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  1. #1
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Commercial Opinions Sought

    Looking for opinions on this situation. Hope to hear from Jerry who I know if familiar with the 2006 IBC.

    An existing commercial building (brick with 0 fire separation distance, typical old main st usa) is 35' wide and 115' in depth.

    There is only 1 exit at the front of the building which in reality gives an exit travel distance of just over 115' depending on what part of the back you are coming from. Max exit travel distance is 200' per Table 1016.1

    In this case, the occupancy load is limited to 49 in the A-2 classification due to only having one exit.

    Common path of egress travel in my opinion, does not exist because there are not 2 exits.

    It is a non-sprinklered building that recently submitted for a change of use from a B to A-2.

    I am not sure of the following:

    1) I know I must limit occupancy to 49 due to lack of a 2nd exit access.

    2) Due to a complete lack of a "common path of egress travel" must I mandate a 2nd exit?

    Thanks

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    I'd say it needs a Johnson exit route... with an X7A rating, unless you can apply for and receive an EE7 exception under sub-section 2.0.1B in which case it would be easier to just take the more direct route and conform to the ADSM-1 protocol and try to pass it through the FEJA 8 listing... but I could be wrong.


  3. #3
    Tom Maides's Avatar
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Jeff,

    Are you doing a plan review, building inspection or home inspection? If you are doing a home inspection, I would steer clear of building code questions unless you are a licensed architect or code inspector. If you are doing a bulding inspection, are you following ASHI or ASTM? Neither require you to answer code related questions. In fact, my State Home Inspector licensing act has specific language prohibiting me from even mentioning code during an inspection as a Home Inspector. If you are concerned about code questions, I would refer your client to the local code enforcement office or an architect.

    Assuming that you have legal authority to proceed, the answer to your question is difficult without a set of detailed plans doing a plan review. The number and size of egress doors along with travel distance and occupant load are important individually, but, they all work together. Think of the number of people that the building can reasonably hold (occupant load) and now think of how all those people are going to get to safety in the event of an emergency and in a reasonable amount of time (travel distance and size of egress). You can't limit occupant load. Occupant load is what it is according to the code based on the type of occupancy and square footage of the building. From what you have described, it sounds like they need more egress based on occupant load alone. But, there may be other considerations and that is why I can't answer any more specifics about your project, and neither should you, without doing a systematic plan review.

    Tom Maides
    Sevierville, TN


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Remas View Post
    An existing commercial building ... is 35' wide and 115' in depth.

    In this case, the occupancy load is limited to 49 in the A-2 classification due to only having one exit.

    1) I know I must limit occupancy to 49 due to lack of a 2nd exit access.
    Jeff,

    Not enough information to go on, but the above indicates a problem.

    35 x 115 = 4025 total square feet

    How much is A-2 restaurant? How much is the kitchen? How much is the bathrooms?

    Let's just say that the A-2 restaurant area is 35 feet by 65 feet, leaving off 50 feet for the other areas.

    35 x 65 = 2275 sq ft net area

    A-2 is:

    - A-2 Assembly uses intended for food and/or drink consumption including, but not limited to:
    - - Banquet halls
    - - Night clubs
    - - Restaurants
    - - Taverns and bars

    Let's presume that it is (to give the lowest occupant load possible), from Table 1004.1.1, Assembly without fixed seats, Unconcentrated (tables and chairs). That requires a minimum of 15 net sq ft per occupant.

    Take the total net area of 2275 / 15 = 152 occupant load.

    No way are you going to get that down to 49 unless you make that A-2 area MUCH smaller.

    Let's work it backward to find out the maximum size of that A-2 area:

    49 occupants x 15 sq ft each = 735 sq ft

    735 sq ft / 35 foot width = 21 feet depth

    115 foot depth of storefront building - 21 feet = 94 feet blocked off and locked off and used for absolutely nothing because we've already used up our total permissible occupant load, can't even put the kitchen or restrooms there as we are already at the 49 occupant limit for one egress.

    The rest of the calculations do not matter, not until that is solved.

    Are you sure there is not rear kitchen area egress? I've never seen one which did not have that.

    If you have a rear kitchen area egress that is good as it would give two egresses, however, the kitchen area is not allowed to be used as an egress so there would have to be a corridor back to that egress.






    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Jerry,

    The kitchen is in the far left corner of the building and is 24x17 (408sq') and there is only one exit from the building which is in the front.

    There is a 120 square foot office and the bathrooms take away another 160 square feet total.

