developed fire event where the building must resist both local and global collapse.
  • Supplemental evacuation equipment. Establishes a series of performance requirements to recognize (but not mandate nor give credit for) supplemental egress systems such as controlled descent devices and platform lifts; with references to ASTM standards.
  • Situational awareness. Requirement establishes situational awareness as a fundamental requirement of egress planning and design.
  • Managed evacuation. Provides advisory text on managed and unmanaged evacuations as well as partial, total, and protect-in-place strategies.
  • Evacuation diagrams. Establishes a menu of provisions that can be mandated by occupancy chapters to require evacuation diagrams that reflect actual floor arrangements and exit locations.
  • Luminescent exit stair markings (new buildings). Establishes a menu of provisions that can be mandated by occupancy chapters to deal with markings on stair treads, landings and handrails; perimeter demarcation, obstacles, door frames, and signage.
  • Exit signage. Requires directional signage within horizontal components of exit enclosures (transfer corridors).
  • Minimum width of transfer corridors. Establishes a minimum width of transfer corridors as 2/3 the width of the stair.
  • Remoteness of stairways. Remoteness changed from walking path to direct line measurement with the criterion remaining at 1/3 the diagonal if sprinklered and ½ the diagonal if not.
  • Remoteness applied to exit discharge. Applies remoteness criteria to exit discharge as well as exit access and the exits themselves.
  • Risk assessment for buildings with substantial hazard. Annex note suggesting the conduct of a risk assessment for buildings greater than 420 ft or with more than 10,000 occupants that evaluates performance under extreme events.
  • Field inspections of fireproofing. Requires special inspections of fireproofing for integrity where accessible, every 5 years, and a written report provided.
  • Emergency responder radio communications in buildings (radio coverage requirements). Requires approved radio coverage in all buildings including requirements for signal strength and signal to noise ratio, by the installation of repeaters monitored by the fire alarm system. Includes requirements for commissioning and regular testing. Alternatively, the fire department can specify wired phones.