Fire Command Center
The Fire Command Center also known as the Fire Command Room, Central Control Station or Emergency Control Center is the epicenter for Incident Command during an emergency within a high-rise building. The fire code defines the Fire Command Center as “The principal attended or unattended location where the status of detection, alarm communications, and control systems is displayed, and from which the system(s) can be manually controlled.”
During the planning phases of designing a high-rise building, the Fire Command Center will need to be incorporated into the floor located at the street level. The code reference below applies to new high-rise buildings but may not apply to older buildings. Older buildings’ Fire Command Centers will reflect the codes at the time of construction unless of course there is a total remodel of the building, but that is another subject that we will not explore in this post.
The code references below are from the Houston Fire Code, HFD Life Safety Bureau Standards, and the Houston Building Code.
The Fire Command Center reference in the Houston Building Code is easy to remember. It is section 911 as in 9-1-1 Emergency. The fire code also has the same verbiage but it is located in section 508 of the Fire Code. In the City of Houston, the building code amended the following sections below: The “[F]” notes the verbiage came from the International Fire Code Development Committee. For this section, the building code mirrors the fire code but within different chapters (Example: 911.1.1 mirrors 508.1.1, 911.1.5 mirrors 508.1.5)
Houston Building Code
[F] 911.1.1 Location and access. The location and accessibility of the fire command center shall be approved by the fire code official. The fire command center room shall be on the building floor having street access. Access to the room shall be either directly from the exterior, through an entrance lobby or through a 2-hour rated corridor leading directly to the exterior.
[F] 911.1.2 Separation. The fire command center shall be separated from the remainder of the building by not less than a 2-hour fire barrier constructed in accordance with Section 707 or horizontal assembly constructed in accordance with Section 711, or both.
Houston Fire Code
508.1.3 Size. The Fire command center shall be a minimum of 200 square feet (19 m~ in area with a minimum dimension of 10 feet (3048 mm).
508.1.4 Layout approval. A layout of the Fire command center and all features required by this section to be contained therein shall be submitted for approval prior to installation.