Safety Requirements for Building Owners

In August 2016, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation aimed at promoting fire and life safety, reducing the risk of fires, and preventing property damage from fires.  The requirements include having building owners:

  • provide residential tenants with updated Tenant Fire Safety Disclosure Information on fire safety and smoke alarm requirements,
  • post smoke and CO alarm 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 San Francisco Fire Department is here to assist building owners to become compliant with these new requirements.  The requirements and effective dates vary based on the total number of building residential units and when the legislation was approved.

 For more information scroll down and look for the "SFFD HELP" active links, which are provided to help you find the necessary forms, examples of information disclosures, sample letters, and other helpful code information to assist you with compliance.


Building owners shall provide the following information to all tenants annually:

1)  FIRE SAFETY INFORMATION DISCLOSURE

       SFFD HELP:  Tenant Fire Safety Disclosure Information

It is the purpose of Section 409 to reduce the risk of fires to residents 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.

The owner of the Apartment House or the owner's agent shall provide an oral explanation of the Disclosure Information to new residents before the new residents commence occupancy in the building, a written copy of the Disclosure Information to new residents on or before the commencement of occupancy, and a written copy, updated as appropriate, to all building residents on or before January 31 of each year.

The owner of the Apartment House shall maintain a record of its compliance with this Section 409.2 by retaining a copy of the Disclosure Information 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.

The Disclosure Information [Section 409.2] shall be provided in writing.  If provided in hard copy, it shall be printed on white paper, 8.5" x 11" (216mm x 279mm), or larger, in no smaller that 10-point font.

NOTE: The annual Disclosure Information may be provided to tenants via email (soft copy).


2)  FIRE SAFETY TIPS AND TRAINING VIDEO

      SFFD HELP: Fire Safety Tips for San Francisco

      SFFD HELP:  http://fire-bfp-b.usgovvirginia.cloudapp.usgovcloudapi.net/Fire_Safety_At_Home.ppsx


3)  SMOKE ALARM INFORMATION DISCLOSURE

       SFFD HELP:  Annual Smoke Alarm Information Notice

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.

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.

NOTE: If no such common area(s) exists, the building owner shall provide a copy to each residential tenant in the building.


4)  LIST OF TENANTS RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS

       SFFD HELP:  List of Tenant’s Rights Organizations

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. 
 

Building owners shall post the following information in their building(s):

1)  BUILDING CONTACT PHONE NUMBER

       SFFD HELP:  Building Contact Number Guidance

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 Department or other building inspector prompt access to the building to conduct safety inspections.


2)  FIRE ALARM MAINTENANCE, INSPECTION AND TESTING FORM

       SFFD HELP:  Statement of Compliance Form

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.

***If the Apartment House building does not have a fire alarm system installed, the building owner shall submit a letter to the San Francisco Fire Department by the date listed below, advising the Fire Marshal of the fire alarm status of the building.

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.

Recordkeeping.

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.

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.


3)  SMOKE ALARM INFORMATION DISCLOSURE & TENANTS RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS

       SFFD HELP:  Annual Smoke Alarm Information Notice

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.

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

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.

 NOTE: If no such common area(s) exists, the building owner shall provide a copy to each residential tenant in the building.


Sleeping Area Fire Alarm Requirements (Section 1103.7.6.1)

Compliance shall include all residential buildings with three units or more with an existing fire alarm system. The building owner shall upgrade the fire alarm system (if necessary) to comply with sound level requirements for sleeping areas set forth in section 18.4.5.1 of NFPA 72 (2013 edition) as amended from time to time, upon any of the following:

(A) Before completion of work on a building permit with a cost of construction of $99,000 or more, excluding seismic upgrade work required per the Existing Building Code.

(B) On or prior to July 1, 2023.

2013 NFPA 72 Section 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).

2013 NFPA 72 Section 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.

2013 NFPA 72 Section 18.4.5.3

Effective January 1, 2014, audible appliances provided for the sleeping areas to awaken occupants 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.
 

Specific SFFD Requirements:

1. If the existing fire alarm system has existing audible appliances that achieve the sound pressure level requirements of NFPA 72-2013 they shall be acceptable even if they do not produce Low-Frequency tones. An audibility test shall be performed by a licensed C-10 contractor to demonstrate audibility compliance. The test results shall be documented on an associated Department of Building Inspection “Fire Only” permit indicating the sound level of at least 75 dBA; measured at the pillow of each sleeping area using a calibrated and approved dBA meter.

2. When new audible appliances are required to meet the minimum 75dBA sound level, they shall be current CSFM listed Low-Frequency audible appliances.

3. Any fire alarm work associated with this bulletin shall comply with the applicable sections in SFFD Administrative Bulletin 2.01.

4. Wireless fire alarm system equipment shall be permitted to be used for this application per SFFD 2019 Administrative Bulletin 2.01 specific requirements.

