Town Hall – Jay Barrett memo to Select Board 08.02.17

To: Town of Bradford Selectboard

From: Frank J. Barrett, Jr., A.I.A., Architect

Date: August 2, 2017

RE: Bradford Town Hall; Bradford, NH

Tuesday morning August 1st we had a very productive and informative meeting to kick-off the re-starting of the Bradford Town Hall project. With me as your architect was the structural engineer for the project, Tim Schaal; the electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and fire protection engineer for the project Mark Vincello; and my right hand man Tim Ouellette. Tom Humphrey from the New Hampshire State Fire marshal’s office was present; as were representatives from the Town Hall Restoration Committee, Bradford Fire Department, the Bradford Building Inspector, and the Bradford Town Administrator. It is not the intent of this memo to the Selectboard to make a full report of the meeting; but instead to highlight certain important subjects that came up during the meeting that require review and decision making by the Bradford Selectboard.

Because the subjects that require attention by the Selectboard are as a result of the applicable building codes, a brief summary of those codes is helpful. In New Hampshire there are two primary overarching building codes that are applicable to this project: the New Hampshire State Fire Code (the “Fire Code”), and the New Hampshire State Building Code (the “Building Code”). The Fire Code covers all things related to fire including certain aspects of buildings. It is administered by the State Fire Marshal’s office and by the local fire chiefs across the state. As it applies to this project, the State Fire marshal and the Bradford Fire Chief automatically by law have full authority and jurisdiction to administer this code. The Building Code, although applicable statewide, is not administered through the State Fire Marshal’s Office; but instead it is the responsibility of each municipality within the State to administer this code – either by way of a locally appointed building inspector or by the governing selectboard. However, by law, if specifically requested by the governing selectboard, the State Fire Marshal’s office will provide technical assistance to a town concerning the application of the adopted State of New Hampshire Building Code.

After a very informative and through discussion at our meeting, it was solidly decided by all that it would be in the best interest of this project to have the Bradford Selectboard formally request of the State Fire Marshal’s Office that they provide the Bradford Building Inspector, Walter Royal, with technical assistance in the administration of the Building Code, as it applies to this important project. Furthermore, both state codes use the term the Authority Having Jurisdiction (the “AHJ”).  The Fire Marshal’s office and the local Fire Chief are the AHJ as far as the Fire Code is concerned. As far as the Building Code is concerned, it was agreed that the Bradford Building Inspector Walter Royal would remain the AHJ, assisted by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

By way of this memo, I am recommending to the Selectboard that the Town of Bradford formally request technical assistance from the State Fire Marshal’s office for Building Code application on this project.  This should be done immediately, as there are some important decisions about which Code, the International Building Code (IBC) or the International Existing Building Code (IEBC) will be used for this project.  This decision alone will have significant impacts on the structural evaluation and design of building reinforcements.


The second area of discussion that involves the Building Code has to do with how the various uses within the building are designated. One of the very basic and traditional corner stones of the Building Code requires that each building be designated by the uses that are now or will in the future occur within it. This designation then greatly influences numerous aspects of the Building Code as it is applied to the facility, especially as to that section of the Building Code concerning the structural design and integrity of the building. Concerning this matter the following needs to be considered by the Selectboard:

  • The second floor will remain as a Place of Assembly as it has always been.
  • On the first floor there will be the usual municipal offices as in the past.
  • Will there now or in the future be spaces on the first floor where more than fifty (50) persons might gather; and therefore be considered a Place of Assembly?
  • Is there any thought of now or in the future have police offices in the building?
  • Is there any thought of now or in the future have the building designated as an Emergency Response Center?

These questions not only directly impact the structural analysis that the Building Code requires that we do at this time in the project; but also as per the Building Code impacts the so-called Importance Factor rating of this public building. The Importance Factor influences the structural design and integrity of the building. These decisions will also influence certain aspects of the new sprinkler system design.  Thus, if the building will ever be used for either police offices or emergency response center, the Importance Factor increases, and will likely require substantial reinforcing for wind and seismic loads.  While possible to do with historic buildings, it will pose a major challenge in terms of structural design, historic preservation, and budgets.

Tim Schaal and Tim Ouellette are planning to be on-site next Wednesday to do an initial data collection effort and begin their work in earnest.  Tim Schaal is prepared to have his initial report with Code review and overall structural scope of work required for this building by the end of this month, provided we have a final decision on the building’s use(s) by August 18th.

I look forward to discussing these important matters with the Selectboard and other interested persons at the upcoming Selectboard meeting on August 7th. And, I will be glad to discuss any other questions or concerns that the Selectboard might have at this time concerning the Town Hall project.

Frank J. Barrett, Jr., A.I.A.