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Plan Review F.A.Q.

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QUESTIONS

1. How do I know if I need a Civil Engineer or an Architect (Design Professional of Record) for my building?

2. How much egress width do I need:

3. How high are the signs at accessible parking spaces to be located above the ground?

4. In a recent review through the Fire Marshal, a violation was cited regarding my decision of an accessible parking space which said that "persons in wheelchairs shall not be required to pass behind parked vehicles..." I can't find any reference to this requirement in the ADAAG. What is the source for this requirement?

5. What is the required door clear opening width in hotel rooms which are not required to be accessible units?

6. How wide are ramps supposed to be?

7. What do I need to submit to the Fire Marshal's Office?

8. I have an existing building that I am renovating which will require a change of occupancy and therefore requires a Fire Marshal Plan Review. The problem is that some of the ceiling heights are less than the 7'-6' minimum required by the NFPA 101:5-1.5. Do I have to raise the ceilings?

9. Does the OSFM require a plan review re-submittal of life safety systems when the original certified contractor is no longer on the project and a second certified contractor is hired to finish the installation?

 

ANSWERS

Q: 1. How do I know if I need a Civil Engineer or an Architect (Design Professional of Record) for my building?

A: Louisiana Revised Statute (La. R.S.) 37:155 requires an architect or civil engineer registered in Louisiana on any renovation or alteration of any size building which affects structural integrity or life safety, exclusive of furnishings, that exceeds $125,000.

A Professional of Record is required on any new building with square footage greater than the following table values, buildings with changes in occupancy classifications when the building exceeds the table values, or for additions to buildings that cause the completed building to exceed the following table values:

Building Occupancy Requiring a Professional of Record
Building Occupancy
Square Footage
Storage 6,250
Factory, Industrial 5,000
Mercantile Business, Multi-Family, Residential 4,000
Educational, Detention, Hospitals, Nursing Homes 2,500
Hazardous 1,500
Assembly 2,650

Contact the following licensing agencies for more information:

Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners

8017 Jefferson Highway, Suite B-2
Baton Rouge, LA 70809

(225) 925-4802

Louisiana Professional Engineering and Land Surveying

9643 Brookline Avenue, Suite 121
Baton Rouge, LA 70809-1443

(225) 925-6291

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Q: 2. How much egress width do I need:

a) at each floor in a multi story building and
b) at the ground floor, or level of exit discharge (LED)?

A: RE: Life Safety Code NFPA 101

In a multistory building, in accordance with Exception No. 1 of this section, you need to provide sufficient exit capacity to serve the floor that you are concerned with down to the LED.

This exception provides that the floor loads served by the stairs would NOT be required to be added to each other in the downward progression only that the egress width be provided to serve the maximum load of any one floor that discharges into it.

NFPA 101 states that where exits serve more than one floor, only the occupant load of each floor considered individually need be used in computing the capacity of exits at that floor, provided required egress capacity of the exit shall not be decreased in the direction of egress travel.

If, for instance, an assembly occupancy is on the 14th floor of a high-rise building and the occupant load is over 500, then, in accordance with NFPA 101, three separate exits, minimum, must be provided from that floor. If the floors 2 through 13 are all hotel rooms with an occupant load of 75, then only two separate exits would be required from those floors. The third stairwell from the 14th floor would not necessarily be required to serve those floors.

If the same assembly occupancy loading were on the 5th floor and all other floors were hotel rooms or office with only 75 occupants per floor, the three required exits from the 5th floor would only be required from that floor down to the LED. Note that in accordance with NFPA 101, 50 percent of the required number of exits but not exceeding the 50 percent of the required egress capacity may be permitted to discharge on the LED under certain additional conditions. These include sprinkler requirements and there are exceptions that need to be noted.

  • Exit capacity calculations are based upon the table in NFPA 101.
  • Occupant Load Calculation Factors are noted in each occupancy chapter.

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Q: 3. How high are the signs at accessible parking spaces to be located above the ground?

A: This is a reference answered in 4.6.4. There is no defined height for signage. What the requirement addresses is the obscurity issue. The parking space designations that have been painted on the concrete or asphalt parking lot surface were, once a vehicle had parked, thereby obscured from view. The requirement provides that the signage be placed so that, when a vehicle is parked in the designated place, the sign is readily visible for enforcement purposes. Therefore, a sign post that could be "touched" by the bumper of a parked vehicle may have to be higher than one that was placed several feet in front of the vehicle on the other side of the accessible sidewalk.

