Impact of Sprinklers Finally Recognized in Revised Fire Code
In July of this year, several deregulations were made to fire codes in the Building Standard Law (BSL). Among them is the party wall stipulation between the dwelling units of apartments and dormitories. The BSL had required those party walls be quasi-fire resistive structures. It had also required those walls reach all the way to the attic space or above ceiling space. Due to the extreme difficulties in building site practices to install partition walls with gypsum boards in the attic spaces, the housing industry associations in Japan have been requesting the elimination of this requirement for years. COFI Japan has also been supportive to this request. This year, MLIT* has rationalized the code by allowing the walls to reach only the ceiling height when sprinklers are provided per fire compartment of 200 m2 or less. This has become one of the rare cases where the installation of sprinklers are sufficient to relax the fire regulations in the BSL. It is anticipated that this streamlining of the fire code would help popularizing medium size wooden buildings such as condominiums, apartments or row houses.
* Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism