Skip navigation
All Places > Xchange Forums > Building & Life Safety > Blog > 2015 > June > 16

The egress provisions of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code® address marking of the means of egress (i.e., exit
signs). Exit signs encompass both exit and directional exit signs. Some exit
signs provide only the word EXIT (see Figure 1); other exit signs include the word EXIT and a
chevron-shaped directional indicator
(see Figure 2) as might be needed where the sign is
mounted perpendicular to the plane of the exit door opening and exit access
travel is in a direction parallel to the plane of the door opening.
Some
directional exit signs provide only the word EXIT; other directional exit signs include the word EXIT and
one or more directional indicators that point occupants in the direction of the
exit(s).

 
 

Figure 1. Exit sign with legend EXIT.

 


Figure 2. Exit sign with legend EXIT and chevron-shaped directional
indicator.

 

The signs are required in three locations as follow:

1. At exits, such as above the door from the corridor to the enclosed
exit stair or above the exit door to the outside

2. In the exit access where the exit or way to reach the exit is not
readily apparent, as might be the case where additional turns in the egress path
are needed to reach an exit

3. In exit access corridors of new construction, so that no point is in
excess of the particular sign’s rated viewing distance or the 100-ft (30-m)
default value, whichever is less, from the nearest sign

 

If an exit or directional exit sign has a rated viewing distance
different than the default value, it will appear as part of the label affixed
to the sign in accordance with its listing to the requirements of UL 924,

Standard for Emergency Lighting and PowerEquipment.

MYTH:  Any assembly occupancy room with an occupant load of more than 50 must
have a second egress door.

 

Assembly occupancy exits are typically accessed via a
corridor or lobby and take the form of enclosed exit stairs or doors directly
to the outside. The floor or story might have to be arranged to provide access
to a minimum of two exits.

 

The door or doors from the assembly room to the corridor or lobby are
rarely exit doors; they are most often exit access doors. NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code® contains no
requirement that an assembly room with an occupant load of more than 50 be
provided with a minimum of two exit access doors. Such rooms are often provided
with a second exit access door in order not to violate the common path of
travel limitation. Common path is the initial portion of the exit access (and
the initial portion of the overall travel distance to the nearest exit) for
which the occupants are steered in one direction without a choice of paths
leading to different exits.

 

Assembly occupancy rooms or areas with an occupant load of more than 50
persons are permitted only 20 ft (6.1 m) of common path of travel. For most
room locations and arrangements, a second exit access door from the room can be
positioned to provide occupants with a second travel path while still within
the room. The presence of the second exit access door can reduce what would
otherwise be an excessive common path of travel to one that is within the
permitted distance.

 

Figure 1 depicts a meeting room that is classified as an assembly
occupancy as the occupant load exceeds 50 persons. The 20-ft common path of
travel limitation forces the presence of a second exit access door from the
space.

 

Figure 1. Assembly occupancy meeting room requiring two exit access
doors so as not to exceed the allowable common path of travel.

 

Figure 2 depicts a meeting room that is not classified as an assembly
occupancy as the occupant load is fewer than 50 persons. The room is considered
incidental to the remainder of the floor’s occupancy classification of
business. The building is sprinklered so that the allowable common path of
travel is 100 ft (30 m). The room arrangement, with a single door to an exit
access corridor that provides for travel to two different exits, complies with
the common path of travel limitation so as not to require a second exit access
door from the room.


Figure 2. Meeting room requiring only a single exit access door as the
allowable common path of travel is met.

I’m excited about the roll-out of the NFPA community XChange which might be used in
the future to answer technical questions. For now NFPA’s technical questions service—also
commonly referred to as “advisory services”— will continue to use its
established platform. The service provides association members and authorities
having jurisdiction (AHJs) access to NFPA technical staff. Users of the service
can ask questions by phone or via online submission about any NFPA code or
standard, and NFPA technical staff will answer them.

