Fire Protection System Requirements for Buildings

The City of Urbandale will be updating to the 2018 International Fire Code (IFC) with Amendments effective October 2, 2020.   As many of you are aware, Urbandale has been on the 2012 I-Codes with Amendments for several years.  The following is a list of updates as it pertains to fire protection contractors.  For fire protection systems, there are not many amendment changes to what we have been doing, other than for fire sprinkler design for R-1 & R-2 occupancies and spec warehouses.  Those changes will be detailed in the following pages.

Referenced Standards

The 2018 IFC references the following NFPA standards.  This is not an all-inclusive list, but the ones more commonly utilized by fire protection contractors:

NFPA 10                      2018 Edition

NFPA 13                      2016 Edition

NFPA 13R                   2016 Edition

NFPA 13D                   2016 Edition

NFPA 20                      2016 Edition

NFPA 25                       2017 Edition

NFPA 30                      2018 Edition

NFPA 30A                   2018 Edition

NFPA 70                      2017 Edition

NFPA 72                      2016 Edition

NFPA 96                      2017 Edition

NFPA 101                    2018 Edition

NFPA 2001                  2015 Edition


City of Urbandale Amendments & Items

  1. Urbandale will continue to utilize the same fire alarm and sprinkler thresholds that we have had for several years, more commonly known as the “West Metro” thresholds.  Our updated Fire Code Amendments can be viewed and downloaded at: 
  2. Urbandale will continue to require the “West Metro” inspection tags for fire protection contractors.  We encourage you to forward copies of any deficiencies found during your service call visits at businesses so we can follow up accordingly with the tenant/building owner to assure compliance is achieved.
  3. As of the date of this notice, there are no permit review fees for fire protection systems.
  4. Design plans will still require a minimum NICET III design stamp.
  5. Going forward, Urbandale will accept and would preferelectronic submittals for fire protection plans with the following stipulations:
    1. Design plans should be submitted to
    2. Email acceptance size is limited to 20MB.   (submittals can be sent over more than one email if larger than 20MB).  If your company has a FTP site, provide a link via email and then we can download files.
    3. If needed, we may request a paper submittal.
    4. Review turnaround time should typically be 7-14 days.

If you are working on a project that currently has a building permit dated prior to October 2, 2020 those may continue based on the 2012 IFC and Amendments.  If we have reviewed fire protection plans prior to October 2, 2020 those may continue based on the 2012 IFC and Amendments.  Please pass this information on to your design, sales, and service personnel.  Feel free to contact me with any questions. 


Jon Rech, Fire Marshal

Office = 515-331-6733 


Add 903.2.8 Group R to read as follows:

(a)  Group R. 

1.      R-1. Hotels, motels, boarding houses (transient), (occupy less than 30 days) or less; 0 sq. ft. (NFPA 13, to include attic space). 

(b)    R-2.

  1. Apartment houses, condominiums, boarding houses (non-transient); 0 sq. ft. (NFPA 13, to include attic space).
  2. Existing buildings containing R-2 occupancies shall be made to comply with the International Building Code Section 903.2.8 within two (2) years of any of the following situations:
    1. Fire damage to three or more dwelling units, not including smoke or water damage or other damage from fire-fighting operations.
    2. Issuance of a building permit for a Level III alteration as identified in Chapter 6 of the International Existing Building Code.


Add SECTION 3202

3202.1 Definitions.

The following terms are defined in Chapter 2 of the IFC:

SPECULATIVE BUILDING. A Group S, F or M occupancy having an interior clear height greater than 12 feet (3657 mm) where high-piled storage may accrue and the client leasing or the occupant owner does not know the commodity that will be stored or the method of storage.

3206.2.2 Speculative building. Group S, F and M speculative buildings that have an interior clear height greater than 12 feet where high piled storage may accrue shall comply with this chapter. 

3206.4.2 Sprinkler design.

3206.4.2.1 General: The design of automatic sprinkler systems for the protection of Group M and S

occupancies containing high-piled storage or high-challenge commodities over an area equal to or

greater than 2,500 ft.² (232 m2) and designed for the protection of hazardous materials stored more than one pallet high in Group M, S or H occupancies, shall be in accordance with this section. This section does not apply to miscellaneous storage within the scope of NFPA 13.

3206.4.2.2 Requirements for all plan submittals: See Section 903.1.9. and 3201.3 for plan submittal requirements. 

3206.4.2.3 Minimum design requirements for speculative warehouses: The design of the automatic sprinkler system for speculative warehouses shall be based on storage of a cartoned Class A non-expanded plastic to the available storage height. The storage height shall be determined by subtracting 48 inches (from the highest point of the roof above each system for ESFR and 30 inches for area density applications.

