New Fire Safety Requirements for Building Owners

In August 2016, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed new legislation aimed at promoting fire and life safety, reducing the risk of fires, and preventing property damage from fires.  These laws, which have been incorporated into the San Francisco Fire Code, establish new requirements for the owners of residential buildings.

The new requirements include having building owners provide residential tenants with updated information on fire safety and smoke alarm requirements, post fire safety related information in common areas of their buildings, file and post a Statement of Compliance form for annual fire alarm testing, and post the building manager contact information at the building entry.  The requirements and effective dates vary based on the total number of building residential units and when the legislation was approved.  Non-compliance with these requirements may lead to violations, where in some cases, each day that a violation occurs will result an additional violation being issued.

The San Francisco Fire Department is here to assist building owners to become compliant with these new requirements.  Details of the requirements are provided below.  Look for the "SFFD HELP" links, which are provided to help you find the necessary forms, examples of signs, sample letters, and other helpful code information to assist you with compliance.
 

FIRE SAFETY INFORMATION DISCLOSURE
Compliance Date = 3/10/2017

SMOKE ALARM INFORMATION DISCLOSURE
Compliance Date = 1/31/2017

FIRE ALARM MAINTENANCE, INSPECTION AND TESTING FORM
Compliance Dates = 1/31/2017 (9 or more units); 1/31/2018 (3-8 units)

FIRE ALARM SLEEPING AREA REQUIREMENTS
Compliance Date = 7/1/2021 or completion of  (>/=) $50,000 construction work

 

 

FIRE SAFETY INFORMATION DISCLOSURE (SFFC Section 409)

 
Purpose. (409.1)

It is the purpose of this Section 409 to reduce the risk of fires and of damage from fires by requiring owners of buildings with three or more dwelling units to disclose fire safety information to new residents on or before they begin to live in the building and once a year thereafter, and to post fire safety information in a place that is accessible to all residents.
 

Disclosure Requirements. (409.2)

(a)   The following information (the "Disclosure Information") shall be disclosed to each resident of an Apartment House as defined in the Housing Code:

  1. The location of all fire extinguishers in the building, and the dates of last servicing;
  2. The location of all emergency exits in the building, and a statement that they must remain unobstructed;
  3. The location of all fire escapes in the building, and the dates of last inspection;
  4. The location of the building fire alarm system, the date when the building fire alarm system was last inspected and tested as required by Section 907.8.5 of this Code, and confirmation that the building fire alarm system is UL certificated under Section 907.7.4 of this Code, if applicable;
  5. The location of all smoke alarms in the resident's dwelling unit, instructions on how to confirm that the smoke alarms are in working condition, and a statement of when the smoke alarms were last replaced;
  6. The location of all carbon monoxide detectors in the resident's dwelling unit, instructions on how to confirm that the carbon monoxide detectors are in working condition, and a statement of when the carbon monoxide detectors were last replaced; and
  7. The phone number of the appropriate contact within the San Francisco Fire Department for reporting suspected violations of this Section 409.

The Disclosure Information may also include any other information that would assist a resident to escape or prevent a fire in the building.
 

SFFD HELPSAMPLE Tenant Fire Safety Disclosure Information
 

(b)   The owner of the Apartment House or the owner's agent shall provide:

  1. an oral explanation of the Disclosure Information to new residents before the new residents commence occupancy in the building,
  2. a written copy of the Disclosure Information to new residents on or before the commencement of occupancy, and
  3. a written copy, updated as appropriate, to all building residents on or before January 31 of each year.
     

(c)   The owner of the Apartment House shall maintain a record of its compliance with this Section 409.2 by requesting that a resident from each dwelling unit execute a statement (the "Resident's Statement") and transmit the Resident's Statement to the owner within 20 business days after the resident has received the Disclosure Information, both upon commencement of occupancy and in each subsequent year.
 

SFFD HELP:  SAMPLE Resident’s Statement
 

The Resident's Statement shall identify the date that the resident received the Disclosure Information. If the resident fails to complete and transmit a Resident's Statement as requested, the owner shall execute a written statement (the "Owner's Statement") which confirms the date that the owner provided the resident the Disclosure Information, and which states that the resident did not execute the statement as requested. The owner shall provide the resident a copy of the Owner's Statement within five business days after it is executed.
 