 

I encourage members and AHJs to make more use of the technical questions service. Members
and AHJs who don’t know about the service, or may be unclear about the method
and guidelines for submitting questions, could be missing out on an important
tool to help them do their jobs better. NFPA makes it clear that this is not a
consultation service, but rather an effective way of better understanding the
intent, scope, and detail of NFPA codes and standards.

 

Some members prefer to submit written
questions rather than rely on a telephone conversation. Each method of
interacting with staff has its benefits. A telephone conversation permits
for follow-up questions to
be posed immediately or for staff to provide the answer in a different way if the
caller has difficulty grasping the concept. A written inquiry and its answer,
on the other hand, can sometimes present less room for misunderstanding and the
answer lives on for future reference.

 

In posting written inquiries, members should include, to the best of their
abilities, the information that NFPA technical staff needs to understand the
question. For example, an inquiry on NFPA 101 will seldom be complete if the
occupancy classification is omitted; a question applicable to a health care
occupancy might elicit a different response than an identical question
applicable to an industrial occupancy. Plans and figures are not allowed to be
submitted with members’ inquiries, as questions need to be kept generic to
avoid falling into the category of consulting services. Carefully chosen words
can substitute for visual elements and still keep the question generic. Where
necessary information is missing, the e-mail reply from staff may ask for additional
detail, lengthening the time it takes to provide a useful answer.

 

A question frequently heard by NFPA technical staff during a telephone
conversation with a member or AHJ is, “Can I get that in writing?” Staff reply
that they will answer, by e-mail, questions submitted via the “Technical
Questions” tab at the applicable document information page, such as
nfpa.org/101. I usually ask callers who want an answer in writing whether I’ve
adequately answered their question or whether they have follow-up questions—I’m
trying to learn why they want or think they need an answer in writing. Members
typically reply that they want or need to take the “answer from NFPA” to the
AHJ. I explain that all written responses carry a disclaimer advising that any
opinion expressed is the personal opinion of NFPA staff and does not
necessarily represent the official position of NFPA or its technical
committees. The disclaimer also advises that the response is neither intended, nor
should be relied upon, to provide professional consultation or services.

 

The technical questions service is well supported by customer relationship
management (CRM) software. Permanent, searchable records are kept of all
activity to help ensure that inquiries are directed to the appropriate staff
member and do not go unanswered. The advisory program is labor intensive, and
an answer prepared for one member might be useful to others; with that in mind,
written questions and answers can be scrubbed of identifiers and used as the
bases for handbook commentary and online pages of frequently asked questions.

 

To submit a question by phone, call 800/344-3555, option 3, from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Eastern
time, Monday through Friday. To submit questions online, visit the document
information page for the code or standard you have questions about and click the
“Technical Questions” tab.

The names can be hauntingly familiar—Cleveland,
Lindhurst, Pearl, Westside, Columbine, Red Lake, Nickel Mines, Virginia Tech,
Chardon, Sandy Hook. They represent sites of school violence tragedies that
will torment the affected communities for decades to come. The incidents are
infrequent, but their consequences, in terms of deaths and injuries and the
impact on the broader community, are often severe.

 

School administrators, parents, and public officials are
demanding increased school security in light of these types of school violence
episodes. Consensus codes and standards, like those widely used for fire
safety, do not exist for use in preventing or effectively managing a school
violence incident with the potential for severe consequences. Instead,
communities are drafting their own solutions; despite the well-meaning intent
of those measures, some of them have the potential to adversely affect the
level of fire safety already present in school buildings.

 

NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, and the other model fire and life safety codes require that
doors not be locked so as to prevent egress. Locks or latches must be able to
be disengaged so that a door can be opened with only one operation; that
operation cannot include the use of a key, tool, or special knowledge or
effort. But hardware and related installation and usage guidelines do not exist
that would allow a classroom door to be locked against opening from the
corridor side while still ensuring the door can be opened by any classroom
occupant, or that emergency responders can access the classroom in time to
prevent an occupant from causing harm to those within the room.

