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New Codes Announced To Improve High Rise Occupant Safety

New Codes for High-Rise Buildings

New Codes for High-Rise Buildings

New Codes Announced To Improve High-Rise Occupant Safety

Although we are all concerned about safety, in the property management and ownership business, it’s our top priority. No doubt you already know about building codes and the vital role they have in establishing construction and equipment standards. While these codes are often written in a dry and complex manner, they really are life savers.

Ensure the continued safety of your occupants by reviewing these announced guidelines from the International Code Council that affect the International Building Code (IBC). All of the guidelines are safety related, and are intended for buildings that fit the classification as “high rises.” According to the code, these buildings are defined as “… buildings “with an occupied floor located more than 75 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.”

Remember, codes protect not only your occupants but also investment and insurance premiums. Following them will help you avoid property damage and loss, and, more importantly, save lives.

Structural Integrity of Exit Enclosures and Elevator Hoistway Enclosures:

  • The IBC recommends impact-resistant walls be used to protect from possible blasts or projectiles that might result from a fire. The new code ensures the integrity of these exits, and provides extra protection for occupants during an emergency.

Sprinkler Systems: New requirements concentrate on extra redundancies to the sprinkler risers – now each zone is required to be supplied by at least two risers.

  • A minimum of two water mains must be connected to the fire pump water supply

Emergency Systems:

  • Smoke removal requirements for buildings that have experienced a fire and are now in the cleanup phase
  • Electrically-powered fire pumps must be under an emergency power load

Means of Egress and Evacuation:

  • Requirements are designed to aid the movement of occupants out of the building – decreasing the risk of injuries
  • New rules have been established regarding the distance required between exit stairway enclosures
  • During an emergency, official personnel need to use stairways, so there are new guidelines for additional exit stairways to accommodate this extra capacity
  • Luminous egress path markings requirements will ensure that your occupants know exactly where to go, which can decrease confusion in cases of emergency


  • New requirement for a fire service access elevator which gives firefighting personnel a safe and fast way to reach staging areas. Implementation will allow fires to be controlled more quickly.
  • Occupant elevators can be used for evacuation provided the new specific requirements are met.
  • Completion of the requirements may provide exemption from the additional stairway requirement mentioned earlier

Be sure to review the specific requirements before implementing changes. Visit the International Code Council website for more information.

Allied Universal Inc. is a credible source for property managers and owners to learn about many building-related issues. Refer your colleagues to our blog so they can also stay informed about the latest industry trends. And BE SAFE.

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