5. If the existing FACU is being replaced with a new FACU, the following applicable requirements shall apply:

a) The primary power source for the Fire Alarm Control Unit (FACU) and remote power supplies shall be from a dedicated circuit. This circuit shall be labeled at both the electrical sub panel and on the inside of the FACU/Power supply door and be provided with a circuit lock (if it is not installed in a locked room). If the existing FACU and/or remote power supplies did not have dedicated power circuit(s), new dedicated circuit(s) must be provided for the new FACU and any remote power supply (if provided). The building owner shall be responsible to provide the dedicated power circuit(s) if required. The dedicated power circuit(s) shall be in accordance with the SFEC-2019 and be provided by a CA licensed electrical contractor (not required to be the same C-10 FA contractor performing the FA work).

b) Where applicable, a replacement FA system design shall differentiate the intent to meet current codes or replaced on a like-for-like basis per CSFM Code interpretation 12-001 and information bulletin dated 9/4/2008 (These two documents shall be scanned onto the FA permit plans).

c) Where an existing FA remote annunciator is not provided, a new LCD or LED annunciator may be voluntary provided at the main building entrance (SFFD response point) in an approved location per SFFD Administrative Bulletins 2.01, 3.01, and 3.02.

d) If not provided for the existing FA system, a new wireless communicator shall be required per AB # 2.01 Section VIII.

e) If the existing FA system does not have existing initiating devices per current codes to generate the activation of the FA notification system, additional initiating devices shall be required to be provided and installed per current codes. This will include both automatic and manual initiating devices. When the building is not fully sprinklered per NFPA 13 or NFPA 13R, new smoke detectors shall be installed in all interior corridors leading to dwelling units per the 2019 SF Building Code Section 907.2.9.5.

Exception: Existing Fire Alarm Boxes (Manual Pull Stations) which are installed at all required exits (within 5 feet to the entrance of each required exit) at higher elevation than 42”-48” AFF, shall be permitted to remain at their current elevation. If new manual pull stations are required to be provided at required Exits they shall be installed in approved locations within 5 feet to the entrance of each required Exit at 42”-48” elevation AFF.

g) If the existing FA system does not have current code complaint audible and visual notification system in common areas of the building outside the dwelling units, additional audible and visual appliance shall be provided in the common areas for general public notification per current applicable codes.

Exception 1: If existing unsynchronized strobes are provided in common areas and have CD rating coverage per NFPA 72, they shall not have to be replaced with new synchronized strobes. If the CD rating coverage of the existing strobes does not meet current NFPA 72-2016 requirements, they will have to be modified by selecting a higher CD rating or by replacing the existing strobes with new strobes.

Exception 2: If existing audible appliances such as horns, bells, sounders, speakers, etc. are provided in common areas and generate 15 dBA sound pressure level above ambient, they shall not have to be replaced with new audible appliances if they do not interfere with the Temporal-3 FA alert tone inside the dwelling units and sleeping areas. This will be verified by the Fire inspector at the time of inspection.

h) When the existing FACU is replaced but the existing initiating devices are not replaced, Compatibility Listing (backwards compatibility) between the new FACU and the existing initiating devices must be provided by the applicant and be placed on the FA permit plans. The plans shall indicate that a 100% test of all the fire alarm system functions plus 10% of all existing initiating devices is required per the approved FA Sequence of Operation Matrix (S.O.O.M.). All new/replacement fire alarm system devices and components (if provided) shall be 100% tested.

6. If any of the specific requirements above or any other applicable codes requirements are not clear or require further and specific SFFD interpretation, the building owner or the permit applicant may request to have a Pre-Application meeting with the SFFD by submitting a pre-application meeting request form.


HELPFUL COMPLIANCE TOOLS

WEBSITE LANGUAGE TRANSLATION
If you would like to view this website in a different language, in the right-hand column, click on the “Select Language” option.  This will automatically translate most of the information found on the website.

COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS/FAQS
Click on the document below to review most commonly asked questions about the New Fire Safety Requirements.

FIRE SAFETY REQUIREMENT INFORMATIONAL PACKET
Click on the document below for a printer-friendly version of all the new requirement information posted on the website.  A copy is also available for $4.80 from Bureau of Fire Prevention at SFFD Headquarters, 698 Second Street, Room 109, San Francisco. Please note: it does not include the Commonly Asked Questions/FAQs or Letters from the Fire Marshal. 

WEBSITE LINK TO FIRE SAFETY INFORMATION AND TRAINING VIDEO
The website link you need to provide to tenants is listed below.  This link is also provided on both versions of our Disclosure Information Samples.

Fire Safety Tips for San Francisco

LETTERS FROM THE FIRE MARSHAL
Below are copies of the letters sent from the Fire Marshal informing building owners of the new requirements.

 

 

(Information Reorganized/Edited on 10/22/2019)