 

In December 2014, NFPA held a two-day school security workshop at the University
of Maryland. The event was designed to identify problem areas affecting schools
as they mesh security with fire and life safety, and to propose short- and
long-term solutions to those problems. The more than 60 attendees included the
full gamut of stakeholders as identified by NFPA staff who conceived and
managed the program: educators, state educational regulators, fire and life
safety authorities having jurisdiction, law enforcement officers, fire
protection and security consultants, fire and security systems manufacturers,
testing laboratories, and technical committee members. The workshop consisted
of panel discussions and professionally facilitated breakout sessions for three
groups. Each breakout group addressed one facet of the school security issue:
codes, security, and operations. Following each round of breakout sessions, the
attendees reassembled to receive and discuss each group’s report.

 

The workshop facilitation firm, Energetics Inc.,
delivered the final report in May. The 5 MB PDF is available at:

http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/occupancies/school-fires/codes-and-security-workshop

McCormick Place, the convention center hosting NFPA’s
2015 Conference & Expo, is protected throughout by automatic sprinklers but
was unsprinklered when constructed in 1960. A fire in January 1967 spread to
two-thirds of the building area in under one hour; roof collapse ensued as
shown in Figure 1.

 

 

Figure 1. McCormick Place fire and roof collapse in 1967.

 

The lake-front Arie Crown Theater – sight of the NFPA
C&E opening session – was damaged but not destroyed. The convention and
exhibition halls were rebuilt, complete with automatic sprinkler protection.
Today the facility is many times the size of the original as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2. McCormick Place today.

 

For a copy of the May/June 2009 NFPA Journal article – Out of the
Ashes
by Edward Keegan – on the McCormick Place fire and the rebuilding of
the convention facility, go to:

http://www.nfpa.org/newsandpublications/nfpa-journal/2009/may-june-2009/features/out-of-the-ashes

 

Ron Coté

NFPA staff

Standards Showcase ad for CC_2Interested in hearing about the latest activities in codes and standards? The Standards Showcase is designed to be an interactive session giving attendees an opportunity to ask questions about the standards development process, hear about the new features of the NFPA Technical Meeting, hot issues such as new projects in development, and more.

 

Attendees will also have an opportunity to interact with members of the NFPA Standards Council, engineering and other NFPA staff.

All interested parties are invited to attend on Tuesday, June 23, at 1:30 pm in room N427BC at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago during NFPA's Conference & Expo.

 

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

Often referred to as "the silent killer," carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas which, if left undetected, can kill building occupants without their ever knowing they were in danger. CO is a natural product of combustion, so any time a combustion source is located in a building, a potential for accidental CO poisoning exists. Potential CO sources include combustion heating equipment, gas ovens and cooktops, wood-burning fireplaces and pellet stoves, and vehicles in attached garages, to name a few. Data collected by NFPA indicates accidental CO poisoning in buildings is a significant life safety risk. For this reason, the 2012 edition of NFPA 101: Life Safety Code® added requirements for CO detection in certain new residential occupancies. The following excerpt from the 2015 Life Safety Code Handbook further explains the requirements for CO detection:

 

Section 9.12 provides a reference to NFPA 720, Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment, where such equipment is mandated by another section of the Code. It is noted that not all occupancies are required to be provided with CO detection and warning equipment. Such equipment is not currently required by the Code to be installed in any existing occupancy; its use is generally limited to new occupancies (other than certain existing health care occupancies) in which occupants might be asleep or otherwise have decreased capability of self-preservation and where vehicles, combustion equipment, or appliances are present. The occupancies requiring CO detection and warning equipment are as follows:

  1.  New educational occupancies (14.3.4.4)

  2.  New day-care homes (16.6.3.4.5)

  3.  New and existing health care occupancies containing fireplaces (18.5.2.3 and 19.5.2.3)

  4.  New one- and two-family dwellings (24.3.4.2)

  5.  New lodging or rooming houses (26.3.4.6)

  6.  New hotels and dormitories (28.3.4.6)

  7.  New apartment buildings (30.3.4.6)

Exhibit 9.16 is an example of a CO alarm. It is important to note that all CO detectors and alarms have a limited service life — typically about 5 to 10 years. CO detection equipment must be replaced at the end of its service life; the recommended replacement date is required by NFPA 720 to be marked on the device.

