NFPA 101, Life Safety Code - Current Edition
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  • Description

    Access the Most Widely Referenced Source for Occupant Safety in Buildings.

    NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, offers comprehensive occupant safety strategies based on construction, protection, and occupancy features in all stages of a building life cycle. The code applies to nearly all types of occupancies and structures, including residential, business, mercantile, health care, daycare, and assembly occupancies, and covers all life safety requirements from A to Z—from fire protection features and hazardous materials emergencies to injuries from falls and emergency communications.

    The important 2024 changes include:

    • Updated emergency action plan requirements to address security features
    • Revisions to the allowance for exit discharge through interior building areas
    • Revisions to discharge requirements for all other exits in sprinklered buildings using horizontal exits
    • Updated alcohol-based hand-rub dispenser and storage requirements
    • New requirements for inflatable amusement devices and modular rooms and sleep pods
    • New exemption for smokeproof enclosures in sprinklered high-rise buildings
    • Additional carbon monoxide detection requirements
    • New requirements and guidance on alternate care sites
    • Revisions to door locking provisions and suite supervision requirements for health care occupancies
    • New requirements for valet trash collection services in apartment buildings
    • New automatic sprinkler system requirements for all new parking structures
  • Prior Editions

    2021 Edition

    NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, is the most widely referenced source for occupant safety strategies based on construction, protection, and occupancy features in all stages of a building life cycle. Relevant to life safety in both new and existing structures, NFPA 101 covers everything from means of egress and features of fire protection to hazardous materials emergencies, injuries from falls, and emergency communications.

    The code applies to nearly all types of occupancies and structures, including residential, business, mercantile, health care, daycare, and assembly occupancies.

    The 2021 edition is your resource for getting up to date and compliant with critical life safety requirements.

    NFPA 101 offers a flexible approach that adapts to new technologies, materials, and construction practices, innovations in design, and nontraditional uses of buildings. The 2021 edition provides the most current safety criteria with key revisions, including:

    • Provisions making sprinklers mandatory in new daycare occupancies with more than 12 clients
    • Enhanced sprinkler requirements for existing high-rise buildings containing ambulatory health care, business, industrial, or apartment building occupancies
    • Amended construction limits for existing nursing homes
    • Clarification that non-required fire doors are not subject to the requirements of NFPA 80, including annual inspection
    • New provisions for temporary barriers to separate areas under construction in health care and ambulatory health care occupancies
    • Updated criteria for special amusement buildings
    • Requirements making sprinklers mandatory for new bars and restaurants with an occupant load of 50 or more
    • Minimum requirement added for fire department two-way communication signal strength in all new buildings
    • New carbon monoxide detection requirement for existing hotels and dormitories
    • Introduction of a requirement for low-frequency fire alarm notification signals in new hotel, dormitory, and apartment building sleeping rooms per NFPA 72®
    • Expanded provisions covering burglar bars/grates on means of escape windows in residential occupancies

    2018 Edition

    As the built environment and risks evolve, so do the challenges to protect people from fire and related hazards. NFPA®'s Life Safety Code is the most widely used source for strategies for occupant safety throughout the life of a building. Vital for architects, engineers, building owners and building managers, hospital administrators, and AHJs, NFPA 101 covers it all: Egress, sprinklers, alarms, emergency lighting, smoke barriers, special hazard protection, and much more.

    For the 2018 edition, the scope of NFPA 101 is expanded to include hazardous materials emergencies, injuries from falls, and emergency communications.

    The Code provides a flexible approach that adapts to nontraditional use of buildings; innovative designs; and new technologies, materials, and construction practices. It addresses life safety in both new and existing structures. Significant changes for the 2018 edition include:

    • New requirements for hazardous materials protection of other than fire-related hazards (Chapter 8)
    • A new reference to NFPA 4 for integrated fire protection and life safety system testing, and new provisions for risk analyses for mass notification systems (Chapter 9)
    • Animal housing facilities added as special structures (Chapter 11)
    • Added requirements for carbon-monoxide detection in new assembly occupancies and new residential board and care occupancies (Chapters 12 and 32)
    • Added criteria for door locking to prevent unwanted entry in educational, day care, and business occupancies (Chapters 14-17, 38, and 39)
    • A mandatory sprinkler requirement for all but very small new educational occupancies (Chapter 14)
    • New provisions that permit health care and ambulatory health care smoke compartments up to 40,000 ft2 (3720 m2) in area (Chapters 18 and 19)
    • Added requirements for bathtub and shower grab bars, which are then referenced by numerous occupancy chapters (Chapter 24)
    • Added requirements for attic protection requirements that impact certain new hotels and dormitories and apartment buildings (Chapters 28 and 30)
    • A new reference to NFPA 99 for medical gases in business occupancies (Chapters 38 and 39)
    • A new Annex C that offers guidance on several NFPA® hazardous materials standards to assist users with the new hazardous materials protection requirements

