This blog is for Polk County Florida small farms and pesticide applicators as a method of communication and sharing information. This blog is administered by the University of Florida IFAS Extension Polk County Extension Agent, Mary Beth Henry.
The State Fire Marshal's Office held a public hearing in Winter Haven on June 21st where I represented the Florida Agritourism Association. A big thank you to several of our members who were also present and expressed their concerns about the proposed rule to HB 431 regarding fire safety.
While there will be another public hearing in Taylor County in August, the State Fire Marshal's Office has generously offered to host a Q&A session by conference call for our members on Thursday, July 21st at 2:00pm EDT.
We are including notes from the Winter Haven public hearing below. For those who have more questions about the fire safety proposed rule, be sure to call in July 21st at 2:00pm EDT to 850-413-1558. The conference ID is 942561.
We will continue to keep you updated as this rule is developed. Please contact us in the meantime with any questions.
June 21st Winter Haven Public Hearing Notes on Proposed Fire Safety Rule:
1. Inspection process, how will it be initiated? It will be incumbent on the landowner to reach out to the State Fire Marshal's Office to have the inspection performed. There should not be a fee assessed (questions were raised by local fire officials about this ability) due to the fact that the agritourism statute precludes local officials from enacting or enforcing ordinances relating to agritourism activities. It was suggested by the State Fire Marshal that landowners reach out to the Florida Fire Marshals Association to build communication and to be forthright about intended uses of the structure for agritourism activities.
2. Interior Finishing? This question was raised many times and concerns were expressed about certain fireproof paints, anti-flammable interiors, etc. being intrusive and possibly dangerous to livestock. The State Fire Marshal's Office acknowledged this concern and although they have no specific recommendation at this time they will review this proposed language.
3. Will there be alternatives to panic hardware available to landowners? The State Fire Marshal's Office acknowledged that the property owner could work with the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to look at safe alternatives to panic hardware where the rule dictates it.
4. Clarification on handrails and guard rails It was suggested that the use of "guards" meant that a security guard had to be on the premise during an agritourism event. This is being clarified in the rule's next iteration. Also, the requirements for guard/hand rails are preempted by federal law under the ADA so little flexibility is offered.
5. How does one become certified as a crowd manager? Is it expensive? An individual who is not necessarily a Fire Marshal or someone with fire/law enforcement training may still become a licensed crowd manager. Certifications were quoted as being free or as little as $15 with completion of an online course. It was stated that individual AHJ's have some authority over what may constitute a crowd manager so it could be a patchwork arrangement requiring input from each AHJ.
6. Are there provisions to penalize landowners for non-compliance? Nothing is included in the rule to penalize landowners for non-compliance.
7. How is "times-per-year defined?" This is a question that was posed during the legislative session (i.e. would a 3-day festival be considered a single use because it is one continuous event?). The State Fire Marshal's Office said they would work to be clearer about this in the rule.
8. Is there an appeal process for disagreement with an AHJ? Yes. Via the Florida Administrative Procedure Act, an individual can request a declaratory statement from the Chief Financial Officer's office regarding the determination made about their structure.
Additional Comments Carl Frost, Indiantown (FATA member) – the first draft of the rule looks to be too intrusive, as if copied and pasted from the fire code. It is suggested that the Fire Marshal's Office start off simpler and narrow the rules. You can always come back and add more. Also, to permit cooking indoors, property owners could look to install hoods and other commercial cooking equipment that commercial operators are required to install where the fire code is fully enforceable.
Other attendees: FATA members Michelle Welch, Wishing Well Farms; Marty Higgenbotham, Rocking H Ranch; and Baxter Troutman, Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch. Also present were Mary-Beth Henry, IFAS Extension/UF, Polk County; Ned Waters, Florida Cattleman Association; Lena Juarez, Executive Director FATA; and various local fire officials from across Florida. We know several other FATA members were present, and thank you for participating in this hearing. Be sure to introduce yourself at the next hearing or hearings if you are able to attend.
Thank you to those who attended the Fire Safety Hearing on June 21st in Winter Haven.
Draft Fire Safety Language
CHAPTER 69A-67 FIRESAFETY STANDARDS FOR NONRESIDENTIAL FARM BUILDINGS
69A-67.001 Administration and General Requirements 69A-67.002 Scope 69A-67.003 Definitions 69A-67.004 Classes of Nonresidential Farm Buildings; Inspection Requirements 69A-67.005 Requirements for Class 1 Nonresidential Farm Buildings 69A-67.006 Alternative Firesafety Evaluation System for Class 2 Nonresidential Farm Buildings 67A-67.007 Class 3 Farm Buildings
69A-67.001 Administration and General Requirements. The Division of State Fire Marshal in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services hereby adopts firesafety rules for use by local fire officials when conducting inspections of new and existing farm buildings located on lands used for bona fide agricultural purposes, as defined in s. 193.461(3)(b). F.S., who are used by the owner only for "agritourism activity" as defined in s. 570.86, F.S. 69A-67.002 Scope. (1) This rule chapter establishes requirements and alternative firesafety provisions to provide a reasonable degree of safety from fire in existing nonresidential farm buildings whose secondary purpose will be agritourism activities. (2) This rule chapter includes procedures for the evaluation, classification, and inspection of nonresidential farm buildings used for the purpose listed above. (3) Where a special amusement building is installed inside a nonresidential farm buildings regardless of occupant load, it shall meet the requirements for assembly occupancies in the Florida Fire Prevention Code.
