Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Index

    Questings

    Who is qualified to provide required door inspections for compliance with the 2015 Life Safety Code?

    The NFPA Life Safety Code (2015 edition) requires door inspections for egress doors, door assemblies, and self-closing or automatically closing doors to ensure proper function and operability of these egress and fire protection components. This standard can be met by qualified in-house personnel or a qualified third-party contractor.

    The Office of the State Fire Marshal takes no position on how a business chooses to conduct the required door inspections so long as the inspections satisfy the standards set forth in the applicable codes. 

    Specifically, door inspections may be performed by any individual who can demonstrate knowledge and understanding of doors and their components as well as an understanding of codes and standards related to this topic. Also, it is important for documentation of all inspections, maintenance, and any repairs conducted be readily available to OSFM inspectors when requested.

    OSFM is available to answer questions related to this topic, however, OSFM will not participate in the development of testing programs or checklists, nor review checklists for compliance with NFPA Life Safety Code (2015 edition)

    Guidance document for complying with Door Inspection Requirement

    Where can I obtain a copy of the Life Safety Code enforced by the Office of the State Fire Marshal?

    The Life Safety Code is published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as one of several codes produced by the NFPA. The State of Illinois, through the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), has adopted the NFPA Life Safety Code (2015 edition) into Title 41 Ill. Adm. Code 100 to serve as the applicable rules for fire prevention and safety. However, NFPA documents are copyrighted and copies cannot be provided by the OSFM. Copies of the Life Safety Code are available for examination at any of the regional offices of the OSFM and may be able to be found at local libraries or fire stations. Also, the Life Safety Code may be purchased from the NFPA by contacting their toll free number 1-800-344-3555. Make sure to ask for the 2015 edition. The Part 100 rules not only formally adopt the Life Safety Code but also give exceptions and modifications to the Life Safety Codes adoption. The adoption language, along with exceptions and modifications made to the code can be viewed at the following link.

    https://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/041/04100100sections.html 

    Are there any exceptions or changes to the Life Safety Code adopted by the Office of the State Fire Marshal?

    Yes.  Because there are many amendments, please see Title 41 Ill. Adm. Code 100.7(c) which is where the amendments to OSFM’s adoption of the 2015 edition of the NFPA Life Safety Code can be found. Use the link below:

    Does the Life Safety Code apply to a building that was occupied prior to the state's adoption of the Code?

    Yes. Unlike many building codes and local ordinances, the NFPA Life Safety Code is applicable to both new and existing occupancies. Examination of the Life Safety Code reveals that for most occupancy classifications, the code provides a chapter describing requirements for "new" occupancies and a sister chapter applicable to "existing" occupancies of the same classification. Although the existing occupancy chapters are often less stringent in some requirements than those applicable to new occupancies, it is not true that existing occupancies do not have to comply with the Life Safety Code.

    How do I know if my building or occupancy is classified as "new" or "existing" by the Life Safety Code?

    • The determining factor of whether an occupancy is required to comply with the "new" or the "existing" chapters of the Life Safety Code is dependent upon the status of the occupancy on the date of adoption of the Life Safety Code into the Illinois Administrative Code. The Office of the State Fire Marshal adopted the 2015 edition of the NFPA Life Safety Code into Illinois' administrative rules with an effective date of January 1, 2020. Any buildings that were constructed after January 1, 2020 are classified as "new" occupancies. 

      Those occupancies that were in existence on the Life Safety Code's adoption date are classified as "existing" occupancies. 

    Does the Life Safety Code apply to my single family home?

    If the municipality is a home-rule municipality that has not adopted our Part 100 rules, then OSFM's adoption of the Life Safety Code only applies to state-licensed facilities, in which the more stringent of the two codes-local or OSFM apply. Local codes do not apply to state-owned/leased buildings. If the municipality has complied with the "equivalency" requirements found in Title 41 Ill. Adm. Code 100.3(g) then OSFM's adoption of the Life Safety Code only applies to state-licensed facilities, in which the more stringent of the two codes-local or OSFM apply. Again, local codes do not apply to state-owned/leased buildings or state-owned/leased building. In all other cases OSFM's adoption of the Life Safety Code must be followed as the minimum code. Compliance with OSFM rules and codes does not guarantee compliance with local codes or ordinances and design professionals should always check with local authorities as well as OSFM to see if either have applicable requirements.

