The 2021 IBC includes several changes that impact Group I-2 occupancies. These changes build upon updates from 2018 edition and continue with the sub-grouping of occupancies into either Condition 1 or 2 that started in the 2015 edition. As a quick reminder, IBC 308.3 defines these as:
Group I-2, Condition 1: "facilities that provide nursing and medical care but do not provide emergency care, surgery, obstetrics or in-patient stabilization units for psychiatric or detoxification, including but not limited to nursing homes and foster care facilities."
Group I-2, Condition 2: "facilities that provide nursing and medical care and could provide emergency care, surgery, obstetrics or in-patient stabilization units for psychiatric or detoxification, including but not limited to hospitals."
The 2021 IBC provides two changes related to corridors doors in Group I-2 occupancies.
First, Section 407.3.1.1 has been added for corridor doors that are not required to have a fire protection rating. Generally, Group I-2 corridor walls are not required to have a fire-resistance rating unless they are part of an enclosure for an exit or vertical opening, or if they are separating an incidental use room that requires a rating per IBC 509.4.
This new section now addresses the following:
Second, Section 407.6.1 has been added for automatic-closing doors on hold-opens. Previously, these doors were only required to close upon actuation of a smoke detector or loss of power to the hold-open or smoke detector. Now, these doors must also close upon activation of the fire alarm system or sprinkler system.
Exit Access Through Care Suites
Section 407.4.4.3 has been revised and no longer considers the number of doors or care suites in the path of exit access. Previously, this code section limited exit access to not require passage through more than three doors before reaching the corridor. Now, the code does not provide a maximum number of doors and simply limits care suites to no more than 100' of travel to reach a corridor. When a care suite requires two exit access doors, the second exit access door must lead directly to a corridor, exit or adjacent care suite.
Nursing Home Cooking Facilities
The 2021 IBC makes an organizational change to requirements for nursing home cooking facilities, moving the requirements for the cooking appliances into a separate section. This builds upon a change in the 2018 edition, which provided specific provisions to allow cooking facilities to be open to the corridor in Group I-2, Condition 1 occupancies.
Under the 2021 IBC, these requirements are now organized as follows:
Nursing Home Cooking Facilities (407.2.6): In Group I-2, Condition 1 occupancies, spaces containing a cooking facility with a domestic cooking appliance are permitted to be open to the corridor when all of the following criteria are met:
Domestic Cooking Appliances (407.2.7): In Group I-2 occupancies, cooking appliances in domestic cooking facilities must comply with the following:
The 2021 IBC includes several changes related to Group I-2 occupancies. These changes build upon provisions enacted during past cycles and include changes to corridor doors, care suite arrangement and nursing home cooking facility requirements.
For architects and engineers designing parking garages, two questions commonly arise when determining whether the garage should be an open or enclosed garage. These questions are:
When Can a Parking Garage Be Considered Open?
Parking garages must meet all of the requirements of 406.5 to be considered open. In most cases, the limiting factor for an open vs. enclosed garage is meeting the opening requirements for natural ventilation.
To achieve natural ventilation, an open parking garage must (IBC 406.5):
One additional point is that these opening calculations are for the free area of the openings. If a screen or other form of cover is applied to the opening, the free area ratio of the screen must be multiplied by the area of the opening to determine the free area.
What are the differences in code requirements for an open garage vs. an enclosed garage?
Key differences in the code requirements are:
Where open garages are naturally ventilated, closed parking garages require mechanical ventilation complying with the International Mechanical Code (IMC). Mechanical ventilation alone can add hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars to a project.
Open parking garages are not required to be sprinkler protected. Enclosed parking garages require sprinkler protection in accordance with NFPA 13. If the garage is not maintained above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a dry-pipe sprinkler system is required by NFPA 13. Both open and enclosed garages typically require standpipe systems.
Enclosure of Vertical Openings
Stairs serving an enclosed parking garage are required to be enclosed with rated construction similar to any other vertical opening in a building. In an open parking garage, enclosure of vertical openings, including stairs, is not required. In both cases, the vehicle ramps connecting levels are not required to be enclosed.
Height and Area
For an open parking garage used exclusively for parking (with an exception for a small office and waiting area at grade), the number of tiers and area is permitted to comply with IBC 406.5.4, which is an increase over the allowable height and area limits in IBC Chapter 5. The numbers in IBC Table 406.5.4 can be further increased when the garage has open sides on at least ¾ of the building perimeter. Enclosed garages cannot take this approach and must comply with the limits set forth in Chapter 5.
Fire Resistance Ratings of Exterior Walls
Both open and enclosed parking garages are required to comply with the exterior wall rating requirements of IBC 602. However, per Footnote C to IBC Table 602, open parking garages with a fire separation distance of 10 feet or greater are not required to have a fire-resistance rating. Enclosed parking garages do not have this exception and would require a 1-hour exterior wall unless the fire separation distance is 30 feet or greater.
An open parking garage must meet the minimum requirements for both area of openings and perimeter of openings to allow for natural ventilation. If a parking garage does not meet these requirements, it is considered an enclosed garage and must be provided with mechanical ventilation, sprinkler protection, and it must also meet the other requirements listed above.