    Be sure your knowledge is up-to-date and your facilities meet code. Base your decisions on the 2018 edition of NFPA 101 and tackle safety challenges effectively. (Print, 568 pp., 2018)

    2015 Edition

    The 2015 Life Safety Code provides a flexible approach that adapts to nontraditional use of buildings; innovative designs; and new technologies, materials, and construction practices. It is the only document that addresses life safety in both new and existing structures.

    • Atrium walls are now permitted to serve as part of the separation for creating separated occupancies, offering greater flexibility in building design.
    • New requirements enhance public safety, such as calculating occupant load for business uses that better represents how the space is used.
    • Requirements permitting the use of alcohol-based hand-rub (ABHR) dispensers are included in more occupancy chapters, reflecting their widespread use.
    • New mandates for carbon monoxide detection and alarm are included for new educational and new day care facilities for greater safety to life where CO might be generated.
    • Expanded provisions concerning the responsibilities, training, and duties of crowd managers help ensure emergency readiness in places such as sports arenas, nightclubs, and concert halls.
    • Revised rules permit door locking in new and existing residential board and care facilities, based on clinical needs to secure residents for their own safety.

    Other changes help provide for safer, more homelike health care facilities:

    • Health care occupancy provisions allow nursing home minimum corridor width to be reduced within small smoke compartments.
    • Provisions added to permit doors to be disguised with murals for settings like dementia units.
    • New self-contained ambulatory health care chapters improve code usability with one-stop access.

    Make sure your knowledge is up-to-date and your facilities meet code. Base your decisions on the 2015 NFPA 101 and tackle safety challenges effectively. (Softbound, 520 pp., 2015)

    2012 - 2000 Editions

    NFPA 101®: Life Safety Code® is the most widely used source for strategies for occupant safety throughout the life cycle of a building.

    Make decisions that impact lives with strategies for occupant safety in NFPA 101: Life Safety Code. Unique in the field, it is the only Code that covers life safety in both new and existing structures. Requirements address building construction, protection, and occupancy features that minimize the effects of fire and related hazards. Each edition builds on important new information about life safety in the built environment, with consensus-based changes that reflect innovative designs, technologies, materials, and construction practices. When tragedies do occur, investigations invariably reveal serious Life Safety Code violations.

    The 2012 NFPA 101: Life Safety Code evolves to address new building safety challenges and important lessons learned about occupant safety. For this edition of the Code, all new high-rise buildings must meet the requirements of Chapter 11's high-rise building package. Other major changes involve rules for CO alarms and detection systems in certain residential living units, exit stair enclosure path markings, and egress provisions for safe use of elevators for occupant evacuation. Provisions for health care occupancies include compliance options that give patients and residents a more comfortable, home-like environment.

    The 2009 NFPA 101: Life Safety Code builds on the groundbreaking sprinkler mandates in the previous edition, with added requirements for automatic sprinklers in all existing high-rise health care occupancies and all new apartment buildings without exception. New evacuation strategies and technologies facilitate faster movement of more people in an emergency, including new egress capacity criteria for stairs that are more than 44 inches in width. The 2009 edition of NFPA 101 enhances safety with health care occupancy door locking for patient protective needs, and 2-way communication systems in areas of refuge -- even where the building is sprinklered -- to let people notify responders of their location.

    The 2006 NFPA 101: Life Safety Code expands requirements for automatic fire sprinkler protection with added sprinkler mandates for all new one- and two-family dwellings, new and existing nursing homes, existing nightclub assembly occupancies where occupant load exceeds 100 people, and new nightclub assembly occupancies regardless of occupant load. This important Code edition also presents a chapter on existing building rehabilitation that provides greater flexibility to encourage adaptive reuse without sacrificing life safety. Previously, modifications to existing buildings had to comply with provisions for new construction. Now, Chapter 43 introduces specific requirements for repairs, renovations, reconstruction, additions, change of use or occupancy classification, and work on historic buildings.

