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Village at Waterman Lake Building and Fire Code

Greenvile, Rhode Island

The Owner sought, through the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal's office, clarification of a disputed F2 designation of the project's third floor classification of health services from the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). The intent was to restore its original F1 Licensing throughout the entire building. The RIDOH regulation change would force limited mobility/assisted living residents from the third floor. The RIDOH regulations were tied to Rhode Island Fire Safety Code designations and regulations.

RGB, after reviewing the case, and in consultation with the Owner, demonstrated, using an approach to establish and show that the existing project, as constructed under NFPA 101 Chapter 33, [RIDOH designation F2] could provide equivalent life safety protection that is required for Nursing Home under NFPA 101 Chapter 19 [RIDOH designation F1].

This approach involved three distinct actions:

First, we gained an understanding of the existing building life safety construction design for both NFPA Chapter 19 Existing Nursing Home and NFPA Chapter 33 Existing Board & Care Facility. Second, to establish equivalency, RGB used the NFPA Fire Safety Evaluation System for Health Care Occupancies found in the NFPA 101A Guide on Alternative Approaches to Life Safety. Third, we argued that our interpretation, while different from that of fire code officials within Rhode Island code enforcement community, was in fact an appropriate interpretation, meeting the intent and code requirements.

Confident in our full understanding of fire code and in our interpretation, RGB presented our findings and report to the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal's office, convincing officials that our client's project did meet, and in fact exceed the NFPA alternative approach to fire safety equivalency—despite the building being a three-story wood frame building, a type generally prohibited for nursing home occupancy. RGB presented our report and findings to the Rhode Island Fire Safety Code Board of Appeal and Review, which approved our conclusions for this project.

The most important result was that our Client received the Level F1 licensure from the RIDOH. Secondarily, our Client saved significant retrofit construction dollar costs that would have been forced by prevailing industry standard interpretation.

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