15 FAM 800 

15 fam 810


(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)
(Office of Origin:  OBO)

15 FAM 811  SCOPE

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

The Office of Fire Protection (OBO/OPS/FIRE) in the Directorate for Operations, Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, has the primary responsibility within the Department for developing, maintaining, and managing the fire protection program abroad.  The Office of Fire Protection:

(1)  Installs, repairs, upgrades, and modifies fire protection systems, and fire system integration components;

(2)  Provides fire and life safety analysis of real property;

(3)  Provides training in fire safety, fire systems and fire as a weapon;

(4)  Provides fire investigation; fire protection engineering services;

(5)  Leads OBO's response to disasters at overseas posts; and

(6)  Tests and accepts fire protection systems and life safety features in all new construction and major renovation projects.

15 FAM 812  Authorities

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. The Director of Fire Protection is the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for all fire-related life safety matters abroad and is responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, for approving equipment, materials, installations and/or procedures.

b. Authorities include:

(1)  Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-596), as amended, 29 U.S.C. 651 et seq.;

(2)  Executive Order 12196, dated February 26, 1980, as amended, Occupational Safety and Health Programs for Federal Employees;

(3)  Basic Program Elements for Federal Employee Occupational Safety and Health Programs (29 CFR 1960);

(4)  Occupational Safety and Health Standards (29 CFR 1910 and 29 CFR 1926);

(5)  National Fire Protection Association Codes and Standards;

(6)  International Code Council Building Codes;

(7)  Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-113), 22 U.S.C. 4865;

(8)  Executive Order 12656, Assignment of Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities; and

(9)  Public Law 100-204, Construction Security Certification.

NOTE:  Requests for clarification on the National Fire Protection Association Codes and Standards and the International Code Council Building Codes authorities should be directed to OBO/OPS/FIRE.


15 FAM 813.1  OBO Disaster Response Plan

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

In accordance with 1 FAM 286.4, OBO/OPS/FIRE coordinates with other OBO offices to develop, maintain and execute OBO's Disaster Response Plan to assist overseas posts in returning to functional and productive status as soon as possible following a major disaster.  See 15 FAM 835 for detailed guidance.

15 FAM 813.2  Fire Emergency Action Plan

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

The Office of Fire Protection, (OBO/OPS/FIRE) assists with the development of posts' Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) and reviews EAPs during their fire and life safety inspections to posts.  See 15 FAM 831 for detailed guidance.

15 FAM 813.3  Fire and Life Safety Inspections

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. OBO/OPS/FIRE performs periodic fire and life safety inspections at posts abroad that supplement post fire emergency plans and procedures by:

(1)  Inspecting post buildings for fire safety deficiencies, hazards, high-rise mitigation adherence and maintenance items;

(2)  Training post personnel on fire prevention strategies, fire evacuation and extinguishing practices;

(3)  Reviewing post maintenance and inspection of fire extinguishers, fire alarm systems, fire sprinkler systems and emergency procedures;

(4)  Evaluating the adequacy of exits, the pathways to exits, and appropriateness of locking devices during fire and life safety inspections, and submitting recommendations to post management for corrective action as necessary;

(5)  Evaluating the emergency response services provided by the local fire department; and

(6)  Reviewing post's Emergency Action Plan (EAP) for fire emergencies and making recommendations where appropriate.

b. When OBO does not conduct a formal inspection and training visit, post must conduct a fire inspection survey using the latest fire inspection report as a basis for the survey.  Fire protection systems (i.e., fire alarms, fire sprinkler systems, fire pumps, and installed kitchen extinguishing systems), fire extinguishers, and egress accessibility and reliability must be checked to ensure they operate and function as installed.

c.  Personnel serving in the following roles must work to correct discrepancies on a priority basis:

·         Post Management Officers

·         USAID Executive Officers

·         General Services Officers

·         Facility Managers

·         Regional Security Officers

·         Supporting Engineering Service Offices

·         Engineering Service Centers

d. Any technical or operational fire protection issues must be directed to OBO/OPS/FIRE.  The Management Officer/Counselor must certify that a fire/life safety inspection was conducted and submit all results to OBO/OPS/FIRE not later than one year from the date of the last OBO fire inspection visit.

