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American Wood Council

What are the fire protection requirements for attics in residential mid-rise construction?

Attic fires can be a significant hazard in residential mid-rise structures. The 2018 IBC has provisions for increased attic protection based on the height of the building. For wood construction, when the roof assembly exceeds 55 feet above the lowest level of required fire department vehicle access, the attic must be protected by sprinklers or alternative protection must be provided. This means that certain special occupancy “pedestal” buildings must have sprinkler-protected attics even if they could have an NFPA 13R sprinkler system (as opposed to a full NFPA 13 system). See subsection 903. Attics in the 2018 IBC for the full requirements.

A reminder: sprinklers do no good if a fire begins before sprinklers are operational. See the Construction Fire Safety Coalition website for resources on preventing construction fires: www.constructionfiresafety.org

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