3206.4.2.4 Minimum requirements for client leased or occupant-owned warehouses: The design of an automatic sprinkler system for client leased or occupant owned buildings containing high piled storage shall be based on the requirements of NFPA 13. The responsible Fire Protection Contractor shall perform a survey of the building to determine commodity classification, storage configuration, building height and other information related to the development of an appropriate sprinkler system design. The Contractor shall also make reasonable efforts to meet with the building owner or operator to understand seasonal or customer related fluctuations to the stored commodities, storage height, and configuration.

The sprinkler design shall be based on the most demanding requirements determined through the on- site survey and discussions with the building owner or operator. Technical Report shall clearly define the basis for determining the commodity and sprinkler design selection, along with how the commodities will be isolated or separated, and the referenced design document(s), including NFPA 13 or the current applicable Factory Mutual Data Sheets. If a specific fire test is used as the basis of design, a copy of the fire test report shall be provided at the time of plan review. 

3206.4.2.5 Required information at plan submittal: All plans, hydraulic calculations and technical reports shall be submitted with the plan submittal form. The individual submitting the design package shall ensure that all of the required information requested on the plan submittal form is included. 

3206.4.2.6 Minimum plan information requirements: In addition to the requirements of NFPA 13, the following information shall be included in the plans or technical report. 

3206. Class I-IV and Group A plastic commodities:

A) An owner’s certificate in accordance with NFPA 13. The design criteria, e.g., NFPA 13, Factory

Mutual Data Sheet, or a specific fire test report.

B) A Water Supply Flow & Pressure Test Report performed within 90 days of the plan submittal

C) The type of design, e.g., Control Mode Density/Design Area Method; Specific Application Control

Mode Method; Suppression Mode Method, including appropriate code references.

D) A description of the stored commodities and how the commodity classification was determined.

E) A layout of the proposed storage arrangement. If the storage is in racks, a plan and elevation detail illustrating rack heights, flue dimensions and arrangement. This detail is not required for speculation warehouses.

F) The aisle dimensions between each storage array.

G) If a high challenge commodity is separated using fire-resistive construction, the boundary of the fire-resistive construction shall be illustrated.

H) A data sheet for the backflow preventer. If a data sheet is not available, the design professional shall include a statement addressing the minimum required pressure loss.

I) A data sheet for each installed automatic sprinkler.

J) A data sheet for each pipe hanger used to hang or support the sprinkler piping.

K) If a fire pump will be installed or used, the manufacturer’s factory test curve shall be included in the submittal.

L) A cross-section view illustrating obstructions to the ceiling sprinklers, e.g., lights, structural members, cable trays, electrical bus ducts and HVAC ductwork. 

3206. Hazardous materials: In addition to the requirements of this section, the following information shall be included in a hazardous materials technical report.

A) A hazardous materials inventory statement

B) For flammable & combustible liquids, an analysis of the miscibility of Class I liquids, the size and type of the packaging, the packaging materials of construction, and if the containers have a pressure relieving mechanism.

C) For Level 2 or 3 aerosols, a statement indicating that the aerosols are cartoned or uncartoned. 

3206.4.2.7 Identification of sprinkler system capabilities and limitations: A label shall be permanently installed at or adjacent to each sprinkler riser. When a building contains more than four risers, the sign shall be located at an approved location inside the building. The minimum sign dimension is 6-inches (152 mm) high by 4-inches (101 mm) wide. The sign shall specify the capabilities and limitations of the automatic sprinkler system. The sign shall include the following information: 

a) The design base or basis, including the edition used

b) A statement indicating if the sprinkler design is control mode density area method, control mode specific application, suppression mode, or any combination thereof.

c) When used, all of the storage conditions stipulated NFPA 13 for Special Designs.

d) The maximum storage height

e) The minimum required aisle width

f) If storage is in racks, the maximum rack width and minimum transverse and longitudinal flue widths.

g) Storage Capabilities: Commodities designed to be protected by the automatic sprinkler system 

h) Limits on storage heights of idle wood and plastic storage

i) Limits on storage heights of miscellaneous Group A plastic, tire and rolled paper storage

 j) Locations where in-rack sprinklers are required

k) Locations where horizontal and/or vertical barriers are required

l) Information explaining the manufacturer, sprinkler identification number, k-factor, and operating temperature of the overhead sprinklers protecting the high-piled storage.

m) Fire Protection Contractor contact information