BCAB #1735 - Protection from Freezing of Water Supply for Firefighting, Article 3.2.5.18. (2006)

October 17, 2013

BCAB #1735

Re: Protection from Freezing of Water Supply for Firefighting, Article 3.2.5.18. (2006)

Project Description

The project is a single, four storey building consisting of a first storey open-air parking garage with several suites of mixed occupancy located above.  The piping for the firefighting water supply runs through the open-air parking garage.

Reason for Appeal

Sentence 3.2.7.9.(1) of the 2006 BC Building Code requires a 2 hour emergency power supply (from a generator) if the water supply for firefighting is dependent on electrical power supplied to the building.  Sentences 3.2.5.9.(1) and 3.2.5.13.(1) require conformance with NFPA 14 (standpipe systems) and NFPA 13 (sprinkler systems), respectively.  Protection from freezing is required by both standards and Article 3.2.5.18.  The pipes are proposed to be insulated and heat traced.

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that no emergency power is required as the water supply for firefighting is not dependant on a fire pump and is thus not dependant on electrical power.  NFPA 13 and NFPA 14 require protection from freezing, which is satisfied by the pipe insulation and the heat tracing, and neither standard requires emergency power for the heat tracing.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that Sentence 3.2.5.18.(1) requires the fire protection system to be protected from freezing.  NFPA 13 and NFPA 14 further specify the temperature at which the water supply must be maintained.  Because the temperature of the water supply is maintained by heat tracing, it is dependent on electrical power as described in Sentence 3.2.7.9.(1) and an emergency power supply is required.

Appeal Board Decision #1735

It is the determination of the Board that emergency power is not required for the heat tracing system. The Board relied on newer editions of NFPA 13 (2007 & 2013) that specifically reference listed heat tracing systems as an acceptable and reliable means of protection from freezing. Neither the Building Code nor NFPA require emergency power for these systems. The Building Code’s requirements for emergency power are not intended to address long term power failures.

George Humphrey, Chair