Don’t Get Burned with Fire Code Violations

May 28, 2019
Our modern-day fire codes are built on vast historical records of national fire disasters. It seems that we learn our lessons when major tragedy strikes. Flipping through history books, we find “Great Fires” have touched many of our nation’s towns and cities: The Great Chicago Fire of 1871; the Great Seattle Fire of 1898; and in Boston, the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub Fire of 1942 - the list and the learnings go on.

For Charter, fire code safety and compliance is another part of our 360 degrees of service. We work with clients to understand how the code applies and how it impacts multifamily residences and commercial buildings.

Here are the top five fire code violations that we see day-in and day-out.

5. New construction doors or upgrades must have one-way push bars (commonly called panic bars) in all common areas. Push bars make it easier to exit a building in a hurry, stops the door from sticking, and shuts behind a person automatically.

4. This is a simple one – the illumination of all exit signs. Finding your way to the exits must be easy in case of a power outage or smoke.

3. Every multi-family and commercial building must have a Fire Life Safety Plan. Like the pre-flight airline safety check that shows you the nearest illuminated exits, the Fire Life Safety plan is posted in all common areas to show, among other things, residents the location of exits and how to get there.

2. Demising walls (also called party wall or diminishing partitions) separate two adjacent tenants or a tenant and common area from one another. If you’ve had cable installed, then you’ve noticed how the cable installer may poke a hole through walls to supply cable line. Those types of holes, and others like it, are called open hole penetrations and need to be sealed with fire caulking. Such holes are common in ceilings and building storage areas.

1. And our number one most seen fire code violation relates to fire escapes. It may seem crazy, but much goes into keeping fire escapes up to code. If they aren’t structurally sound, then it’s easy to be trapped and find yourself in a sticky situation. Bracings that connect fire escapes into brick buildings are prone to failure due to rust. Of course, paint is key to keeping a fire escape rust free. DTM, or Direct to Metal, is a unique paint that encapsulates the railing to prevent rust.

These are only the top five that we see in Portland - there could be others in your city. If you’ve seen any of these violations on your property, reach out, we can help. We’re happy to answer questions and provide estimates for these essential repairs.