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Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

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  • Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

    I have an existing, 3-story office building. Total occupant load is about 415 with 140 occupants each on the 2nd and 3rd floors. the first floor is being renovated for a new tenant; no additional square footage is being added to the building. There is no renovation work on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The building is sprinklered throughout (NFPA 13), but there is no fire alarm system.

    2006 IFC Section 907.3 does not require a fire alarm system to be retroactively installed in Group B buildings. The fire marshal is stating that, since almost the entire first floor is being renovated, this is "new construction" and that the entire building has to be retrofitted with a fire alarm system. Section 907.2 in the IBC and IFC is for new "buildings and sructures," so I assume he's applying this section because the renovation is a new "structure" by the IBC definition.

    However, Chapter 34 of the IBC only requires compliance to the requirements for new construction for the alternation, and not the entire building. Therefore, only the first floor should be required to have a fire alarm installed.

    Would a fire alarm be required throughout the existing building or just the first floor? Or, is IFC Section 907.3 applicable since the entire building isn't undergoing alteration?

    Thanks.
    Ron Geren
    RLGA Technical Services
    www.specsandcodes.com

  • #2
    Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

    I think the horns and strobes would only be required on the first floor. They would be activated by the sprinkler flow switch(es). Manual pull stations would not be required since the building is fully sprinklered.

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    • #3
      Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

      What coug dad said.
      Jake

      http://www.nwboca.org

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      • #4
        Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

        EXISTING. Buildings, facilities or conditions which are already in existence, constructed or officially authorized prior to the adoption of this code.

        That would be any portion of the building not being remodeled or renovated. Agree with the others 1st floor only for horns and strobes.

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        • #5
          Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

          Agree with others too............. but if I were working for the client I would recommend the additional notification because in the scheme of the work being done the additional expense of the H/S's to the 2-3 floors and power supplies should be fractional.

          With no pull station requirements existing; a fire on the first floor in proximity to a stairwell could affect the occupants’ ability on the 3rd floor egress route and the additional fractional expense would expedite their egress abilities.

          "Fire suppression is a failure in prevention, practice fire safety, the life saved may be your own"

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

            FMWB has a solid approach. However, the reality is who is going to pay for the extra work. The new first floor tenant is not going to want to pay for the other tenants' improvements. The building owner will not want to cover those non required costs and the other tenants are probably not going to agree to extra costs in this economy.

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            • #7
              Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

              RLGA

              The building does not even have a monitoring panel???????????????
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZdEH...e_gdata_player The flag is up!

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              • #8
                Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

                cda:

                The evaluation of the existing building was conducted by the electrical and mechancial engineers, so I don't know exactly what the building does have or doesn't have.

                They asked me the question that I've posted. The building isn't that very old (late 80's, I think), so I would expect it to have a monitoring panel. I'll ask and see.
                Ron Geren
                RLGA Technical Services
                www.specsandcodes.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

                  No code requirements for the installation of a fire alarm system. 30 year old building, B occupancy, the fire marshall needs some code classes.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

                    Originally posted by Coug Dad
                    The building owner will not want to cover those non required costs and the other tenants are probably not going to agree to extra costs in this economy.
                    Yea, but in our successful campaigns the costs have been deferred in the rental agreements (pennies on the dollar) especially if the tenant likes the location, location, location.

                    "Fire suppression is a failure in prevention, practice fire safety, the life saved may be your own"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

                      I would suspect that the old fire alarm panel may have issues with finding parts for repairs.
                      Lost is the south......
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                      • #12
                        Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

                        If the Existing Building Code is applicable or capable of being used as a reference, look at 804.2. The amount of work puts that floor into a Level 3 Alteration classification. Section 804 only requires the alarm in the "work area" not throughout the building. The intent is to add what can be added when work is being done. How can you tell the folks on the second floor taht they need to suspend work for three days while a fire alarm system is being added because of work on the first floor. They'll ask for compensation that will end up with fingers pointed to the fire marshal. If work continues over the years, eventually the entire building will have an alarm system.

                        btw: the issue about using old panels and new devices was addressed at the last ICC hearings with the determination that NFPA 72 takes care of that. If it doesn't work, then a new one is needed.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

                          Gene,

                          Nice to have the insight back! Regarding……

                          How can you tell the folks on the second floor taht they need to suspend work for three days while a fire alarm system is being added because of work on the first floor. They'll ask for compensation that will end up with fingers pointed to the fire marshal.
                          We have been involved with upwards to 15 of these style renovations done over the years with multiple business tenant buildings and business has never been interrupted. Having done installs also back in the day; good contractors/service providers know how to minimize tenant discomforts. We have a great relationship with the designers, builders and customers in our area and when they ask us what we would like or why we like what we do, they usually accommodate.

                          I definitely agree with the L3 renovation and not being a requirement for the non affected floors hence my previous statement “recommend” (reference to client = building owner) because if there is sound reasoning for the recommendation it typically flies (at least in our area) since our customers understand. But yes, if taking the hard approach the lack of requirement certainly exists.

                          BTW........ the only time they point fingers at the Fire Inspector or the Marshal is during the acceptance testing :)

                          "Fire suppression is a failure in prevention, practice fire safety, the life saved may be your own"

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                          • #14
                            Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

                            FM Bill, it's so good to know that you have such a great relationship with the local designers. Unfortunately, I can count a number of places where it just isn't so. In fact, one locale where the relationships were good are now getting worse with the advancement of a new chief. But that's politics I guess.

                            As I'm fond of telling folks when they start pointing fingers, "Be careful where you point that thing - it's got a nail in it!"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Fire Alarm in Existing Group B Building

                              Yea, I know what you mean and wish it were better out there even amongst our regulatory industry.

                              I was just trying to get some to think about making recommendations since it's not always about $$$ and when some of these types of renovations are being done some loose sight (building owners and their DP's) of the opportunity to increase safety for pennies on the dollar and the ablities to wrap them into the project cost etc.

                              Glad to see you are doing better and keep improving.

                              "Fire suppression is a failure in prevention, practice fire safety, the life saved may be your own"

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