Fire marshal outlines common fire code concerns for business owners and landlord
[Editor's Note: The following was written by New Milford Fire Marshal Karen A. Facey.]
Fire marshals statewide are responsible to ensure that the buildings within their community are compliant with all of the state's fire codes.
These codes are written by the state and are enforced for the safety of the public and property owner. Compliance with the Connecticut Fire Safety Code is state law, may reduce the owner's property insurance rates, and could also reduce a property owner's liability in the event of a fire.
Fire marshals, during regular property inspections, assist the owner in maintaining compliance with statutory requirements.
Common to New Milford are mixed use buildings with residential apartments and another type of activity within the building, such as storage, stores, restaurants, etc. To keep the building residents safe, the fire code may require a minimum of a one-hour fire separation rating between the apartments and the other uses.
A one-hour fire rating is usually achieved by the installation of two layers of 5/8 inch sheetrock and/or switching doors to a fire rated type on a self closer. The installation of a fire alarm system and/or sprinkler system may provide an exception to the 1-hour separation requirement. However, owners are always welcome to submit other designs and the fire marshal's office can assist them with obtaining the one-hour fire rating.
Any stairwells or other exits must be fully separated from all other areas of the building.
These code sections are very strict as the intent of the fire code is for an exit to be equally as safe for its rated protection time period (typically one hour or two hours) as being outside of the building away from the fire or other hazardous condition.
The fire code is designed to protect life safety by allowing people time to recognize a fire has begun, alert others to the fire, and for the escape of all occupants from the building.
As fires develop and grow in size exponentially, and produce immediately toxic gases, the fire code offers few grandfathering provisions.
During inspections the fire marshals therefore identify hazardous conditions and assist the building owner with compliance with the State Fire Safety Code.
The overarching objective is to keep everyone safe. Property owners that are unable to correct fire code deficiencies within the legally accepted standard of 30 days are requested to submit a written plan of corrective action to the fire marshal's office.
This plan enumerates the date when each deficiency will be corrected and allows the building owner to achieve statutory compliance with the State.
For more information, contact the fire marshal's office, located on the second floor of town hall on Main Street, Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or call 860-355-6099 or visit www.newmilford.org.