Airing Out The Code: A Look At FARS Code Requirements and Intent

FARS is quickly becoming the new word in the fire service. But what is it and how does it work?

A firefighter air replenishment system (FARS) is a standpipe for air permanently installed within a structure. The system allows firefighters to safely and reliably refill their air cylinders at designated stations within a structure, under full respiration. FARS are now being installed in all types of structures. The applications for FARS include high-rise and mid-rise buildings, above- and below-ground parking structures, tunnel systems, large open warehouse or manufacturing occupancies, and even maritime craft such as cruise and cargo ships.

In buildings not equipped with FARS, emergency crews must manually transport replacement air cylinders with them during emergency operations. This can prove time-consuming and physically stressful on the crewmembers. With FARS, breathing air is within close proximity of the incident inside the structure and always ready for use, reducing the physical demands on firefighting crews and eliminating complex logistical set-up requiring additional resources and staffing.

Many have asked about the mechanics of FARS and the cost of system installation.

FARS design and installation requirements can be found in the 2015 International Fire Code, Appendix L. In Appendix L, you will see that FARS must meet ASME, CGA, and NFPA standards. These standards are common within the piping and fire service industry and do not require any additional requirements to accommodate FARS.

FARS incorporate NFPA compliant SCBA rupture containment fill stations or emergency RIC/UAC connection panels. These are placed at pre-designated locations throughout the structure and are supplied by a robust, yet small ½” stainless steel piping distribution system.

FARS air refill stations are typically located adjacent to or within close proximity of the interior water standpipe connections. The system design must meet refill times and performance criteria as outlined in Appendix L. The emergency mobile air connection panel (EMAC), a component of FARS, is located on the exterior of the structure, allowing a continuous uninterrupted supply of air from the fire department’s mobile air unit. Similar to a fire sprinkler fire department connection, the EMAC is essentially an FDC for the firefighter air replenishment system. FARS incorporates all of the essential control panels that allow operators to monitor system air pressure, air quality and points of use.

FARS are designed to be safe, reliable and on-demand ready for use during an emergency incident. FARS addresses air quality by incorporating the EA2 Air Monitoring System. The air monitoring system provides 24/7 monitoring of the FARS’ air quality and pressure, providing real time data via the fire alarm system at the emergency mobile air connection panel and the fire command center. In addition, inspection, testing, and maintenance requirements are outlined in Appendix L to ensure that the FARS is always ready for use.
On average, the total cost of a FARS less than one-eighth of one percent of a the total project cost.

More than 400 buildings across the U.S. are equipped with FARS, and many more are coming online as AHJ’s across the country become aware of their importance to life safety and their relevance to risk management in their jurisdiction.

If you haven’t heard about FARS yet, it’s likely you will be seeing and hearing a lot more about these systems in the near future. For more information about FARS, and how you can implement FARS into your local fire code, visit the Code Development area of this website.