    The 2003 NFPA 101: Life Safety Code is a complete safety system that includes rules for the full range of occupancies; egress requirements, stair markings, and emergency lighting; provisions concerning features of fire protection; and a sophisticated performance-based option for code compliance. Code users will find revised illumination levels for new stairs, a section addressing written emergency plans, revised requirements for testing of mattresses and upholstered furniture, and a section with "analytical methods" for determining the fire resistance of building assemblies. Other changes address subdivision of building space in apartment buildings, new hotels, and dormitories; and safe egress requirements in industrial occupancies.

    The 2000 NFPA 101: Life Safety Code references nearly 50 other important codes and standards -- including the NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC), NFPA 13, and NFPA 72. Only NFPA 101 links all these critical codes and standards together to cover all the bases for life safety in any occupancy. Renumbered chapters facilitate referencing. Expanded definitions and an informative primer for new users help you guide workers and educate clients. This edition introduces first-time Chapter 5: Performance-Based Option, with critical guidance for engineers and AHJs working with performance-based design.


    Interested in other editions of NFPA 101? Use the drop down menu above to select the edition year you need.

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  • Table of Contents (2021 Edition)

    NFPA 101® Life Safety Code®, 2021 Edition

    Chapter 1 Administration
    1.1 Scope.
    1.2 Purpose.
    1.3 Application.
    1.4 Equivalency.
    1.5 Units and Formulas.
    1.6 Enforcement.
    Chapter 2 Referenced Publications
    2.1 General.
    2.2 NFPA Publications.
    2.3 Other Publications.
    2.4 References for Extracts in Mandatory Sections.
    Chapter 3 Definitions
    3.1 General.
    3.2 NFPA Official Definitions.
    3.3 General Definitions.
    Chapter 4 General
    4.1 Goals.
    4.2 Objectives.
    4.3 Assumptions.
    4.4 Life Safety Compliance Options.
    4.5 Fundamental Requirements.
    4.6 General Requirements.
    4.7 Fire Drills.
    4.8 Emergency Action Plan.
    Chapter 5 Performance-Based Option
    5.1 General Requirements.
    5.2 Performance Criteria.
    5.3 Retained Prescriptive Requirements.
    5.4 Design Specifications and Other Conditions.
    5.5 Design Fire Scenarios.
    5.6 Evaluation of Proposed Designs.
    5.7 Safety Factors.
    5.8 Documentation Requirements.
    Chapter 6 Classification of Occupancy and Hazard of Contents
    6.1 Classification of Occupancy.
    6.2 Hazard of Contents.
    Chapter 7 Means of Egress
    7.1 General.
    7.2 Means of Egress Components.
    7.3 Capacity of Means of Egress.
    7.4 Number of Means of Egress.
    7.5 Arrangement of Means of Egress.
    7.6 Measurement of Travel Distance to Exits.
    7.7 Discharge from Exits.
    7.8 Illumination of Means of Egress.
    7.9 Emergency Lighting.
    7.10 Marking of Means of Egress.
    7.11 Special Provisions for Occupancies with High-Hazard Contents.
    7.12 Special Provisions for Hazardous Materials.
    7.13 Mechanical Equipment Rooms, Boiler Rooms, and Furnace Rooms.
    7.14 Normally Unoccupied Building Service Equipment Support Areas.
    7.15 Occupant Evacuation Elevators.
    7.16 Emergency Stair Travel Devices.
    Chapter 8 Features of Fire Protection
    8.1 General.
    8.2 Construction and Compartmentation.
    8.3 Fire Barriers.
    8.4 Smoke Partitions.
    8.5 Smoke Barriers.
    8.6 Vertical Openings.
    8.7 Special Hazard Protection.
    8.8 Inspection and Testing of Door Assemblies.
    Chapter 9 Building Service, Fire Protection, and Life Safety Equipment
    9.1 Utilities.
    9.2 Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning.
    9.3 Smoke Control.
    9.4 Elevators, Escalators, and Conveyors.
    9.5 Waste Chutes, Incinerators, and Laundry Chutes.
    9.6 Fire Detection, Alarm, and Communications Systems.
    9.7 Automatic Sprinklers.
    9.8 Other Automatic Extinguishing Equipment.
    9.9 Portable Fire Extinguishers.
    9.10 Standpipe Systems.
    9.11 Fire Protection System Operating Features.
    9.12 Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment.
    9.13 Special Inspections and Tests.
    9.14 Risk Analysis for Mass Notification Systems.
    9.15 Two-Way Radio Communication Enhancement Systems.
    Chapter 10 Interior Finish, Contents, and Furnishings
    10.1 General.
    10.2 Interior Finish.
    10.3 Contents and Furnishings.
    10.4 Outdoor Furniture.
    10.5 Combustible Artificial Decorative Vegetation on Roofs and Near Buildings.
    Chapter 11 Special Structures and High-Rise Buildings
    11.1 General Requirements.
