Marijuana Facility Guidance – Colorado Fire Marshals Special Task Group – 1
1. This government document was created by a special task group assigned by the Colorado Fire Marshal to assess the 2015 International Fire Code and other relevant code standards and indicate how they apply to the marijuana industry. This is not an enforcement document as was created and disseminated for informational purposes.
2. This document is intended to apply to both the growing and oil extraction of marijuana as well as the growing and processing of hemp. It also applies equally to medicinal and recreational facilities.
3. Quote – Fire code officials have the authority to require an owner to provide a technical opinion report from a registered design professional or qualified specialist – unquote, before approving the use of a facility design or specific piece of extraction equipment. Since most extraction equipment is too new to have obtained UL listing status or other equivalent nationally recognized testing approval, most equipment will require an independent 3rd party engineering review.
4. Quote – devices which use flammable gases, liquefied petroleum gases, and high pressure carbon dioxide systems – unquote, will be specifically scrutinized during a facility inspection and require proof of engineering review.
5. Many jurisdictions will require special operational permits for certain aspects of marijuana businesses including compressed gas usage, flammable and combustible liquid usage, fumigation and insecticide fogging, hazardous materials, certain storage systems, and the use of liquefied Petroleum Gas.
6. As with any other facility, a jurisdiction may require specific building permits relating to improvement of structures, utilities, and safety systems.
7. Any hazardous materials that are used or stored on site must be well labeled, have warning signage, and have MSDS sheets available. Employees must also be properly trained how to handle, store and dispose of hazardous supplies.
8. Many grow facilities will be required to install a fire sprinkler system depending on their facility design. The quote – most common trigger being a fire area exceeding 12,000 square feet – unquote. Other factors may also necessitate sprinkler installation, these are delineated in section 903.2.4 of the IFC.
9. Interior finishes must comply with fire codes. Some growers may want to use plastic sheeting to cover walls or ceilings, this is quote – typically not compliant with code provisions for wall partition – unquote, and should be properly investigated prior to installation.
10. Although marijuana facilities often require strong security protocols, it is not permissible to limit egress. Requirements for safety exits and signage are the same as those of other facilities and is clearly outlined in the IFC and international building code.
11. Due to heightened security concerns and less accessible facilities, it may be required to provide key boxes beside locked gates and doors for use by emergency responders to gain quick access.
12. Aisles must be provided within work spaces so that employees can easily walk to egress in an emergency. In most cases an open path of 28 to 44 inches must be provided.
13. Marijuana growers and processors are required to provide ventilation that prevents the release of, quote – unwholesome or noxious odors – unquote, beyond the confines of the facility and should not be perceptible by adjoining properties.
14. Portable fire extinguishers are required by all facilities, but the number, type , and location are determined according to the IFC based on facility use and design.
15. Electrical systems are required to meet current electrical code design standards. Facilities using flammable or combustible gasses or liquids for extraction purposes, may have more stringent electrical requirements imposed to prevent electrical ignition.
16. While many marijuana facilities do not want to attract any attention, the building number cannot be removed and must be easily visible from the street.
17. In the interest of egress, exit doors are not allowed to have more than one form of lock which must be operable from the inside in a single motion without the use of a key or special knowledge. As a specific note, this document also states that, quote – the installation of security features designed to disable, injure, maim or kill intruders is prohibited – unquote.
To be continued….
Source: Fire Marshals’ Special Task Group. Marijuana Facility Guidance.; 2016. https://fmac-co.wildapricot.org/resources/Pictures/Marijuana_Guidance_Document_v.1_2016 03 16.pdf. Accessed August 7, 2018.
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