    Do local ordinances and regulations apply if I meet the State Life Safety Code?

    Yes! Locally adopted codes and regulations are concurrently applicable to the requirements of the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Local requirements may be more stringent than those adopted and enforced by the OSFM. Therefore, the OSFM encourages building owners to verify compliance with both the state-adopted codes as well as those imposed by local authorities. Compliance with OSFM rules and codes does not guarantee compliance with local codes or ordinances.

    Are there other codes that I should be aware of other than the Life Safety Code that are applicable in Illinois?

    Yes. And there are other administrative code sections address specific subjects and may be applicable to a building/project:

    • Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code 150 Race Track Rules for Fire Safety specific to parimutuel horse race tracks and associated buildings. Note that these rules are not applicable to "Off Track Betting" establishments that are required to comply with the adopted 2015 edition of the NFPA Life Safety Code.
    • Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code Part 160 "Storage, Transportation, Sale and Use of Gasoline and Volatile Oils: Rule and Regulations Relating to General Storage" (addresses bulk storage tanks for flammable and combustible liquids). The rules not only address large-volume aboveground storage tanks but also more commonly encountered smaller volume tanks containing products that include fuel for emergency generators, fresh and waste motor oil, and any other fluids or chemicals that have an associated flash point;
    • Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code Parts 174 "Requirements for Underground Storage Tanks and the Storage, Transportation, Sale and Use of Petroleum and Other Regulated Substances " and Part 175 "Technical Requirements for Underground Storage Tanks and the Storage, Transportation, Sale and Use of Petroleum and Other Regulated Substances" (address all forms of motor fuel dispensing stations, mobile fueling, underground storage tank installation, and transportation of flammable and combustible liquids);
    • Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code Part 180 "Storage, Transportation, Sale and Use of Gasoline and Volatile Oils" (addresses dispensing of flammable and combustible liquids from aboveground storage tanks, aboveground fuel storage tanks at airports, kerosene storage tanks, and general rules related to the handling of flammable and combustible liquids);.
    • Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code Part 200 "Storage, Transportation, Sale and Use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas" (addresses LP-Gas storage, particularly propane. References NFPA Standard #58 The LP-Gas Code);
    • Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code 251 Fire Equipment Distributor and Employee Standards (addresses licensing requirements related to portable fire extinguishers and fixed fire suppression systems other than water-based sprinkler systems);
    • Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code 300 Furniture Fire Safety Regulations (addresses the use of upholstered seating furniture in certain occupancies);
    • Title 83 Illinois Administrative Code Chapter I, Subchapter f, Part 785 "Joint Rules of the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency: Fire Protection and Emergency Services for Telecommunications Facilities" (addresses fire protection features in telecommunication switching facilities).

    Also, realize that the Life Safety Code makes reference to several other NFPA codes and standards, the application of which becomes mandatory, because of the LSC reference. These include but are not limited to:

    • NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
    • NFPA 13 Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems
    • NFPA 14 Standard for the Installation of Standpipe, Private Hydrant, and Hose Systems
    • NFPA 20 Installation of Stationary Pumps NFPA 54 The National Fuel Gas Code NFPA 58 The LP-Gas Code
    • NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
    • NFPA 96 Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations

    Rules imposed by the OFSM do not override those enforced by other state licensing agencies. Often licensing rules of other state agencies require building features not required by the Life Safety Code. Owners should therefore also familiarize themselves with the applicable licensing rules of other state agencies that may apply to their occupancies.

    What rules apply to permanently moored vessels?

    The rules for permanently moored vessels are found in Title 41 Ill. Adm. Code 149. These rules are in addition to the requirements of the 2015 edition of the NFPA Life Safety Code that also apply to whatever occupancy is found on the permanently moored vessels). The rules found in Part 149 require specific stability, floatation and inspection criteria for permanently moored structures.