69A-67.003 Definitions. As used in this rule chapter, the following definitions apply: 69A-67.004 Classes of Farm Buildings; Inspection Requirements Pursuant to Section 633.202(16)(a), F.S., each nonresidential farm building used for agritourism activities must be classified as one of three classes. (1) Class 1 Nonresidential farm buildings are those buildings used by the owner twelve (12) times per year or less for agritourism activity with up to 100 persons occupying the structure at one time. (2) Class 2 Nonresidential farm buildings are those buildings used by the owner for agritourism activity with up to 300 persons occupying the structure at one time. (3) Class 3 buildings are those buildings in which construction of a new or an additional structure or facility, or the use of an existing structure to primarily house, shelter, or otherwise accommodate members of the general public.
In order to determine the classification of a farm building and 'whether the building meets the requirements outlined for that classification, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) is permitted to conduct an inspection of the premises annually or if the building's classification changes.
69A-67.005 Requirements for Class 1 Nonresidential Farm Buildings Nonresidential farm buildings that have been determined by the AHJ to meet the criteria for classification as a Class A Nonresidential farm building shall meet the following conditions: (1) Each event has less than 100 persons occupying the building; (2) There are at least two means of egress or openings of at least 36 inches in width and 80 inches in height; (3) There are at least 7 square feet per person in attendance if the building is not concentrated with chairs, tables, or other obstacles, and 15 square feet per person in attendance if the building is concentrated without chairs, tables, or other obstacles; (4) The storage of combustible or flammable liquids inside the building during each event is not permitted; (5) The use of pyrotechnics inside the building is not permitted; (6) The use of open flames shall be in a manner compliant with the Florida Fire Prevention Code; (7) The use of untreated flammable interior finish inside the building is not permitted; (8) The cooking of food inside the building is not permitted. (9) The use of the building for lodging purposes is not permitted.
69A-67.006 Requirements for Class 2 Nonresidential Farm Buildings Nonresidential farm buildings that have been determined by the AHJ to meet the criteria for classification as a Class 2 Nonresidential farm building shall meet the following conditions: (1) Each event has up to 300 persons occupying the building; a. When agreed upon by the owner and the authority having jurisdiction, the occupant load may be posted at less than calculated. (2) Egress a. Any door in a required means of egress from an area having an occupant load of 100 or more persons shall be permitted to be provided with a latch or lock only if the latch or lock is panic hardware b. Large barn style doors may be used as an exit if left open during the event. c. No turnstiles or other devices that restrict the movement of persons shall be installed in any nonresidential farm building In such a manner as to interfere with required means of egress facilities. d. Each level of a nonresidential farm building shall have access to the main entrance/exit and shall be provided with additional exits of a width to accommodate not less than one-half of the total occupant load served by that level. e. Additional exits shall be located as far apart as practicable and as far from the main entrance/exit as practicable. f. In nonresidential farm buildings where there is no well-defined main entrance/exit, exits shall be permitted to be distributed around the perimeter of the building, provided that the total; exit width furnishes not less than 100 percent of the width required to accommodate the permitted occupant load. g. Class 2 Nonresidential farm buildings shall have at least two separate means of egress. h. Balconies, lofts, or mezzanines having an occupant load not exceeding 50 shall be permitted to be served by a single means of egress, and such means of egress shall be permitted to lead to the floor below. i. Balconies, lofts, or mezzanines having an occupant load exceeding 50 shall have not less than two remote means of egress, but both such means of egress shall be permitted to lead to the floor below. j. Exits shall be arranged so that the total length of travel from any point to reach an exit shall not exceed 200 ft (61 m) in a Class 2 nonresidential farm building. k. A common path of travel shall be permitted for the first 20 ft (6100 mm) from any point where the common path serves any number of occupants, and for the first 75 ft (23 m) from any point where the common path serves not more than 50 occupants. I. The width of aisles serving seating at tables shall be not less than 44 in. (1120 mm) where serving an occupant load exceeding 50, and 36 in. (915 mm) where serving an occupant load of 50 or fewer. m. Where non-fixed seating is located between a table and an aisle, the measurement of required clear width of the aisle shall be made to a line 19 in. (485 mm), measured perpendicularly to the edge of the table, away from the edge of said table. n. Means of egress shall be illuminated in facilities used during non-daylight hours o. Means of egress shall be marked with a sign p. Guard and handrails shall be required q. Rooms containing high-pressure boilers, refrigerating machinery of other than the domestic refrigerator type, large transformers, or other service equipment subject to explosion shall meet both: of the following requirements: 1. Such rooms shall not be located directly under or abutting required exits. 