SFFD HELP:  SAMPLE Owner’s Statement
 

The owner shall retain copies of all Resident's Statements and Owner's Statements for at least two years. An owner's failure to maintain such records shall create a rebuttable presumption that the owner has violated this Section 409.2.
 

(d)   A resident's failure to complete and transmit a Resident's Statement shall not constitute just cause under Administrative Code Section 37.9(a).
 

(e)   It is recommended that residents test the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in their dwelling units on a monthly basis, and immediately report any problems or needed repairs to the building owner.
 

Posting Requirements. (409.3)

(a)   The information required to be disclosed under Section 409.2, subdivisions (a)(1), (a)(2), (a)(3), (a)(4), and (a)(7) (collectively, the "Posted Information"), shall be posted in a common area on each floor frequented by the residents in each Apartment House, as defined in the Housing Code.

(b)   The Posted Information shall be updated as appropriate on or before January 31 of each year.
 

SFFD HELP SAMPLE Posted Disclosure Information
 

(c)   A sign or sticker shall be affixed at the main point of entry to the Apartment House, or at such other location that the Fire Marshal approves in writing, that contains the phone number of the owner, property manager, or other person who can give the Fire Marshal or other building inspector prompt access to the building to conduct safety inspections.
 

SFFD HELP:  Building Contact Number Guidance
 

SFFD HELP: Compliance Date for Section 409: March 10, 2017
 

Printing Requirements. (409.5)

(a)   The Posted Information and Disclosure Information shall be printed and posted.  In the case of Posted Information, it shall be in compliance with Section 11B-703.5 of the California Building Code, as it may be amended from time to time.
 

SFFD HELP:  Printing Requirements for Posted Information Signs: California Building Code, Section 11B-703.5 (Accessibility)
 

Penalties and Enforcement. (409.6)

The Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department or his or her designee may assess and collect administrative penalties from the owner for any violation of this Section 409 in accordance with Administrative Code Chapter 100, "Procedures Governing the Imposition of Administrative Fines," as may be amended from time to time. Chapter 100, which is incorporated herein in its entirety, shall govern the amount of fees and the procedures for imposition, enforcement, collection, and administrative review of administrative citations. Each day a violation of one of the aforementioned sections occurs shall constitute a separate violation of that section.
 

SFFD HELP:  Procedures Governing the Imposition of Administrative Fines (SF Administrative Code, Chapter 100)

 

 

 

SMOKE ALARM INFORMATION DISCLOSURE
 

Annual Smoke Alarm Information Notice.

(a)   On or before January 31, 2017, and on or before January 31 of each year thereafter, owners of a dwelling unit intended for human occupancy in which one or more units is rented or leased shall provide each tenant with a written notice regarding smoke alarm requirements on a form provided by the Fire Department. The Fire Department shall develop the notice in consultation with the Department of Building Inspection and shall make the notice available on its website in English, Spanish, and Chinese.
 

SFFD HELP:  Annual Smoke Alarm Information Notice
 

The Fire Department shall update the notice as necessary from time to time to reflect changes in the law, and the owner shall provide the most recent notice to tenants. The notice shall include, but not be limited to, the following information:

  1. Information regarding the importance of maintaining smoke alarms in working condition for life safety;
  2. A brief summary of legal requirements for smoke alarms in dwelling units;
  3. A statement that the landlord is obligated to provide operable smoke alarms in good working condition in the dwelling unit in accordance with the Housing Code and Fire Code and the landlord must promptly repair or replace inoperable smoke alarms upon request; and
  4. Attached as a separate appendix to the notice, a list, to be prepared by the Rent Board, of tenants' rights organizations that provide counseling to tenants on issues related to fires, and contact information for those organizations.
     

Posting Requirement.

(b)   For all Apartment Houses as defined in the Housing Code, the building owner shall post the Annual Smoke Alarm Information Notice referenced in subsection (a) in at least one conspicuous location in a common area of each floor of the building.
 

SFFD HELP:  List of Tenant’s Rights Organizations
 

SFFD HELP: Compliance Date = January 31, 2017

 

 

 

FIRE ALARM MAINTENANCE, INSPECTION AND TESTING FORM (SFFC Section 907.8.5)
 

Testing, Inspection and Filing Requirements.