    What is the definition of a high rise in the Life Safety Code?

    A building greater than 75 ft. in height where the building height is measured from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access to the floor of the highest occupiable story.

    Must all high rise buildings in Illinois be protected by automatic sprinklers?

    Not necessarily. The high-rise requirements found in the 2015 edition of the Life Safety Code are more stringent than in earlier editions, but an amendment in OSFM's adoption permits existing high rise buildings to use the 2015 edition of the Life Safety Code.

    Does the Office of the State Fire Marshal enforce the Life Safety Code in public school buildings?

    No. By law, the Office of the State Fire Marshal cannot enforce the OSFM-adopted NFPA Life Safety Code in Illinois' public elementary or secondary schools. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) maintains jurisdiction within these school buildings and the ISBE has adopted specific fire safety rules and regulations applicable to public schools. Illinois law now requires an annual fire safety inspection of all public schools by either the OSFM or the local fire department but that inspection must be conducted by applying the ISBE rules and not the OSFM's adopted Life Safety Code or any locally adopted regulations.

    Does the Office of the State Fire Marshal enforce the Life Safety Code in health care occupancies?

    No. Although the Life Safety Code is applicable in these occupancies, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) enforces the NFPA Life Safety Code in Illinois' licensed hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and ambulatory care facilities.

    Does Illinois have a building code?

    Public Act 101-0369, which became effective on December 15, 2019, requires all new commercial construction to comply with the current edition or most recent preceding editions of the following codes developed by the International Code Council:

    1. International Building Code
    2. International Existing Building Code

    Also effective on December 15, 2019, all new commercial construction must comply with the current edition or most recent preceding edition of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, published by the National Fire Protection Association.

    These requirements do not apply to any area that has adopted its own building code and registered that code adoption with the Capital Development Board (CDB) as required by Section 55 of the Illinois Building Commission Act.

    For a list of applicable building codes in areas of Illinois contact the Capital Development Board.

    I operate an adult education facility. How is my facility classified by the Life Safety Code?

    Adult education facilities (serving clientele above the 12th grade) are classified in the Life Safety Code as "business occupancies". Often owners and designers will assume that such facilities must comply with the "Educational Occupancy" chapters of the Life Safety Code, but this is incorrect. The Educational Occupancy chapters are applicable to schools serving students only through the 12th grade (through the end of high school) but not adult education facilities.

    Am I required to provide fire sprinklers in a day care center?

    Not necessarily. There is not an "across-the-board" requirement in the Life Safety Code that all day care centers be provided with automatic sprinkler systems. Requirements for the provision of automatic sprinkler protection the OSFM Division of Fire Prevention's regional offices staff can provide an answer regarding the necessity of a sprinkler system in day care centers is dependent upon three factors: a) whether the center is classified as "new" or "existing" in accordance with the Life Safety Code; b) the construction type of the building housing the day care center; and c) the floor level in the building where the day care center is located. If these conditions are explained to representatives at any of the OSFM Division of Fire Prevention's regional offices staff can provide an answer regarding the necessity of a sprinkler system.

    How do I know the occupant load of an assembly occupancy?

    The determination of the occupancy load and number of exits required from an assembly occupancy is a multi-step process that must be conducted in accordance with Life Safety Code requirements. There are several variables includeing size of the area, number of exits, presence of stairs, presence of fire protection systems, etc. Please contact the Fire Prevention Division for assistance.

    How often are sprinklers systems required to be tested?

    There is not one singular answer to the question of how often sprinkler systems or their components must be tested. NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems sets varying requirements based upon the type of sprinkler system and types of components and appurtenances that are present. By statute, those who inspect and maintain automatic sprinkler systems (other than weekly or monthly inspection and testing of control valves and gauges) must be OSFM-licensed fire sprinkler contractors.

    How often are fire alarm systems required to be tested?

    There is not one singular answer to this question. NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code is referenced by the Life Safety Code. This document NFPA 72 sets varying requirements based upon the type of fire alarm system and types of components and appurtenances that are present. The Office of the State Fire Marshal recommends that those responsible for maintaining or testing fire alarm systems be thoroughly familiar with NFPA 72. Furthermore, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation oversees rules that require those who install fire alarm systems to be licensed by that agency.

    Do I have to be licensed or certified to design or install a fire sprinkler system in Illinois?

    Yes. The Fire Sprinkler Contractor Licensing Act (225 ILCS 317) and the subsequently developed administrative rules on this subject (41 Ill. Adm. Code 109) require that those who design or install fire sprinkler systems be licensed by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Licensing information can be found on the OSFM's website. Also, the Fire Sprinkler Contractor Licensing Act requires that a professional engineer oversee the design of, and seal the plans for, fire sprinkler systems. (Note: there are some exceptions in the Act and the rules for the installation of smaller residential type sprinkler systems). Note that recent changes to the Act now require that those who inspect and maintain automatic sprinkler systems (other than weekly or monthly inspection and testing of control valves and gauges) must also be OSFM-licensed fire sprinkler contractors.

    Do I have to be licensed or certified to install a fire alarm system in Illinois?

    Yes. Illinois law requires that those who install fire alarm systems be licensed. Specifically, 225 ILCS 446 entitled the "Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, and Locksmith Act" defines a "Private alarm contractor" as any person who engages in a business that sells, installs, monitors, maintains, alters, repairs, replaces, services, or responds to alarm systems, including fire alarm systems. The Office of the State Fire Marshal does not issue licenses for fire alarm contractors. Licensing issues and questions about who can legally perform work on fire alarm systems within Illinois should be directed to the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation.

    Do I have to be licensed to test or maintain portable fire extinguishers in Illinois?

    Yes. The Fire Equipment Distributor and Employee Regulation Act requires that any person, company or corporation which services, recharges, hydrotests, inspects, installs, maintains, alters, repairs, replaces, or services fire extinguishing devices or systems, other than water sprinkler systems be licensed by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. The rules governing the licensing of portable fire extinguisher contractors are found within 41 Ill. Adm. Code. It should also be realized that the Act and the subsequently developed Part 250 rules also regulate the design, installation and testing of engineered and pre-engineered fire suppression systems. Fire equipment contractor regulation is handled by the OSFM's Division of Fire Prevention and specific questions should be directed to that Division. It should also be noted that the Fire Equipment Distributor and Employee Regulation Act does not apply to water sprinkler systems. Water sprinkler system design and installation is regulated by the OSFM, but under the Fire Sprinkler Contractor Licensing Act.

    I have designed fire alarm system to an updated NFPA standard (more recent than the edition referenced by the adopted 2015 Life Safety Code). Will such a system be considered in compliance with Illinois requirements?

    Yes. As long as the entire system is designed in accordance with all requirements of the updated standard. You cannot "pick and choose" parts of the earlier edition and the updated edition. The entire installation must comply with the updated edition to be considered compliant.

    How do I file a complaint regarding fire code violations that I have witnessed?

    You may call or write to any of the regional offices of the Division of Fire Prevention of the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Please be prepared to supply specific information regarding the name and address of the occupancy, the specific type of violation, where the violation is located in the building, when you witnessed the violation, and whether you have contacted the local fire authorities regarding the violation. The regional office contact numbers are:

    Chicago312 / 814-2693
    Marion618 / 993-7085
    Springfield   217 / 785-4714

    I own or operate a Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) or a Group Home and cannot find such a classification in the NFPA Life Safety Code. Where do I find the requirements for my occupancy?

    These occupancies are classified by the definitions of the Life Safety Code as "Residential Board and Care" occupancies. You will find separate chapters of the Life Safety Code applying to "new" and "existing" residential board and care occupancies. Furthermore, you will find that within the "new" and "existing" residential board and care chapters, facilities are designated as "small" or "large" depending upon the number of clients served within the occupancy. ("Small" pertains to a facility serving 16 or less clients and "Large" pertains to a facility serving more than 16 clients. Because CILA occupancies are limited to eight clients, they are classified as "small residential board and care occupancies").

    Must my kitchen cooking surface fire suppression system comply with U.L. 300?

