Does the local fire rescue department have the authority to mandate that an existing facility that was last renovated and compliant with code in 1993 be retrofitted with a sprinkler system?
The answer will depend on several factors.
Since 1993, has the occupancy and use for the building changed? What codes and standards are in effect for the jurisdiction? Have any local ordinances been adopted that require certain occupancy types to be retrofit even if they were code compliant at the time of construction?
We had a similar occurance in our municipality where there was an ordinance change that now required a retrofit of sprinklers in specific occupancies.
Authority may be a legal issue and may require an attorney to answer. Seems to be against the philosophies of the Life Safety Code for existing occupancies and buildings.
Unless there has been a change in occupancy and use. I'm hoping Daniel will provide additional details about the building.
The building was constructed in 1984. In 1993/1994 the section of the building that was a roofed porch was closed in. The occupancy was set at 750.
In 1993/1994 the code allowed a 1 hour fire wall between the main building and the newly enclosed porch instead of a sprinkler system. The fire department has cited that that code has now changed and the wall is no longer allowed in liew of the sprinklers, and want the building retrofitted with sprinklers, at a cost of around $85,000.00.and want the occupancy lowered to 299 in the meantime.
Just had a fire safety inspection two or three weeks ago and passed with flying colors.
This building was taken over illegally between 2015 and 2019, and the "thieves" had at least one party that well exceeded the allowed occupancy of 750. The department actually gave them the order to retrofit, not us. The courts awarded the building back to us in 2019 and removed anything that transpired while they had control of the building, so legally it did not happen. The department has attempted to just assign that order to us.
I want to know what statute allows for that order.
Is this an assembly occupancy? Is it a restaurant or a night club?
Jeanne C. Schmager Tebera, PE, CFPS
Henry Adams, LLC<http://www.henryadams.com/> |Baltimore, MD & Washington, DC
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Assembly that serves food and liqueur
If the jurisdiction has adopted NFPA 101 and performs annual inspections based on NFPA 101, if anything in the building is not in compliance with the existing occupancy chapter, it will need to be brought into compliance. NFPA 101, Chapter 4, Section 126.96.36.199 states that a building, whether new or existing, cannot be occupied if it is in violation of the provisions of the Code.
As Milton Werner states below, 2018 NFPA 101, Section 188.8.131.52, Extinguishment Requirements was developed in response to the February 2003 Station Nightclub fire.
184.108.40.206 Where the occupant load exceeds 100, the following assembly occupancies shall be protected throughout by an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system in accordance with 220.127.116.11(1):Dance hallsDiscothequesNightclubsAssembly occupancies with festival seating
18.104.22.168 Where the occupant load exceeds 100, the following assembly occupancies shall be protected throughout by an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system in accordance with 22.214.171.124(1):
Seems like a lapse in the permits to occupy the building and may be causing code administration problems. Needs an attorney to sort that one out.
I know provisions in the 2018 NFPA 101, Life Safety Code for existing nightclub type assembly occupancies with more than a 100-person occupant load to be sprinklered, were developed in response to the February 2003 fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, which claimed 100 lives.
Why would you not want to meet the current fire safety concerns?
If you are in Florida, the answer is yes. It depends on how your current state building code is written. AHJ's have the ability to broadly or narrowly interpret a code or overrule it, and your only recourse is the courts, or if it is an inspector, try his boss. You can try and apply for a variance from the fire marshall. I recently did to get around and NFPA 820 issue.
The International Fire Code requires existing bars/nightclub type assembly occupancies to be retrofitted with a fire sprinkler system when the occupant load exceeds 300. This is why the AHJ says the occupancy is limited to 299 until the sprinkler system is installed.
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