ICC Says Sprinklers Aren’t Enough When it comes to Window Egress

May 21st, 2010 by Editor

When E-150-09/10, Part II, a proposed change to the International Residential Code, came up today during the International Code Council’s (ICC) Final Action hearings being held in Dallas, Jeff Shapiro, speaking on behalf of himself, said, “This is probably the most passionate testimony you will hear all week on both sides of the issue.”

Shapiro spoke in support of the proposed change which states the following: Emergency escape and rescue openings shall not be required in one- and two-family dwellings and townhouses that are equipped with an approved automatic sprinkler system. The ICC committee approved this proposal as submitted last October during the code hearings. The reason was as follows: “The change adds a reasonable exemption based on approved automatic sprinkler systems in the dwelling. This creates an incentive to provide a sprinkler system. Also, this may get some retrofits for additions.”

Another proponent simply pointed out that if a building has sprinklers then they don’t have to meet the window egress requirements.

However, speaking in favor of disapproval, Jeff Inks, representing the Window and Door Manufacturers Association brought up some points for the committee to consider.

“These sprinklers don’t require maintenance–that is an important issue that needs to be considered …. we don’t know that they will work every time,” he said.

Inks was joined in support for disapproval by many others in the door and window industry including Julie Ruth, representing the American Architectural Manufacturers Association. He also was joined by fire safety officials including one fire marshall in Colorado who pointed out that windows serve a dual purpose–it allows fire rescue in the building in addition to allowing people to get out.

“I support incentives for fire sprinklers,” he said. “They will do what they are intended to do but people still need to get out.

Another in opposition talked about the fact that this is a local trade off issue not a national one.

Ultimately, the motion carried for disapproval.

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