Attendees: Via Phone:

Vickie Sakamoto (Co-Chair) Vivian Day
Rick Thornberry (Co-Chair) Cliff Dehayward
Ken Cofflin Guisela Fuerra
David Diamond Bob Holloway
Thomas Dusza Tim Kerbrat
Ruben Grijalva John Guhl
Thomas Harvey Vahid Toossi
Robert Raymer
Angela Shook
Armin Wolski
Mike Wheeler (visitor)


1. Welcome Sakamoto

The Co-Chairs introduced themselves, welcomed the Task Force Members and said thank-you from Chief Hoover.

This group was developed to review the twenty-six (26) potential amendments to the 2013 California Building and Fire Codes and NFPA 13 that pertain to high-rise buildings and that were recommended by the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s High-Rise Phase I Task Force, review their proposed regulations and develop the recommended regulation packages. Fire Service Operations employees from both Northern and Southern California who are first responders at high-rise building fires and who could determine how the Codes affect their work and what changes they think should be made in order to enhance the effectiveness of their work contributed significantly to the High-Rise Phase I Task Force. The Phase I Task Force worked long and hard for six months to get a good perspective from the Operations employees and we have extensive documentation of their meetings and supporting data available to share with the members of this Task Force. Chief Hoover wants all stakeholders including architects, contractors, Fire Protection Engineers, building & hotel/lodging officials, the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles and the Authorities Having Jurisdiction involved in this holistic process of examining the regulations to decide if Code changes should be made and if so, developing justifications and rationales for moving the changes forward. Several members of this Task Force group, including Bob Holloway and Angela Shook, served on the Phase I Task Force and will be able to answer questions about how that group derived its recommendations. Different jurisdictions across the state have adopted different ordinances based on their operational needs and Chief Hoover would like to amend the Code so as to make it more applicable to multiple jurisdictions and eliminate the need to have many different ordinances throughout the state. The potential amendments / Regulations packages and Cost Impact Analyses must be submitted to the California Building Standards Commission during the beginning of the 2012 Triennial Code Adoption Cycle (between 6/1-21/12) which gives this group approximately four months to complete the necessary work.

2. Introductions Sakamoto/Thornberry

Self-introductions were made by all attendees and those who called into the meeting.

Rick Thornberry disclosed his client relationship with SmokeGuard and Ruben Grijalva disclosed his client relationship with WonDoor and indicated there may be other clients who will be disclosed if they are impacted by the work completed by the Task Force.

3. Ground Rules Sakamoto

Chief Sakamoto showed the group a copy of the Ground Rules that were recently used by the Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Smoke Alarm Task Force (Attachment) and indicated that she doesn’t think that this group will need to use it (but if necessary, it will be used).

4. Establish Goals & Objectives Sakamoto/Thornberry

The group discussed and developed the following scope, goals and objectives of the Task Force:


The scope of the project is to review the twenty-six (26) potential regulation changes pertaining to high-rise buildings, including justification and supportive documentation from Phase I Task Force. Consider additional proposals and/or modifications from Phase II and develop the recommended regulation packages.

The task force will make recommendations to the State Fire Marshal.


  • Promote fire and life safety in high-rise buildings.
  • Reduce the need of local ordinances/amendments.
  • Reduce the inconsistency between local and state requirements.
  • Provide consensus based recommendations to the SFM by March 1, 2012.
  • Include broad stakeholder involvement.


  • Prioritize the proposed amendments for the 2012 Tri-annual code cycle.
  • Consider further study of lower priority items.
  • Review, analyze and further develop where necessary and document the rationale for each proposed amendment.
  • Ensure each of the recommendations meets the 9 point criteria.
  • Develop specific code language for each recommended amendment.

We need to identify which items should be fixed immediately and work on those first, using as many facts, data & statistics as possible to justify our decisions. All modifications to the Code must meet the California Building Standards Commission’s Nine-Point Criteria (Attachment). It will be particularly challenging to meet Criteria #7 (incorporating the applicable national specifications, published standards and model codes); SFM Code Development Chief Kevin Reinertson will depend on this group to write the Code language and justifications clearly. The proposed amendments are not meant to be retroactive; only in cases where there is a distinct threat to life or property can a Code change be applied retroactively. Rick Thornberry provided a brief overview of each potential amendment and explained the Phase I Task Group’s rationale/basis for developing each potential amendment:

1. The concept behind potential amendment # 1 applies to super high-rises (buildings 420 ft and higher) only right now/in the 2012 Code; this amendment would take it a step further and apply the concept to all high-rise buildings- not just super high-rises. All floors in all high-rises would be connected to standpipe risers and each riser would be hydraulically designed to supply the flow independent of the other risers.