The best answer, therefore, is that the height of the sign is a design issue best resolved by the design professional on the project.

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Q: 4. In a recent review through the Fire Marshal, a violation was cited regarding my decision of an accessible parking space which said that "persons in wheelchairs shall not be required to pass behind parked vehicles..." I can't find any reference to this requirement in the ADAAG. What is the source for this requirement?

A: The existing Fire Marshal's Act, in RS 40:1745(B)(3)(a) is an interpretation by this office, which is a part of Louisiana Law, and requires that:

"All spaces shall have accessible thereto a curb ramp or curb cut, when necessary to allow access to the government facility served, and shall be located so that users will not be compelled to wheel behind parked vehicles."

In addition, Title 55:V:1501(D)(1) requires that all accessible spaces shall have "easy curb accessiblity not requiring the physically handicapped to proceed behind parked vehicles".

At this time, it is the intent of the Fire Marshal's Office to maintain this interpretation. Even though there is no mention of such requirement in the ADAAG or ANSI standards. If you consider the purpose of the requirement, it does provide a reasonable safeguard for persons that would otherwise be forced into an unsafe position behind a vehicle.

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Q: 5. What is the required door clear opening width in hotel rooms which are not required to be accessible units?

A: RE: ADA-AG 9.4 (vs.) NFPA 101

Clarification obtained via telephone from the ATBCB as follows:

Section 9.4 of the ADA-Accessibility Guidelines requires doors and doorways to be designed to allow passage into and within ALL sleeping units (of hotels) or other covered units and to comply with 4.13.5.

This requirement is more restrictive than the minimum door clearances required by NFPA 101, The Life Safety Code, therefore, the requirements of ADA-AG 9.4 and 4.13.5 shall be enforced as the minimum standard as it applies to door clearances in guest room units, whether they (the guest rooms) are required to be accessible or not.

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Q: 6. How wide are ramps supposed to be?

A: RE: ADA-AG 4.8.3 (vs.) NFPA 101

If a ramp is utilized as a component in a means of egress (which may be the case when NFPA 101 applies), then the minimum width required for the ramp is 44 inches as opposed to the 36 inch width permitted by ADA-AG 4.8.3.

Please be aware that exit discharge is a portion of the means of egress, hence, exterior ramps may also be subject to this width requirement.

RE: Minimum Ramp Width

DATE: September 17, 1996

NFPA 101 requires a minimum number of "accessible means of egress" and although ADAAG permits minimum 36" wide ramps, NFPA 101 is more stringent.

According to the definition of "Means of Egress" in ADAAG, "an accessible means of egress is one that complies with these guidelines and does not include stairs, steps, or escalators", therefore, new ramps used to satisfy the requirements of 101 are required to have a minimum clear width of 44".

Example: A trailer is being submitted for business occupancy. Its size is 12' x 60' and is permitted to have a single means of egress. The owner has provided steps having three 6" risers to a 5' x 5' landing which is level with the floor elevation of the trailer. The owner has also provided an 18' long ramp to provide handicap access to the building connected to the entrance door landing. The provision of the ramp is required pursuant to NFPA 101 since no area of refuge is provided, however, the ramp must be 44" in width in order to satisfy the requirements of NFPA 101.

A 36" wide ramp would be permitted only if it were not used as a component of the means of egress from a building. If another ramp was installed in the example above to provide access to the trailer, at another location, for instance, to a rear door, then a 36" wide ramp would be permitted. If a ramp was provided outside in the sidewalk (independent of the building) to provide access from the parking area, then a width of 36" would be permitted. Be aware, however, that if the ramp is in the means of egress (exit discharge included), then is minimum width must be 44".

RE: Areas of Rescue Assistance in Apartment Buildings

DATE: November 12, 1996

Are areas of of Rescue Assitance required at second floor exterior balconies in two story apartment buildings?

No.

RE: Accessibility to second floor apartments

DATE: November 12, 1996

Are second floor apartments required to be accessible through the front door?

No.

