Can sprinklers be omitted from some areas of residential structures?

March 1, 2023

by Nils Deacon, Manager, Inspections and Rating Services

A sprinkler system can only safeguard people and property if it gets installed. NFPA Standard 13R encourages installation with provisions that reduce overall cost while providing essential protection in areas most associated with loss of life.

The Standard allows sprinklers to be omitted from certain locations least likely to impact life safety:
• Bathrooms not exceeding 55 square feet.
• Closets for clothing or linens, or pantries so long as area does not exceed 24 square feet, and walls and ceilings are of non- or limited-combustible material (as defined by NFPA 220).
• Open/attached balconies, carports, corridors, covered vehicle entrances, porches, and stairs.
• Attics; concealed spaces for ventilation equipment; ceiling, crawl, and floor spaces; elevator shafts; and equipment (including elevator machinery) rooms.

Notably, however, sprinklers are necessary in closets that house air conditioning equipment, clothes washer or dryer, water heater, or any fuel-fired equipment.

Since its first publishing in 1989, NFPA 13R Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies has helped building owners provide safer accommodations for inhabitants.

DISCLAIMER: This information reflects the interpretation of MSO, Inc. with regard to NFPA Standards and Codes. It does not represent NFPA’s official position on the items discussed.

Non-sprinklered bathroom.