I have a fire sprinkler in my bedroom ceiling which is right in the middle. I want to install a ceiling fan. What are code requirements to follow?

  • 1
    I believe it's 24" clearance from the sprinkler horizontally, and 18" vertically. So if the blades of the fan are 18" below the sprinkler, and the motor is 24" away. You'd have a giant fan, but you'd be within code. NFPA 13 covers this, from what I could find, but I don't have a copy of it. Best to ask your local government.
    – Tester101
    Oct 23, 2013 at 12:46
  • Related (includes the NFPA 13D cite I was after) Apr 16, 2015 at 3:31

2 Answers 2


It depends on what jurisdiction has authority where you are doing the work. Some sort of electric code applies, but there's nothing unusual involved. There's a requirement for the fan to be securely anchored to the structure. That could be electrical, mechanical, or building codes. They are unlikely to be very specific, "securely anchored" will be roughly all the detail you'll see.

The main issue is the sprinkler head. It seems every jurisdiction has their own requirements, though at least in the USA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes a model code from which most jurisdictions either adopt by reference or base their own code upon it.

The main provision here will be nothing can be installed to obstruct the dispersal pattern of the spray head, which normally means the head needs to be lower than the fan. However, one could argue if the fan were pendant mounted by a narrow tube, one could actually get a better dispersal with the head at ceiling height because the head is higher and the tube provides minimal obstruction. This argument may or may not be viable, depending on exactly where the two components are located relative to each other.

Since this is a judgement call, only the authority having jurisdiction can make such a ruling.


Since you are in a residential occupancy, you will have residential-type sprinkler heads fit, which means that NFPA 13, section (or the equivalent citation in NFPA 13R or NFPA 13D) applies:* Unless the requirements of through 8.1 are met, sprinklers shall be positioned away from obstructions a minimum distance of four times the maximum dimension of the obstruction (e.g., truss webs and chords, pipe, columns, and fixtures). The maximum clear distance required shall be 36 in. (0.91 m) in accordance with Figure

NFPA 13 Figure

  • "maximum dimension of the [fixture]" Would that be blade diameter, or the motor size? If blade diameter, then any sprinklers would likely have to be installed outside the building. Imagine a 96" fan, where the sprinkler head would need to be 32 feet away, possibly in a neighbor's house... But then the maximum of 36" applies, completely invalidating the whole idea of obstruction? Aug 24, 2022 at 20:19
  • @SO_fix_the_vote_sorting_bug -- it's the motor size that governs here, as fan blades > 50% open can be disregarded for sprinkler obstruction determination purposes (see Aug 25, 2022 at 1:16
  • Would the clearance requirements apply if there were heads on both sides of the obstruction?
    – supercat
    Apr 5, 2023 at 17:24
  • @supercat -- it'd be a very weird setup (or a very weird obstruction) if you had heads within 36" of both sides of the obstruction (normally sprinkler heads cover more area than that!) Apr 6, 2023 at 2:03

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