    Usable, occupied area for the restaurant bar (table and chairs, no fixed seats) is 3302 sq'.

    They cannot legally occupy with more than 49 including staff with only one exit. They cannot occupy more than 100 even with a 2nd exit unless they sprinkler the building which won't happen.

    Square footage wise I am coming up with 226 potential occupants but only if there were 2 exits and it is sprinklered.

    We can limit occupancy on the CofO to 49 but the issue is that there is still no common path of travel that exists because there is only one exit.

    Would a 2nd exit need to be mandated even with a limit of 49 due to lack of a common path of travel? That is the million dollar question.

    Tom M. I do code inspections and plan review but still do home inspections. I am an self employed as a HI but I am an employee when I do code work so there is a clear separation between the two. Thanks for the inquiry/heads up.


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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Remas View Post
    We can limit occupancy on the CofO to 49 but the issue is that there is still no common path of travel that exists because there is only one exit.

    From the 2006 IBC. (underlining is mine)
    - 1004.1.1 Areas without fixed seating. The number of occupants shall be computed at the rate of one occupant per unit of area as prescribed in Table 1004.1.1. For areas without fixed seating, the occupant load shall not be less than that number determined by dividing the floor area under consideration by the occupant per unit of area factor assigned to the occupancy as set forth in Table 1004.1.1. Where an intended use is not listed in Table 1004.1.1, the building official shall establish a use based on a listed use that most nearly resembles the intended use.
    - - Exception:
    Where approved by the building official, the actual number of occupants for whom each occupied space, floor or building is designed, although less than those determined by calculation, shall be permitted to be used in the determination of the design occupant load.

    Yep, *it can* be done, but the building official is risking his personal assets doing so with all the evidence that doing so is 'not prudent for the safety and welfare of the public', which is, after all, what the entire code is about:
    - 101.3 Intent.
    The purpose of this code is to establish the minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment and to provide safety to fire fighters and emergency responders during emergency operations.

    Should the building official throw out the calculated occupant load based on all codes and insert his own 'I can do so because I can do so' number, and if there is an "incident" in that place, the building official's head *will be on the auction block* to the highest bidder.

    I know of VERY FEW building officials who would be so careless so as to overrule the code in that manner.

    Maybe with the calculated occupant load is 203 and they reduce the approved occupant load to 200, but ...

    ... when the calculated occupant load is 220 and the building official says 'nah, don't matter to me, I'll call it, say, 49' ...

    ... that building official had better hope that NOTHING happens in that place.

    Forget FIRE!, think 'someone falling down' and their attorney says 'You know what, that sign which states Occupant Load 49 and there were 100 or so people in there, and my expert went through the code and the calculated Occupant Load is 220, THEY (the restaurant) ARE GOING TO PAY THOUGH THE NOSE for this'.

    The restaurant then contacts their attorney, who finds would *how this was allowed to happen* and contacts the building official and the city attorney, and the city attorney tells the building official 'Sorry, but you crossed WAY OVER YOUR AUTHORITY on this one, your defense is on your dime', and the city commission meets the next time and says 'We do not want a building official who is so reckless as to put us, the city, and out citizens in that type of position', then they turn to the building official and make him ...

    ... the FORMER building official.

    So now he has to pay for his own defense and he no longer has a job.



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Jeff,

    I wanted to keep this and the previous post separate into two different posts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Remas View Post
    Would a 2nd exit need to be mandated even with a limit of 49 due to lack of a common path of travel? That is the million dollar question.
    No, the million dollar question is: 'will it cost a million dollars to work from the calculated occupant load backward and provide all necessary egress requirements' to meet that occupant load?

    My answer is: No, far less than a million dollars! That's up to the architect to design and the contractor to estimate out.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Jeff,

    This is what I am used to, and, to me, it simply makes sense too.

    From the 2004 Florida Building Code, Building: (took out the tables, etc., as they are not needed to show what I am referring to) (underlining and bold are mine)
    - 1004.1 Design occupant load.
    - - In determining means of egress requirements, the number of occupants for whom means of egress facilities shall be provided shall be established by the largest number computed in accordance with Sections 1004.1.1 through 1004.1.3.
    - - - Exceptions:
    - - - - 1. In a special purpose factory-industrial occupancy, the occupant load shall be the maximum number of persons to occupy the area under any probable conditions.
    - - - - 2. The occupant load for towers shall be the number of persons expected to occupy the space, with spaces not subject to human occupancy because of machinery or equipment excluded from the gross area calculation.
    - - - 1004.1.1 Actual number.
    - - - - The actual number of occupants for whom each occupied space, floor or building is designed.
    - - - 1004.1.2 Number by Table 1004.1.2.
    - - - - The number of occupants computed at the rate of one occupant per unit of area as prescribed in Table 1004.1.2.
    - - - 1004.1.3 Number by combination.
    - - - - Where occupants from accessory spaces egress through a primary area, the calculated occupant load for the primary space shall include the total occupant load of the primary space plus the number of occupants egressing through it from the accessory space.

