San Francisco Fire Safety Task Force
San Francisco Fire Safety Task Force
1660 Mission Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103-2414
(415) 558-6165
PRELIMINARY FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Members:
October 27, 2015
Rosemary Bosque, Chair
Page No.
Chief Housing Inspector
Housing Inspection Services
SF Department of Building
Inspection (DBI)
Rosemary.bosque@sfgov.org
David Briggs
Local & Regional Water System
Manager
SF Public Utilities Commission
(SFPUC)
Section I:
Immediate Measures
Section II:
Interagency Fire Safety Education & Code
Enforcement
Rich Brown
Lieutenant
Bureau of Fire Prevention
SF Fire Department
(SFFD)
Dan de Cossio
Assistant Deputy Chief/
Section III: CCSF Post Fire Investigation & Interagency
Information Sharing
Fire Marshall
San Francisco Fire Department
(SFFD)
Dan Lowrey
Deputy Director,
Inspection Services
SF Department of Building
Inspection (DBI)
Johnson Ojo
Environmental Health Services
Healthy Housing & Vector
Control Program Manager
SF Department of Public Health
(DPH)
Section IV: Fire Alarm Systems in Existing Multi-Residential
Buildings
Section V:
Fire Sprinkler/Suppression Systems in Existing
Multi-Residential Buildings
Fire Safety Task Force
Preliminary Findings & Recommendations
October 27, 2015
Page Two
Section I: Immediate Measures
CCSF Preliminary Findings:
1. There are no current CCSF municipal codes (Fire or Housing) that require
building owners of multi-family (apartment buildings) to post or disclose fire safety
information to their residents, or conduct annual fire evacuation drills.
2. CCSF currently has no nexus between the issuance of a new business
registration with the Tax Collector pursuant to the jurisdiction’s Business & Tax
Regulations Code for the rental operation of a multi-family building (over four
units) and the providing of an affidavit that fire detection and suppression systems
within the building have been serviced and are properly maintained annually.
3. The current Fire Code only requires annual Underwriters Laboratories LLC (UL)
certification for Fire Alarm Systems in multi-family (apartment buildings) of sixteen
(16) units or more (SFFC 907.9.6 & 4603.6.10). Current uniformity of
information?
4. The Fire Code requires the service organization testing and maintaining the fire
alarm system to submit an annual report to the Bureau of Fire Prevention based
upon the standards delineated within the National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA) Fire Alarm & Signaling Code (2013 edition). There is no current
requirement that this information be made transparent to the public or building
residents.
CCSF Preliminary Recommendations:
1. The San Francisco Fire & Housing Codes could be amended to require multifamily building owners post, and disclose building specific fire safety information
to residents at the commencement of occupancy and when such amendments
become effective. Annual Fire Drills?
2. Further research should be performed to determine if the Business and Taxation
Codes would permit the Business Registration process to be leveraged to ensure
residential rental businesses properly maintain fire safety standards.
Page 2 of 5
Fire Safety Task Force
Preliminary Findings & Recommendations
October 27, 2015
Page Three
Section I: Immediate Measures (Continued)
CCSF Preliminary Recommendations:
3. The San Francisco Fire & Housing Codes could be amended to require multifamily building owners of three or more units have their service organization
testing and maintaining the fire alarm system submit an annual report to the
Bureau of Fire Prevention based upon the standards delineated within the
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Fire Alarm & Signaling Code (2013
edition) to be posted on a webpage maintained and supported by CCSF for
improved transparency.
Section IV: Fire Alarm Systems in Existing Multi-Residential Buildings
CCSF Preliminary Findings:
1. Older multi-unit buildings which comprise the majority of the apartment
building inventory, have original alarm systems installed in the 1970’s and
1980’s. These have been permitted to have replacement in kind repairs
with no upgrades. Such systems typically lack adequate audible
notification, and would fail the 75 dB “pillow test” SFFD standard for new
installations.
2. Upgrades to the older fire alarm systems where compatible, would require
booster panels to supply the additional electrical power necessary to
support additional appliances i.e., louder horns and strobes (replacing the
bell alarms). What about the impact of low frequency horns & number of
pull stations and their locations relative to each floor?
3. Such upgrades could require expanding the notification appliance circuit of
the system and installation of additional horns into the individual dwelling
units so that building residents can more effectively hear the audible early
detection (fire alarm) systems.
4. Replacing the audio alarms may require installation of a new fire alarm
control panel to achieve compatibility between devices. Where feasible
existing wiring may be used to appliances being replaced but additional
horns, etc. will require additional wiring and appropriate electrical service.
Page 3 of 5
Fire Safety Task Force
Preliminary Findings & Recommendations
October 27, 2015
Page Four
Section IV: Fire Alarm Systems in Existing Multi-Residential Buildings
CCSF Preliminary Findings (Continued)
5. Landlords and property managers are often confused about the time frames for
the testing of life safety equipment (fire alarm system, emergency lighting and exit
signs, fire sprinklers, fire escapes, fire extinguishers)
6. The majority of fire alarms systems are not monitored by a third party, and would
necessitate fire alarm control panel upgrade/replacement. Off-site UL approved
monitoring of fire alarm systems in residential buildings is only required when
there are 20 or more fire sprinkler heads present. Some systems could be
upgraded by adding a dialer.
Tenant Perspectives:
1. Any fire alarm upgrades should take into consideration residents with disabilities
who may not be able to hear audible alarms. Possibilities should include strobe
devices.
Landlord/Business Community Perspectives:
1. Some battery smoke detectors are more reliable then others. Pursuant to
some property owner testimony the ionization senor types are prone to
more false alarms.
2. Landlords and property managers are often confused about the time frames for
the testing of life safety equipment (fire alarm system, emergency lighting and exit
signs, fire sprinklers, fire escapes, fire extinguishers).
3. Further research should be performed to identify and determine the
feasibility of employing the latest technology, such as wireless systems
currently utilized in other building types.
Page 4 of 5
Fire Safety Task Force
Preliminary Findings & Recommendations
October 27, 2015
Page Five
CCSF Preliminary Recommendations:
1. The San Francisco Fire & Housing Codes could be amended to require
upgrades to the current fire alarm systems within two years to adhere to
the 75 dB “pillow test” standard.
2. The San Francisco Fire & Housing Codes should be amended to include a
chart which clearly delineates testing/inspection timeframes for all pertinent
fires safety equipment in multi-unit buildings. Both departments would
include this information in their fire safety educational and outreach efforts.
3. CCSF Departments should reach out to fire alarm system manufacturers to
encourage availability of replacement equipment for fire alarm systems
within reasonable time frames. How do we encourage them to
accommodate backwards compatibility where possible?
Page 5 of 5
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