Spokane Valley Fire Dept. provides guidelines on reduced building occupancy

Spokane Valley Fire Department Truck

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — The Spokane Valley Fire Department has issued guidelines for reduced building occupancy, as the city prepares to move to Phase 2 of the state’s “Safe Start” plan.

Phase 2 means that many businesses can reopen, but at a reduced capacity.

For businesses that have a posted occupancy load, the Fire Department says that should be used as a basis for reduced capacity. That is not the case for other buildings, however.

“Many businesses do not have a posted occupant load and are trying to determine what their occupant load is in order to comply with the reduced capacity requirements of the Governor’s Plan,” said SVFD Fire Marshal, Greg Rogers. “We are here to help them so they can open and be in compliance with those Phase 2 occupancy load expectations.”

The Fire Department says that for businesses that have access to their building’s permit or design plan documents, the front page typically has occupancy calculations. Otherwise, they have provided the following guidelines:

  • Restaurants: 15 square feet/person (ex: 3,000 square-foot restaurant space; 3,000/15 = occupancy of 200)
  • Retail: 60 square feet/person (ex: 1,500 square-foot retail space; 1,500/60 = 25)

Restaurants will be able to reopen at 50-percent capacity, and retail stores at 30-percent—the latter requiring an occupancy sign posted at the store entrance.

The Fire Department says that occupancy is determined by building and fire codes, used to ensure that there are enough exits of sufficient width and distance apart that people can safely evacuate. The reduced occupancy ensures that occupants can more easily socially distance.

You can find further guidance on the SVFD website here, and an online occupant load estimator here.