15 FAM 840


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

15 FAM 841  Fire Protection Systems

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. Posts are responsible for monitoring installed fire protection systems to ensure they are operational.  The Facility Manager, General Services Officer, or Senior Maintenance Manager must review the main fire alarm/detection panel daily, inspect the fire sprinkler system monthly, and ensure a weekly functional test of each installed fire pump is performed.  A log must be kept and available for review during OBO/OPS/FIRE post visits.

b. Installation or modification of smoke alarms, extinguishers, lighting, signage, etc. at properties included on the OBO List of Significant Properties must be coordinated with the Office of Cultural Heritage (OBO/OPS/CH).

c.  OBO/OPS/FIRE will support fire-protection system needs by providing technical training, policies, and guidance for fire system inspection and maintenance, and repairs to fire systems that are beyond the capability of the posts.  For extensive repair or upgrade of fire protection systems, OBO/OPS/FIRE will initiate these upgrades under the Minor Construction and Improvement program (MCI).

d. OBO/OPS/FIRE only provides fire-protection system replacement and spare parts for U.S.-manufactured fire-protection systems.  Locally installed systems must be maintained and replaced by post.

e. Posts with fire protection systems must enroll in the Building Maintenance Expenses (BME) program to ensure annual inspection and testing is conducted by certified subject matter experts.  Contact OBO/OPS/FIRE for additional guidance on the fire systems component of the BME program.


(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. OBO/OPS/FIRE will provide residential smoke alarms based on property information entered in the Real Property Application (RPA) database.  Post must install these smoke alarms in all residential units occupied by U.S. Government personnel, as follows:

(1)  Install one single-station smoke alarm in each sleeping room;

(2)  One in each corridor serving the sleeping rooms; and

(3)  One at the top of the stairs on each level leading to the sleeping rooms.

    NOTE:  Mount these smoke alarms on the ceilings by the door or on the side walls.  Refer to the manufacturer's instructions included with every smoke alarm package provided.

b. Residential occupants must conduct a visual inspection and test each installed battery-operated smoke alarm monthly and replace batteries following the manufacturer’s recommendation.

c.  Residential smoke alarms must be replaced every ten years.  Posts must track the date of installation and ensure requests for replacements are made in a timely manner.

    NOTE:  Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are provided by OBO/OPS/SHEM.  See 15 FAM 970.

    NOTE:  Post must not install single-station smoke alarms in nonresidential (office buildings, warehouses, maintenance facilities), and similar buildings that require a full-fire alarm system.


(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. Post must properly place and administer a maintenance program for fire extinguishers in all U.S. Government-owned and -leased buildings and in all residential units occupied by U.S. Government personnel.  (See 15 FAM Exhibit 843 for extinguisher type and placement instructions.)  OBO/OPS/FIRE will provide one extinguisher per residence, based on information entered in the RPA.  In U.S. Government-owned and -leased office buildings, extinguishers will be provided based on established fire codes and standards; refer to 15 FAM 810 for further information.

b. Post is responsible for acquisition of fire extinguishers for commercial vehicles.  Refer to 14 FAM 433.12 Vehicle Emergency Equipment for requirements.

c.  Every fire extinguisher must be visually inspected monthly for operable condition and, at a minimum, serviced once each year.  Inspection and maintenance dates must be recorded either on the extinguisher inspection tag or electronically.  Refer to Tab G-2 of the OBO Fire Protection Guide in OBO/OPS/FIRE Publications, for inspection, maintenance, and disposal instructions.

d. Residential occupants must conduct a visual inspection of their fire extinguishers monthly for operable condition and report any deficiencies to the facilities manager or general services officer.  Inspection dates must be recorded on the extinguisher inspection tag.  Refer to Tab G-2 of the OBO Fire Protection Guide in OBO/OPS/FIRE Publications, for inspection, maintenance, and disposal instructions.

e. Department supplied fire extinguishers that are 12 years past their manufacturer's date must be turned into facilities management or the general services office for disposal or hydrostatic testing.  The facility management staff must verify the date of manufacture or hydrostatic test date prior to installing fire extinguishers.

f.  Department supplied fire extinguishers must not be sold or gifted.

15 FAM 844  Emergency Lighting

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. In new office buildings, emergency lighting is normally installed in the ceiling light grid.  In all other office buildings where the U.S. Government is the sole occupant, post must place and maintain emergency lights in all exit corridors and in stairwells of multilevel office buildings.  In U.S. Government-owned/capital lease (GO/CL) structures with multifamily residential units (four or more stories), post is responsible for installing emergency lights in exit stairwells on each landing and in other areas recommended by the Office of Fire Protection, (OBO/OPS/FIRE).  Emergency lights must be tested monthly and dates must be recorded either in a manual or electronic log.

b. Post is responsible for procuring local emergency lighting units that match the specific country voltage requirements and must coordinate with OBO/OPS/FIRE for funding and fire/life safety code requirements.