2. Such rooms shall be separated from other parts of the building by fire barriers in accordance with Florida Fire Prevention Code 101: Section 8.3 that have a minimum 1-hour fire resistance rating or shall be protected by automatic extinguishing systems in accordance with Florida Fire Prevention Code 101: Section 8.7. r. Crowd Managers. Where the occupant load exceeds 250 in a Class 2 nonresidential farm building, a minimum of one trained crowd manager or crowd manager supervisor shall be provided. s. Unsecured Seating. Seats not secured to the floor shall be permitted in a Class 2 nonresidential farm building where fastening seats to the floor might be impracticable. 1. Unsecured seats shall be permitted, provided that, in the area used for seating. excluding such areas as dance floors and stages, there is not more than one seat for each 15 ft.squared (1.4 m squared) of net floor area, and adequate aisles to reach exits are maintained at all times. 2. A seating diagram shall be submitted for approval by the AHJ to permit an increase in occupant load. 3. Festival Seating. A form of audience/spectator accommodation in which no seating, other than a floor or finish~d ground level, is provided for the audience/spectators gathered to observe a performance, shall be prohibited within a building, unless otherwise permitted by one of the following: i. Festival seating shall be permitted in assembly occupancies having occupant loads of 250 or less. t. Means of Egress Inspection. The building owner or agent shall inspect the means of egress to ensure it is maintained free of obstructions, and correct any deficiencies found, prior to each opening of the building to the public. (3) Storage. The following items shall be prohibited within a Class 2 nonresidential farm building during events: a. Compressed flammable gases; b. Flammable or combustible liquids; c. Hazardous chemicals or materials; and d. Class II or greater lasers, blasting agents, and explosives. (4) Open Flame Devices and Pyrotechnics. No open flame devices or pyrotechnic devices shall be used in a Class 2 nonresidential farm building, unless otherwise permitted by one of the following: i. Combustible scenery of cloth, 'film, vegetation (dry), and similar materials may be treated with a fire-retardant and shall comply with one of the following: 1) They shall meet the flame propagation performance criteria contained in NFPA 701, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films; or 2) They shall exhibit a heat release rate not exceeding 100 kW when tested in accordance with NFPA 289, Standard Method of Fire Test for Individual Fuel Packages, using the 20 kW ignition source. 6. Foamed plastics (as defined in Florida Fire Prevention Code: 101) shall be permitted to be used if they exhibit a heat release rate not exceeding 100 kW when tested in accordance with NFPA 289, Standard Method of Fire Test for Individual Fuel Packages, using the 20 kW ignition source or by specific approval of the authority having jurisdiction. 7. Such fire retardance shall be demonstrated by each individual decorative vegetation item, including any decorative lighting, in an approved manner.
(6) Special Provisions for Food Service Operations. All devices in connection with the preparation of food shall be installed and operated to avoid hazard to the safety of occupants. a. All devices in connection with the preparation of food shall be of an approved type and shall be installed in an approved manner. b. Cooking Equipment shall protected in accordance with the Florida Fire Prevention Code 101 :9.2.3, unless the cooking .equipment is one of the following types: 1. Outdoor equipment use outdoors 2. Portable equipment not flue-connected 3. Equipment used only for food warming c. Portable cooking equipment that is not flue-connected shall be permitted only as follows: 1. Equipment fueled by small heat sources that can be readily extinguished by water, such as candles or alcohol- burning equipment, including solid alcohol, shall be permitted to be used, provided that precautions are taken to prevent ignition of any combustible materials. 2. Candles shall be permitted to be used on tables used for food service where securely supported on substantial noncombustible bases located to avoid danger of ignition of combustible materials. 3. Candle flames shall be protected. 4. Listed and approved LP-Gas commercial food service appliances shall be permitted to be used where in accordance with Chapter 69. [101:18.104.22.168; 101:22.214.171.124] d. Portable butane-fueled appliances where fueled by not more than two 10 oz (0.3 kg) LP-Gas capacity, non-refillable butane containers that have a water capacity not exceeding 1.08 Ib (0.5 kg) per container may be used. The containers are required to be directly connected to the appliance, and manifolding of containers is not permitted. Storage of cylinders is limited to 24 containers. (7) Smoking a. Smoking in Class 2 nonresidential farm buildings used as an assembly occupancy shall be regulated by the AHJ. b. Where smoking is permitted, suitable ashtrays or receptacles shall be provided in convenient locations. (8) The use of the building for lodging purposes is not permitted.
69A-67.007 Requirements for Class 3 Buildings Structures that have been determined by the AHJ to meet the criteria for classification as a Class 3 structure shall meet all the requirements of the current edition of the Florida Fire Prevention Code provisions applicable to the occupancy classification as determined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction.