Code Question


So I was hoping that the experienced architects on this forum can help me with a question...

I have an existing space that is being converted into a restaurant in NYC. It's occupancy classification is F-4. The space is on the ground floor with access to the street and the basement space consists of bathrooms and and commercial kitchen. The ground floor has an occupant load of 140 and the cellar 10. 

My question: as it is drawn now, the plan shows a fire rated door separating the basement from the ground floor. Do I need this door, or can I remove it based on the code?



Dec 5, 13 5:25 pm

is the building sprinklered?

i'm not sure you can put a kitchen in a cellar.  you would need an accessible way to exit the building.  the fire door might be needed if you have different occupancy types that need separated, or if you need a fire barrier because the area is too big in the height/area table.  there are probably other things that could trigger a need for fire separation too.

Dec 5, 13 5:45 pm

Its an existing sprinklered building and there are many examples of this in NY. I am just not sure if you need the fire door though if you have another egress stair. The occupancy class is the same on both floors: F-4. Kitchens don't have to be counted as separate from the restaurant in terms of occupancy. 

Dec 5, 13 5:53 pm
Where is this door? I would assume entering a stairwell. Is the stairwell part of the means of egress system? If yes, rated shaft= fire door.

Even if not the required means of egress, if its a shaft, might need the rating.

Can't give you a thumbs up or down without seeing the entire building and existing ratings.
Dec 5, 13 7:43 pm

You probably have a separation of use: first floor separated by a rated assembly from the basement, therefore the door has to be rated to keep the rated assembly. You could however, put a fire shutter instead of a door to keep the rated assembly. I'm not sure where you are getting the occupancy of 10? Was is the area? What use is teh basement if you are getting a specific occupancy? I'm thinking it is just storage and it is separated by a rated assembly.

Dec 5, 13 8:28 pm

If  the door is a problem, put it on a fire alarm activated closer device.  Thinking you have to have a fire alarm system if your in  the City.  One system is with a magnet mounted in the wall and a metal pad mounted on the door. It holds the door open unless there is a fire, and then the door closes.  There are also  panic door operators out there with the same  function built into the operator.  The only thing you need is to run low voltage wiring to the door. 

Dec 5, 13 9:11 pm

oh ya da yada...the door and frame have to be fire rated....1 hour  1 1/2 hour...I'm not sure about the city or the building.

Dec 5, 13 9:12 pm
won and done williams

Contrary to popular belief, most architects, even experienced ones, do not know the answer to questions like this off the top of the their heads, but instead know where to look up the correct answer. I would recommend you do the same. 

Having said that, I believe gruen is correct - you have a rated assembly because there is a shaft between floors. To poop's point, on the restaurants I've worked on, I've never seen a rated separation between the kitchen and dining area; doesn't mean it may not exist locally, I've just never seen it.

Dec 5, 13 9:14 pm

won and done,

I assumed the existing spaces (didn't say what they are) are separated for whatever reason, but PROPOSED would be kitchen in the basement and dining on first floor with access to the street which would be separated by the existing assembly.

What are the spaces now? Is it an existing restaurant now and you are putting a new restaurant? Do you have change of use? Do you have change of occupancy?

Few things that could help us perhaps!

Dec 5, 13 9:38 pm

Poop876 got it right- kitchen and bathrooms in basement and dining on first floor. I want to get rid of the door for other reasons (not going to go into that now- it has to do with the landing of the stair being sloped and this condition being demolished and so on... old building...) I want to know whether or not I can remove the door. The stair as it is now is not a second means of egress to the building, just a second means of egress from the basement to the ground floor.

Dec 5, 13 11:10 pm

you still need egress out of the basement.  isn't a restaurant an 'a' occupancy?  what is an f-4?

i don't think the stairway could be considered a shaft if it opens into the restaurant, can it? if it was a shaft it would have to open directly outside or into a rated corridor that leads directly outside, right?  of course, without being involved in the project, my picture of how this works is entirely made up.

Dec 6, 13 7:29 am


calculate your occupancy for the kitchen and bathroom in the basement, with that you will determine if you need a second means of egress. Chances are you probably don't. The question you failed to answer is what is in the basement now?

What I think is happening now is that the basement was used as storage and it is over the area and needed to be either sprinklered and or separated from other uses, from first floor. (They want the storage separated or sprinlered because there is a chance stored stuff can catch on fire and since it is storage and nobody is in there, the fire can spread quickly if not separated by a fire barrier or sprinlered). So basement is completely enclosed by a rated assembly and therefore the door is also rated.

If you, with the proposed plan have people in the basement that door does not need to be rated...if complying with area and occupancy that is being proposed without adding a second means of egress. 

Also, make sure you travel distance complies from the furthest point in the basement to the outside! 

and curt is right...this will be an A2 use, which you will have to comply with (again, double check on the AREA). Area could determine if you can have that restaurant in there or not....5000 s.f. or more will have to be sprinklered or separated by a 2 hr. fire separation!

Dec 6, 13 11:39 am

Thanks poop. Will look into it.

Dec 6, 13 11:42 am

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