15 FAM 845  Exit Signs

15 FAM 845.1  Sign Requirements

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. For new office buildings and major renovations, exit signs must meet the International Building Code (IBC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Codes and Standards, and must be similar to existing signs to maintain continuity and ease of visual recognition.  These standards require that exit signs be:

(1)  Self-illuminated by an internal light source or illuminated by an external light source that is capable of providing uninterrupted lighting during power outage;

(2)  Provided in sufficient number to establish and maintain clearly marked exits and stairways;

(3)  Manufactured in contrasting face colors with lettering of specified size; and

(4)  Installed on the ceiling or wall above the exit doorway (pictorial illustrations are found at Tab C-1 of the OBO Fire Protection Guide).

b. For existing buildings, the Department uses a standard photo luminescent emergency sign that meets the IBC and/or NFPA standards.  This sign, referred to as the international emergency exit sign, is pictographic and luminous (i.e., absorbs light and glows in the dark).  Pictographic signs are illustrated at Tab C-1 of the OBO Fire Protection Guide.  International emergency exit signs are not required in buildings equipped with functional illuminated signs meeting IBC and/or NFPA standards.  They may be installed in addition to illuminated signs to supplement this coverage.

c.  Upon request, OBO/OPS/FIRE will provide exit signs to post.  Post will be responsible for installation.

15 FAM 845.2  Sign Types and Placement

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

The four basic types of marking/signs, with placement guidelines, are:

(1)  Exit signs placed on exit doors;

(2)  Directional exit signs placed above non-exit doors or on corridor walls to indicate the most direct route for emergency exiting;

(3)  Warning signs that must clearly state what action to take, such as stating that elevators must not be used in emergencies, and indicating the direction of the nearest exit stairway; and

(4)  Low-level egress path marking and signs placed on walls and exit doors.

15 FAM 846  Egress

15 FAM 846.1  Unlocking Exits During Business Hours

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

Exit doors that are equipped with locks to provide after-hours security must remain unlocked during business hours to ensure that they are usable as exits.  They must be marked with exit signs and posted with additional signs stating when they are to remain unlocked.  Post must establish a policy to ensure that these doors remain unlocked during business hours as a standard operating procedure.  (See Tab C-1 of the OBO Fire Protection Guide for illustrations.)

15 FAM 846.2  Emergency Egress and Security Doors

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. During an emergency, it is vital that occupants exit of our facilities quickly and safely.  Security locks on doors in the path of egress must allow for unimpeded access to the exit without significant delay.   Locking stairways is in violation of 29 CFR 1910.36(d).  This section states an exit door must be unlocked.  Employees must be able to open an exit route door from the inside at all times without keys, tools, or special knowledge.  A device such as a panic bar that locks only from the outside is permitted on exit discharge doors.  29 CFR 1910.36(d)(2) also states exit route doors must be free of any device or alarm that could restrict emergency use of the exit route if the device or alarm fails.

b. Posts must also act in accordance with exiting standards outlined in NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, or the International Fire Code to be in compliance with corresponding OSHA requirements of 29 CFR 1910.35.  Post must not use:

·         slide-bolt type locks

·         Unican locks

·         Spin-dial locks

·         hasps and padlocks

·         steel bars

·         key and electronic access control devices without fire-alarm system overrides

·         deadbolts that engage with the door header or threshold

·         chains

·         iron grillwork

    Locks that require the use of combinations or keys on the egress side of exit doors and on primary/secondary means of escape are also not permitted.

c.  Additionally, installing locks, hardware, or appliances on fire rated doors compromises the integrity of the fire rating.  Compliance with guidelines is critical for the life safety of occupants (See 12 FAH-5 Appendix G, for proper application.)  Doors in this category include corridor doors, inner lobby doors, exit stair doors, and other doors that provide eventual egress to the building exterior.

d. Thumb-turn locks installed on doors must be operable on the egress side and must be maintained in an unlocked position during normal business hours.  Each thumb-turn or knob must be labeled with directional arrows with the words “lock – unlock” or pictorial symbols to indicate the direction bolts should be turned for each operation. 

e. Electronic access control devices are approved for use on the entry side of exit doors.  Release mechanisms for such devices on the egress side of the door must be mechanical or fail-safe open electrical with the release button in an obvious location in the immediate vicinity of the door.

f.  DS- and OBO- approved security hardware sets (SHW) are the only approved door locks for office building doors.  OBO and DS permit these types of security locking hardware on doors in the path of egress which still allows for unimpeded access to the exit without significant delay.  The time delay on these hardware packages must not exceed 15 seconds.  See 12 FAH-5 Appendix G.

g. Panic hardware that interfaces with electronic access control devices is available for special applications through the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.  This option provides entry protection and unhindered egress.  Panic hardware consists of a door latching assembly with a device that releases the latch upon application of 15 pounds of force to an actuating bar or panel which extends at least halfway across the width of the door.  Panic hardware is also available with an integral alarm that sounds an audible alarm when the bar is depressed.

