With recent announcements from the federal government and many states beginning to allow businesses to reopen, building owners and facility managers will be getting ready to reintroduce occupants to structures that may have been relatively vacant for an extended period. During this unique time, NFPA has encouraged the maintenance of all fire protection and life safety systems in commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings. However, it is possible that many of the ongoing inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) activities required by locally enforced codes and standards may not have been completed for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the level of ITM performed during this time, it is imperative that building owners and facility managers verify the performance of all building fire protection and life safety systems prior to reoccupation.
To assist with these efforts, NFPA has developed a list of factors that should be confirmed by a qualified person before re-opening a building to ensure safety of all its occupants. Based on the assumption that the building was in compliance prior to being closed, the checklist below provides some initial steps to help ensure that the occupancy is safe enough to reopen until a qualified professional can complete the regularly scheduled ITM of all fire protection and life safety systems.
Any alterations to the building that adhere to public health guidelines, such as the installation of physical barriers or automatic door openers, will need to be evaluated to ensure that they are properly designed and installed and do not negatively impact the fire protection and life safety systems currently in place.
Indoor and Outdoor Pools May Open. During the effective period of this Executive Order, indoor or outdoor pool facilities (whether stand-alone or part of other facilities) may operate, but must be in compliance with this Subsection.
Requirements. While this Executive Order is in effect, all open pool facilities mustdo all ofthe following:a.
Limit the user capacity in the pool to no more than 50% of maximum occupancy as determined by fire code (or, when fire code number is not known, thirty-three (33) people per one thousand (1000) square feet in deck areas, wading pools and splash pads), and a maximum occupancy in the water often (10) people per one thousand (1000) square feet. This user capacity is the Emergency Maximum Occupancy for the pool facility.
Follow the Core Signage, Screening, and Sanitation Requirements as defined in this Executive Order.
This Subsection applies only to shared pools in commercial settings or at residential complexes. It does not apply to family pools at people’s homes.
Institutional Facility staff should have plans in place to provide an isolation area within its facility for positive Covid-19 cases. Preplanning for this need is essential. Each facility has unique features and different floor plans, so planning for barrier locations and construction materials needed is of utmost importance. Installing temporary barriers can affect the required fire and life safety features of the facility. For this reason, all temporary barriers must be reviewed/approved by the local Fire Marshal’s Office (local contact list below) and the NC DHSR Life Safety Branch.
Here are several reminders for consideration in your planning
Where is this going to be located? (what hallway/area)
Sprinkler System - Temporary barrier should be equidistant between sprinkler heads (so as not to obstruct sprinkler head patterns).
Fire Alarm System - Smoke detectors available on each side of barrier.
Construction materials - Building materials need to be fire retardant – if plastic is used it must have at least a Class C Flame Spread rating; framing needs to be non-combustible (metal stud or frame instead of wood studs)
If barrier is in a means of egress (Exit) – additional signage will be required. How far will it be from the normal exit; what other exits are available in that hallway.
Emergency lights – evaluate emergency light locations; if barrier is not completely clear, an additional Emergency light may be required.
Any additional electrical equipment used (such as negative air machines) must be usedonly according to its listing/certification.
In response to the issuance of Executive Order 131, the Winston-Salem Fire Department has provided the following clarification for for enforcement.
How do I determine the Emergency Maximum Occupancy?
You have two choices. 1) You use the occupancy limit sign provided by the Fire Marshal’s Office and use 20% of the occupant limit OR 2) You take the square footage of your display floor area and allow five(5) people per 1000 square feet.
Do I have to post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy?
Yes, by Executive Order 131, you will have to post the Emergency Maximum Occupancy in a conspicuous location.
What if I don’t have an occupancy limit sign provided by the Fire Marshal’s Office?
You use Option 2 in “How do I determine the Emergency Maximum Occupancy. Not all businesses in Winston-Salem are required to have posted occupancy signs.
Will the Fire Marshal’s Office provide the Emergency Maximum Occupancy sign?
Yes, upon request. The sign will indicate regular occupancy as required by the fire code and the Emergency Maximum Occupancy. Please Note: the Fire Marshal’s Office cannot enforce Emergency Maximum Occupancy since it is not governed by the North Carolina Fire Code.
Can I block or lock exits?
No. The state of emergency does not override any fire code requirements. You must keep the exits unlocked and ready for instant use. This includes the front door. You must keep aisle widths throughout your business of at least 36 inches. The area outside the exits must be kept clear. You may not cover or obstruct exit signs.
Can I block or limit access to marked fire lanes?
No. Marked fire lanes must be kept clear. Fire extinguishers and fire department connections must also be kept clear and unobstructed.
What if I have any other questions or concerns?
You can call City Link at 311 or 336-727-8000 You can also use the mobile app.