Imagine a condition where there's a power outage, and there's no power backup. It would take you only a few moments to come up with all the severe consequences that can arise in case a generator is not available during emergency situations. Generators can be a lifesaver and prevent discomfort and tragedies during emergency situations or power interruptions from the local electric utility company in hospitals or multifamily residential apartments or large commercial buildings.
During emergency situations like a power outage or fire inside a large building, certain areas like corridors, staircases, elevators, and common areas depend on the emergency generator for the lights to keep running.
Chicago building codes require hospitals and large complexes more than 300 feet tall and condos (any building taller than 80 feet) to have an emergency generator system. This also means that a standby generator is also needed alongside the emergency generator.
In the case of Chicago, article 700 makes emergency generator systems compulsory for both new and old buildings. The code includes table 18-27-700.5 which details Emergency System Type Expected By Use. Here's a summary of the code:
Every generator shall adhere to the following:
- In case of high-rise builder under 300ft, they can have natural gas or diesel fuel as fuel supply and must follow with Section 18-27-701.16
- High rise buildings 300 ft or over shall be needed to have diesel fuel as the fuel supply and must follow Section 18-27-701.1
Few Chicago building codes are compulsory regardless of the fact whether the generator is a primary generator or a secondary generator:
When Are Emergency Generator Systems Necessary?
Like we have mentioned above, emergency generator systems are a legal requirement for all electrical systems in where a power cut can be a threat to human life. According to Chicago Building Codes, emergency generator systems are needed in the following situations:
- In Assembly groups A which are basically locations where people assemble for some cause.
- Every building structure even tents must have their exit signs backed up by emergency generators.
- All complexes r buildings in which toxic or flammable materials are stored must have emergency power backup.
- In case of high-rise and buildings located underground, they are compulsory to have a system for backup and emergency power.
In institutions like prisons or mental facility, all the doors should have an emergency power backup for exit sign illumination.
Elevator components like control panel, lights, ventilators, and other equipment must have emergency power backup in all cases.
Special Requirements For Emergency Power For Residential Units, Business Units, and Educational Institutes
All large residential units must be outfitted with both emergency and standby power, as well Business units and Educational institutions that suffice the following conditions:
- Have the floor more than 75 feet and in use above the lowest access for the fire trucks.
- Areas more than 15,000 sq. Ft. Each floor total area of 100,000 sq. Ft.
The emergency generator systems in these units must be able to power exit signs, escape lights, elevator car lights, alarm systems, automatic fire detectors, fire alarms, and electric fire pumps.
In any building where an emergency generator system is being installed, it is very important to follow the codes, not only for the project to be approved but also for the safety of the residents or occupants of the building.