The NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000 core chapter Technical Committees just finished up their first week of First Draft meetings in Minneapolis, MN. It was a busy week with multiple meetings, lots of discussion and many beneficial code changes that resulted from hours of work contributed by NFPA staff and volunteers. While these meetings were for our Life Safety Code and building code, some of the discussions that arose crossed into the work of the Fire Code, and I was happy to contribute to those discussions.
One topic that arose during discussion related to a building owner’s responsibility to provide technical documentation about products in their building, specifically, existing opening protectives and glazing products, in order for the AHJ to verify compliance. That had me thinking about the provisions in NFPA 1 that specifically state the owner and occupant responsibilities related to the Fire Code.
Users of the Code would go to Chapter 10 for provisions related to a variety of topics; fire drills, emergency action plans, open fires, seasonal buildings, outdoor events, outdoor storage and even children’s play structures. However, at the front of Chapter 10 (Section 10.2) are provisions for the owner and occupant responsibilities, as follows:
- The owner, operator, or occupant is be responsible for compliance with NFPA 1.
- They must notify the AHJ prior to a change of occupancy as specified in 4.5.7 and 10.3.4 of NFPA 1.
- The AHJ is be permitted to require the owner, operator, or occupant to provide tests or test reports, without expense to the AHJ, as proof of compliance with the intent of this Code.
- The owner, operator, or occupant of a building that is deemed unsafe by the AHJ must abate, through corrective action approved by the AHJ, the condition causing the building to be unsafe either by repair, rehabilitation, demolition, or other corrective action approved by the AHJ.
- Any person in control of a building or premises must keep records of all maintenance, inspections, and testing of fire protection systems, fire alarm systems, smoke control systems, emergency evacuation and relocation drills, emergency action plans, emergency power, elevators, and other equipment as required by the AHJ.
- All records required to be kept are to be maintained until their useful life has been served, as required by law, or as required by the AHJ.
As stated in 10.2.1 of the Code, the person responsible for the property is responsible for complying with this Code. The AHJ should work with property owners, operators, and occupants to educate them on the requirements of this Code. This cooperation can help correct violations and prevent the need to issue citations when inspections are conducted. If a violation notice is issued as a result of an inspection, the responsible party should ensure that the violations are corrected as soon as possible after the notice is received. If management takes a proactive approach to fire safety, others in the organization will likely do the same, thus increasing the fire safety of the property and reducing violations.
If the AHJ is not confident of Code compliance (e.g., where a fire protection system is in questionable working order, or a particular interior finish or opening protective lacks documentation of Code compliance), Section 10.2.3 permits the AHJ to require the property owner to conduct the necessary testing or to produce test reports showing that the system or materials in question comply with the Code. The AHJ can require receipt of the documentation on testing and maintenance of fire protection systems after such work has been performed. The cost of such tests or reports is the responsibility of the property owner or agent.
As AHJs, how do you work with building owners or others responsible for properties to help ensure compliance with NFPA 1?
Almost time to board my flight back to Boston. Looking forward to coming back to Minneapolis in a few weeks to continue the work in NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000. I am confident I will learn something about NFPA 1, too.
Thanks for reading, stay safe.