New fire regulations in SF

We are undergoing a remodel of our condo in a 3-unit condo building cost of which will be over $50k. The building is a Victorian built in the early 1900’s. It is completely owner occupied.

We ran into this new law that is in effect now,

I was wondering if our knowledgeable folks on here know if we will have to install a new fire alarm system in the entire building because of our work ? Who can we contact to find out the exact requirements before we get too much down the road ?

Any inputs appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

It looks like most are disclosure to tenants aka paperwork to be ignored by tenants? Are there other real requirements?

Thanks Manch, we were particularly concerned about the last requirement. Our bldg is a condo bldg occupied by owners, so we don’t know if we need a fire alarm for the bldg. We don’t even have a fire alarm. This new requirement says that we have to upgrade the fire alarm system.


Sleeping Area Requirements

For all buildings that are required to have a fire alarm system under this [Fire] Code, the Building Code, the Housing Code or any other law, the building owner shall upgrade the fire alarm system, if necessary, to comply with the sound level requirement for sleeping areas set forth in Section of NFPA 72 (2013 edition), as amended from time to time, upon either (a) completion of work under a building permit with a cost of construction of $50,000 or more or (b) July 1, 2021, whichever occurs first.

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Is fire alarm different from smoke alarm?

Yes…Smoke alarms are in bedrooms…A fire alarm is on the outside of the building often set off by the fire sprinklers running…

Oh, SF city forgot to define what’s a fire alarm. It says “fire alarm sleeping area requirement”. Does it mean buying a new smoke detector for $30 and attach to the wall?

You can go to fire department or building department to clarify on this. As long as you are not required to install fire sprinkler, it should be inexpensive.

They are making too many regulations and make it vague and ambiguous on purpose, so that their lawyer friends can make a ton of money.


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The new national law requires 10 year battery sealed smoke alarms units in every bedroom and in the hallway outside bedrooms…They have them at Costco for $25 for 2…I just bought and installed 24…

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Oh, I love Costco and hate SF’s over-regulation.

Can California state have a fire code to replace all
the city level code?

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Wanted to give everyone an update -
The fire inspector came over and just signed off on the permits. He said the BoS have no clue what they’re doing and never consulted the fire department before passing that regulation. There is confusion abound all over the city specifically for cases like ours(seemed we aren’t alone and they’re not enforcing it by the book.)

He said eventually we will have to install a fire alarm system with a panel in the common area and all the smoke detectors will have to be tied in to that system and the fire alarm system will have to meet the audible requirements. We may have to comply with it by 2021.

For now, we are good and will wait for the city to send us a letter.

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Did you spend 5 months to remodel your condo? Did you need to move out for the remodel?

Yes took us just over 4 months. We did have to move out

Has anyone upgraded their fire alarm to meet this requirement (SFFC Section 1103.7.6.1)? I am still trying to understand the requirements. Our 7 unit building has a fairly new fire alarm in the lobby and smoke/CO2 detector in the bedrooms.

So, the requirement is to install an additional noise making device connected to the main fire alarm in each bedroom that shall have a sound level of at least 15 dB above the average ambient sound level or 5 dB above the maximum sound level having a duration of at least 60 seconds or a sound level of at least 75 dBA? Did I understand this correctly?

Is there a list of contractors who do this? What is the penalty if we don’t meet the deadline?

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I can help you if you still have questions