Significant changes to the 2012 IRC have been announced by The International Code Council as follows:
- With some exceptions, Section R501.3 Fire Protection of Floors now requires ½-inch gypsum board or equivalent material to be applied to the underside of floor assemblies in buildings regulated by the International Residential Code (IRC). This change is intended to provide occupants greater ability for self evacuation before collapse and increased safety for firefighters
- Reduction in fire separation distance for dwellings with non-rated exterior walls equipped with a fire sprinkler system, from 5 ft. to 3 ft. This change recognizes the inclusion of the home fire sprinkler requirement.
It is very important to note that studies on ceiling/floor assemblies built with lightweight materials in a basement fire scenario, conducted by the National Research Center Canada, found that the protection of these assemblies provide longer time to failure and collapse. However, incapacitating factors and untenable conditions are still reached within 3 – 5 minutes from the onset of fire. This change should not be viewed as an alternative to fire sprinklers throughout the dwelling.
NFPA 1 Fire Code and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code have included fire sprinkler requirements in all new one- and two-family dwellings since 2006. With the inclusion of the requirement in the 2009 IRC, all national model codes now include this minimum requirement to achieve a reasonable level of safety.
A free webinar is available for more information on the above, and other changes.