15 FAM 813.4  Fire Prevention Training

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. The Principal Officer at each post has overall responsibility for the safety and health of post's employees, and must ensure the highest staff participation in the fire prevention training.  All employees under Chief of Mission Authority must make attendance a priority.  Eligible Family Members are encouraged to attend.

b. Two critical components of each fire and life safety visit are fire prevention lectures and hands-on fire extinguisher usage training.  Fire Protection Officers closely coordinate the training with post.  Training sessions are offered to all personnel at post.

15 FAM 813.5  Integrity of Fire Protection Features

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. Buildings are provided with a number of features to maintain a level of fire safety for occupants.  Such features include, but are not limited to exits, corridors, fire alarms, sprinklers and other installed systems.  Department of State and Tenant Agency employees must not impair, alter, disable or remove any of these features without the consent of the post occupational safety and health officer (POSHO).  Personnel must notify post management when any such feature is affected and put an alternative plan in place.

b. All fire protection systems (such as fire alarm and automatic sprinklers) that are out of service more than four hours in a 24-hour period must be reported to OBO/OPS/FIRE within eight hours of the impairment.  Post is responsible for establishing fire watch procedures during the out-of-service period.  OBO/OPS/FIRE will assist post as needed to provide corrective action.

c.  To ensure that adequate fire protection and life safety requirements are met, the proponent of any new acquisition, new construction project, reconfiguration or change of use of an existing building or portion thereof must submit design plans in advance, to the Office of Design and Engineering, in the Directorate for Program Development, Coordination and Support, in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO/PDCS/DE), and to the Fire Protection Engineering Division, in the Office of Fire Protection, in the Directorate for Operations, in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO/OPS/FIRE/FPE), for review and approval.

15 FAM 813.6  Fire Protection Equipment

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. OBO/OPS/FIRE will provide fire extinguishers for U.S. Government-owned/capital lease (GO/CL) and Department of State-occupied nonresidential space upon request.  OBO/OPS/FIRE will assist in procuring, but not funding, this equipment for other agencies that do not occupy Department of State offices.  Post will be responsible for conducting the annual inventory, maintenance and repair of fire safety equipment.  Post must request the recommended fire safety equipment from OBO/OPS/FIRE and install it in appropriate locations.  (See guidelines in 15 FAM 840 and in 15 FAM Exhibit 843, Fire Extinguisher Type and Placement.)

    OBO/OPS/FIRE will provide smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and other equipment for use in all residences identified in the Real Property Application (RPA), regardless of the agency that occupies the residence.  Post will be responsible for the maintenance and repairs of fire-safety equipment.

b. Post must track all OBO-supplied fire extinguishers on approved property records systems in accordance with 14 FAM 414, and inventory as required.  Post must account for all stock residential smoke alarms, replacement cartridges, and extinguishing powder under the stock control or the expendable supplies requirements consistent with 14 FAM 411.  Post also must validate its current fire extinguisher inventory and submit a completed inventory document to OBO/OPS/FIRE when requesting extinguishers.

15 FAM 813.7  Acquiring High Rise Property

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. Functional or residential space in high rise buildings is defined as buildings with an occupied floor located more than 75 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.  In most cases, that means partial or fully-occupied space of the sixth floor and higher.

b. Occupying higher floors in buildings above 75 feet presents an increased risk of injury or death due to the time it takes to evacuate the facility from the higher floors.  For this reason, U.S. building and fire codes mandate prescriptive measures for these buildings to ensure that occupants can safely evacuate the premises in the event of a fire.  However, OBO/OPS/FIRE recognizes it is difficult to locate high-rise properties at some overseas missions that meet U.S. building and fire code standards.

c.  Posts must use the minimum level of equivalency listed below in evaluating the risks and feasibility when acquiring spaces or residences in high-rise properties that are not code-compliant.  Using the list may mean the search is more difficult, longer, and perhaps more expensive, but protecting employees and their families must be post’s first priority.  The minimum level of equivalency list:

(1)  One exit stair with no fire alarm system and/or no fire sprinkler protection:  do not lease the apartment;

(2)  One enclosed interior exit stair or one exterior exit stair with a functional full automatic fire alarm system and no fire sprinkler protection:  lease the third level or below;

(3)  One enclosed interior exit stair or one exterior exit stair with a fully operational automatic fire alarm system and a fully operational fire sprinkler system, and more than two apartments/functional spaces per floor:  only lease the fourth level or below;

(4)  Two enclosed interior exit stairs; or two exterior exit stairs; or one enclosed interior exit stair and one exterior exit stair; with a functional full automatic fire alarm system and no fire sprinkler protection:  only lease the fifth level or below;