The requirements for CO detection and warning equipment are not based on safety to life from fire considerations. Rather, they are intended to mitigate the risk to building occupants posed by exposure to CO gas, which is a natural product of incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon fuels. Where combustion gases from equipment in a building (such as a fuel-fired furnace) are not properly vented, or where CO gas infiltrates a building from a space such as an attached garage, occupants are at risk of CO poisoning. CO gas is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer” because it is colorless and odorless. Without CO detection and warning equipment, its presence is virtually impossible to detect.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)23, approximately 15,200 people were treated annually from 2001 to 2003 in emergency departments for unintentional, non-fire-related CO exposure. During 2001 to 2002, an estimated 480 people died annually as a result of such exposure. In 2005, municipal fire departments responded to an estimated 61,100 non-fire CO incidents where CO was present.24 The cold weather months of January and December are the peak months for non-fire CO incidents, and 89 percent of non-fire CO incidents took place in the home.

NFPA 720 is formatted much like NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, and contains requirements for CO detection systems (analogous to fire alarm systems), as well as single- and multiple-station CO alarms (analogous to smoke alarms). It was first published in 1998 under the title Recommended Practice for the Installation of Household Carbon Monoxide (CO) Warning Equipment. In 2005, it was revised as a standard; however, its scope was still limited to dwelling units. For the 2009 edition, the scope of NFPA 720 was significantly expanded to include occupancies other than residential dwelling units. The expanded requirements were based on the Fire Protection Research Foundation report Development of a Technical Basis for Carbon Monoxide Detector Siting Research Project.25 Where NFPA 720 is applied via adoption of the Life Safety Code, and where the occupancy chapter requirements of this Code differ from the requirements of NFPA 720, the requirements of this Code should apply. Where both this Code and NFPA 720 are separately adopted and enforced, the more stringent requirements should be followed so as to meet the minimum requirements of both documents.

Exhibit 9.16 - Carbon monoxide alarm. (Copyright Danny Hooks, Dreamstime.com)

Yes, they look cool when they float off and light up the night. Yes, they're lots of fun. Yes, they're very popular and used in connection with many cultural events. And yes, they also pose an unacceptable fire risk. For this reason, the 2015 edition of NFPA 1: Fire Code, prohibits the use of unmanned, free-floating sky lanterns. A recent fire involving a cell tower in North Carolina underscores the potential danger - fortunately there were no injuries. An excerpt from the upcoming 2015 NFPA 1 Fire Code Handbook explains:

 

The potential hazard posed by sky lanterns should be obvious — once ignited and released, the device becomes an uncontrolled, flying ignition source, whose direction of travel is dependent on the wind direction, which can change unpredictably. Although the combustible fuel load of the device itself might be small, the potential exists for the device to ignite vegetation or other combustibles in the area and cause a significant fire if it is not quickly extinguished.

 

Paper-sky-lanterns-law-010.jpg

While those involved in health care engineering and life safety for health care facilities are still awaiting CMS adoption of the 2012 editions of NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, believe it or not, it’s already time to look towards the 2018 editions of each of these important documents.

 

 

It may be hard to get overly excited for a 2018 edition while still being held to the 2000 Life Safety Code, but the changes made for this edition will certainly impact health care facilities at some point in the future. Whether it’s through an eventual outright adoption of later editions of the codes or categorical waivers, which CMS has lately been using to bridge the gap between adoptions, these changes will have an impact.

 

 

Your voice is an important part of this process. Both documents are open for Public Input until July 6th. Submit your Input to NFPA 99 and NFPA 101 to have your say in what the future of these important codes should look like.

