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The rooftops of buildings 100 feet (30 480 mm) or less in height, except rooftops with a slope exceeding 20 degrees (0.35 rad) from the horizontal, shall be designed, installed, operated and maintained in accordance with this section and in a manner that avoids or minimizes obstructions that impede firefighting operations such as vertical ventilation of heat and smoke, surveillance of rear yards and courtyards, and rooftop-aided rescues. For purposes of this section only, "rooftop" shall include rooftops of building setbacks, and "obstruction" shall mean any fixture or other item that is not readily movable by one person without the use of tools or equipment, including air conditioning systems, billboards and other signs, cellular antenna equipment, columns and girders, cooling towers, fuel oil storage tanks, generators, heating systems, planters, solar panels, ventilation system ducts, intakes and exhausts, and window cleaning equipment, but shall not include nonmetallic decking that is readily cut by standard power tools.
504.4.1 Rooftop Access
Access to building rooftops shall be provided for fire operations by providing unobstructed access to the rooftop, including unobstructed passage across the building parapet, perimeter fence or other obstructions, and a safe landing. Such rooftop access shall be provided in compliance with the following required clearances:
  1. For each 12 linear feet (3658 mm) of building perimeter accessible from the frontage space of the building and from any other exposure accessible to fire apparatus, a minimum clearance of 6 feet (1829 mm) in width and 6 feet (1829 mm) in depth from any obstruction shall be provided at the parapet wall or other perimeter of the rooftop.
  2. Where such building perimeter is 24 linear feet (7315 mm) or greater, but less than 36 linear feet (10 973 mm), the required clearance openings shall be separated by a distance of not less than 12 linear feet (3658 mm).
  3. Where such building perimeter is 36 linear feet (10 973 mm) or greater, the required clearance openings may be contiguous, provided, however, that such contiguous openings shall not exceed 12 linear feet (3658 mm) and shall be separated from other required clearance openings by a distance of not less than 12 linear feet (3658 mm).
  4. Each exposure accessible by fire apparatus may be treated separately for purposes of locating clearance openings and otherwise complying with the requirements of this provision.
  5. Awnings, sun control devices, solar panels or other structures affixed to an exterior building wall below the roof line shall not obstruct fire apparatus aerial ladder access to the rooftop perimeter access locations.
  6. Scaffolding obstructing rooftop access locations shall be designed to provide secure landings at such locations in an approved manner.
504.4.2 Rooftop Access Signs and Markings
Where required by the department, a sign, decal or approved marking shall be provided on the exterior wall of a building, at an approved location on a lower story, directly below the rooftop perimeter access landings, to identify the location of such rooftop access. The department may require such signs or markings when rooftop conditions not apparent from the street make rooftop access unsafe at locations other than the approved building perimeter access landings, or do not allow for access to the roof.
504.4.3 Rooftop Access Landings
At each rooftop perimeter access location, there shall be a safe landing area not less than 6 feet (1829 mm) in any dimension, connected to the clear path required by FC504.4.4. The landing shall not be obstructed by a fence, except as approved. If approved, such fence shall be provided with a standard 3-foot-wide (914 mm) gate that swings inward. Such gate may be secured by a padlock and chain capable of being cut by standard bolt cutters from either side of the gate, or secured by other approved device.
504.4.4 Rooftop Clear Path
A clear path of not less than 6 feet (1829 mm) horizontal width and 9 feet (2743 mm) in height shall be provided from the front of the building to the rear of the building and from one side of the building to the other for each 100 linear feet (30 480 mm) of rooftop width and depth. Such path shall comply with the following requirements:
  1. Such clear path shall be accessible from each rooftop perimeter access landing required pursuant to FC504.4.3.
  2. Such clear path shall afford reasonable access to bulkhead doors, fire escapes, access ladders, cockloft vents, skylights, scuttles and shafts. Such access shall include, to the maximum extent practicable, 3-feet (914 mm) clearance on three sides of the skylight or scuttle.
  3. A conduit or pipe may cross such clear path in accordance with FC504.4.7.
  4. Any lawful fence obstructing such clear path shall be provided with a standard 3-foot-wide (914 mm) gate, which may be secured by padlock or chain capable of being cut by standard bolt cutters, or secured by other approved device.
  5. When the main building rooftop has more than one level, a fixed ladder or other approved means shall be provided to afford access along the clear path from one roof level to the next, excluding any height differential between levels exceeding one story or 16 feet (4077 mm), and any level with a rooftop area that is less than 6 feet (1829 mm) in any dimension.
  6. On an "H"-shaped building or other building whose irregular configuration renders a single clear path inadequate to provide access to each wing of the building or other rooftop area, the commissioner may require one or more additional clear paths to provide adequate access to such rooftop areas.
504.4.5 Rooftop Clear Path Protection
Adequate protection, in the form of a securely affixed protective railing or barrier that is 42 inches (1067 mm) above the roof surface in height along the clear path, shall be provided for any shaft, building perimeter or elevation adjoining the clear path or rooftop perimeter access landing (except the rooftop access landing itself).

