Our online shopping and delivery world has brought about a lot of convenience as well as increased demand for real estate for logistics and fulfillment centers, many of which are classified as an S-1 Occupancy Use Group (Storage, Moderate Hazard) in the International Building Code (IBC).

With this increase in consumer demand comes an increase in square footage, and, consequently, fire and life safety risk with the vertical storage capacities often sought for large format, modern warehouses and logistical shipping centers. The International Code Council (ICC) has identified this increased risk, as evidenced by recent large-scale warehouse fires and has issued a change to the 2021 International Fire Code (IFC) which now requires Fire Command Centers to be provided in all F-1 (Factory) and S-1 (Storage) Occupancy Use Groups which have a building footprint greater than 500,000 SF.

What does this mean for the Architect/Engineer, Owner, Developer, General Contractor?

Similar to high-rise skyscrapers, a dedicated room needs to be provisioned in the architectural program for fire department use to conduct their operations. Additionally, there are these key new developments needed or required in any FCC:

  • The Fire Alarm System must now be a Voice Evacuation Signaling System with public address capability (1-Way Voice Communication).
  • The fire alarm needs to have a master microphone and voice/alarm control unit.
  • The FCC must be a minimum of an 8’ by 12’ room in a location and layout approved by the Fire Code Official.  This may or may not be the building code official in many jurisdictions.
  • The fire command center needs a 1-hour fire barrier from the rest of the building.
  • FCC must house the fire department communications system.
  • FCC must house an Elevator Status Display along with recall switches and emergency power selection switches.
  • Status indicators and controls for air distribution systems, likely to include any smoke removal or exhaust controls.
  • FCC must house firefighter control panels for any required smoke controls.
  • FCC must have controls for unlocking interior exit stairway doors.
  • Fire Sprinkler valve and waterflow detector visual status displays.
  • Emergency and standby power status indication.
  • Telephone access for the fire department to the public switched telephone network
  • Fire Pump Status indication.
  • Schematic building plans indicating and detailing the building core, all means of egress, fire-fighter air-replenishment systems, fire-fighting equipment, fire department access points and the location of all fire walls, fire barriers, partitions and smoke barriers and partitions.
  • An approved Building Information Card
  • Worktable
  • Generator supervision devices as well as manual start and transfer switch control.