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Joe, have you had any of your F Orders appealed for this type of building?
Jon, I didn’t say I would definitely write a F order, but did say it would be an option that you could consider. I am interested in finding out how the OFM is handling a F Order for this type of building. Are they supporting them?
When looking at the safety concerns in a building, my focus would be more on the safety of the tenants than what question the lawyer is asking. The property sale may be what got you there, but once there my actions would be the same as if I was there due to a tenant complaint or an owner’s request. Once you are on site and see safety concerns, you must do everything that is in your tool kit to make the building safer to protect the tenants, and protect the municipality from liability. I am looking for feedback as to whether writing a F Order for this type of building is in our tool kit. At the very least, I would be verbally expressing my concerns to all parties present, and follow up by putting my concerns in writing as well, if not in a F order.
I have been a Fire Inspector for 20+ years and when I first started we wrote Fire Inspection reports. I would never write up anything that wasn’t required in the Fire Code. Back then, the OFM office didn’t entertain F orders for Retrofit type of compliance in buildings that were omitted in the application of Retrofit. It wasn’t a case that the OFM didn’t feel a fire separation should not be between two residential units. The OFM office couldn’t get every type of situation written into the application, so they went with what was going to cover most buildings. Over the years things have changed and the OFM office is supporting F orders for a wider range of safety concerns than what they did years ago.
I am interested in hearing Joe’s answer to my question. If he has had F orders upheld by the OFM for buildings that don’t meet the application of Retrofit, that makes my decision of how to move forward clear. If he hasn’t had any appealed, I would consult my supervisor, co-workers first to see if we have had a F Order upheld for this type of building. If no one has had this type of F Order appealed, I would reach out to the OFM, not ask specifically about the building I am inspecting or even say that I have recently inspected this type of building, because if you do that they won’t be able to help you to avoid potential conflict if there is an appeal I would ask a general question whether they are supporting F orders for lack of separations/exiting in a building that doesn’t meet the application of Retrofit.
When it comes to File Searches, that is different, and yes, we only answer the questions asked by the lawyer at the advice of our City’s lawyer. The one question we don’t answer, does the building comply with Retrofit/Fire Code. We answer that by saying we would have to do an inspection to assess compliance of the Fire Code.