CODES

ADOPTS WITH AMENDMENTS:

International Property Maintenance Code 2012 (IPMC 2012)

The provisions of this chapter shall govern the minimum conditions and standards for fire safety relating to structures and exterior premises, including fire safety facilities and equipment to be provided.
The owner of the premises shall provide and maintain such fire safety facilities and equipment in compliance with these requirements. A person shall not occupy as owner-occupant or permit another person to occupy any premises that do not comply with the requirements of this chapter.
Combustible, flammable, explosive or other hazardous materials, such as paint, volatile oils and cleaning fluids, or combustible rubbish, such as wastepaper, boxes and rags, shall not be accumulated or stored unless such storage complies with the applicable requirements of the Building Code and the Fire Code.

702.1 General

STATE AMENDMENT
A safe, continuous and unobstructed path of travel shall be provided from any point in a building or structure to the public way. Means of egress shall comply with the International Fire Code.

702.2 Aisles

STATE AMENDMENT
The required width of aisles in accordance with the International Fire Code shall be unobstructed.

702.3 Locked Doors

STATE AMENDMENT
All means of egress doors shall be readily openable from the side from which egress is to be made without the need for keys, special knowledge or effort, except where the door hardware conforms to that permitted by the International Building Code.
Required emergency escape openings shall be maintained in accordance with the code in effect at the time of construction, and shall conform with the following. Required emergency escape and rescue openings shall be operational from the inside of the room without the use of keys or tools. Bars, grilles, grates or similar devices are permitted to be placed over emergency escape and rescue openings provided the minimum net clear opening size complies with the code that was in effect at the time of construction and such devices shall be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the escape and rescue opening. It shall be the duty of the owner to keep fire escapes, stairways, and other egress facilities in a good state of repair, painted and free from obstruction.

702.5 Arrangements

STATE AMENDMENT
Exits from dwelling units, rooming units and sleeping units, including guestrooms and dormitory units, shall not lead through other such units, or through toilet rooms or bathrooms.

702.6 Exit signs

STATE AMENDMENT
All means of egress shall be indicated with approved “Exit” signs where required by the Building Code. All “Exit” signs shall be maintained visible, and all illuminated “Exit” signs shall be illuminated at all times that the building is occupied.

702.7 Stair identification

STATE AMENDMENT
The interior and exterior of all stairway doors shall be provided with signage as required by Section 1022.9 of the Building Code.
The required fire-resistance rating of fire-resistance-rated walls, fire stops, shaft enclosures, partitions and floors shall be maintained.
Required opening protectives shall be maintained in an operative condition. All fire and smokestop doors shall be maintained in operable condition. Fire doors and smoke barrier doors shall not be blocked or obstructed or otherwise made inoperable.

704.1 General

STATE AMENDMENT
All systems, devices and equipment to detect a fire, actuate an alarm, or suppress or control a fire or any combination thereof shall be maintained in an operable condition at all times in accordance with the International Fire Code.
Inspection, testing and maintenance of automatic sprinkler systems shall be in accordance with NFPA 25.

704.1.2 Fire extinguishers

STATE AMENDMENT
All portable fire extinguishers required by a prior or current Building Code or Fire Code shall be visible, readily accessible and maintained in an efficient and safe operating condition. Extinguishers shall be of an approved type. Fire extinguishers shall be maintained in accordance with NFPA 10 as referenced in the Fire Code.

704.2 Smoke Alarms

STATE AMENDMENT
Single- or multiple-station smoke alarms shall be installed and maintained in Group R or I-1 Groups R-2, R-3 and R-4, and in dwellings not regulated as Group R occupancies, regardless of occupant load at all of the following locations:
1. On the ceiling or wall outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms.
2. In each room used for sleeping purposes.
3. In each story within a dwelling unit, including basements and cellars but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels, a smoke alarm installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.
      Single- or multiple-station smoke alarms shall be installed in other groups in accordance with the Fire Code.
Existing Group R-2 and R-3 occupancies, and dwellings not regulated as Group R occupancies, that contain smoke alarms in locations that comply with Section 704.2 (1) or (2) shall have a 36-month period, commencing on the date of adoption of the 2013 edition of the D.C. Construction Codes in accordance with Section 122 of the Building Code, to install smoke alarms in the additional locations specified in Section 704.2 (1), (2) and (3).
In Group R or I-1 occupancies, single-station smoke alarms shall receive their primary power from the building wiring provided that such wiring is served from a commercial source and shall be equipped with a battery backup. Smoke alarms shall emit a signal when the batteries are low. Wiring shall be permanent and without a disconnecting switch other than as required for overcurrent protection.
Exception: Smoke alarms are permitted to be solely battery operated in buildings where no construction is taking place, buildings that are not served from a commercial power source and in existing areas of buildings undergoing alterations or repairs that do not result in the removal of interior wall or ceiling finishes exposing the structure, unless there is an attic, crawl space or basement available which could provide access for building wiring without the removal of interior finishes.
Where more than one smoke alarm is required to be installed within an individual dwelling unit in Group R or I-1 occupancies, the smoke alarms shall be interconnected in such a manner that the activation of one alarm will activate all of the alarms in the individual unit. Physical interconnection of smoke alarms shall not be required where listed wireless alarms are installed and all alarms sound upon activation of one alarm. The alarm shall be clearly audible in all bedrooms over background noise levels with all intervening doors closed.
Exceptions:
1. Interconnection is not required in buildings which are not undergoing alterations, repairs or construction of any kind.
2. Smoke alarms in existing areas are not required to be interconnected where alterations or repairs do not result in the removal of interior wall or ceiling finishes exposing the structure, unless there is an attic, crawl space or basement available which could provide access for interconnection without the removal of interior finishes.