    The applicable rules of the Office of the State Fire Marshal (41 Ill. Adm. Code 251) reference NFPA standards that result in all newly installed cooking surface fire suppression systems needing to be tested and listed in accordance with UL 300. Furthermore, the rules require that existing cooking surface fire suppression systems be brought into compliance with UL 300 by January 1, 2010. (Systems located in governmental entities are allowed until January 1, 2011 to comply with a UL300 listed system).

    To date, all of the systems listed by UL in accordance with the UL 300 requirements have been wet-chemical systems. There are currently no dry chemical systems that are compliant with UL 300 listing criteria. Therefore, all new installations of systems for the protection of commercial kitchen cooking equipment must be wet-chemical systems and existing dry chemical suppression systems must be replaced by UL 300 compliant wet chemical systems by January 1, 2010 (or January 1, 2011 if within a governmental building).

    It should also be realized that the rules, interpretations and opinions of the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal do not supersede those of local authorities. Therefore this Office recommends contacting applicable local fire and/or building departments concerning this matter to ensure compliance with all local rules and ordinances. Local authorities having jurisdiction are able to apply their adopted standards concurrently with those of the OSFM.

    Why are dry chemical extinguishing systems no longer effective on kitchen fires?

    In the past, most deep-fat frying was done in animal-based fats with high fatty-acid content. Dry chemical extinguishing agents are primarily alkaline based. The fatty acids found in animal fat combine with alkalines to produce a soap solution. The process is known as saponification. Thus, when a fire occurs in animal fat liquids and dry chemical extinguishing agent is applied saponification cuts off the oxygen supply to the burning liquid. Currently, vegetable oil is used in approximately 75% of commercial cooking equipment. Vegetable oil has limited fat. The process of saponification is greatly reduced when used on vegetable oil fires because the soap blanket is broken down more easily. Also, high efficiency cooking equipment is now better insulated and keeps cooking oil at higher temperatures. The result is that re- ignition occurs more readily and dry chemicals cannot effectively extinguish vegetable oil fires.

    As a result, UL modified the criteria used to test kitchen suppression systems within their UL 300 specification document to reflect these industry changes. The modern UL 300 test criteria takes into account the use of low cholesterol vegetable shortening, which has more severe burning characteristics than animal fats as well as the use of higher energy efficiency appliances, which are better insulated and retain heat that increases difficulty of extinguishment. As a result, it is estimated that five (5) times as much wet extinguishing agent is required to protect fryers against the current UL 300 fire test protocol than against the previously used kitchen fire test protocol. It is also interesting to note that there are currently no UL listed, pre-engineered, dry chemical system units that comply with the current UL 300. Only wet-chemical extinguishing systems have been able to successfully pass the UL 300 test criteria.

    What type of portable fire extinguishers are acceptable for kitchen protection?

    The Life Safety Code references NFPA 10 Portable Fire Extinguishers for these requirements. NFPA 10 requires a Class "K" rated portable fire extinguisher where grease is used for cooking. 

    Where are smoke detectors required in day care centers?

    In both new and existing day care centers the Life Safety Code requires that smoke detectors be located on each story in front of the doors to the stairways and in the corridors of all floors occupied by the day-care occupancy. Detectors also shall be installed in lounges, recreation areas, and sleeping rooms in the day-care occupancy.

    Note: classrooms are considered sleeping rooms as the result of children taking "nap periods" and are required to be provided with smoke detectors unless the DCFS licensing agent and the owner of the day care center provide written verification to the OSFM that sleeping does not occur at the facility. The requirements for smoke detector installation do not apply to day care centers housed completely within one room. Also note that the detectors are not allowed to be battery operated - they must be powered by the building's electrical system and be part of an interconnected fire alarm system.

    What distinguishes a day care home from a day care center?

    The licensing classification in accordance with the rules of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) dictates the occupancy classification that is imposed by the Office of the State Fire Marshal when applying the Life Safety Code to the facility. The adoption of the NFPA Life Safety Code by the Office of the State Fire Marshal specifically defers to the DCFS classifications rather than those offered in the Life Safety Code. The Life Safety Code's requirements that specify the number of clients that constitute a day care home versus a group day care home versus a day care center should be disregarded and DCFS licensing rules should be consulted for day care facility classification.

