If you own a commercial building with a basement, you may be subject to the NJ and PA “Windowless Basement Law”. Many municipalities have begun enforcing this law aggressively in the past few years.
The “Windowless Basement Law” requires that a fire detection system be installed and monitored in basements with either no windows or windows that are too small for firefighter access. If there is a door it must be above grade level to qualify as an opening. Generally speaking, the window openings must be 32”x 48” and spaced not more than 100 feet apart or 22”x 42” and spaced not more than 30 feet apart.
The “Windowless Basement Law” is a subsection of the greater New Jersey Uniform Fire Code which was enacted on November 12, 1983. This section of the NJUFC was enacted due to the death of a New Jersey Firefighter in a basement lacking an appropriate access opening as well as a fire detection / fire suppression system. In addition to protecting the occupants of the building, the windowless basement suppression requirement, N.J.A.C. 5:70-4.7(h) is specifically intended to address firefighter safety. The intent of the law is to protect firefighters by providing for early detection, early suppression, and the sounding of an alarm.
There are many other specifics that pertain to this law. For more details, you can visit the State of New Jersey, Division of Community Affairs, New Jersey Division of Fire Safety web site at http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/dfs