How to Commission New Hangars

Building or renovating an aircraft hangar is a decision that is entered into with much prior planning and large capital investment. Besides the cost of the building itself, these hangars protect contents that are valued in the millions of dollars. A fire incident that would cause these buildings or their contents to be devalued would be catastrophic.
To prevent this from occurring the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)—dedicated to reducing the burden of fire and other hazards to life safety by providing consensus codes and standards, research and education—produced document NFPA 3, Recommended Practice for Commissioning and Integrated Testing of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems. This standard was created to give clear guidance to the integrated testing of fire systems, and provide a reliable means of ensuring that all active and passive fire and life safety systems work as they are intended.

Read the entire article featured in the June-July 2014 issue of, Airport Business magazine.  Click on the article title below to read it now on-line.

Why You're Stuck in Permitting (and how to get out!)

You have won the bid, the contracts are signed, the job is yours.  However, this is just the beginning. Looking ahead, you know the road to achieving your CO (certificate of occupancy) is long, you hope it will not be treacherous.  Achieving the CO is the main goal.  It is the light at the end of your tunnel, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Just getting there is not enough.  Getting there on-time and in budget makes all the difference between success and failure.

But, right now you are stuck in the building department equivalent of purgatory, permitting and review. Most building/fire plan review departments allow up to 10 days for the review to happen (this is quick by many standards).  If your submittal is correct in all points and meets all federal, state, and local code requirements, then your plan will most likely be approved (taking up only the 10 days ou have allotted for this activity).  But, lack of required information, or failure to comply with local ordinances and AHJ requirements will keep your plans locked up and you paying for and submitting endless revisions and resubmittals.

Here are the top 12 reasons why your plans will be disapproved (in no particular order):

  1. Incomplete, missing, or incorrect listing of code references and editions used.
  2. Lack of sprinkler/alarm calculations (hydraulic/battery).
  3. Insufficient remoteness of exits.
  4. Lack of compliance with egress requirements.
  5. Point of service (for fire systems) not clearly shown.
  6. Incorrect spacing of fire sprinkler heads.
  7. Incorrect spacing/installation of fire alarm devices.
  8. Incorrect or missing door rating in fire-rated assemblies.
  9. Incorrect locking devices on doors.
  10. No detail of fire-rated walls.
  11. Missing or incorrect stair details.
  12. Missing fire penetration protective details.

To ensure a smooth travel into and out of permitting here are a few things to consider, and some steps to take.  

  • Remember that every state adopts different codes (ICC, NFPA), and different editions (2014 may be the latest, but the state your working in has only adopted the 2009 edition).  
  • Each jurisdiction may have its own, more stringent, ordinances.
  • Consult with the AHJ (building and fire) to determine what codes are currently being utilized, what local changes are in effect, and what that particular code official wants to see. This 1 hour, to-the-point meeting, could save you days of resubmittals, as well as, help to establish rapport with the building official, and increase his knowledge of your intended product.  He will now be someone that is in your corner, a partner on your project, rather than someone who is trying to figure out what you are doing, and not getting the clear answers he needs from your plans.
  • Consult the applicable codes and standards, as they often include a list of required documents for plan submittal:
    • NFPA 13:23 - Fire Sprinkler Plans and Calculations
    • NFPA 72:7 - Fire Alarm Minimum Required Documentation
  • Consider the use of a third-party review.  These plan review/code experts will do all the leg work to ensure that your plans are to code and everything is ready for submittal.  Since they are a neutral party, they will be willing to offer advice and alternative code provisions for the structure that you envision.

I hope these quick tips will keep your next project moving through the process so you can come in on time and under budget!

Download a FREE plan review checklist by clicking on this link (I promise no junk e-mail or auto-responders, just value adding content!)

Aircraft Facility Fire Codes Index

Aviation facilities can fall into a variety of categories including, terminal buildings, hangars, storage, and/or manufacturing.  Navigating the varied fire code requirements can be a monumental task.  Included here is an exhaustive index of aircraft facility related fire codes and standards.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

  • NFPA 407, Standard for Aircraft Fuel Servicing
  • NFPA 409, Standard on Aircraft Hangars
  • NFPA 410, Standard on Aircraft Maintenance
  • NFPA 415, Standard on Airport Terminal Buildings, Fueling Ramp Drainage, and Loading Walkways
  • NFPA 418, Standard for Heliports
  • NFPA 423, Standard for Construction and Protection of Aircraft Engine Test Facilities
  • NFPA 101, Life Safety Code
    • NFPA 101:7, Means of Egress
    • NFPA 101:11.3.4, Air Traffic Control Towers
    • NFPA 101:40.6, Special Provisions for Aircraft Servicing Hangars
    • NFPA 101:42.6, Special Provisions for Aircraft Storage Hangars
The following codes and standards relate directly to emergency response for aircraft and aviation facilities:
  • NFPA 402, Guide for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Operations
  • NFPA 403, Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Services at Airports
  • NFPA 405, Standard for the Recurring Proficiency of Airport Firefighters
  • NFPA 408, Standard for Aircraft Hand Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • NFPA 412, Standard for Evaluating Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Foam Equipment
  • NFPA 414, Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Vehicles
  • NFPA 422, Guide for Aircraft Accident/Incident Response Assessment
  • NFPA 424, Guide for Airport/Community Response Planning
  • International Building Code (IBC), 
  • International Fire Code (IFC)
Bookmark this post for use as a quick reference guide to all aviation related codes and standards.  If you ever have any questions or concerns related to fire and life safety code concerns of these facilities, feel free to contact me anytime

Early aircraft firefighting vehicle, on display at McCarran International Airport