2. Potential amendment #2 is straightforward; requiring redundant fire pumps for all new high rise buildings.

3. Potential amendment #3 applies to super high-rises only. The group was made aware of the fire department members’ concerns from an operational standpoint about their ability to deal with the blanket exception. The exception states that where an occupant evacuation elevator system is provided, th installation of an extra stair is not required. The fire department members were concerned about how this exception impacts their typical building operations and whether or not they have the technology and/or ability to deal with it; they indicated that they would rather decide whether or not to apply this exception on a case-by-case basis or develop a policy that addresses this issue rather than apply a blanket exception. The intent of this potential amendment was not to eliminate the exception, but rather to apply it on a case by-case basis; it is responsive to how the fire departments operate.

4. Potential amendment #4 would amend the current Code which requires that when the stairway doors are locked for security reasons, they are unlocked from a remote switch located in the fire control room. This amendment would also require the stairway doors to be unlocked automatically upon activation of the fire alarm system.

5. This potential amendment would make it easier for the fire departments to get to the roofs; if any doors leading to roofs are locked, they would be required to unlock automatically upon activation of the fire alarm systems or by a remote switch in the fire control room.

6. Potential amendment #6 addresses an issue that has been tough to deal with because currently no criteria exists to deal with it / it’s very new. The rationale behind this was that the fire departments want to have input into the process of reviewing and approving the permit applications for full-size ads that cover entire high-rise building exterior walls which advertisers submit to the planning and building departments. L.A.F.D. has had particular difficulty working around the electronic signs that movie and book advertisers are currently using and are writing their own ordinance with the L.A. Building & Safety Department to regulate these signs. Safety issues exist when firefighters cannot break windows from the outside of buildings or see people trapped inside buildings when these giant ads/signs cover windows. Flammability issues can also be a factor depending on the materials used to create these ads and signs. Placement, material, access, ventilation ability and what happens to a window when a laminate paste is applied to it (is it still breakable?) are all operational factors to consider when looking at this issue. This amendment applies to both temporary and permanent graphics. Most graphics are temporary; advertisers pay large sums of money to building owners to allow them to place their ads. This group may want to look at and consider utilizing similar guidelines and/or prescriptive requirements as those that Clark County (Las Vegas) has implemented for dealing with “unusually decorative materials” in addressing the issue of high-rise advertising. Note that the Long Beach and Glendale FD Chiefs specifically requested that this Task Force address this issue.

7. Potential amendment #7 has been deleted from this list because it’s now an SFM amendment that was adopted during the last code cycle.

8. Potential amendment # 8 was written because the fire departments have had issues (such as signal blockage inside buildings and frequency changes) with radio repeater systems which are a constantly changing, very new and sometimes unreliable technology; they would like to eliminate the option that currently exists to use either a radio repeater system or a fire department emergency telephone system in high-rise buildings and require that both communication systems be used so as to ensure that if and when radio repeater systems aren’t working correctly that tried and true fire department emergency telephone systems will be in place.

9. Potential amendment #9 addresses where the fire department’s standpipe hose outlet has to go in the stairwell and was written because there’s a conflict right now with Section 905.4 that allows the local jurisdictions to determine if the standpipe hose outlet goes into the intermediate landing or the vestibule if it’s a high-rise building with smokeproof towers. The Task Force wanted to resolve this conflict by leaving it up to the local jurisdictions, depending upon their firefighting tactics, to work out this requirement with the system designers and to make it a part of the design of the system.

10.Potential amendment # 10 requires the installation of graphic annunciators in fire command rooms to include all fire alarm system components and related equipment so that the fire departments will have a clear picture to refer to when responding to high-rise calls This amendment will address the issue in a very general manner so as to leave it up to the local jurisdictions to decide on the design specifics.

