January 25, 2019

Where are smoke alarms required to be installed? Section R314.1, General, of the International Residential Code/2015 (IRC/2015) [NJ Edition] and Section 907.2.11, Single- and Multiple-Station Smoke Alarms, of the International Building Code/2015 (IBC) [NJ Edition], along with the specific smoke alarm location regulations seem to be causing some confusion among officials. Because the New Jersey editions of the IRC/2015 and the IBC/2015 have specific requirements for the location of smoke alarms, these locations are what need to be complied with, as opposed to the extra locations in the 2013 edition of NFPA 72 at Section 29.5.1, Required Detection. Some officials are seeing the reference to NFPA 72 in the general code sections as a pointer to go directly to NFPA 72 for the additional smoke alarm locations. Some of the extra alarms being required include divided basements, on ceilings spaced not more than 30 feet apart or, coverage areas greater than 1000 ft2. If the IRC/2015 and IBC/2015 were silent on the required locations, this section would apply. However, because the locations are specifically mentioned in the codes, the reference standard locations do not apply.

NFPA 72 Sections 29.8, Installation, and, Specific Location Requirements, must be used for smoke alarm installation criteria so that alarms operate correctly and don’t cause nuisance alarms. Some examples of specific location requirements in these sections include, but are not limited to: within 12 inches of the ceiling, on the wall, different ceiling locations, or within 21 feet of the sleeping areas due to the smoke alarms being interconnected (not within 10 feet), as well as items not covered by the code, such as: within 36 inches of ceiling fan blades or HVAC supply registers.

In the past code cycle, the members of the International Codes Council (ICC) actually added to the locations in both codes to help clear up some confusion code officials were having. These new sections are R314.3 item 4 and R314.3.1, Installation Near Cooking Appliances, from the IRC/2015 and 907.2.11.3, Installation Near Cooking Appliances, and 907.2.11.4, Installation Near Bathrooms, of the IBC/2015.

Reprinted with permission CCC – Fall 2018

April 18, 2018

Section 1030.1, the “General” section for the emergency escape and rescue openings (EERO) requirements of the International Building Code/2015, has created some confusion. Here it states, “In addition to the means of egress required by this chapter, provisions shall be made for emergency escape and rescue openings in Group R-2 occupancies in accordance with Tables 1006.3.2(1) and 1006.3.2(2) and Group R-3 occupancies.”

All Group R-3 occupancies, and certain Group R-2 occupancies, are permitted to have one means of egress. The above code, which references requirements for EEROs, is applicable only to those R-2 and R-3 occupancies with one means of egress.

For example, a 3-story Group R-2 with no more than 4 dwelling units per story is permitted to have one means of egress as long as common travel distances are maintained to 125 feet (see Table 1006.3.2(1)). If the designer chooses to use this option, then the building is required to have EEROs installed in sleeping areas. Note that I do not reference Table 1006.3.2(2); this is because, as per Note C, this table is used for R-2 occupancies consisting of sleeping units, and I specifically state dwelling units in my example.

In all cases, if there are two means of egress provided, then EEROs are not required.

Source: Rob Austin, Code Assistance Unit, (609) 984-7609

Reprinted with permission CCC – Spring 2018

August 29, 2017

Since the Code Assistance Unit receives many questions regarding the four (4) general glazing in windows criteria listed in Section 2406.4.3 of the International Building Code/2015 (and the identical code requirements at Section R308.4.3 of the International Residential Code/2015); this article provides the simple answer.

The “Glazing in Windows” section states: Glazing in an individual fixed or operable panel that meets ALL of the following conditions shall be considered to be a hazardous location.

  1. The exposed area of an individual pane is larger than 9 square feet;
  2. The bottom edge of the glazing is less than 18 inches above the floor;
  3. The top edge of the glazing is more than 36 inches above the floor; AND
  4. One or more walking surfaces are within 36 inches, measured horizontally and in a straight line, of the glazing.

The code clearly states that all four criteria must be triggered for the window glazing to be considered a hazardous location requiring safety glazing (criteria #3 has an “and” to inform the user that all four criteria are required). If only one, two, or three of the conditions are triggered, this would not require safety glazing.

Source: Rob Austin Code Assistance Unit (609) 984-7609

Reprinted with permission CCC – Spring 2017

June 8, 2017

As the title implies, there are two possible occupancy classifications for one- and two-family dwellings: Groups R-3 and R-5. Why two? It all comes down to the details of the design.

In review, Sections 310.5 and 310.7 of the 2015 International Building Code (IBC) pertain to Group R-3 and R-5, respectively. For the purpose of this article, the focus is on the portion of Section 310.5 for Group R-3 that includes, “Detached one- and two-family dwellings greater than three stories in height, multiple single-family townhouses greater than three stories in height, attached two-family dwellings separated from adjacent units by firewalls, and other one- and two-family dwellings that are outside the scope of the one- and two-family dwelling subcode.”

This may look similar to Section 310.7 for Group R-5, but a closer analysis clarifies the differences between the classifications. Section 310.7 states, “Residential Group R-5 occupancies shall include all detached one- and two-family dwellings not more than three stories in height with a separate means of egress and multiple single-family townhouses not more than three stories in height with a separate means of egress designed and constructed in accordance with the 2015 International Residential Code” (IRC).

Therefore, detached one- and two-family dwellings or attached single-family townhouses that are three stories or fewer are Group R-5; one- and two-family dwellings or attached single-family townhouses that are greater than three stories are Group R-3.