    11.2 Open Structures.
    11.3 Towers.
    11.4 Water-Surrounded Structures.
    11.5 Piers.
    11.6 Vehicles and Vessels.
    11.7 Underground Structures and Limited-Access Structures.
    11.8 High-Rise Buildings.
    11.9 Permanent Membrane Structures.
    11.10 Temporary Membrane Structures.
    11.11 Tents.
    11.12 Animal Housing Facilities.
    Chapter 12 New Assembly Occupancies
    12.1 General Requirements.
    12.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    12.3 Protection.
    12.4 Special Provisions.
    12.5 Building Services.
    12.6 Reserved.
    12.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 13 Existing Assembly Occupancies
    13.1 General Requirements.
    13.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    13.3 Protection.
    13.4 Special Provisions.
    13.5 Building Services.
    13.6 Reserved.
    13.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 14 New Educational Occupancies
    14.1 General Requirements.
    14.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    14.3 Protection.
    14.4 Special Provisions.
    14.5 Building Services.
    14.6 Reserved.
    14.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 15 Existing Educational Occupancies
    15.1 General Requirements.
    15.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    15.3 Protection.
    15.4 Special Provisions.
    15.5 Building Services.
    15.6 Reserved.
    15.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 16 New Day-Care Occupancies
    16.1 General Requirements.
    16.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    16.3 Protection.
    16.4 Special Provisions.
    16.5 Building Services.
    16.6 Day-Care Homes.
    16.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 17 Existing Day-Care Occupancies
    17.1 General Requirements.
    17.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    17.3 Protection.
    17.4 Special Provisions.
    17.5 Building Services.
    17.6 Day-Care Homes.
    17.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 18 New Health Care Occupancies
    18.1 General Requirements.
    18.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    18.3 Protection.
    18.4 Special Provisions.
    18.5 Building Services.
    18.6 Reserved.
    18.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 19 Existing Health Care Occupancies
    19.1 General Requirements.
    19.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    19.3 Protection.
    19.4 Special Provisions.
    19.5 Building Services.
    19.6 Reserved.
    19.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 20 New Ambulatory Health Care Occupancies
    20.1 General Requirements.
    20.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    20.3 Protection.
    20.4 Special Provisions.
    20.5 Building Services.
    20.6 Reserved.
    20.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 21 Existing Ambulatory Health Care Occupancies
    21.1 General Requirements.
    21.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    21.3 Protection.
    21.4 Special Provisions.
    21.5 Building Services.
    21.6 Reserved.
    21.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 22 New Detention and Correctional Occupancies
    22.1 General Requirements.
    22.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    22.3 Protection.
    22.4 Special Provisions.
    22.5 Building Services.
    22.6 Reserved.
    22.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 23 Existing Detention and Correctional Occupancies
    23.1 General Requirements.
    23.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    23.3 Protection.
    23.4 Special Provisions.
    23.5 Building Services.
    23.6 Reserved.
    23.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 24 One- and Two-Family Dwellings
    24.1 General Requirements.
    24.2 Means of Escape Requirements.
    24.3 Protection.
    24.4 Reserved.
    24.5 Building Services.
    Chapter 25 Reserved
    Chapter 26 Lodging or Rooming Houses
    26.1 General Requirements.
    26.2 Means of Escape Requirements.
    26.3 Protection.
    26.4 Special Structures.
    26.5 Building Services.
    26.6 Reserved.
    26.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 27 Reserved
    Chapter 28 New Hotels and Dormitories
    28.1 General Requirements.
    28.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    28.3 Protection.
    28.4 Special Provisions.
    28.5 Building Services.
    28.6 Reserved.
    28.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 29 Existing Hotels and Dormitories
    29.1 General Requirements.
    29.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    29.3 Protection.
    29.4 Special Provisions.
    29.5 Building Services.
    29.6 Reserved.
    29.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 30 New Apartment Buildings