    Panic hardware with special time delay consists of conventional panic hardware that is connected to a time delay mechanism that releases an electric lock after a specific time, the maximum delay being 15 seconds.  This time delay may be remotely reset by a security guard.  Installation of delay panic hardware is only permitted where CCTV or direct visual surveillance of the attack side of the door is possible.  Operationally, the security guard must not reset the time delay unless CCTV surveillance or direct observation indicates a clear security threat on the exterior side of the door.  Doors equipped with time delay mechanisms must display signs that state, “time delayed exit door – press bar, alarm will sound – wait – push door open.”  Pictorial signs are available from OBO/OPS/FIRE.

h. Paddle release type exit hardware with an integral alarm is approved on exterior exit doors where forced entry/ballistic resistant (FE/BR) doors have not been installed or where they are not required.  This type of exit device consists of a paddle handle attached to a latch, which opens when force is applied to the paddle.  It also is capable of being alarmed for emergency use only so that when the force is applied to the panic paddle, an alarm sounds and the latching device is automatically released.

i.  Exit doors with magnetic locks controlled by a guard but not having the time delay package, must not be engaged by the guard except when necessary to allow time to engage the FE/BR deadbolts.

j.  Any exit door not having the time delay hardware package must be connected to the Fire Alarm Control Panel so that the magnetic lock will be automatically released (fail safe open) in the event of a general fire alarm.  Alternatively, an emergency override button may be provided in an obvious location on the egress side of the door.  In other words, if there is no time delay release mechanism, activation of the building fire alarm must over-ride the magnetic lock to an unlocked position or egress must be permitted by activation of a local emergency override at the door.

15 FAM 846.3  Residential Emergency Egress and Security Features

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

a. Residential bedrooms with grilled windows, and no door leading directly to the outside, must have an emergency hatch in at least one bedroom window that measures a minimum of 20 inches in width and 24 inches in height, with an approved emergency release device for opening the hatch and window from the inside without the use of a key or tool.

b. Double cylinder locks (e.g. a lock that requires a key to operate the door from either side) must not be used on residential egress doors due to inherent fire/life safety implications.  Locks or latching devices must be provided with a releasing device that has an obvious method of operation that can be readily operated under all lighting conditions, such as a deadbolt thumb turn lock.  All locks or latching devices must be operable from inside the structure without the use of a key or tool and be mounted at a height not exceeding 48 inches (1220 mm) above the finished floor.  DS does not approve the use of double cylinder locks and instead encourages posts to seek alternatives to mitigating the vulnerabilities of sidelight/door windows where window grilling is a requirement.

15 FAM 846.4  Annual Emergency Egress Inspections

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)

Post management must conduct an annual survey of exit doors for compliance with the above requirements.  General Services Officers, Facility Maintenance Managers, Regional Security Officers, and supporting Engineering Services Officers (ESO) should work to correct discrepancies on a priority basis.  Unapproved locks or hardware configurations that are in conflict with these guidelines must be removed and/or corrected.  Fire safety or security issues raised by these guidelines, whether technical or operational, should be addressed to OBO/OPS/FIRE, OBO/CFSM/SM, DS/DSS/IP, DS/C/PSP and DS/ST/STO.

15 fam 847  through 849 unassigned

15 FAM Exhibit 843  
Location, Fire Extinguisher Type [10# ABC Dry Chemical], and Placement

(CT:OBO-95;   11-29-2019)



Office Buildings

Place in the corridors of the building so that the travel distance to the extinguisher does not exceed 23m (75 feet) from any point on each floor.  (See Tab G-2, Figure 2 of the OBO Fire Protection Guide for illustrations.)  NOTE:  In controlled access areas (CAAs), post may randomly select up to 35 percent of stock and any unit may be physically inspected or x-rayed prior to placement into a CAA space.

Industrial Buildings

To be used in warehouses, fuel storage, and gasoline/diesel pumping stations.  Maximum travel distance to an extinguisher must not exceed 15m (50 feet).

Computer Server Rooms and Communication Areas

Place one extinguisher in each computer server room/communication area.  NOTE: Carbon dioxide (Co2) or other clean agent type extinguishers are not required for these areas.

Residential Units

Place one extinguisher in a visible location in or near the kitchen area.

For other applications or direction, see the OBO Fire Protection Guide or contact the Office of Fire Protection, in the Directorate for Operations, in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO/OPS/FIRE).