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Q: 7. What do I need to submit to the Fire Marshal's Office?

A: Basically, a good guideline is that we need to know everything about your building. The plan reviewer may never see the finished building and has to rely on the submittal information to determine that you are building the structure in accordance with all of the proper codes and laws.

We must have any or all of the following that applies to your building to provide that information. You must prove to us by your submittal that you are going to comply with the law. We trust you but we can't read your mind.

1. Site plan of the lot or land you are building on showing:

  • Property Boundaries
  • Building Location from boundaries
  • Parking lot layout showing location(s) of accessible parking spaces and signage locations
  • Location of sidewalks, ramps, curb ramps and other accessible routes
  • Site elevations indicating any changes in the levels on the site that may affect accessibility
  • Any other information that you feel we may need to know to review your submittal for compliance with the codes adopted by this state

2. Building plan drawn to a standard scale (i.e. 1/16"=1' , 1/8"=1' , 1/4"=1' , etc) and fully dimensional showing:

  • Location of any required fire rated walls
  • Door sizes and swings
  • Room names
  • Stair and stair wells
  • Dimensions indicating locations of all walls
  • Show finished dimensions where codes require a specific size in a room

3. Details, manufacturer's literature, specifications, and/or Underwriters Laboratory or other approved testing laboratory listing numbers showing that the construction of fire rated walls, stairs, stair rails, guard rails, doors, ceiling/floor assemblies or ceiling roof assemblies are in accordance with codes and laws.

4. Door, window, and hardware schedules showing required hardware, fire rating of doors or other opening protectives

5. Room finish schedules showing floor, wall, and ceiling finishes and heights

6. Indicate any sloped ceilings or projections from the ceiling such as beams and the finished height from floors. Projections shall not be less than 6'-8" above the floor. Ceiling height shall be not less than 7'-6" except 7'0" in corridors in apartments or motel rooms.

Note that on any project that requires a Professional of Record (architect or civil engineer) shop drawings are to be reviewed by that professional. Also, the shop drawings are to indicate that he has reviewed them by placement of a stamp or other indication that the shop drawings have been reviewed for compliance with codes.

It is also important to note that we will not accept shop drawings from the contractor or the owner without the review of the professional where a professional is required by law.

Where a professional is not required, we will only accept the shop drawings from the owner, not the contractor. The Owner must initial each page of the submittal to indicate to us that he has reviewed the submittal for compliance with the code and that the system is designed as intended.

If you have confusion regarding this matter, feel free to call this office for clarification.

  • Provide electrical, plumbing, and mechanical drawings and information on any gas fired equipment.
  • Provide elevations of the exterior of the building and the interior as required to tell us what you are going to build.
  • Show locations of all required fire extinguishers and indicate sizes and type to be provided.
  • If fire alarm systems are to be provided, locate the alarm panel. You will be required to provide a separate fire alarm submittal package. This submittal must be provided by a licensed fire alarm company.
  • If sprinkler system is to be provided, you will be required to provide a separate submittal package prepared by licensed sprinkler company or mechanical engineer.
  • If you have any commercial cooking equipment where the products cooked there produce grease laden vapors, you will be required to have an exhaust hood with appropriate fire suppression system. There will be a separate submittal required for this system. Submittal is required to be prepared by a licensed fire suppression equipment company or a mechanical engineer.

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Q: 8. I have an existing building that I am renovating which will require a change of occupancy and therefore requires a Fire Marshal Plan Review. The problem is that some of the ceiling heights are less than the 7'-6' minimum required by the NFPA 101:5-1.5. Do I have to raise the ceilings?

A: Not necessarily. While changes of occupancy typically require full compliance with the new chapter requirements of the Code, in accordance with 101:5-1.5: Exception No. 1: In existing buildings the ceiling height shall not be less than 7'0" from the floor with no projections below a 6'-8" height nominal from the floor. So if there are no ceiling heights less than 7'0" above the floor, then the ceilings may remain as they are. (Per circulated internal memo 04.09.99)

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Q: 9. Does the OSFM require a plan review re-submittal of life safety systems when the original certified contractor is no longer on the project and a second certified contractor is hired to finish the installation?

A: Yes , this office requires a re-submittal of such projects.

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This page was last modified on February 27, 2012