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Thread: Fire Alarm Question

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    Default Fire Alarm Question

    I have always considered walk-in coolers/freezers as "unoccupiable" spaces when reviewing fire alarm plans and consequently have not required A/V coverage. Last week, I conducted the final inspection on a new restuarant in our jurisdiction, and found a meat cutting station set up inside of a two compartment walk-in. Has anyone else come across this application, and if so, how was it addressed?
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    Affirmative. Had them place a strobe only inside the unit.
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    Thank you very much.

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    Make sure they drop sprinklers down into the walk-in as well if the bldg is equipped with sprinklers!!!!!
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    Coolers can absolutely be occupied for long periods of time, and with the insulation and construction of a cooler, it is entirely possible they will not hear an alarm outside the cooler. While restaurants typically will not have coolers large enough for people to spend long periods of time in, grocery stores and storage facilities can. While it is up to your jurisdiction to determine when to require a H/S inside a cooler, one that I have heard from several AHJs is 100 square foot coolers and larger they require a H/S.

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    Walk-in coolers should be considered "occupied". NFPA 72 addresses this issue. H/S are required if you cannot see or hear a audible/visible device.

    Also, I believe NFPA 72 requires audible devices to be above a certain decibel level. Take a decibel meter into the cooler with you and close the door. Activate the alarm, if the decibel meter doesn't register, have them add one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrnkB8 View Post
    Walk-in coolers should be considered "occupied". NFPA 72 addresses this issue. H/S are required if you cannot see or hear a audible/visible device.

    Also, I believe NFPA 72 requires audible devices to be above a certain decibel level. Take a decibel meter into the cooler with you and close the door. Activate the alarm, if the decibel meter doesn't register, have them add one.
    I take exception to the audible requirement in small enclosed spaces (such as this, or bathrooms, etc.) due to the volume of most devices. I believe that there is an exception in 72 somewhere allowing visual only in cases like this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    I take exception to the audible requirement in small enclosed spaces (such as this, or bathrooms, etc.) due to the volume of most devices. I believe that there is an exception in 72 somewhere allowing visual only in cases like this.
    You may be correct. After some research:

    NFPA 72, 18.4.4 Private Mode Audible Requirements.

    18.4.4.1* To ensure that audible private mode signals are clearly heard, they shall have a sound level at least 10 dB above the average ambient sound level or 5 dB above the maximum sound level having a duration of at least 60 seconds, whichever is greater, measured 5 ft (1.5 m) above the floor in the area required to be served by the system using the A-weighted scale (dBA).

    18.4.4.2* Where approved by the authority having jurisdiction or other governing codes or standards, the requirements for audible signaling shall be permitted to be reduced or eliminated when visible signaling is provided in accordance with Section 18.5.

    And 18.5 takes you to: Visible Characteristics Public Mode

    Back to the original poster - Is there any notification appliance in this room?

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    Thanks to all for the input.

    We routinely require sprinkler drops into coolers but not A/V devices. This cooler does not currently have a notification device inside but I will be making a site visit on Monday and breaking the news to the owner.

    Part of the problem in this instance is the FA plans are very basic. They don't indicate anything other than "freezer". How much detail do you require on your FA plans? And, if you don't require lots of detail, do you rely on your final inspection to identify issues like this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by oconnell107 View Post
    Part of the problem in this instance is the FA plans are very basic. They don't indicate anything other than "freezer". How much detail do you require on your FA plans? And, if you don't require lots of detail, do you rely on your final inspection to identify issues like this?
    How much detail would the Alarm System Designer know to include? Was he privy to the fact that it was to be an occupied space? Of course the more detailed the better, but you can't stand over the owner of the space, the alarm system designer, and the overall Design Professional with a gun. And the final inspection is absolutely the place to identify issues like this.

    It boils down to failure to properly communicate all of the needed knowledge. I see it as a simple mistake- restaurant owner and/or design professional did not realize that the freezer would be an occupied space as defined by 72. My suggestion- make them fix it but don't punish them. Grant a temporary/conditional U & O, requiring that a visual device be installed within 30 days. I think that is more than fair.
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    You're right - garbage in, garbage out - but this particular problem is going to self-correct. I found out today that they business is doing so well that they are going to add another cooler outside, move the meat station there, and use that interior space for storage.

    I'll be able to address the FA when they install the new cooler.

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    How much detail would the oca exam Alarm System Designer know to include? Was he privy to the fact that it was to be an occupied space? Of course the more detailed the better, but you can't stand over the owner of the space, the alarm system designer, and the overall Design Professional with a gun. And the final inspection is absolutely the oracle 10g dba place to identify issues like this.

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    Default re:Fire Alarm Question

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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    How much detail would the Alarm System Designer know to include? Was he privy to the fact that it was to be an occupied space? Of course the more detailed the better, but you can't stand over the owner of the space, the alarm system designer, and the overall Design Professional with a gun. And the final inspection is absolutely the place to identify issues like this.

    It boils down to failure to properly communicate all of the needed knowledge. I see it as a simple mistake- restaurant owner and/or design professional did not realize that the freezer would be an occupied space as defined by 72. My suggestion- make them fix it but don't punish them. Grant a temporary/conditional U & O, requiring that a visual device be installed within 30 days. I think that is more than fair.
    I used to do this, but after having to fight with owners on many occasions (mostly politically "connected"), I quit giving "Temporary/Conditional Certificate of Occupancy" as it becomes really difficult to make a business "Unoccupy" once they have opened.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bcjack View Post
    I used to do this, but after having to fight with owners on many occasions (mostly politically "connected"), I quit giving "Temporary/Conditional Certificate of Occupancy" as it becomes really difficult to make a business "Unoccupy" once they have opened.
    1. When it comes to life safety, I dont kowtow to politicians, that is made plain and clear every time. I tell them "If thats the way you want it, you can give me that in writing, and you can sign the use and occupancy certificate." The Politicians here usually dont get involved in my shop, but when they do, and it concerns life safety, they usually butt out after I explain the situation. I do have the video of the Station Nightclub fire in my "favorites" in youtube; so if I ever have to I can just play that for them and say "Not on my watch."

    2. No they dont have to un-occupy but they do have pay the citations (usually $1000 per day for every day the violation exists, in this case whatever was required to obtain a permanent U & O) Also I have avery good solicitor who excels in obtaining temporary restraining orders (TRO's) forcing the business to lock the doors unless they comply. Have only had to go that route twice in the last 5 years though.
    Last edited by FWDbuff; 08-16-2012 at 12:12 PM.
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