11.Potential amendment #11 was written to ensure that there’s independent ventilation in the fire control room (where there’s usually no ventilation); it’s similar to Section 3-006.2 “Venting for Elevator Machine Rooms”.

12.Potential amendment #12 is dealing with requirements for the communication systems that provide for an accessible means of egress in elevator lobbies in high-rise buildings; it would prevent these types of calls from going to 911 and would route them to a central control point location to be determined by the fire departments instead.

13.Potential amendment #13 was written to be helpful to disabled persons by clearly explaining how to use the communication systems; there are legal issues that will need to be addressed in the wording of the signage so as to avoid lawsuits against fire departments.

14.Potential amendment #14 is straightforward but there was a question regarding exactly what the occupant load threshold should be which this group will need to determine.

15.Potential amendment #15 is a complex issue about access control in the elevator lobby. The fire departments have had issues with this and requested that it be clarified while the group felt that the SFM amendment was excessive when read literally in that it requires smoke detectors to be installed throughout the entire floor.

16.Potential amendment #16 is straightforward; it was written because right now only one exit stairway serving the upper floors of all new high-rise buildings is required to be provided with direct access to the roof.

17.Potential amendment #17 was written because all new high-rises are sprinklered and assembly occupancies are not mandatorily required to have a one-hour corridor.

18.Potential amendment #18 is straightforward; they gave up 1-hour tenant separations (see potential amendment #7) to get the one-hour corridor; we’re going back to the old ways. There will be plenty of discussion about this potential amendment.

19.This was completed during the last Code cycle and is a current SFM Amendment that’s in effect / we can delete it.

20.This potential amendment is strictly editorial and arose because of the operational issues related to pressurized stairs and vestibules.

21.This is straightforward and easy to understand/does not need to be further explained. However, concerns were expressed about basements located within flood plains.

22.This potential amendment was developed because in California, SFM had long discussions with FPO’s, Fire Chiefs, and DOSH they wanted to ensure that elevator shafts do not have to be sprinklered in order to avoid the requirement of a shunt trip. This potential amendment was changed during the last Code cycle and will need to be revisited by this group to research what exactly was changed and how it needs to be further addressed.

23.Potential amendment #23 addresses the alternate protection methodology to eliminate automatic sprinklers in elevator machine rooms document that was developed by SFM on 11/30/10 in order to eliminate the requirement for a shunt trip.. This amendment will codify what’s being done in these instances. SFM’s electronic document was disseminated to the High-Rise Phase II Task Group members.

24.Potential amendment #24 is straightforward / does not need further explanation.

25.Potential amendment #25 is part of the Fire Code and was written so that at any time a building is inspected, there must be an eight-hour supply of fuel and it cannot be drained down to less than eight hours and then filled back up. Fuel tanks must be oversized in order to comply with this code. The 8 hour duration is consistent with other sections in the CBC and CFC.

26.Potential amendment #26 ties into the elevator shunt trip and sprinklering in the elevator hoistways. John Guhl will bring information regarding the current SFM Amendment that addresses this issue and that was adopted during the last Code cycle back to us in conjunction with the other item (Potential Amendment #22) that he’s researching.

Rick also provided the group with a list of categories that he developed for each of the potential amendments to which the group designated priority levels, determined the levels of ease of the process of completing each potential amendment and assigned members to work on each potential amendment (see Attachment).

5. Future Issues Sakamoto

David Diamond and Armin Wolski will present additional items for discussion at the next meeting on 12/15/11. Vickie requested that anyone wishing to have a potential amendment considered by the group to submit it to her by 12/12/11.

6. Schedule Future Meetings Sakamoto

The group agreed on the following dates and times for future meetings, all of which will be held at the State Fire Marshal’s office (and via teleconference and online for those who cannot attend in person) located at 1131 S Street in Sacramento:

Thursday, 12/15/11 from 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday, 1/17/12 from 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Tuesday, 1/31/12 from 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday, 2/23/12 from 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday, 3/8/12 from 9:30 AM – 4:00 PM

7. Thank-You From Chief Hoover Hoover

Chief Hoover thanked the group for accepting Chief Sakamoto’s invitation to participate in the code-writing process and explained that it is not her intent for this group to add to the code but rather to logically examine the high-rise requirements and ensure that they both make sense and move her vision of public safety forward.