Fire Depository Box

The Fire Depository Box is a key element in a high-rise building’s Fire Command Center and one of the first items Incident Command seeks. In this post, we will do a quick review of HFD’s Life Safety Bureau’s Standard 6 – Fire Depository Boxes. Fire depository boxes supply the fire department with vital information specific to the high-rise building, mid-rise building, or other facilities in which it is located. We will focus on high-rise only in this post.

Your building is not a high-rise building if the top floor of your building does not measure over 75 ft. However, your building should have a fire depository box if the building has all the elements that are within a high-rise building, such as stairs, elevators, standpipes, a sprinkler system, and a fire alarm panel. Having a fire depository box will ensure emergency crews can function effectively without having to take additional steps, such as forcible entry.

The Fire Depository Box (FDB) may be painted any color approved by the Fire Marshal; however, the door must be painted bright red as in fire truck red, so it is readily noticeable. The box should be metal and allow access for building and fire department personnel, usually in the form of a Falcon or Knox lock specific to Houston and a lock for building personnel to add documents or update keys.

Example Fire Depository Box

Fire Depository Box Contents

The Fire Depository Box is made up of three major items; A binder, maps and keys. These items assist emergency crews in locating stairwells, utility cut-offs, fire pumps. etc. It gives them access to important areas.

The Binder
The building information binder contains the following 7 items.

  1. High-rise Survey Form – A minimum of 5 sets of this form should be completed.
  2. Supplemental Information Sheet
  3. Mobility Impaired List – This list should be update every six (6) months
  4. Elevator Operating Instructions
  5. Elevator Diagram – (see examples below)
  6. List of emergency contact phone numbers
  7. Standardized Floor Plans

Note: There are a few items included in the fire depository box that suppression Chief Officers prefer to be mounted on the wall inside the Fire Command Center. The following items allow Incident Command to effectively operate a fire or other emergency without having to dig through a binder in the FDB.

Laminated 11×17 drawings are preferred and easy to print. Please see examples below.

  1. Map (Standardized Floor Plan) of the building showing the location of fire hydrants, entrances to the building, location of the stairs including roof access, elevators, FCC location, FDC locations, and system pressures, number of stories, fire pump location, and utility cut-off for gas and electricity. SEE FIRE CODE REFERENCES BELOW FOR FIRE PROTECTION AND UTILITY EQUIPMENT IDENTIFICATION AND ACCESS.

2. Elevator diagram of floors served

3. Stairwell diagram of floors served

Key Sets
A minimum of 5 sets of individually detachable keys shall be provided and maintained
in the FDB. Please see the keyset example below.

For more detailed information please review HFD’s Life Safety Bureau’s Standard 6 – Fire Depository Boxes

Houston Fire Code Section 509 FIRE PROTECTION AND UTILITY EQUIPMENT IDENTIFICATION AND ACCESS.

509.1 Identification. Fire protection equipment shall be identified in an approved manner. Rooms containing controls for air-conditioning systems, sprinkler risers, and valves, or other fire detection, suppression, or control elements shall be identified for the use of the fire department. Approved signs required to identify fire protection equipment and equipment location shall be constructed of durable materials, permanently installed and readily visible.

509.1.1 Utility identification. Where required by the Fire code official, gas shutoff valves, electric meters, service switches, and other utility equipment shall be clearly and legibly marked to identify the unit or space that it serves. Identification shall be made in an approved manner, readily visible, and shall be maintained.

509.2 Equipment access. Approved access shall be provided and maintained for all fire protection equipment to permit immediate safe operation and maintenance of such eqUipment. Storage, trash, and other materials or objects shall not be placed or kept in such a manner that would prevent such equipment from being readily accessible.

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