Exception: Height differentials of 6 feet (1829 mm) or less.
504.4.6 Required Rooftop Clearances
A minimum clearance of 6 feet (1829 mm) in all directions shall be provided from each door opening onto a rooftop from a dwelling unit, stairway, bulkhead, or other occupied space or means of egress, as measured from the door hinge. A minimum clearance of 3 feet (914 mm) in all directions shall be provided from any fire escape or rooftop access ladder, as measured from each side of the ladder or landing.
504.4.7 Rooftop Conduits and Piping
To the maximum extent practicable, conduits, including cable trays, and piping, shall be installed at rooftop locations where they do not obstruct rooftop access landings, clear path or required clearances. If it is impracticable to avoid these areas, conduits and piping shall be designed and installed to facilitate access and minimize tripping hazards. Steps or ramps (or platforms with steps, ramps or ladders) shall be provided that are constructed of noncombustible material, equipped with railings, and designed to allow any conduit or piping installations that exceed 1 foot (305 mm) in height above the roof surface, or more than 24 inches (610 mm) in width, to be readily traversed. Steps, ramps, platforms and ladders shall not be placed in areas or in a manner that would obstruct any door or means of egress. All conduits and piping installations shall be color-coded with continuous, durable and weatherproof reflective or luminescent markings as follows, and for conduit and piping installed after July 1, 2014, shall be continuously labeled in an approved manner to indicate its contents:
  1. High voltage wiring — Red.
  2. Low voltage wiring — Orange.
  3. Natural gas piping — Yellow.
  4. Other compressed gas piping — Yellow, labeled at regular intervals with the type of gas.
  5. Fuel oil piping — Yellow with black stripes.
504.4.8 Rooftop Telecommunications Installations
Telecommunications installations on building rooftops, including cellular antenna installations, shall additionally comply with the following requirements:
  1. Transmitting antennas shall be identified by affixing to the antenna, the antenna mounting, or a conspicuous location near the antenna, continuous, durable and weatherproof reflective or luminescent markings and not less than 3-inch (76-mm) lettering that reads, "TRANSMITTER."
  2. A durable sign shall be conspicuously posted on or near any equipment closet, roof base station or similar telecommunications antenna installation, identifying the owner of the installation, providing a 24-hour/7-day per week telephone number by which such owner can be contacted, and identifying the installation, including antennas and other powered equipment associated with the installation, by number or other unique designation.
504.4.9 Rooftop Gardens
Rooftop gardens and landscaping, including living walls, shall be designed, installed, operated and maintained in compliance with the requirements of the construction codes, including the Building Code and this section.
504.4.9.1 Perimeter and Clear Path Access
Rooftop gardens and landscaping shall not obstruct any rooftop area access to which is required pursuant to this section, including rooftop perimeter access and landings, clear path and clearances.
504.4.9.2 Landscaped Rooftops
Rooftop access landings, clear paths and other areas access to which is required pursuant to FC 504.3 and 504.4.4 may be landscaped in compliance with the following requirements:
  1. The earth or other landscaping material in such areas shall be securely contained and compacted in such a manner as to ensure a stable, continuous surface with a slope not exceeding the slope of the rooftop.
  2. Vegetation in such areas shall be limited to grass or other plants that do not exceed 12 inches (305 mm) in height and do not constitute a tripping hazard or pitfall.
504.4.9.3 Maintenance and Water Supply
Rooftop gardens and landscaping shall be maintained and provided with a water supply in accordance with FC318. Equipment used for the maintenance of rooftop gardens and landscaping shall be stored in accordance with FC318.
504.4.10 Rooftop Solar Installations
Rooftop solar installations shall be designed, installed, operated and maintained in accordance with FC512.

Related Code Sections

304.13 General Regulations, Rooftop Access and Obstructions
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306.7 General Regulations, Rooftop Access and Obstructions
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306.7 General Regulations, Rooftop Access and Obstructions
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1402.1 Solar Systems, Access
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