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    Smoke alarm question

    Smoke alarm question

    New postby Marc M on Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:39 pm

    Hey Jerry, where might I find a something written that states when building component (such as a hardwired smoke alarm) is removed it must go back in to the minimum code standard at the time is was constructed or approved?

    I have a 1984 condo that possess a hardwired smoke alarm. The unit is inoperable and the Realtor is only installing a battery operated alarm in it's place. Reason: Code did not stipulate / require hardwired alarms until 1992.
    Marc M
     
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    Re: Smoke alarm question

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:52 pm

    Marc,

    All building codes (that I know of) have what is commonly referred to as a "grandfather clause" which means that the building which is legally standing (i.e., permitted, approved, has Certificate of Occupancy) can remain as it is without having to be brought to current codes, with exceptions for requirements of an Existing Building Code, Fire Code, etc.

    The problem that real estate agent will have that the new smoke detector needs to be installed one of two ways, depending on the AHJ:
    - 1) The replaced component might be able to be replaced with a like kind component which meets the 'legally standing' requirement; i.e., it does not matter what the code required, it matters what was installed previously and was 'legally standing' as approved.
    - 2) The replaced component may very well be required to meet the code in effect at the time the replacement is made; i.e., the smoke detector may very well be required to be interconnected with the other smoke detectors and may be required to be relocated.

    Those are the two typical options, with option 1) being the most frequent option required.

    One is never allowed to make a replacement which is LESS safe than the legally standing approved condition was before the replacement.

    Does your area have an Existing Building Code?

    The building code establishes the "grandfather clause" which is option 1). The Existing Building Code establishes either option 1) or the more stringent option 2).

    Here are two examples, one from the ICC Building Code which applies to condos, and one from the ICC Existing Building Code which applies to all existing buildings.

    ICC 2012 Building Code (bold and underlining are mine)
    - [A] 101.2 Scope.
    - - The provisions of this code shall apply to the construction, alteration, relocation, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy, location, maintenance, removal and demolition of every building or structure or any appurtenances connected or attached to such buildings or structures.
    - - - Exception: Detached one- and two-family dwellings and multiple single-family dwellings (townhouses) not more than three stories above grade plane in height with a separate means of egress and their accessory structures shall comply with the International Residential Code.
    . (below is what is typically referred to as the "grandfather clause")
    - [A] 102.6 Existing structures.
    - - The legal occupancy of any structure existing on the date of adoption of this code shall be permitted to continue without change, except as is specifically covered in this code, the International Property Maintenance Code or the International Fire Code, or as is deemed necessary by the building official for the general safety and welfare of the occupants and the public.

    ICC 2012 Existing Building Code
    - [A] 101.4 Applicability.
    - - This code shall apply to the repair, alteration, change of occupancy, addition and relocation of all existing buildings, regardless of occupancy, subject to the criteria of Sections 101.4.1 and 101.4.2.
    . (another "grandfather clause")
    - [A] 101.4.2 Buildings previously occupied.
    - - The legal occupancy of any building existing on the date of adoption of this code shall be permitted to continue without change, except as is specifically covered in this code, the International Fire Code, or the International Property Maintenance Code, or as is deemed necessary by the code official for the general safety and welfare of the occupants and the public.
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    Re: Smoke alarm question

    New postby Marc M on Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:51 am

    Fantastic. there's so much great info here. I'm aware of the grandfather"ing" but I was under the assumption that if you remove an item you cant go less stringent, but rather more or equal. Thanks Jerry.
    Marc M
     
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    Re: Smoke alarm question

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:24 am

    Marc M wrote: ... but I was under the assumption that if you remove an item you cant go less stringent, but rather more or equal. Thanks Jerry.


    Excellent assumption,

    The code always permits better as the code is the minimum.

    One way to think of it is like this: the code is the minimum, the architect specified something 'better', the code approved that something 'better' when the plans were approved and that 'better' is now the 'minimum'. The replacement must meet the 'minimum' which was approved for that construction - in your example that would would be the permanently wired smoke detector.

    Additionally, the Existing Building Code may require better, and a Property Maintenance Code may even require better than the Existing Building Code - thus it is good to know if there is an Existing Building Code and a Property Maintenance Code and how those codes address things you might run across.
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