(5)  One enclosed interior exit stair or one exterior exit stair with a fully operational automatic fire alarm system, and a fully operational fire sprinkler system, and only two apartments/functional spaces per floor:  only lease the sixth level or below; and

(6)  Two enclosed interior exit stairs; or two exterior exit stairs; or one enclosed interior exit stair and one exterior exit stair; with a fully operational automatic fire alarm system and a fully operational automatic fire sprinkler system:  lease any floor.

d. For residential properties already under lease that do not meet the requirements set forth above in 15 FAM 813.7 paragraph c, the leases should be terminated when the current occupant departs post or when the lease expires, whichever is earlier.

e. After due diligence has been performed in the search for compliant properties and post genuinely cannot find properties that meet minimal equivalency standards listed above, the Chief of Mission (COM) and/or the Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) may make an informed decision to lease a property notwithstanding the fact that it does not meet the standards listed above.  Post must coordinate its decision with OBO’s Fire Protection Analysis Division (OBO/OPS/FIRE/FPA), which will provide post with unit or property specific mitigation measures and assistance in appropriate documentation of the lease file.

f.  NOTE:  Non-high-rise properties/apartments and single family residences are inspected to the requirements of the National Fire Protection Associations Life Safety Code and have separate requirements than high-rise properties.

(1)  Exits:  Each apartment unit on each floor must have access to at least two exits.  The interior exits must be enclosed.  Please contact OBO/OPS/FIRE for exceptions.

(2)  Fire Alarm System:  Apartments in buildings with 4 or more levels, or 11 or more units must have a functional full fire alarm system.

15 FAM 813.8  Fire Stations and Fire Fighting Operations

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. Firefighting is an inherently hazardous activity that involves the risk of injury or death.  Posts are expected to rely on the host nation’s firefighting capability.

b. Fire stations at any post will only be authorized on an exceptional basis, as determined by the Director of OBO in consultation with the Under Secretary for Management and the Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.  All such determinations will be made on a case by case basis.  The regional bureau must provide all funding for ongoing operations, including salaries and equipment maintenance and replacement, for the life of the fire station.  The lack of or inadequacy of local firefighting capability is not by itself sufficient justification for a fire station.

c.  Posts may not acquire firefighting equipment or establish ad hoc firefighting vehicles, fire stations or fire brigades utilizing local staff.  Posts that have approved fire stations may use only equipment that has been inspected and certified by OBO/OPS/FIRE and meets National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.

d. For posts with approved contract fire stations, OBO/OPS/FIRE will not serve as COR for, or otherwise administer the contracts for such fire stations, but will provide input into the standards and requirements that must be incorporated in any contract for firefighting services.

e. OBO/OPS/FIRE inspects posts regularly and posts are expected to comply expeditiously with the OBO/OPS/FIRE recommendations.


15 FAM 814.1  Fire Protection Specialist Certifications

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. Personnel assigned to OBO’s Fire Protection Analysis Division (OBO/OPS/FIRE/FPA) must hold professional qualifications/certifications by an accredited agency in the National Professional Qualifications System or by the National Fire Protection Association.

b. Certifications at the GS-13 level are Fire Inspector II; Fire Instructor II; Fire Officer II; and Hazardous Materials Awareness.

c.  Certifications at the GS-14 level are Fire Inspector III; Fire Instructor III; Fire Officer III; and Hazardous Material Awareness.

15 FAM 814.2  Fire Protection Systems Technician Certifications

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. Personnel assigned as systems technicians in OBO’s Fire Protection Systems Division (OBO/OPS/FIRE/FPS) must hold professional qualifications/certifications as listed below.

b. Fire Suppression Technician:  Certification as a Fire Suppression Systems Technologist Level II through the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET), and also be trained as a Federal Acquisition Contracting Officer's Representative.

c.  Fire Detection/Alarm Technician:  Certification as a Fire Detection/Alarm Technologist Level II through the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET), or as an Interior Fire Alarm Technician Level II through the International Municipal Signaling Association (IMSA); and also be a Certified Federal Acquisition Contracting Officer's Representative (FAC/COR) Level II.

15 FAM 814.3  Fire Protection Engineer Certifications

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

Personnel assigned as fire protection engineers in OBO/OPS/FIRE/FPE must hold a fire protection engineering degree from a university accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET); or be licensed by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) and registered as a professional fire protection engineer in any U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Guam or Puerto Rico.

