My guess as to the answer of this is, "yes",   but I want to be sure.
Feel comfortable to offer your judgment.

If a design guide calls for the occupancy to be sprinklered throughout,
then if electronics and electrical rooms are not sprinklered but protected
with alternative gas suppression systems, are the lucrative exemptions
awarded when a building is "sprinklered throughout", withheld?

I sense this is a building code question, not an NFPA 13 question.


Commentary to 2009 IBC -903.1.1 states in its last sentence, if sprinklers
are not installed as backup for alternative (i.e. gas systems ), then the
lucrative exemptions granted via reduction to other fire safety systems
throughout this building code are not awarded due to the lower safety
offered by the less reliable gas suppression systems.



2009 NFPA 101 -9.7.3 commentary says it is a good idea to have sprinklers
as backup to the 'special' first-line-of-defense alternative systems, but
it does not go so far, as far as I could tell, as to eliminate the
financially beneficial trade-offs linked to an occupany/building that is
sprinklered throughout, in the event that electronic/electrical rooms have
only gas-suppression without automatic sprinklers.


Section -19.3.5.4 of 2009 NFPA 101 says sprinklers should be throughout a
health care facility, but in the instance where the AHJ allows omission,
then section -19.3.5.5 states these areas need by Type I or II construction
and enclosed with FRR.    But the commentary to the NFPA 101 on these
section says the lucrative sprinkler exemptions remain valid.


The IBC is clear: sprinklers throughout.

The NFPA 101 seems clear—except for health care.

I do not know what the 2009 NFPA 5000 states.


If there are electronic/electrical rooms without sprinklers, but with
alternative gas agent suppression, are the exceptions for '*fully-sprinklered
building*' withheld? I think – yes. The US Air Force seems to agree with
this suggestion.


Segueing into WHY using only-gaseous agent fire suppression is NOT enough,
consider the Air Force wording, already 15 years old, by the time of first
draft.  ETL 01-18 is paraphrased below:


the US Air [1] states that sprinklers will be provided as backup to “clean”
agent systems because the sprinklers are THAT reliable.  If any customer
has a big and quasi reliable database, I would argue the US Air Force would
be in that group.  The US Air Force requires fire sprinklers over mission
critical electrical gear. The US Air Force discourages pre-action sprinkler
systems to wet pipe systems, which again is in concurrence with the
experiences and stories I have encountered.   The US Air Force states
“Leaky roofing, air conditioning, and plumbing systems present a far
greater risk of water damage than a wet-pipe sprinkler system properly
installed in accordance with NFPA 13.

Further, mission essential information technology rooms shall be located
only in facilities that are fully sprinklered, by a wet-pipe sprinkler
system[2]. Alternative suppression system to wet-pipe standard spray
sprinkler are allowed on approval of Major Command, but the alternatives
both involve--water suppression: water mist and water pre-action.  Pre-action
systems are of significantly lower reliability than wet-pipe systems.   [3].


[1]. ETL 01-18, Engineering Technical Letter (ETL 01-18) Fire Protection
Criteria – Electronic Equipment Installations 24 Oct 2001, (pp. -7.3.10.2
last sentence

[2].  op. cit.,  ETL 01-18, -7.3.9.1

[3]. op. cit.,  Ibid, -7.3.10.2


Scot Deal

Excelsior Risk/Fire Engineering

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