Monday, July 14, 2014

Why You're Stuck in Permitting (and how to get out!)

You have won the bid, the contracts are signed, the job is yours.  However, this is just the beginning. Looking ahead, you know the road to achieving your CO (certificate of occupancy) is long, you hope it will not be treacherous.  Achieving the CO is the main goal.  It is the light at the end of your tunnel, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Just getting there is not enough.  Getting there on-time and in budget makes all the difference between success and failure.

But, right now you are stuck in the building department equivalent of purgatory, permitting and review. Most building/fire plan review departments allow up to 10 days for the review to happen (this is quick by many standards).  If your submittal is correct in all points and meets all federal, state, and local code requirements, then your plan will most likely be approved (taking up only the 10 days ou have allotted for this activity).  But, lack of required information, or failure to comply with local ordinances and AHJ requirements will keep your plans locked up and you paying for and submitting endless revisions and resubmittals.

Here are the top 12 reasons why your plans will be disapproved (in no particular order):

  1. Incomplete, missing, or incorrect listing of code references and editions used.
  2. Lack of sprinkler/alarm calculations (hydraulic/battery).
  3. Insufficient remoteness of exits.
  4. Lack of compliance with egress requirements.
  5. Point of service (for fire systems) not clearly shown.
  6. Incorrect spacing of fire sprinkler heads.
  7. Incorrect spacing/installation of fire alarm devices.
  8. Incorrect or missing door rating in fire-rated assemblies.
  9. Incorrect locking devices on doors.
  10. No detail of fire-rated walls.
  11. Missing or incorrect stair details.
  12. Missing fire penetration protective details.

To ensure a smooth travel into and out of permitting here are a few things to consider, and some steps to take.  

  • Remember that every state adopts different codes (ICC, NFPA), and different editions (2014 may be the latest, but the state your working in has only adopted the 2009 edition).  
  • Each jurisdiction may have its own, more stringent, ordinances.
  • Consult with the AHJ (building and fire) to determine what codes are currently being utilized, what local changes are in effect, and what that particular code official wants to see. This 1 hour, to-the-point meeting, could save you days of resubmittals, as well as, help to establish rapport with the building official, and increase his knowledge of your intended product.  He will now be someone that is in your corner, a partner on your project, rather than someone who is trying to figure out what you are doing, and not getting the clear answers he needs from your plans.
  • Consult the applicable codes and standards, as they often include a list of required documents for plan submittal:
    • NFPA 13:23 - Fire Sprinkler Plans and Calculations
    • NFPA 72:7 - Fire Alarm Minimum Required Documentation
  • Consider the use of a third-party review.  These plan review/code experts will do all the leg work to ensure that your plans are to code and everything is ready for submittal.  Since they are a neutral party, they will be willing to offer advice and alternative code provisions for the structure that you envision.

I hope these quick tips will keep your next project moving through the process so you can come in on time and under budget!

Download a FREE plan review checklist by clicking on this link (I promise no junk e-mail or auto-responders, just value adding content!)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Aircraft Facility Fire Codes Index

Aviation facilities can fall into a variety of categories including, terminal buildings, hangars, storage, and/or manufacturing.  Navigating the varied fire code requirements can be a monumental task.  Included here is an exhaustive index of aircraft facility related fire codes and standards.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

  • NFPA 407, Standard for Aircraft Fuel Servicing
  • NFPA 409, Standard on Aircraft Hangars
  • NFPA 410, Standard on Aircraft Maintenance
  • NFPA 415, Standard on Airport Terminal Buildings, Fueling Ramp Drainage, and Loading Walkways
  • NFPA 418, Standard for Heliports
  • NFPA 423, Standard for Construction and Protection of Aircraft Engine Test Facilities
  • NFPA 101, Life Safety Code
    • NFPA 101:7, Means of Egress
    • NFPA 101:11.3.4, Air Traffic Control Towers
    • NFPA 101:40.6, Special Provisions for Aircraft Servicing Hangars
    • NFPA 101:42.6, Special Provisions for Aircraft Storage Hangars
The following codes and standards relate directly to emergency response for aircraft and aviation facilities:
  • NFPA 402, Guide for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Operations
  • NFPA 403, Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Services at Airports
  • NFPA 405, Standard for the Recurring Proficiency of Airport Firefighters
  • NFPA 408, Standard for Aircraft Hand Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • NFPA 412, Standard for Evaluating Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Foam Equipment
  • NFPA 414, Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Vehicles
  • NFPA 422, Guide for Aircraft Accident/Incident Response Assessment
  • NFPA 424, Guide for Airport/Community Response Planning
  • International Building Code (IBC), 
  • International Fire Code (IFC)
Bookmark this post for use as a quick reference guide to all aviation related codes and standards.  If you ever have any questions or concerns related to fire and life safety code concerns of these facilities, feel free to contact me anytime

