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New Requirement for Buildings in New Jersey with Solar Panels

On December 20, 2017 the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety adopted a new rule requiring identifying emblems for structures with solar panels.

Photovoltaic (solar) panels pose a risk to emergency personnel especially firefighters. Solar panels can carry enough voltage and current to injure or even kill someone who comes in contact with the energized conductors. They can also be a trip hazard and interfere with ventilating a roof during a fire. For these reasons it is important for first responders to be aware when they are entering a building that is powered by solar panels so they can take proper precautions.

The photovoltaic system warning signs require an emblem in the shape of a Maltese cross made up of a three inch diameter circle with a stroke width of one-half inch and Maltese cross wings that are one and one-eighth inches in height or width with a stroke width of one-half inch.  Signs must also have a white reflective background with red lettering. Depending on the installation, one of the following three signs will be required; “PV Roof Mounted”, “PV Adjacent”, or “PV Roof Mounted and Adjacent.” All lettering shall be one and one-quarter inch in height with a stroke width of one-quarter inch.

The owner of the building is responsible for posting these signs.  They shall be permanently mounted to the left of the main entrance door at a height of between four and six feet above the ground and shall be maintained to ensure readability. If a truss identification sign has already been posted, this new sign shall be posted directly above the truss sign.

Detached one and two-family residential structures shall be exempt from the signage provisions, however the owner of any residential or nonresidential structure who installed a roof mounted solar panel system must provide written notification to the local fire official. This written notification should include the name of the property owner, the address of the structure where the PV system has been installed, the year they were installed, and a copy of the permit that was filed.

The full text of the rules adoption can be downloaded here.

If you need signs for your building, we found an online retailer that is making signs that conform to the New Jersey requirements; they can be purchased here.

If you have any question regarding these changes or any other code requirements, just ask the code experts at Cornerstone.

News /

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Now Required in All Use Groups

New Jersey recently adopted a rule modifying the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and the Uniform Fire Code (UFC) to require Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors in all use groups. Previously, CO detectors were only required in use groups where occupants would be sleeping unattended, including group I-1 and all group R buildings.

Carbon monoxide is primarily a concern in buildings with fuel burning appliances. If a building has natural gas or oil fired appliances such as a furnace, boiler, water heater, stove, clothes dryer, etc, then CO detection will be required.

This requirement is retroactive under UFC, meaning all buildings with fuel burning appliance must now comply. The law is currently in effect and there is no grace period. This requirement will likely be enforced during the annual fire inspection process required for most commercial buildings.

The requirements for CO detection also apply to new construction. Relevant changes have been made to UCC via errata to IBC 2015 NJ edition, which can be downloaded here. Requirements for additions, alterations and reconstructions can be found in the Rehabilitation Subcode.

The retroactive requirements in UFC for non-residential use groups are outlined below.

  • Carbon monoxide detection is required to be installed in the immediate vicinity of all sources of carbon monoxide.
  • In addition to providing detection at the source, the following additional areas need to be protected:
    • Spaces adjacent to the source of carbon monoxide.
    • In the immediate vicinity of any shaft, including but not limited to, stair towers, elevator shafts and ventilation shafts at the level of the potential source of carbon monoxide.
    • In the room at the first register or grill off the main duct trunk(s) from the HVAC equipment that is a potential source of carbon monoxide.
    • In any story that is within two stories of a source of carbon monoxide.

There are specific cases where the UFC exempts the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. These include repair garages, battery charging areas and most warehouses.

Carbon monoxide alarms may be battery-operated, plug-in, or hard-wired. Combination fire and carbon monoxide detection systems are permitted. The alarm must provide sound at a level that is 15dB above ambient sound. There is no requirement for fire department notification.

Additional information is available in DCA Bulletin 2017-1 which can be downloaded here.

If you have any question regarding these changes or any other code requirements, just ask the code experts at Cornerstone.