Restricted COVID Occupancy Loads

From the Fire Marshal's Office

May 14, 2020

As the Governor carefully re-opens commerce in the State, he is doing so with restrictions to continue to halt the spread of the Corona COVID-19 virus. Currently, the restriction for business (office) and mercantile (retail) occupancies limit the number of occupants (patrons and employees) to 25% of the Occupancy Load.

How do you know what your Occupancy Load is?                      
Why is the Fire Marshal’s Office involved?
Initially when your building was constructed, the project plans were reviewed by the Vermont Division of Fire Safety (prior to 2013) or the SBFD - Fire Marshal’s Office (2013-present). During the project review, the building design was reviewed using the Vermont Fire & Building Safety Code, derived from the International Building Code (IBC) and the National Fire Prevention Codes (NFPA Code Set).

This review determined the Occupancy Use of the building, e.g. Business (office), Daycare, Assembly (churches, gyms etc.), Mercantile (retail or small restaurant), or Mixed Use. Factors that influence the Occupancy Use of a building are size and design of the building, type of construction used, number of exits, and fire protection features. The Occupancy Use, in conjunction with the Occupancy Load Factor (NFPA 101-7.3.2.1), determine the actual Occupancy Load, which is the maximum number of persons (patrons and employees) that can legally be in the building. In a Mixed Use building, the Occupancy Load is the maximum number of persons (patrons and employees) that can legally be in each tenant space.

If you are unable to find the building’s original permit paper work in your building permit and maintenance records, you may use the following occupancy load factors. (ref. NFPA 101-3.2.1 in toto for other occupancy uses, and associated load factors).


 

Business (office)  
The Occupancy Load Factor is 1 person for every 100 square feet (gross) of interior space.

Example: The interior space (inside of the exterior walls) of a single-story building or tenant space measure 130’ by 60’.

To determine Occupancy Load: 
Determine the gross square footage (SF) of the interior space:  130’ x 60’ = 7800 SF.       
Next, divide the gross SF (7800) by the Occupancy Load Factor for Business Use (100 SF): 7800 SF/100 = 78         
The Occupancy Load is 78.  This means that a maximum of 78 persons are allowed in this single-story building.   
*** Currently, the Governor’s Order restricts this occupancy to 25% of the occupancy load.

To determine the 25% Occupancy Load: 
1) Multiply the original occupancy load by .25 (25%) to determine the new RESTRICTED occupancy load number.

Using the same example:
The original Occupancy Load is 78 persons. 78 X .25 (25%) = 19.5 persons (round up to 20 persons).     
20 persons are now allowed in the business space. This Occupancy Load number includes both patrons and employees!


 

Mercantile
(All Retail and small Restaurants less than 3000 SF with 49 patrons and staff)
The Occupancy Load Factor is 1 person for every 30 square feet (gross) of interior space. This factor changes to 1 person every 40 SF if the building/tenant space is greater than two (2) stories in height.

Example: The interior space (inside of the exterior walls) of a single-story building or tenant space measures 130’ by 60’

To determine Occupancy Load:
Determine the gross square footage (SF) of the interior space: 130’ x 60’ = 7800 SF.       
Next, divide the gross SF (7800) by the Occupancy Load Factor for Mercantile for a one-story building (30)       
7800 SF/30 = 260 persons are allowed in the single-story building.   
*** Currently, the Governor’s Order restricts this occupancy to 25% of the occupancy load.

To determine the 25% Occupancy Load:  
Multiply the original occupancy load by .25 (25%) to determine the new RESTRICTED occupancy load number.

Using the same example, the original Occupancy Load is 260 persons. 
260 X .25(25%) = 65 persons are now allowed in the space.   
Remember --- this Occupancy Load number includes both patrons and employees!