NFPA 13, 2013 ed, 8.15.1.2.2 says, “Concealed spaces of noncombustible and 
limited-combustible construction with limited access and not permitting 
occupancy or storage of combustibles shall not require sprinkler protection.”

Would a utility tunnel that is under the footprint of the building meet the 
requirements of the above reference to omit sprinklers?  Does limited access 
mean locked doors?

I am looking at a building tunnel that is “accessible” via climbing a ladder 
from a basement corridor…no door.  Another tunnel is accessed from a mechanical 
room but there is no door to get into the tunnel from the mechanical room, but 
the mechanical room door is locked.

Trying to determine which tunnels would require sprinkler protection...or 
really I am starting with the assumption that the tunnels are required to be 
sprinklered but wondering if certain tunnels would meet requirements to omit 
sprinklers.  The AHJ actually floated the idea of installing sprinklers from 
the sprinklered corridor 15’ into the tunnel, but he also said I have to find a 
clear code/standard reference that allows the omission of sprinkler protection 
in the tunnels otherwise we will need to protect them.

I’m not necessarily looking for opinions on whether we should or shouldn’t 
protect the tunnels, but more so, what the intent of 8.15 is in regards to 
tunnels or if there are other references in the IBC (2012) or elsewhere that 
would shed more light.

Thank you.

Reed Roisum



Reed A. Roisum, SET | Karges-Faulconbridge, Inc. | Senior Fire Protection 
Designer | Fargo, ND | direct: 701.552.9903 | mobile: 701.388.1352 | 
KFIengineers.com<http://www.kfiengineers.com>

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