15 FAM 814.4  Fire Protection Instructor Certifications

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

Personnel assigned to the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center (FASTC) to instruct fire as a weapon sessions must hold professional qualifications/certifications by an accredited agency in the National Professional Qualifications System or by the National Fire Protection Association at the following levels: Fire Inspector II, Fire Instructor III, Fire Officer II, and Hazardous Materials Awareness.

15 FAM 815  Requirements and Responsibilities for OBO Contracted Architectural and Engineering (A&E) Fire Protection Designer of Record (FPDOR)

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. When required, OBO contracted Architectural and Engineering Firms (A&Es) must provide a Fire Protection Designer of Record (FPDOR) who meets the requirements of a Qualified Fire Protection Engineer (QFPE) as listed in 15 FAM 814.  The FPDOR must be involved in every aspect of the design, construction and testing/acceptance as it relates to fire protection and life safety.  This includes, but is not limited to:

·         building code analysis

·         life safety code analysis

·         design of automatic fire alarm

·         detection and suppression systems

·         water supply analysis

·         a multi-discipline review of the entire project

NOTE:  Utilization of multiple QFPEs on the same project is permitted; however, only a single FPDOR is permitted.

b. Projects involving structures included on OBO's List of Significant Properties should also retain a QFPE with previous experience working with sensitive historic buildings.  Historic buildings must be evaluated by performance-based design methods (structural fire design) including, but not limited to computer modeling.

c.  The FPDOR must review all fire and life safety related design drawings and specification submittals, documenting in writing that the design is in compliance with established building and fire codes/standards, as well as all applicable fire protection and life safety design criteria.

    The FPDOR must verify that all items listed in the design analysis are correctly shown on the drawings and in specifications.  They also must list any approved equivalencies to the International Building Code, International Fire Code, and the National Fire Protection Association Code and Standards.  This design compliance document must be included in the Issued for Construction (IFC) submission as part of the design analysis and must bear the signature and professional seal of the FPDOR.

d. Architects and engineers should note that due to the unique nature of our diplomatic missions overseas, OBO amended the International Building Code and the International Fire Code.  All design services and equipment related to fire protection systems and life safety features must be sourced in the United States and installed by qualified/certified technical staff.

15 FAM 816  Requirements and Responsibilities for OBO/OPS/FIRE/FPE

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. The Fire Protection Engineering Division (OBO/OPS/FIRE/FPE) is responsible for the planning, designing, and reviewing construction documents to confirm compliance with the adopted building codes and standards as supplemented by OBO.  OBO/OPS/FIRE/FPE performs fire protection engineering surveys at posts to provide technical information to contractors, architects, engineers and building officials to ensure acceptable fire protection standards are included in any construction project.

b. OBO/OPS/FIRE/FPE performs tasks that include, but are not limited to, the following:

(1)  Reviews design drawings for proposed new construction as well as renovation/remodeling projects to determine adequate fire and life safety features are incorporated.  Fire Protection Engineers will provide written comments identifying issues that require additional designer attention;

(2)  Conducts field visits of construction projects to inspect fire protection system and life safety feature installations, evaluates quality of workmanship, compliance with authorized standards, approved plans and specifications; renders staff assistance to the project managers; and prepares formal written reports on findings and recommendations;

(3)  Identifies fire protection and life safety components that warrant special degrees of control because of potentially critical effect these could have on building systems (e.g., special fire protection and building construction requirements for computer rooms and hazardous materials storage);

(4)  Prepares required documentation and approved criteria for changes to fire protection features, equipment and systems (once they have entered into phases of development and implementation); coordinates these materials with other OBO offices (i.e., on architectural, mechanical, electrical, and/or interior design and furnishings components) to ensure they adequately address program requirements and promote the achievement of program goals in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner;

(5)  Conducts fire protection engineering assessments of new designs, special materials, programs, and operating methodologies to define the effects on building fire safety for projects requiring special considerations; evaluates materials compatibility and identifies areas of concern (e.g., work with testing laboratories to determine best test methods and criteria suited to meet the Department’s special mission requirements).  Develops and proposes changes in design, engineering, program implementation methodologies and planned operating procedures as necessary in order to enhance the fire protection compatibility of new materials; and

(6)  Develops requirements, contributes to the development of Statements of Work, reviews proposals, contributes input to source selection and ensures that contract requirements are met.

15 fam 817  through 819 unassigned