At the time of construction,
the Philadelphia Building Code required only
a local fire alarm system with manual stations
at each exit and smoke detectors in the supply
and return air shafts. Hose stations supplied
from the domestic water service and portable
fire extinguishers were required for occupant
use. Dry standpipes were installed for fire
department use. Below ground levels were required
to be provided with automatic sprinklers.
As a result of local code changes, several
improvements to the fire protection systems
were made in the years following the building’s
In 1981, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses
and Inspections implemented amendments to the
fire code which were intended to address the
life safety of high-rise building occupants.
These requirements included installation of
stair identification signs, provisions to permit
stairway re-entry, and installation of smoke
detection in common areas in the path of access
to exits. The “common areas” provision
of the code was intended to address corridors
and exit passageways in multi-tenant floors.
The smoke detector requirements were interpreted
in such a way that single tenant “open
plan” floors were only required to have
detectors installed at the exits; the entire
floor, although open, was not considered a “common
area.” Smoke detectors were also installed
in the return air plenum adjacent to the return
air shaft intakes in each comer of the building.
These provisions required that building owners
file permits for this work within one year of
the code change. City records do not indicate
when this work was performed in this particular
building or if it was inspected and approved.