Author(s): Chip Carson. Published on November 1, 2011.

Time-Out Room
NFPA 101 and provisions for lockups

NFPA Journal®, November/December 2011 

New provisions were added to the 2009 edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, to address lockups. These are generally cells where people are detained until they can be transported to a receiving center or local police precinct. The definition of a lockup is “an incidental use area in other than a detention and correctional occupancy where occupants are restrained and such occupants are mostly incapable of self-preservation because of security measures not under the occupants’ control.”



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These are now common in many facilities, such as courthouses, sports arenas, security offices in shopping malls, and event centers. Several occupancy chapters now include provisions for lockups, including assembly, educational, day-care, ambulatory health care, hotels and dormitories, apartment buildings, residential board and care, mercantile, business, industrial, and storage occupancies. Some of these sound like unusual occupancies in which to have lockups, but the committees believed they warranted code provisions for such circumstances.

The occupancy chapters do not contain the provisions for lockups, but simply refer to the chapters on detention and correctional occupancies for the details for them. This reference is found in the _ .2.11.2 section of those occupancy chapters. The _ .2.11 section is “Special Means of Egress Features.” A new section, the _ 4.5 section, “Lockups,” was added in Chapters 22/23, “Detention and Correctional Occupancies.” Where the existing occupancy chapters refer to Section 23.4.5, an exception is provided for existing lockups that are approved by the authority having jurisdiction.

These lockup provisions in Section 22/23.4.5 require that, where the lockup can hold more than 50 people or where the detainees stay for 24 or more hours, the lockup must comply with the provisions for detention and correctional occupancies. So the lockup provisions only apply to those lockups where the number of detainees is less than 50 and they are kept for less than 24 hours.

The provisions in Section 22/23.4.5 have two options. The first, in Section 22/, requires compliance with the provisions of the predominant occupancy in which the lockup is located, plus a trained staff immediately available with authority to release detainees within two minutes of the onset of a fire or similar emergency. If remote release is used, detainees are not to be otherwise restrained, such as by handcuffs to a bench or pole.

The second option, in Section 22/, again requires compliance with the provisions for the predominant occupancy. In addition, this alternative includes provisions for smoke detection and a fire alarm system, even if the predominate occupancy does not require smoke detection or a fire alarm system. This is used to summon staff and emergency forces early in the fire. This option also includes requirements for detention-grade hardware that meets ASTM F 1577, Standard Test Methods for Detention Locks for Swinging Doors.

Lockups are becoming more common in our society as a place to hold unruly people until the police can transfer them. It is important that these places, from which the occupants cannot readily evacuate of their own free will, be designed and operated in accordance with the Life Safety Code.

Chip Carson, P.E., is president of Carson Associates, Inc., a fire engineering and code consultancy.  He is a former member of NFPA's Board of Directors.