(a)   The building owner is responsible to maintain the fire and life safety systems in an operable condition at all times. The building owner must have the system(s) tested and inspected every year by service personnel who meet the qualification requirements of NFPA 72, as amended from time to time, for maintaining, inspecting, and testing of the systems.
 

  1. Filing Statement of Compliance. With regard to fire alarm systems in Apartment Houses, as defined in the Housing Code, the building owner shall file a Statement of Compliance with this annual testing and inspection requirement with the Fire Department, on a form provided by the Fire Department, in accordance with the following schedule:

(A) for buildings with nine or more units, on or before January 31, 2017, and thereafter on or before January 31 of each odd-numbered year, and

(B) for buildings with three to eight units, on or before January 31, 2018, and thereafter on or before January 31 of each even-numbered year.

The Fire Department shall consult with the Department of Building Inspection in developing the Statement of Compliance form. The Fire Department shall post all Statements of Compliance it receives on a City website maintained by the Fire Department no later than 60 days from January 31 each year.
 

SFFD HELP:  Statement of Compliance Form
 

  1. Posting Statement of Compliance in Common Area. In addition to filing the Statement of Compliance, the building owner shall post a copy of the most recently filed Statement of Compliance in at least one conspicuous location in a common area of each floor of the building or, if no such common area(s) exist, the building owner shall provide a copy to each residential tenant in the building. The building owner shall comply with this requirement no later than 60 days from the date of filing of the Statement of Compliance.
     
  2. Enforcement. For purposes of enforcement of this subsection (a), the Fire Department shall be responsible only for posting the Statement of Compliance forms on the City website, and the Fire Department and/or the Department of Building Inspection shall respond to any complaint received by the respective department pertaining to compliance with this subsection in the case of the Fire Department, or compliance with Section 908 of the Housing Code in the case of the Department of Building Inspection. The Departments may also enforce these requirements pursuant to periodic health and safety inspections required by code.
     

SFFD HELP: Compliance Dates = January 31, 2017 (9 or more units); January 31, 2018 (3-8 units)
 

Recordkeeping.

(b)   The building owner shall maintain written records of inspection and testing, as specified in NFPA 72, as amended from time to time, until the next test and for one year thereafter.
 

Fire Alarm Service Sticker.

(c)   The building owner shall place, or shall have servicing personnel place, a sticker on the exterior of the fire alarm control panel cover that includes the company name, phone number, and the date of the last inspection or testing.

 

 

 

FIRE ALARM SLEEPING AREA REQUIREMENTS (SFFC Section 1103.7.6.1)
 

Sleeping Area Requirements

For all buildings that are required to have a fire alarm system under this [Fire] Code, the Building Code, the Housing Code or any other law, the building owner shall upgrade the fire alarm system, if necessary, to comply with the sound level requirement for sleeping areas set forth in Section 18.4.5.1 of NFPA 72 (2013 edition), as amended from time to time, upon either (a) completion of work under a building permit with a cost of construction of $50,000 or more or (b) July 1, 2021, whichever occurs first.
 

NFPA 72 (2013)

18.4.5.1  Where audible appliances are installed to provide signals for sleeping areas, they shall have a sound level of at least 15 dB above the average ambient sound level or 5 dB above the maximum sound level having a duration of at least 60 seconds or a sound level of at least 75 dBA, whichever is greater, measured at the pillow level in the area required to be served by the system using the A-weighted scale (dBA).

18.4.5.2  If any barrier, such as a door, curtain, or retractable partition, is located between the notification appliance and the pillow, the sound pressure level shall be measured with the barrier placed between the appliance and the pillow.

18.4.5.3  Effective January 1, 2014, where audible appliances are provided to produce signals for sleeping areas, they shall produce a low frequency alarm signal that complies with the following:

(1)  The alarm signal shall be a square wave or provide equivalent awakening ability.
(2)  The wave shall have a fundamental frequency of 520 Hz +/- 10 percent.
 

 

If you have any additional questions regarding these requirements or related procedures, please feel free to contact the SFFD Bureau of Fire Prevention at: (415) 558-3300.