    What are the options for providing code-complying exits from a home day care or group home day care basement?

    The Life Safety Code requires that both a primary and secondary means of escape from each story of a day care home or group day care home. For the primary means of escape from the basement level the LSC requires that a "direct exit" be provided. This means a door leading directly to the outside of the home (not a stairway up through the home that leads clients through the grade level of the occupancy to exit). However, modifications have been made to the administrative rules addressing this subject that offer two alternatives to this requirement:

    • If an exit discharging directly to the outside at the basement level is not provided, and therefore occupants must traverse another level of the home to exit, the path of egress through the level of exit discharge shall be separated from the remainder of that level of the home by construction providing a minimum fire resistance rating of 1-hour, or
    • If an exit discharging directly to the outside at the basement level is not provided the home shall be equipped with smoke detectors permanently powered by the building's electrical system and wired so that the actuation of one detector will actuate all the detectors in the dwelling. At least one such smoke detector shall be located on each level of the occupancy (excluding unoccupied attics), and the path of egress through the level of exit discharge (from the basement door to the exterior door of the home) must be protected by automatic fire sprinklers. Listed residential sprinklers shall be used and the installation shall be made in accordance with National Fire Protection Association Standard #13D, Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes - 1994 (or an updated) edition

    For the secondary means of escape from a home day care or group home day care occupancy basement, the Life Safety Code allows the use of any path that would comply with the requirements for the primary means of escape, or the use of a properly sized escape window. The rules for the escape window are:

    • Such windows shall be openable from the inside without the use of tools and shall provide a clear opening of not less than 20 in. in width, 24 in. in height, and 5.7 ft2 in area.
    • The bottom of the opening shall be not more than 44 in. above the floor.
    • The clear opening shall allow a rectangular solid, with a width and height that provides not less than the required 5.7 ft2 opening and a depth of not less than 20 in. to pass fully through the opening.

    The bottom sill of any window used as a secondary means of escape shall be within 44 inches of the floor as required by the Life Safety Code, but OSFM also permits a permanently fixed stair or ramp shall be installed at the window to allow occupants to be within 44 inches of the bottom window sill when standing atop the stair or ramp. The stair or ramp should be at least 36 inches wide or at least the width of the window, whichever is wider.

    Please see the day care center or day care home information sheets at the following links for more information related to day care occupancies.

    Does the Office of the State Fire Marshal enforce the Illinois Accessibility Code?

    No. The Illinois Accessibility Code (71 Ill. Adm. Code 180) is mutually administered by the Capital Development Board (CDB) for interpretations of the requirements and the Office of the Attorney General for enforcement of the requirements. Note however, that the 2015 Life Safety Code adopted and enforced by the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal does contain its own accessibility requirements for "new" occupancies.

    What do I need to know about the Furniture Fire Safety Act and Rules?

    In addition to the requirements applicable to furnishings found within the Life Safety Code, the Office of the State Fire Marshal enforces Illinois' Furniture Fire Safety Act (425 ILCS 45). In accordance with Illinois' Furniture Fire Safety Act and the subsequently promulgated rules found in Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code.

    Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code Part 300- c, requires that articles of seating furniture manufactured after March 1, 1991, that are used or intended for use in public occupancies or public assembly areas and are placed in occupancies that are protected throughout by an approved automatic sprinkler system in accordance with NFPA 13 must meet the test requirements as set forth in California Technical Bulletin 116 (1980), and California Technical Bulletin 117, (1980).  For buildings that are protected throughout with sprinklers, OSFM will accept California Technical Bulletin 117 (2013).

    The "public occupancies" for purposes of enforcing the Furniture Fire Safety Act applies to more than "assembly occupancies" as defined by the Life Safety Code. The Furniture Fire Safety Act and the subsequently developed Part 300 rules are applicable to seating furniture in: public auditoriums and stadiums, day care centers, health care occupancies, penal institutions, and public areas of hotels and motels (meaning areas containing 10 or more pieces of seating furniture). The Act and the Part 300 rules are NOT applicable to residential board and care facilities. Furthermore, the Furniture Fire Safety Act regulates only seating furniture. The provisions of the Act are not applicable to mattresses.

