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  1. #1
    d.l. powell's Avatar
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    Default Church mechanical room in NC

    I have a mechanical room in a church fellowship hall accessable only from the exterior of the building. All walls are constructed from 8"CMU. The mechanical room contains an oil fired furnace and water heater. They wish to install an interior door to the mechanical room to access some storage space and install a mop sink. Does code require the interior door to be steel? If so, what fire rating should it carry? I think the door should have a threshold and weatherstripping to seal out noise, possible odor and noise.

    Also what, if any, are the fresh air requirements for furnaces?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Church mechanical room in NC

    Quote Originally Posted by d.l. powell View Post
    I have a mechanical room in a church fellowship hall accessable only from the exterior of the building. All walls are constructed from 8"CMU. The mechanical room contains an oil fired furnace and water heater. They wish to install an interior door to the mechanical room to access some storage space and install a mop sink. Does code require the interior door to be steel? If so, what fire rating should it carry? I think the door should have a threshold and weatherstripping to seal out noise, possible odor and noise.

    Also what, if any, are the fresh air requirements for furnaces?

    All your questions could be answered quickly if you invited the local code inspector and/or fire inspector over, explain what you wanted to do, and listen (take notes) to his/her responses. You would be surprised how helpful they can be in a situation like yours. Give them a call.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Church mechanical room in NC

    A couple of notes
    - depending where that interior door will lead to they may or may not allow its installation, hallway, nursery room etc.
    - not just the door but the entire assembly would need to be fire rated, this includes the jamb, hinges, closer, threshold, lockset, everything
    - fire rating could be 1-3 hours, you have to check what the local requirements are; fire rating will also depend in part on how large that boiler is (BTU)
    - Since this sounds like a very old installation, there probably is a make-up air pipe or transfer grille to the exterior, so don't close it off. Amount of make-up air once again will depend on unit and room size.
    - I wouldn't suggest 'bringing in' the muni inspectors they may find things you don't want them to find. Better off calling them or going to the Dept first to get general info. Around here churches tend to get a pretty easy pass on odds and ends violations, but not on a fire door.

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    Default Re: Church mechanical room in NC

    Mechanical rooms don't always need to be fire-rated assmeblies, it depends on the BTU of the heating units in it.

    It's called a mixed use, incidental area. The Michigan Building Code (which is really just the International Code) requires one hour separation or fire extinguishing system if the equipment is over 400,000 BTU.

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

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    Default Re: Church mechanical room in NC

    Randy I have to say I'm a bit surprised by that. A church being classified as an incidental mixed use area. I guess that explains the easy req. Church here is considered an assembly unit, much stricter requirements.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Church mechanical room in NC

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Randy I have to say I'm a bit surprised by that. A church being classified as an incidental mixed use area. I guess that explains the easy req. Church here is considered an assembly unit, much stricter requirements.
    Hi Markus, maybe I should clarify a little more. A church is an assembly use group- A-3 actually. The furnance room is not an assembly use group so it's considered an incidental area to the Assembly area. Use groups in commercial construction are required to be separated by firebarrier or use the most restrictive requirements of the code. Table 508.2 MBC shows the incidental use areas and required separation.

    Hieght, size and area determines the construction type- ie wood, steel, concrete.

    Use Group H -which is high harzard, doesn't require any separtion between accessory or the main occupancy. Reason is simple, your building is already constructed to most restrictive construction anyways.

    Now in the case we are talking about, it was mentioned about using the area for additional storage. Now that's yet another use group and there is two storage groups S-1 and S-2 (S-1 moderate hazard and S-2 low hazard). Storage rooms over 100 sq. ft require a one hour separation from the main occupancy.

    My suggestion would be to contact an engineer, architect or local commercial building inspector that is familiar with commercial code.

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

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    Default Re: Church mechanical room in NC

    The furnace room is an incidental use area, 2006 IBC Table 508.2 requires that the furnace room be separated with 1 hour construction or an automatic fire sprinkler system where any piece of equipment is over 400,000 Btu per hour of input.
    2006 IFC Section 315.2.3 prohibits combustible storage in boiler rooms, mechanical rooms and electrical equipment rooms.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Church mechanical room in NC

    This project would require a building permit, which in turn should require a sealed drawing from an engineer or architect. They should come out and look at the chruch to determine what can be done. The point here is to have someone look at it that knows the code requirements.

    Randy Gordon, construction
    Michigan Building Inspector/Plan Reviewer

  9. #9
    d.l. powell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Church mechanical room in NC

    Thanks Rich, Markus and Randy. With this knowledge you have given I think I can go to an inspector or engineer and talk with confidence.


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