Minnesota Building Code: Sprinkler Requirements Explained

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Fire sprinkler provisions have been in building codes for decades. Automatic fire sprinkler systems improve survival rates and decrease the risk of financial loss by limiting the spread of flames. A well-designed automatic sprinkler system is critical to the overall safety of a residential building.

A common misconception among designers and property owners is that the NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems determines which buildings must have automatic sprinkler systems. In actuality, the NFPA 13 identifies the criteria for these fire suppression systems while the building code identifies when they’re required.

In Minnesota, the 2015 Building Code establishes the requirements for automatic sprinkler systems in residential buildings. That said, it’s paramount to review the requirements from all applicable codes in your jurisdiction when determining the minimum fire safety requirements in a building. A good rule of thumb is to adhere to whichever code is more restrictive.

Where Fire Sprinkler Systems Are Code Required

An automatic sprinkler system is to be provided in residential properties in the following use cases:

  • Townhouse with 3 or more dwelling units

In this case, each single-family dwelling unit shall be considered to be a separate building and outfitted with an appropriate fire sprinkler system. Attached garages are required to have one dry head sprinkler while attached covered patios/decks (if combustible) and similar structures are required to have at least one dry head sprinkler for every 20 linear feet of common wall or inside sprinklers that act as a water curtain.

However, sprinklers are not required if the attached structures (with the exception of garages) have less than 40 square feet of floor area.

  • Multiunit resort building

A resort building is defined as any structure with sleeping accommodations located on property neighboring any lake, stream or recreational spaces like skiing or hunting areas. Automatic sprinkler systems must be installed if the resort exceeds 9,250 square feet of building area.

Other buildings that must adhere to the same requirements include:

  • Bed and Breakfast with 6 or more guest rooms
  • Transient and non-transient boarding houses with a capacity of more than 10 occupants
  • Transient and non-transient congregate living facilities that can host more than 16 occupants
  • Hotels and motels
  • Apartment houses
  • Convents and Monasteries
  • Dormitories
  • Fraternities and Sororities
  • Timeshares

Note: For the properties listed above, automatic sprinkler systems are only required if the dwellings have more than 4,500 square feet of building area.

  • Dwellings classified as care facilities that exceed 4,500 square feet of floor area

Care facilities include:

  • Child and adult dare care centers
  • Supervised living facilities
  • Residential hospice facilities
  • Adult and child foster care homes
  • Senior housing facilities and nursing homes
  • Assisted living facilities

Boarding houses, congregate living, and care facilities licensed by the State of Minnesota must be equipped with automatic fire sprinkler systems. The only buildings exempt from having fire sprinkler systems are those containing one or two separate single-family dwelling units.

Monitoring Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems

The monitoring of fire protection systems is just as important as the systems themselves. Timely detection is key to saving lives and preventing costly property damage and injuries. It’s crucial to work with fire alarm monitoring professionals to ensure your fire protection and life safety systems are up to code and working as they should.

Fire alarm monitoring is an effective way to ensure that no alarms go unheard. To find out more about sprinkler requirements or discuss monitoring services for fire systems, call us at 800-607-2767 or visit our contact us page.