A significant part of the education industry builds and maintains cultural resource properties that are covered by local adaptations of regulatory products developed by the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) that need to be considered as moving in tandem even though their revision cycles are not synchronized. Sometimes this out-of-step condition permits subject matter experts on technical committees to make the best possible decisions regarding the safety and sustainability agenda of the interest group they represent; but not always.
In the ICC suite we find code requirements for places of worship tracking in the following sections of the International Building Code (IBC):
Section 303 Assembly Group A
Section 305 Educational Group E
Section 308 Institutional Group I
Note that Sections 305 and 308 recognize the accessory and multi-functional nature of occupancy types in the education industry – i.e child care and adult care function can marge and be an accessory to a place of worship. The general rule in the IBC is that accessory religious educational rooms and religious auditoriums with occupant loads of less than 100 per room or space are not considered separate occupancies. Other standards developers are guided by this rule.
We have an opportunity to revisit safety and sustainability concepts in the next revision of NFPA 909 Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties – Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship. From the document prospectus:
• This code describes principles and practices of protection for cultural resource properties (including, but not limited to, museums, libraries, and places of worship), their contents, and collections, against conditions or physical situations with the potential to cause damage or loss.
• This code covers ongoing operations and rehabilitation and acknowledges the need to preserve culturally significant and character-defining building features and sensitive, often irreplaceable, collections and to provide continuity of operations.
• Principles and practices for life safety in cultural resource properties are outside the scope of this code. Where this code includes provisions for maintaining means of egress and controlling occupant load, it is to facilitate the evacuation of items of cultural significance, allow access for damage limitation teams in an emergency, and prevent damage to collections through overcrowding or as an unintended consequence of an emergency evacuation.
• Library and museum collections that are privately owned and not open to the public shall not be required to meet the requirements of this code.
A milestone was reached by the technical committee in October 2018 with the completion of the First Draft which was balloted and will be posted in September as the Second Draft Report. Comments on the Second Report are due November 14th.
Department leadership and facility managers for enterprises of this type are encouraged to contribute obtain their own (free) NFPA public participation account in order to directly participate in the 2021 revision of NFPA 909 by logging in here: https://www.nfpa.org/login. Alternatively, you may join the larger group of education facility managers for which we provide the platform. We meet every day at 11 AM EST. Use the login credentials at the upper right of our home page.
This document, like the entire span of the NFPA regulatory products, is a standing item on our monthly Fire Protection teleconference. See our CALENDAR for the next online meeting; open to everyone.
Category: Fire Safety, Public Safety
Colleagues: Mike Anthony, Josh Elvove, Joe DeRosier