    The building official *has no choice* but to provide the minimum level of egress in accordance with *the largest number computed* by any of the three methods:
    - "the number of occupants for whom means of egress facilities shall be provided shall be established by the largest numbercomputed".

    For the life of me, I cannot fathom any building official doing anything less.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  9. #9
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    I like the FL method which takes away the AHJ's ability to hang himself.

    We will see what develops with this one.

    Thanks for the replies


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Jeff,

    As a code official it is not your job to help the owner design a fix. I'd make the owner go back to the architect, and if the architect had questions, talk to him.

    This gets you out of the design business and reduces your liability significantly. That's why architects make the big bucks.

    Tom Maides
    Sevierville, TN


  11. #11
    Darren Emery's Avatar
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Personally, I think Matt Fellman hit the nail on the head. Great Summary of the related code issues.

    As a code official - the only reason I'm going to even consider reducing the occupant load from other than that calculated, is if there is legitimate reason to know for a reasonable certainly that the load cannot/will not reach that of the calculations.

    All that being said - I have yet to encounter such a condition. I have yet to reduce an occupant load.

    Just stating that the maximum load is "x" when the area could easily handle much more than x is a recipe for disaster. Especially in an A-2.


  12. #12
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    1019.2 and its associate table takes care of this situation by limiting the occupancy to 49, one story and 75 feet travel distance.

    The exception in 1004.1 allows the building official to reduce the occupancy to less than what is calculated.

    Ultimately, 1019.2 answered my question for this A-2 occupancy class.

    Yes, it is not our job to design but we must verify what is allowed and in many cases, reduce the occupant load.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Remas View Post
    The exception in 1004.1 allows the building official to reduce the occupancy to less than what is calculated.
    Jeff,

    I was going to come back to this thread earlier today but had to leave for a while, this is what I was going to add, and it fits in with your post.

    My above posts was not meant to limit the building official from reducing the posted occupancy number, however, ... (this is the critical part I wanted to add, and, does the ICC really contradict this?) ...

    The building code are, as we all know, "minimum requirements", and as such, and similar to what is in the Florida Building Code I posted, think of that language as "clarification" of the code's intent - that is, the egress *requirements* shall conform and meet the egress requirements for the highest occupant load calculated, designed, or otherwise determined by the building official, however, the building official "has the power to reduce the allowed occupant load" for a building to below the code stated occupant load for increased safety reasons.

    Thus, while the building official has the power to reduce the allowed and posted occupant load for use, the egress requirements of the highest calculated occupant load shall be met and maintained.

    Here is a simple example using your question:

    The building official requires the egress requirements for the highest calculated occupant load of 220, but, for whatever reasons (there could be some) the building official "deems the safe number of occupants" to be 100.

    There, the building official has his authority, has used his authority, and has not weakened the requirements of the code in anyway.

    1019.2 and its associate table takes care of this situation by limiting the occupancy to 49, one story and 75 feet travel distance.
    That does not apply as that limits the travel distance to 75 feet and you stated the travel distance was between 135 feet or 150 feet (based on the 115 foot long space). The difference in the two allows for whether the door is located next to one side wall or located centered between the side walls.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Forgot to add drawing on how to measure travel distance.

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    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Yes, a lot of people mistakenly measure travel distance in a straight line when the actual distance travelled is what is suppose to be used.

    Another issue in this situation is lack of sprinklers but that is a non issue due to the other issues. Once there is a 2nd exit and they want to increase the occupant load to 100 or more then sprinklers will be mandatory.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Remas View Post
    Yes, a lot of people mistakenly measure travel distance in a straight line when the actual distance travelled is what is suppose to be used.

    Correct, and if there were walls and doors in the blank space in my drawing, the travel distance 'could be even greater than' what is shown.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Commercial Opinions Sought

    Who is going to regulate the maximum ol of 49?
    One can bet that the 49 number goes out the window once you leave. Even though you have done your job, as an inspector, it happens all the time. If the FD is on top of things they can help monitor occupancy.


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