USD Schools:

Facility owners and operators have the ultimate legal responsibility for the safety of all occupants within their facility. This responsibility cannot be transferred to any code authority, whether local or state.

 The owner/operator has this responsibility:

  • regardless of whether or not any inspections have been performed by any authority, whether local or state.
  • regardless of whether or not a plan of correction has been accepted by any authority, whether local or state.
  • regardless of whether or not any plan review has been done by any authority, whether local or state.

 The Office of the State Fire Marshal’s role is to provide life safety oversight. For certain types of facilities, this role is mandated by state law or Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The OSFM provides a risk management service. Assistance is provided to facility owners and operators to lower their potential risk from incidents that could endanger the occupants of the building. The OSFM identifies noncompliant life safety issues in new and existing facilities, and we communicate these issues to the owner/operator. It is the job of the owner/operator to provide appropriate solutions. 

 New facilities shall comply with all applicable fire codes and regulations. Life Safety violations in new facilities are unacceptable.

OSFM cannot: 

  • Provide design services to the owner/operator
  • Defer liability away from the owner/operator
  • Provide guidance on how to correct fire issues

 Facility owners and operators are responsible for maintaining all documentation concerning their facility. They must maintain correspondence that relates to acceptance of non-conforming conditions and plan approval. This documentation may be requested by inspectors at later on-site visits. Code footprints are the best way to document acceptance for nonconforming conditions and to document the code status of a facility.

1st and 2nd Grade Requirements:

With space and building restrictions in many schools, administrators have relocated classrooms containing daycare, preschool, kindergarten, and first and second grade students to areas of the building not permitted for these uses due to fire and life safety restrictions. We must periodically remind school administrators of long-standing fire and life safety requirements regulating the location of these classrooms.

Both the Uniform Building Code and the Life Safety Code prohibit classrooms containing kindergarten or first grade students to be located above the first story in new or existing buildings. Second grade classrooms cannot be located above the second story.

International Building Code, 2006 Edition, does not have any restrictions on the placement of students within the building. However, the code does require these facilities to be fully sprinklered. Therefore, if your building was constructed prior to January 1, 2011, you will be required to keep 1st and 2nd graders to the appropriate floors indicated by the Uniform Building Code and/or the National Fire Protection Association OR you may install a full sprinkler system. 

Uniform Building Code requirements state: "Special provisions. Rooms in Divisions 1 and 2 Occupancies used for kindergarten, first- or second-grade pupils… shall not be located above or below the first story, except for basements that have required exits at grade level. Exceptions: In buildings equipped with an automatic sprinkler system throughout, rooms used for kindergarten, first and second-grade children or for day-care purposes may be located on the second story, provided there are at least two exits directly to the exterior for the exclusive use of such occupancy."

National Fire Protection Association requirements state: "Rooms normally occupied by preschool, kindergarten, or first grade pupils shall not be located above or below the story of exit discharge. Rooms normally occupied by second-grade pupils shall not be located more than one story above the story of exit discharge." Day Care Centers are permitted above the first story typically when the building is fully sprinklered.

Our policy on these classrooms in existing buildings is that they cannot be located more than five (5) vertical feet above or below the story of exit discharge. The story of exit discharge is defined as the story or stories from which the exits are primarily doors discharging directly outside at grade level or the story with the smallest elevation change needed to reach grade level.


The restrictions on the location of rooms used by preschool, kindergarten, first grade or second grade pupils were developed to avoid the danger of older (and larger) children overrunning the very young on stairs or ramps during a fire or other incidents requiring rapid evacuation of a building. The requirements also recognize that young children may need assistance traversing stairs or may have to be rescued because of their size and limited motor skills. For this reason, OSFM recommends that all facilities, new and existing, keep 1st and 2nd grade students to the lower levels regardless of any code allow. 

The term “school building” refers to any building or structure built on the property of a school or used by a school. This includes elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities, and trade schools and covers both public and private institutions.

The Kansas Fire Prevention Code requires any new school building construction project to comply with the 2006 edition of the International Building Code. This includes new buildings, additions to existing buildings, and renovations and remodeling projects in existing buildings that alter or change the occupancy of a building or alter the exiting, fire resistance, or structural integrity of a building. example, relocating a program for children aged 2 ½ to 5 years of age into a building that was previously used for K-12 education is a change of occupancy



  1. Prevention Division

    Physical Address
    800 SW Jackson Street
    Suite 104
    Topeka, KS 66612