704.5 Fire alarm systems

STATE AMENDMENT
Fire alarm systems shall be continuously maintained in accordance with applicable NFPA requirements or as otherwise directed by the code official.
All manual fire alarm boxes shall be operational and unobstructed.

704.5.2 Fire alarm signage

STATE AMENDMENT
Where fire alarm systems are not monitored by a supervising station, an approved permanent sign shall be installed adjacent to each manual fire alarm box that reads: “WHEN ALARM SOUNDS CALL FIRE DEPARTMENT.”

Exception: When the manufacturer has permanently provided this information on the manual fire alarm box.

704.5.3 Fire alarm notice

STATE AMENDMENT
The owner of a building containing four or more dwelling units, rooming units or sleeping units, including a building containing four or more residential condominium or cooperative units, shall post in conspicuous places in the common spaces of the building, and distribute to each tenant or unit owner, a written notice that provides information about fire alarm systems in the building. The notice shall be on a form developed and published by the code official in English and in the languages required under section 4 of the Language Access Act of 2004, effective June 19, 2004 (D.C. Law 15-167; D.C. Official Code § 2-1933) (2012 Repl.).

The notice shall include the following information:
  1. Instructions on the operation of manual fire alarm boxes of the building fire alarm system;
  2. Instructions on what to do when the dwelling unit’s smoke detectors activate, including abandoning the dwelling unit immediately, closing the door of the unit and actuating the nearest manual fire alarm box;
  3. Whether the building fire alarm system is monitored by a supervising station; and
  4. Instructions to report any fire event by immediately calling 911.
     For purposes of this section, the owner of a building containing condominium or cooperative units shall be the unit owners’ association, the cooperative housing association or other entity having responsibility for managing the condominium or cooperative on behalf of the unit owners.

704.5.4 Housing Business

STATE AMENDMENT
Where the owner or operator of a housing business has failed to comply with the smoke alarm provisions of Section 704.2, the tenant is authorized to purchase, install and maintain battery-operated smoke alarm(s) as a temporary safeguard at the owner’s expense subject to the following: (a) the tenant must notify the owner or operator in writing that installation, replacement or repair of a smoke alarm is required by Section 704.2, and, request that the owner or operator take appropriate action, and the owner or operator fails to take the requested action within 10 days after such request or such later date as mutually agreed; and (b) the tenant must provide the owner or authorized agent of the owner with access to the dwelling unit to correct any smoke alarm deficiencies which have been reported. Reasonable costs incurred by the tenant may be deducted from the rent for the dwelling unit pursuant to procedures governing landlord tenant relationships set forth in 14 DCMR. No tenant shall be charged, evicted, or penalized in any fashion for failure to pay the reasonable costs deducted from the rent for the dwelling unit for purchase, installation or maintenance of smoke alarms under this section.
The failure of an owner or operator of a housing business to comply with Section 704.2 shall be deemed an imminent danger pursuant to Section 109 of the Property Maintenance Code and Section 111.2 of the Fire Code.
Except as provided in Section 704.5.4.4, no act or omission by a tenant under this section 704.5.4 shall relieve the owner of responsibility to ensure full and continuing compliance with Section 704.
Except as provided in Section 704.5.4.4, nothing in this Section 704.5.4 shall be construed (a) to impose a penalty or other liability on a tenant for failure to install or maintain a smoke alarm; or (b) to mean that a tenant who fails to install or maintain a smoke alarm is contributorily negligent.
Tampering with, removing, destroying, disconnecting or removing the batteries from any installed smoke alarm, except in the course of inspection, maintenance or replacement of the alarm is prohibited.

704.5.4.5 Other penalties

STATE AMENDMENT
Nothing in this Section shall be deemed to negate the obligation of the owner or operator to comply with the requirements of Section 704.2, or to preclude the code official from pursuing other penalties and remedies under this code where the owner or operator fails to comply with Section 704.2.

704.6 High rise buildings

STATE AMENDMENT
The owner of a high-rise building shall:
  1. Prepare and maintain a fire safety and evacuation plan for the building; and
  2. Conduct fire drills at least once every year.
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