An assembly occupancy is generally defined as "an occupancy (1) used for a gathering of 50 or more persons for deliberation, worship, entertainment, eating, drinking, amusement, awaiting transportation, or similar uses; or (2) used as a special amusement building, regardless of occupant load." Assembly occupancies might include the following: Armories,assembly halls, auditoriums,club rooms, dance halls, drinking establishments and exhibition halls among others.
Fires in assembly occupancies have shown to be some of the most deadly when the proper features, systems and construction materials were not present. Nightclubs, theaters and auditoriums differ from office buildings because they contain a large number of people in one main space. NFPA code provisions mandate that a considerable number of safety systems and features be present in order to keep everyone safe should an unwanted fire occur. The level of safety provided is not the result of any single safety system or feature, but rather is achieved through the combination of multiple safeguards that are provided.
NFPA publishes a number of codes and standards that work in harmony to prevent the type of life-loss that can occur in assembly occupancies:
The following elements provide an outline of the most basic requirements and criteria as found in NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, 2000 edition. The order in which they are presented in is indicative of how they lessen a life threatening condition.
There are a number of possible ignition sources in assembly occupancies. Fires caused by so-called "controlled" fire (for example, alcohol or solid alcohol fires in restaurants, flames used for dramatic effects in theaters) are well documented. Control of other unintentional ignition sources is also of crucial importance. Those include:
Furnishings & contents
Controls based on flame spread characteristics; Evaluation of existing interior finish is sometimes difficult. Where flame spread characteristics cannot be readily determined, the questionable material should be removed or treated with approved flame retardants. Where treatment cannot reduce flame spread to the required limits, automatic sprinklers can be provided to help compensate for the deficiency.
The purpose of interior finish requirements is to slow the flame spread across these surfaces to allow additional time for occupants to relocate or evacuate the building.
On-site fire protection