#233 – What is a Fire Riser Room? IFC and NFPA Requirements

The Importance of Fire Riser Rooms in Emergency Situations

As people go about their daily routines in buildings, they often overlook the significance of the fire riser room. However, this room serves as the central control center for a building’s fire sprinkler system, playing a crucial role in fire protection. Understanding the purpose, equipment, and requirements of fire riser rooms can make a significant difference during emergencies.

Fire Sprinkler Riser Rooms: A Dedicated Space for Fire Protection Equipment

Essentially, a fire sprinkler riser room is a dedicated space located on the outside wall of a building, providing direct exterior access. It serves as a centralized location for workers and emergency personnel to quickly locate fire sprinkler controls and equipment. The equipment typically found in a fire sprinkler riser room includes:

  • The overall sprinkler riser, which acts as a bridge between the water supply and sprinkler pipes in the building, and houses various devices such as valves for draining, isolating, and testing the system.
  • Pressure gauges that measure water pressure and air pressure in dry sprinkler systems.
  • Backflow prevention devices that protect water supplies from contamination.
  • Dry pipe valves and components for dry sprinkler systems.
  • Water flow switches that activate alarms.
  • Primary water input for the sprinkler system.
  • Water motor gongs or bells that sound when water flows through the system.
  • Tamper switches connected to fire protection valves.
  • Piping that connects the system riser to the fire department connection.
  • Cabinets for storing spare sprinkler heads, sprinkler wrenches, and reference materials such as NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems.

Meeting Design and Construction Requirements for Fire Sprinkler Riser Rooms

Fire codes provide specific criteria for the design and construction of fire sprinkler riser rooms, emphasizing their importance for fire protection in various buildings. While the International Building Code (IBC) doesn’t mandate riser rooms, it offers guidelines for their design and construction when provided. The International Fire Code (IFC) complements the IBC requirements by addressing fire protection in occupied buildings.

Local codes may expand upon these requirements, so it’s essential to consult with the relevant authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to ensure compliance. The aim of these codes is to ensure the protection and proper operation of equipment within riser rooms, which is critical for safeguarding lives and property during a fire.

Ensuring Adequate Clearance and Access in Riser Rooms

In recent years, fire codes have increasingly recognized the importance of providing adequate clearance and access in riser rooms for maintenance purposes. ICC requirements specify that riser rooms must have sufficient space to allow for the safe and efficient operation and maintenance of equipment. Additionally, clearances around equipment should enable inspections, servicing, repairs, or replacements without the need to remove permanent construction elements or disable fire-resistance-rated assemblies.

Codes also outline clearance measurements for fire pump rooms and sprinkler riser rooms. Local regulations may provide further specific measurements. It’s crucial for building designers to collaborate with fire protection system contractors during the design process to ensure that the necessary space and openings are incorporated into riser rooms. This collaboration typically occurs when building construction drawings and specifications are reviewed by the AHJ.

Accessibility and Safety Measures for Riser Rooms

Accessibility and safety measures are paramount when it comes to fire sprinkler riser rooms. The 2018 edition of the IFC stipulates that riser rooms must have readily accessible entrances, even though they can be locked to prevent vandalism as long as a readily available key is provided. Installing a UL 1037-listed key box outside the room is an acceptable option.

Clear signage is required on the access doors of riser rooms, with letters standing at least 2 inches in height and a minimum stroke of 3/8 inch to ensure visibility. Weather-resistant signs are recommended, and local ordinances may have additional requirements.

The IFC also mandates that riser rooms be maintained at a minimum temperature of 40°F (4°C) through permanently installed heating devices. Adequate lighting is also required in riser rooms.

Proper Usage and Avoiding Clutter in Riser Rooms

Building owners and facility managers must ensure that fire sprinkler riser rooms are used properly and not cluttered with non-fire protection equipment. Storage of items such as file cabinets, shelving, buckets, or cleaning supplies is not allowed in these rooms, as they can hinder access to valves during emergencies. Additionally, fire pump rooms must provide sufficient space for both emergency and maintenance personnel to work effectively.

Optimizing Efficiency with Central Locations for Riser Rooms

While fire codes require fire sprinkler riser rooms to be located on the ground floor with direct exterior access, property owners have some flexibility in determining the exact location within a building. Ideally, riser rooms should be centrally located to ensure the most efficient system operation and adequate water flow throughout the property. Many local ordinances even mandate centrally located riser rooms.

Considerations when choosing a riser room location include easy access for the fire department, hydraulic optimization for all systems, sufficient space for valve access, and proximity to the fire department connection(s) and domestic demand if there is a combined water service.

The Significance of Properly Designed, Cleared, and Marked Fire Riser Rooms

In an emergency, a well-marked and unobstructed fire riser room can save valuable time and provide emergency personnel with quick access to a fire protection system’s controls. Understanding how to design and maintain these rooms to protect their life-saving equipment is crucial for ensuring the effective performance of fire sprinklers during a fire.

For a wide range of pre-assembled riser kits and fire sprinkler riser room signs that meet code requirements, visit our selection at QRFS. We are here to provide you with high-quality products. If you have any questions or need assistance finding specific items, contact us at +1 (888) 361-6662 or email [email protected].

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This article was originally published on blog.qrfs.com.

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