    Is the Furniture Fire Safety Act (and 41 Ill. Adm. Code 300 "Furniture Fire Safety" rules) applicable to residential board and care homes?

    No. Residential board and care homes are not subject to compliance with the provisions of the Furniture Fire Safety Act or the subsequently developed Furniture Fire Safety administrative rules. However, you should be aware that the Life Safety Code adopted and enforced by the Office of the State Fire Marshal does contain furnishing and mattress requirements for residential board and care facilities.

    Is the Furniture Fire Safety Act (and 41 Ill. Adm. Code 300 "Furniture Fire Safety" rules) applicable to mattresses?

    No. Neither the Furniture Fire Safety Act nor the subsequently developed Furniture Fire Safety administrative rules are applicable to mattresses. However, you should be aware that the Life Safety Code adopted and enforced by the Office of the State Fire Marshal does contain furnishing and mattress requirements beyond those addressed by the Furniture Fire Safety Act for some occupancy classifications.

    What is a Fire Safety Evaluation System (FSES)?

    What is a Fire Safety Evaluation System (FSES)?

    It is the current policy of the Office of the State Fire Marshal to accept and evaluate submitted FSES documentation for determination of equivalent safety to that required by the state-adopted Life Safety Code. However, the OSFM will not produce the FSES for an occupancy owner but rather only evaluate submitted FSES documentation. Although there are no applicable laws or rules relative to requirements for an individual to complete an FSES, the intricacy of the process and the necessity for familiarity with the process and fire safety features, causes the OSFM to caution building owners that those developing FSES documentation should be experienced in the process or maintain licensure as an architect or a fire protection engineer.

    Are there any OSFM rules for fire hydrants?

    The Fire Hydrant Act (425 ILCS 20) is a state statute that defines the height at which fire hydrant outlets must be located when fire hydrants are provided. However, the Act does not specifically require that fire hydrants be installed. Furthermore, the Life Safety Code does not contain requirements for the provision or placement of fire hydrants. Requirements for fire hydrant provision may be found in local fire or building codes/ordinances and the Office of the State Fire Marshal recommends contact with local officials regarding this issue. (The Fire Hydrant Act requires that any fire hydrant installed or replaced after the effective date of the Act [1987] shall have a discharge that is maintained at least 14 inches, but not more than 26 inches, for the surface from which the hydrant protrudes. Not object shall be constructed, maintained or installed within 48 inches of a fire hydrant. It shall be unlawful to maintain, construct, or enlarge any barriers, trees, bushes, walls or other obstacles which may hide or impede the use of a fire hydrant).

    Does the OSFM inspect telecommunications facilities?

    The Office of the State Fire Marshal has joint jurisdiction for fire safety in telecommunications occupancies with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). The applicable rules are found in Title 83 Illinois Administrative Code Chapter I, Subchapter f, Part 785 "Joint Rules of the Illinois Commerce Commission, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency: Fire Protection and Emergency Services for Telecommunications Facilities". Currently, inspectors of the ICC handle routine inspection activity in Illinois' telecommunications facility and only involve the OSFM if particular problems or need for fire protection expertise arise. Therefore, the OSFM does not conduct annual inspections of telecommunications occupancies. Occupancy owners should contact the ICC relative to a regular inspection and the ICC will notify the OSFM if intervention is required.

    What is meant by the term "Travel Distance" in the Life Safety Code?

    Travel distance is used within the Life Safety Code to refer to the length of movement necessary for an occupant to reach an exit. The LSC requires that the travel distance to an exit shall be measured on the floor or other walking surface along the centerline of the natural path of travel, starting from the most remote point subject to occupancy, curving around any corners or obstructions with a 1-ft clearance there from, and ending at the center of the doorway or other point at which the exit begins.

