NFPA Offers While Paper on Fire Safety of Tiny Houses

The National Fire Protection Association has issued a white paper, "Applying Building Codes to Tiny Homes," about how building and life safety codes apply to this hot new category of housing, tiny houses. "These permanent dwellings, known for their small size and economical living costs, are cropping up across the U.S., as are concerns regarding the applicability of building and life safety codes for these unique dwellings," according to the association.

The paper discusses requirements for room size, means of escape, stairs, smoke alarms, automatic fire sprinklers, sanitation, and and also how the National Electrical Code® can safeguard homes of all sizes against electrical hazards. "If a tiny home's design does not fully adhere to code requirements, building codes allow for code exceptions, allowances, and equivalencies that serve as acceptable alternatives. For instance, certain building codes permit the use of alternate materials or construction methods when the original provisions in the code cannot be met," NFPA noted.

"While building codes do not specifically address the concept of tiny homes, many code provisions are applicable to these dwellings and do not conflict with tiny home design," said Ray Bizal, NFPA senior regional director and staff liaison for its Building Code Development Committee, which developed the white paper. "Our intent with the white paper is to highlight how codes and standards can safely guide the creation of today's tiny homes while pointing to possible code compliance issues that could impact a tiny home's design."

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