Revisions to NFPA 1: Fire Code are underway as the Annual-2017 revision cycle has commenced - the Annual 2017 revision cycle yields documents with a 2018 edition year. The Technical Committee on Fire Code met recently to start work on the 2018 edition - the meeting agenda and minutes (when available) are posted at the NFPA 1 Document Information Page. The public input closing date is July 6, 2015, so get online and submit your proposed revisions before the deadline. The NFPA 1 First Draft meeting is scheduled for October 8-9, 2015, in San Diego, CA. NFPA 1 is YOUR fire code - the NFPA standards development process depends on you to make its codes and standards the premier resource for fire protection and life safety in the built environment!

At the request of NFPA's Technical Committee on Cultural Resources, which is responsible for the development of NFPA 909: Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties - Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship  and NFPA 914: Code for Fire Protection of Historic Structures, the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) initiated a project to study the impact of various fire extinguishing media on materials commonly found in museum collections under both fire and non-fire conditions. The first phase of the project has been completed, and the associated  FPRF report has been published: Measuring the Impact of Fire Extinguisher Agents on Cultural Resource Materials.

 

Stay tuned for more information as this project evolves!

A 19th century basilica was heavily damaged by fire in Nantes, France on Monday, June 15, 2015 - Fire ravages 19th-century basilica in Nantes | World news | The Guardian. Initial reports indicate roof work started the fire. Historic buildings undergoing construction and rehabilitation projects are especially vulnerable to fire. Two NFPA standards address fire protection of historic and culturally significant properties: NFPA 909: Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties - Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship and NFPA 914: Code for Fire Protection of Historic Structures . Roofing work is also addressed by NFPA 1: Fire Code and NFPA 241: Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations.

 

Embedded image permalink

Grounding Electrical Equipment to Underground Sprinkler Piping

 

The use of underground fire protection piping for electrical grounding increases the potential for stray ground currents and increased galvanic corrosion, which is why such use is prohibited by NFPA 24 Section 10.6.8. Grounding to piping systems that could have nonconductive piping or joints is especially dangerous, since it may not provide the expected ground. In no case should the underground piping be used as a grounding electrode for electrical systems. Electrical equipment should be grounded in accordance with NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®.

 

Cheers-

Matt Klaus

 

The population of the United States is roughly 313 million people

There are approximately 2.7 million first responders

 

That's an average of 1 first responder to every 113 people and an average of 20 of those will be people with a disability.

 

Learn how to prepare yourself, family and friends for an evacuation. From a building fire, wildfire, hurricane or any disaster.

 

Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM

T09 Evacuation Planning for ALL--Not Just Some

Speaker: Allan Fraser, NFPA

Track: Emergency Preparedness/Business Continuity

Location: S503ab

Content Type: Best Practices

Description

Prepared for the next evacuation? Have you considered the needs of everyone in your community? Whether your 'community' is a single floor, an entire building, a city, a county, or your whole state...20% of the population have disabilities, 12.8% are elderly, 20.2% are children under 14. That's more than 50% of your community who'll need help evacuating. Still think you're prepared?

   

Elevators can get everyone up in multi-floor buildings including people with disabilities, but how can someone with a mobility disability get DOWN in a fire when the elevators are shut down??

 

Visit the "Accessibility Expo" section in the Expo Hall Booths, 130, 133, 231, 232, 233, 235, 330, 332, and 334  to find the answer and to see amazing products for fire & life safety for people with disabilities!!!

Did you know that on average there is one first responder, (police, fire, EMTs) for every 113 people across the country?

And of those 113 people, approximately 20 of those will be people with disabilities?

The bigger the event, the less likelihood that you will be rescued by a first responder. Check out the sessions NFPA's Conference & Expo to learn more.

Click here: 2015 Conference & Expo - Education

Didi you know that we have a free quarterly e-newsletter about fire and life safety issue for people with disabilities, their families, friends and caregivers?

Check it out here: eACCESS Newsletter