Early aircraft firefighting vehicle, on display at McCarran International Airport

Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 NFPA Conference and Expo - Review

The Venue

The site of the 2014 NFPA Conference and Expo was the Mandalay Bay, in Fabulous Las Vegas.  This was my first visit to Las Vegas.  It is a great place! There are lots of things to do to occupy your time.  It is enjoyable just walking the strip and visiting the different hotels, casinos, and bars. The weather was amazing (even at 103 degrees, it’s not an oppressive heat). I stayed at the Luxor.  The room was low priced ($55), comfortable, and clean.  I look forward to visiting this location again in the future.  There is not much more I can say, because as you know…what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

The Value

The 2014 NFPA Conference and Expo provides great value in the number of educational sessions that are offered.  There are sessions that appeal to every part of the fire protection industry.  

The general session was highlighted by speaker, Michael Beschloss author of, Presidential Courage.  A vivid story teller, he reveals the qualities that have made great presidents in history and shows how to apply these qualities to leadership today.

Kurt Schwartz, Director of Homeland Security for Massachussettes during the Boston Marathon bombings gave an in-depth presentation on the local, regional, and state planning process for the 2013 marathon. He discussed the multi-jurisdicational/multi-agency response, challenges encountered, lessons learned, and best practices for response to and recovery from an attack.

A few of the sessions that I found interesting included:

NFPA 1730 and the Identification, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Fire Prevention Program -  Referencing the requirements of NFPA 1730, Standard on Organization and Deployment of Code Enforcement, Plan Review, Fire Investigation, and Public Education Operations to the Public, this program outlined the steps used to analyze data from a community risk assessment, identify appropriate fire prevention programs, and develop, implement, and evaluate those programs. This session also served to provide a guide for the conduct of a community risk assessment.

Management of the Complex Fire Scene: Lessons Learned From the West Texas Explosion -  utilizing NFPA 921:26, this session addressed many of the challenges raised by the complex fire scene where multiple federal, state, and local entities, together with private parties, each have a legitimate interest in the fire scene.

Revisiting Analysis of Potential Fire Sprinkler Performance in the Great Adventure Fire of May 11, 1984 – using computer modeling,  this presentation was able demonstrate what the results of this tragic fire could have been had fire sprinklers been installed. The presenters shared A history of the fire including construction details, interior finish, travel distance and available exits. Exhibits also included, pre- and post-fire photographs, facility plans, re-creation of the sprinkler plan used in the trial, and a smokeview movie of the fire timeline.

Aircraft Down--Are You Ready? – this session, presented by Duane Kann, Fire Chief, for Orlando International Airport, provided an overview of preparedness considerations, and applicable NFPA standards and FAA regulations for emergency response.

Life Safety for the Vegas High Roller Observation Wheel - This presentation described the safety analysis conducted, including the redundant power drive systems, external drive mechanism, and quality control measures. Also discussed was the emergency procedures for unloading passengers and methods for emergency passenger extractions. The Vegas High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel.

The Visitors
At the 2014 NFPA Conference and Expo, as with all conferences, the greatest value is in the people that you meet and the connections that are made.  Besides the opportunity of receiving an eclectic learning experience by sitting under the instruction of those who are more knowledgeable, provide a different perspective, or perform in another sector, is the opportunities to meet others in your field.  Its always interesting to hear how others are doing things, how other departments function, how the private sector and public sectors differ in their thinking.  From the speakers to the people you meet on the plane, these introductions serve to add as much value as the conference presentations itself.