Note that to maintain Group R-5 status, Section 310.7 of the IBC states that each unit is to have its own separate means of egress in accordance with the IRC. More specifically, when applying Section R311.1 of the IRC, the means of egress is not to be shared before making it outdoors. If the units share a small vestibule before going outside, the occupancy would be Group R-3, instead of Group R-5, regardless of stories.

Additionally, Group R-3 dwellings require an automatic suppression system in accordance with Section 903.2.8 of the IBC regardless of stories, unlike the options listed in Section R300 of the IRC.

Another element to consider is that if a one- or two-family dwelling is attached to a building of another occupancy, the dwelling is no longer detached, making it a Group R-3. For example, an apartment above a Business (Group B) would be a Group R-3 dwelling. Another example would be multiple sets of two-family dwellings attached to each other – with each set separated by firewalls – which would also be Group R-3.

Lastly, in any event, if there are 3 or more dwelling units in a building, the use is straight-up Group R-2 for the residential portion.

Source: Rob Austin, Code Assistance Unit, (609) 984-7609

Reprinted with permission CCC – Spring 2017

May 11, 2017

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) recently released new standards for smoke alarms and detectors that include many changes from previous editions, most notably the addition of three new fire tests. The next generation of smoke alarms and smoke detectors that comply with the new standards will be equipped with more advanced sensors and algorithms that will better detect smoke from smoldering foam commonly used in household furniture as well as work better to distinguish the difference between a smoldering fire and cooking smoke reducing nuisance alarms. For code authorities, system designers and installers, no immediate action is required for the changes. Manufacturers will have until May 2020 to redesign their products to meet the new requirements. UL expects that the traditional, single-sensor detectors will not meet the new test requirements and not be manufactured after May 2020. Read more from UL about the revised smoke alarm and smoke detector requirements at

Reprinted with permission CCLD Review – Spring 2017

March 20, 2017

The following is a brief synopsis of the top 10 changes found in the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC). Refer to the text of the 2017 NEC for exact language and any applicable conditions for the changes. The Minnesota Board of Electricity has started the rulemaking process for adoption of the 2017 NEC, with an anticipated effective date of July 1, 2017. For more information visit,

  1. 210.8 GFCI protection in other than dwelling units includes all single-phase receptacles rated ≤150 volts to ground and ≤50 amps as well as all three-phase receptacles rated ≤150 volts to ground and ≤100 amperes installed in below grade crawl spaces and unfinished basements.
  2. 210.8(E) GFCI protection is required for 120-volt lighting outlets installed in crawl spaces in an occupancy.
  3. 210.11(C)(4) An exception permits readily accessible outdoor receptacles to be supplied by the dedicated 120-volt, 20-amp receptacle branch circuit in garages.
  4. 210.12(B) and (C) AFCI requirements include bathroom outlets in dormitory units and all outlets and devices in guest rooms and guest suites of hotels and motels.
  5. 210.71 Meeting rooms less than 1,000 square feet must have a 15- or 20-amp 125-volt non-locking receptacles.
  6. 250.94(B) An exception states that an intersystem bonding termination device is not required where communications systems are not likely to be installed.
  7. Table 310.15(B)(3) (C) The ampacity adjustment for raceways and cables on rooftops only applies when raceways and cables are installed less than 7/8 inch above the roof.
  8. 336.10(9) Type TCER cable with power and control conductors is permitted for interior wiring in one and two-family dwellings when installed according to Part II of Article 334.
  9. 406.12 In addition to previously required locations, 125- and 250-volt non-locking-type tamper-resistant receptacles locations include preschools, elementary education, medical and dental offices, outpatient facilities, assembly occupancies and dormitories.
  10. Article 555 The rules apply at one- and two-family and multi-family dwellings. Overcurrent devices shall have ground-fault protection not exceeding 30 mA. Electric shock hazard warning signs must be posted.

Reprinted with permission CCLD Review – Winter 2016

February 24, 2017

There have been inquiries as to when wind provisions are no longer applicable, and when buildings must be designed in accordance with one of the reference standards in Section R301.2.1.1, Wind Limitations and Wind Design Required, of the 2015 International Residential Code (IRC/2015). Previously, Section R301.2.1.1 of the 2009 IRC stated that in regions where the basic wind speeds (from Figure R301.2.4) equaled or exceeded 100 miles per hour in hurricane prone regions, or 110 miles per hour elsewhere, the design of the building was outside of the scope of the IRC, and had to be designed in accordance with one of the reference standards. This has changed. Currently, according to Section R301.2.1, Wind Design Criteria, of the IRC/2015, buildings must be constructed using Table R301.2(1), Climatic and Geographic Design Criteria, as determined from Figure R301.2(4)A, Ultimate Wind Design Speeds. The referenced standards are required to be used in regions where the wind design is subject to Figure R301.2(4)B, Regions Where Wind Design is Required. According to Figure R301.2(4)B, New Jersey is not in a region where wind design is required, therefore, Section R301.2.1.1, Wind Limitations and Wind Design Required, is not applicable. Therefore, all buildings designed pursuant to the provisions of the IRC/2015 are not required to comply with the reference standards in Section R301.2.1.1, Wind Limitations and Wind Design Required, and may be designed in accordance with Section R301.2.1, Wind Design Criteria. Source: Marcel Iglesias Code Assistance Unit (609) 984- 7609

Reprinted with permission from NJ Construction Code Communicator – Fall 2016


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