Parking Garages – IBC Notable Changes

With the 2018 and 2021 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) being more widely adopted, it is important to understand the specific changes, eliminations, or revisions that may occur to code sections within each respective edition. This blog post focuses on significant changes of those two code editions associated with fire protection systems that will impact the design of open parking garages.

First, there is now an area threshold (48,000 gsf) above which sprinkler protection is required for open parking garages (2021 IBC, Section 903.2.10). In the two previous editions of the IBC, sprinkler coverage has been permitted to be omitted from open parking garages, regardless of area n a related note, the 2018 IBC provisions that once allowed the omission of an automatic sprinkler system within open parking garages in high rise buildings or open parking garages greater than 55 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access have been eliminated from the 2021 IBC (IBC Section 403.3, 903.2.11.3). These are important code updates, as the omission of a sprinkler system within an open parking garage was once a key benefit of pursuing an open parking garage design rather than an enclosed parking garage.

The other significant change relates to standpipes in parking garages. Various exception language used to exist in Section 905.3.1 regarding required types of standpipe (Class I or III), whether it could be manual or automatic, and whether it could be wet- or dry-pipe. The 2021 IBC now simply permits Class I standpipes to be installed in parking garages, regardless of height, and effectively leaves the wet/dry and manual/automatic provisions to NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems, which is adopted via the IBC and otherwise addresses such matters.

Of course, designers always need to consider local amendments or laws which may modify such requirements, such as M.G.L’s in MA, which also include provisions on these subjects.

Application of any information provided, for any use, is at the reader’s risk and without liability to Code Red Consultants. Code Red Consultants does not warrant the accuracy of any information contained in this blog as applicable codes and standards change over time. The application, enforcement and interpretation of codes and standards may vary between Authorities Having Jurisdiction and for this reason, registered design professionals should be consulted to determine the appropriate application of codes and standards to a specific scope of work.