A Place of Assembly space is where large groups of people gather for any activity. The Department of Buildings requires a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation in two circumstances:
1) where 75 or more people gather indoors or on roofs or roof terraces; or
2) where 200 or more people gather outdoors.
Assembly spaces include but are not limited to restaurants, museums, theaters, auditoriums, churches, and sports arenas.
All assembly spaces shall be provided with emergency lighting facilities sufficient to provide at least five-foot candles of illumination at the floor level. Such lighting shall be on circuits that are separate from the general lighting and power circuits, either taken off ahead of the main switch or connected to a separate emergency lighting power source and be arranged to operate automatically in the event of failure of the normal lighting system. The provisions of this section shall apply retroactively to all existing places of assembly that are or would be classified in occupancy groups F-3 and F-4 or are changed to such classification under this code, in accordance with the following schedule and specifications:
1. Cabarets, dance halls, nightclubs, and taverns having an occupant load exceeding one hundred fifty persons shall complete the installation required by this section on or before April twelfth, nineteen hundred seventy-nine.
2. Cabarets, dance halls, nightclubs, and taverns having an occupant load of one hundred fifty persons or less shall complete such installation on or before July twelfth, nineteen hundred seventy-nine.
3. Spaces occupied exclusively as restaurants shall complete such installation on or before October twelfth, nineteen hundred seventy-nine.
4. All other spaces in occupancy groups F-3 and F-4 shall complete such installation on or before January twelfth, nineteen hundred eighty.
5. The wiring shall conform with the electrical code of the city of New York and have the same protection as specified for wiring in reference standard RS17-3, RS17-3A, or 17-3B.
6. Storage battery equipment may be used as the sole source of energy provided it conforms with the provisions of section four of reference standard RS 17-3 or consists of two battery packs listed by an acceptable testing laboratory or conforms with nationally accepted standards for such source of emergency energy.
Emergency Lighting Requirements
Sometimes referred to as egress lighting, emergency lighting is designed to illuminate and identify hallways, stairwells, and exits to facilitate a safe and orderly evacuation from a facility. Emergency lighting is generally required in all commercial, industrial, educational, religious, institutional, public housing, medical, and many other facilities whether for-profit or non-profit. And while OSHA does not have any regulations specific to emergency lighting, the NFPA’s Life Safety Code addresses the topic in detail. The local AHJ is the best resource to answer emergency lighting compliance questions related to your specific occupancy.
Within the Life Safety Code, the NFPA’s requirements for emergency lighting are referenced under section 7.9. Emergency illumination (when required) must be provided for a minimum of 1.5-hours in the event of failure of normal lighting. The emergency lighting must be arranged to provide initial illumination of not less than an average of one foot-candle (10.8-lux) and a minimum at any point of 0.1-foot-candle (1.1-lux) measured along the path of egress at floor level. These levels can decline to a minimum of 0.6-foot-candle (6.5-lux) average and 0.06-foot-candle (0.65-lux) at any one point at the end of emergency lighting time (1.5-hours). The maximum illumination at any one point can be no more than 40 times the minimum illumination at any one point to prevent excessively bright and dark spots (section 22.214.171.124.3). And the emergency lighting system must be arranged to provide illumination automatically in the event of any interruption of normal lighting (section 126.96.36.199).
Testing Requirements for Emergency Lighting
Section 7.9.3, of the Life Safety Code, addresses the NFPA’s requirements for periodic testing of emergency lights. The section acknowledges three different categories of emergency lights: traditional, self-testing/self-diagnostic, and computer-based self-testing/self-diagnostic. It essentially requires both a monthly activation test, where the lights remain illuminated for a minimum of 30-seconds and an annual test where the lights are activated for 1.5-hours to simulate a long-term emergency event. Written records of the monthly and annual tests must be maintained for inspection by the AHJ. Computer-based emergency lighting systems must be capable of generating a self-report of testing at all times. Again, best to check with your AHJ to ensure your testing and recording keeping program is sufficient.