This Fire Safety Update has been reviewed by CMS Central Office
Recently there have been some questions about the requirements for sprinklering wardrobes. For clarification, this Update is addressing “free standing wardrobes” and is NOT addressing sprinklering of closets and “built-in wardrobes.” For clarification:
- Closets are part of the building structure, which are the walls, ceiling, and floor of a closet and are generally made of the same construction materials as the building. Closets are required to be sprinklered in a sprinklered building.
- Built-in Wardrobes are generally not constructed of the same materials as the building, but are built into the building. For example, a built-in wardrobe would be attached directly to the building structural members such as wall studs with no sheathing (sheetrock) between the wardrobe and the wall studs. Built-in wardrobes are also required to be sprinklered.
- Free standing wardrobes are not constructed of the same materials as the building and are not part of the building structure. A free standing wardrobe is considered a piece of furniture. The wardrobe can be attached to the wall and/or recessed into an alcove. The key is that the wall that the wardrobe is attached to and the walls and ceiling of the alcove the wardrobe is recessed into are sheathed. Free standing wardrobes are not required to be sprinklered.
See extracted Section A-5-13.9.2 from the 1999 NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.
A-5-13.9.2 Portable wardrobe units, such as those typically used in nursing homes and mounted to the wall, do not require sprinklers to be installed in them. Although the units are attached to the finished structure, this standard views those units as pieces of furniture rather than as a part of the structure; thus, sprinklers are not required.
Whether the wardrobe is recessed or not, the coverage by the sprinklers must cover the floor area under the wardrobe and if recessed the sprinkler(s) must cover the floor area of the alcove as if the alcove is empty.
We believe the above is consistent with the Survey and Certification Letter, S & C-05-38 issued by CMS on July 14, 2005 relative to the sprinklering of wardrobes.
The question is often asked whether storage is permitted on top of a wardrobe in a sprinklered building due to the 18 inch rule. The answer is, yes storage is permitted on top of the wardrobe as long as you adhere to the guidelines in with Section A-5-6.6 of the 1999 NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. The only other guideline is that you can not have storage within 18 inches of the sprinkler deflector on top of the wardrobe if the room is protected with sidewall sprinkler heads, which is very rare in long term facilities.
A-5-6.6 The 18-in. (0.46-mm) dimension is not intended to limit the height of shelving on a wall or shelving against a wall in accordance with 5-6.6. Where shelving is installed on a wall and is not directly below sprinklers, the shelves, including storage thereon, can extend above the level of a plane located 18 in. (0.46 mm) below ceiling sprinkler deflectors. Shelving, and any storage thereon, directly below the sprinklers cannot extend above a plane located 18 in. (0.46 mm) below the ceiling sprinkler deflectors.
Extracts from 1999 NFPA 13
1-4.2 General Definitions.
Small Rooms. A room of light hazard occupancy classification having unobstructed construction and floor areas not exceeding 800 ft2 (74.3 m2) that are enclosed by walls and a ceiling. Openings to the adjoining space are permitted if the minimum lintel depth is 8 in. (203 mm) from the ceiling.
5-5.2 Protection Areas per Sprinkler.
5-5.2.1 Determination of the Protection Area of Coverage.
The protection area of coverage per sprinkler (As) shall be determined as follows:
(a) Along Branch Lines. Determine distance between sprinklers (or to wall or obstruction in the case of the end sprinkler on the branch line) upstream and downstream. Choose the larger of either twice the distance to the wall or the distance to the next sprinkler. This dimension will be defined as S.
(b) Between Branch Lines. Determine perpendicular distance to the sprinkler on the adjacent branch line (or to a wall or obstruction in the case of the last branch line) on each side of the branch line on which the subject sprinkler is positioned. Choose the larger of either twice the distance to the wall or obstruction or the distance to the next sprinkler. This dimension will be defined as L.
The protection area of coverage of the sprinkler shall be established by multiplying the S dimension by the L dimension, as follows: As = S L
5-6.2.1 Determination of the Protection Area of Coverage.
The protection area of coverage per sprinkler (As) shall be determined in accordance with 5-5.2.1.
Exception: In a small room as defined in 1-4.2, the protection area of coverage for each sprinkler in the small room shall be the area of the room divided by the number of sprinklers in the room.
The distance from sprinklers to walls shall not exceed one-half of the allowable distance between sprinklers as indicated in Tables 5-6.2.2(a) through (d). The distance from the wall to the sprinkler shall be measured perpendicular to the wall. Where walls are angled or irregular, the maximum horizontal distance between a sprinkler and any point of floor area protected by that sprinkler shall not exceed 0.75 times the allowable distance permitted between sprinklers, provided the maximum perpendicular distance is not exceeded.
Exception: *Within small rooms as defined in 1-4.2, sprinklers shall be permitted to be located not more than 9 ft (2.7 m) from any single wall. Sprinkler spacing limitations of 5-6.3 and area limitations of Table 5-6.2.2(a) shall not be exceeded.
An example of sprinklers in small rooms for hydraulically designed and pipe schedule systems is shown in Figure A-5-188.8.131.52(b), and examples for hydraulically designed systems only are shown in Figures A-5-184.108.40.206(c), (d), and (e).