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FIR-1.03 - Illegal Occupancies

Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority

To provide guidelines for regulating "illegal occupancies".

This policy applies to all structures where Portland Fire & Rescue has authority.

Occupancy: the purpose for which a building or part thereof is used or intended to be used.
Illegal Occupancy: "No change shall be made in the character of occupancies or use of any building that would place the building in a different division of the same group of occupancy or in a different group of occupancies, unless such building is made to comply with the requirements of this code for such division or group of occupancy.
Exception:The character of the occupancy of existing buildings may be changed subject to the approval of the building official, and the building may be occupied for purposes in other groups without conforming to all the requirements of this code for those groups, provided the new or proposed use is less hazardous, based on life and fire risk, than the existing use." 1998 Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC)

Every building, whether new or existing is classified by the building official according to its use or the character of its occupancy.
The role of the Fire Inspector is to regulate buildings according to their approved use and maintain structures in conformance with the Building Code in effect at the time of approval.
Examples of "illegal" or unapproved use:
Warehouse Storage (S1, S2)
Retail (M)
Auto repair, no cutting/welding (S3)
Auto repair with cutting/welding (H4)
Dwelling (R1, R3)
Office space (B)
Church (A3, A2.1)
Day Care (E3)

2000 Portland Uniform Fire Code (PUFC); 1998 Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC).

The Fire Inspector shall regulate occupancies in accordance with their approved use as classified by the building official using the following guidelines:
1. Cause the illegal use to be discontinued and reverted back to the legal use through the abatement of hazards process, and/or
2. Require that a permit for an appropriate change of occupancy be obtained from the Bureau of Development Services (BDS).
A. When a change of occupancy is required:
1) Consult with your supervisor to determine the appropriate course of action to be taken.
2) Complete the computerized "ALERT FOLDER NOTIFICATION FORM" (PFB form 300.39) and email it to the "FMO ALERT NOTIFICATION" mailbox.
3) When the violation has been corrected, send an email request to the "FMO ALERT NOTIFICATION" to close the alert folder that has been created.
A folder will be created in the building permit records (TRACS) to alert BDS staff of the violation which will include a description of the conditions or situation as reported by the fire inspector on the "ALERT FOLDER NOTIFICATION FORM". When the violation has been corrected, the alert folder will be removed from the building record. This information will assist in processing the change of occupancy.
3. Referral to BDS.
A. When an occupancy issue does not create a life safety or fire hazard, a referral may be sent to BDS without citing the occupant or owner.
1) Consult with your supervisor to determine the appropriate course of action to be taken.
2) Complete BDS referral (PFB form 300.52) and send by e- mail to "FMO COMPANY REFERRALS".
B. Examples of occupancy issues that may not require inspection citations:
1) Retail space (M occupancy) being used as an office (B occupancy)
2) Assembly space (A occupancy) being used as retail space.
3) Hazardous space (H occupancy) being used for non-hazardous storage.
In these cases, the use shall be maintained according to the approved occupancy even though the actual use is less hazardous.

Filed for inclusion in PPD June 13, 2003.
Originally adopted by Fire Marshal as Fire Prevention Division Policy Manual Document A-3, effective December 30, 1987 and revised March 19, 2003.