By Austin Regan
When trying to determine if your building is fully Code compliant, one can no longer rely only on the Building Code. More and more we find that a thorough review of the Fire Code is required also. For logical reasons, the FDNY is very particular about important elements of the building being clearly identified and marked. With the confusion that always occurs during a fire incident, fireman do not want to waste precious seconds guessing where an entrance or stair well is.
FC 505.4 titled “Apartment, guest room and stairwell fire emergency markings” applies retroactively to all Multiple Dwellings and Hotels. Retroactive requirements must be met in 2 or 3 years time from the adoption of the 2014 Fire Code (enacted 10/1/14). The compliance time is spelled out FC 505.4.5. FC 505.4.1 applies to all Multiple Dwellings and Hotels with multi-floor units:
§29-505.4.1 Multi-floor dwelling units. The entrance door to a multi-floor dwelling unit in a Group R-1 or Group R-2 building or occupancy shall be identified on the door jamb on the public corridor side of the door by an approved fire emergency marking, not more than 12 inches (305 mm) from the bottom of the door, indicating the dwelling unit number and/or letter. In addition, every door of each such multi-floor dwelling unit that opens to a public corridor or other means of egress shall be identified on the public corridor side of the door by one or more upward or downward-pointing arrows indicating the direction(s) of the other floor(s) to which the multi-floor dwelling unit is connected.
FC 505.4.2 and FC 504.4.3 apply to Multiple dwellings and hotels that are not fully sprinklered:
§29-505.4.2 Apartment and sleeping rooms. Except as otherwise provided in 29-505.4.1, and except in buildings protected throughout by a sprinkler system, in a Group R-1 or R-2 building or occupancy with more than eight dwelling units on a floor, each dwelling unit shall be identified on the door jamb on the public corridor side of the door by an approved fire emergency marking, not more than 12 inches (305 mm) from the bottom of the door, indicating the dwelling unit number and/or letter.
§29-505.4.3 Stairwell signage. Except in buildings protected throughout by a sprinkler system, each stairwell door in a building or occupancy subject to compliance with the requirements of 29-505.4.1 or 29-505.4.2 shall be identified as a stairwell door on the door jamb on the public corridor side of the door with an approved marking or sign not more than 12 inches (305 mm) from the bottom of the door, unless such stairwell entrance has been marked in compliance with section 1026.11 of the Building Code.
Following the photoluminescent requirements in the Building Code for office buildings, FDNY wants to apply the concept of identifying signage near the floor to residential buildings. The concept considers that as smoke rises, visibility is severely reduced the further you are from the floor. As always, failure to comply with these retroactive requirements can subject building owners to violations and fines.