    30.1 General Requirements.
    30.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    30.3 Protection.
    30.4 Special Provisions.
    30.5 Building Services.
    30.6 Reserved.
    30.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 31 Existing Apartment Buildings
    31.1 General Requirements.
    31.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    31.3 Protection.
    31.4 Special Provisions.
    31.5 Building Services.
    31.6 Reserved.
    31.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 32 New Residential Board and Care Occupancies
    32.1 General Requirements.
    32.2 Small Facilities.
    32.3 Large Facilities.
    32.4 Suitability of an Apartment Building to House a Board and Care Occupancy.
    32.5 Reserved.
    32.6 Reserved.
    32.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 33 Existing Residential Board and Care Occupancies
    33.1 General Requirements.
    33.2 Small Facilities.
    33.3 Large Facilities.
    33.4 Suitability of an Apartment Building to House a Board and Care Occupancy.
    33.5 Reserved.
    33.6 Reserved.
    33.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 34 Reserved
    Chapter 35 Reserved
    Chapter 36 New Mercantile Occupancies
    36.1 General Requirements.
    36.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    36.3 Protection.
    36.4 Special Provisions.
    36.5 Building Services.
    36.6 Reserved.
    36.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 37 Existing Mercantile Occupancies
    37.1 General Requirements.
    37.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    37.3 Protection.
    37.4 Special Provisions.
    37.5 Building Services.
    37.6 Reserved.
    37.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 38 New Business Occupancies
    38.1 General Requirements.
    38.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    38.3 Protection.
    38.4 Special Provisions.
    38.5 Building Services.
    38.6 Reserved.
    38.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 39 Existing Business Occupancies
    39.1 General Requirements.
    39.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    39.3 Protection.
    39.4 Special Provisions.
    39.5 Building Services.
    39.6 Reserved.
    39.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 40 Industrial Occupancies
    40.1 General Requirements.
    40.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    40.3 Protection.
    40.4 Special Provisions.
    40.5 Building Services.
    40.6 Special Provisions for Aircraft Servicing Hangars.
    40.7 Operating Features.
    Chapter 41 Reserved
    Chapter 42 Storage Occupancies
    42.1 General Requirements.
    42.2 Means of Egress Requirements.
    42.3 Protection.
    42.4 Special Provisions.
    42.5 Building Services.
    42.6 Special Provisions for Aircraft Storage Hangars.
    42.7 Special Provisions for Grain Handling, Processing, Milling, or Other Bulk Storage Facilities.
    42.8 Special Provisions for Parking Structures.
    42.9 Operating Features.
    Chapter 43 Building Rehabilitation
    43.1 General.
    43.2 Special Definitions.
    43.3 Repairs.
    43.4 Renovations.
    43.5 Modifications.
    43.6 Reconstruction.
    43.7 Change of Use or Occupancy Classification.
    43.8 Additions.
    43.9 Reserved.
    43.10 Historic Buildings.
    Annex A Explanatory Material
    Annex B Supplemental Evacuation Equipment
    Annex C NFPA Documents on Hazardous Materials
    Annex D Informational References
  • How the NFPA Handbooks Differ from Codes and Standards


    Ever wonder what the difference is between an NFPA® handbook and a code or standard? We’re glad you asked.

    NFPA codes and standards both provide requirements for achieving outcomes. Handbooks take a deeper dive, providing the full text of a code or standard as well as expert commentary and features such as graphics, decision trees, testing procedures, case studies, sample forms and checklists, and other helpful aids to give a better understanding of the reasoning behind the requirements and how to apply them.


    • A code or standard is a framework—a set of rules to follow with a goal to achieve a certain result
    • A handbook is a connector—linking requirements to application by helping you understand the reasoning behind a code or standard

    The simplest way to think about it is that codes and standards list the technical requirements while handbooks explain those requirements to clarify how to apply them.

  • Historical Editions

    Previous editions of NFPA® documents are available for sale. Please see applicable NFPA codes and standards product pages to confirm which editions are available for purchase. If you have any questions, contact NFPA Customer Support at 1-800-344-3555 or

  • Also in NFPA 101: Life Safety Code