    Where measurement includes stairs, the measurement shall be taken in the plane of the tread nosing. Once an occupant enters a code-complying exit stairwell, they are considered to be within the "exit" of the building and therefore, travel distance does not include the distance down the stairway to the outside of the building. It should also be understood that when the Life Safety Code requires a limitation on travel distance between a room door and an exit, or within a room to the room door, the travel distance requirement pertains to the one closest exit available to occupants. All exits available or provided to an occupant do not have to comply with travel distance requirements. (There is no limitation on the travel distance to a second or third exit provided to occupants as long as the closest code-complying exit is within travel distance limitations set by the Life Safety Code).

    What is meant by the term "interior finish" in the Life Safety Code?

    The Life Safety Code defines "interior finish" as "the exposed surfaces of walls, ceilings, and floors within buildings". Common components of buildings that are considered part of the interior finish include paneling, ceiling tiles, and plastic sheet goods. Carpeting is considered an interior floor finish. More definitive information regarding the requirements for interior finish, including an overview of why interior finish ratings are regulated by the Code, how interior finish products are tested and rated, and special provisions of the code applicable to interior finish in sprinklered occupancies and the application of after-market products to enhance interior finish ratings are provided in a separate document "Interior Finish" that is available from the OSFM's Division of Fire Prevention.

    What is the Truss Construction Fire Safety Act and what does it require?

    The Truss Construction Fire Safety Act (425 ILCS 68) was passed by the General Assembly in 1997. It was intended to offer a method of standardized marking of buildings that contain truss constructed components in floors or roofs.

    The Act does not mandate statewide marking of all structures containing trusses. Rather, the Act allows a municipality or a county to pass an ordinance that requires that a truss construction emblem be affixed to the front of all or any class of structure, excluding residential structures, within that municipality or county that have truss construction. The Act also allows the municipality or county to require that such structures be registered with the fire department. Furthermore, the Act allows the municipality or county to charge a reasonable fee to the owners of structures that use truss construction for purposes of covering costs related to identifying, maintaining records of, and inspecting the structures.

    The Act prescribes that if a municipality or county ordinance requires a truss construction emblem then:

    • The emblem be of bright reflective material or color;
    • The shape of the emblem shall be an isosceles triangle;
    • The size of the emblem shall be 12 inches horizontally by 6 inches vertically;
    • The following letters shall be on the emblem: "F" to signify a floor with truss construction "R" to signify a roof with truss construction;
    • "F/R" to signify both a floor and roof with truss construction; and
    • The emblem shall be permanently affixed to the left of the main entrance door at a height between 4 and 6 feet above the ground and shall be maintained by the building owner.

    The Act defines the term "truss" to mean "a framed structural unit made up of a group of triangles arranged in a single plane in such a manner that if loads are applied at the points of intersection of the truss members, only compressive and tensile (non-bending) forces will result in the members". The act further defines "truss construction" to mean "a structure, excluding a residential structure, in which the roof or floor is supported by trusses".

    Are smoke detectors required for the hearing impaired in hotels and motels?

    Yes. The Smoke Detector Act (425 ILCS 60) requires that: "every hotel shall be equipped with operating portable smoke- detecting alarm devices for the deaf and hearing impaired of audible and visual design, available for units of occupancy. Specialized smoke detectors for the deaf and hearing impaired shall be available upon request by guest in such hotels at a rate of at least one such smoke detector per 75 occupancy units or portion thereof, not to exceed 5 such smoke detectors per hotel. Incorporation or connection to an existing interior alarm system, so as to be capable of being activated by the system, may be utilized in lieu of the portable alarms. Operators of any hotel shall post conspicuously at the main desk a permanent notice, in letters at least 3 inches in height, stating that smoke detector alarm devices for the deaf and hearing impaired are available. The proprietor may require a refundable deposit for a portable smoke detector not to exceed the cost of the detector".

    Does the OSFM regulate open-burning or fire pits?

    No. These issues are usually addressed by local or county rule. The Office of the State Fire Marshal has not adopted and does not enforce rules that address open-burning, the use of fire pits or fire pots, bonfires, construction-site warming barrel fires, or other forms of what are generally considered to be controlled fires.