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Key Criteria - 15 FAM 252.5 Safety, Health, and Environmental Requirements

  • In accordance with 15 FAM requirements, safety, health, and environmental hazards must be identified in the selection of housing to eliminate the possibility of dangerous conditions that can cause serious injuries or fatalities. The intent is to correct serious hazards and then, through effective management, ensure that safe conditions persist for as long as the residence is occupied. Posts must verify and document that the post occupational safety and health officer (POSHO) has inspected residences under consideration for purchase or lease by the U. S. Government for safety, health, and environmental hazards, and that those hazards have been effectively controlled or eliminated. A similar inspection must be conducted and documented for living quarters allowance (LQA) residences; the resident can then negotiate with the lessor to make the required and/or recommended changes or find another suitable residence. No employee may occupy a U. S. Government-owned or U. S. Government-leased residence unless the POSHO certifies that the following requirements are met: see

  • Have all unvented gas flash water heaters been relocated or properly vented to the outdoors in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions?

  • Have all combustion heating equipment and systems been inspected by a qualified technician for proper operation?

  • If the residence has a swimming pool, has an installation of a fence or other barrier been completed? Mark "N/A" if this field doesn't apply.<br><br>

  • The barrier must be:
    1. at least four feet high,
    2. surround the entire pool, and
    3. separate all pools from residences and other structures that are non-pool related.

    The gate must be:
    1. self-latching,
    2. self-closing,
    3. lockable, and
    4. the latch must be located at least 4.5 feet off the ground.

  • Has the installation of carbon monoxide alarm(s) been completed? Mark "N/A" if this field doesn't apply.

  • The inspected residence requires carbon monoxide alarms if any of the following is true:
    1. The residence has combustion-type appliances (except cooking appliances, such as ovens and stoves).
    2. The residence has an attached, totally enclosed garage, OR
    3. The residence has any exterior combustion appliances that are located near windows.

  • Is the electrical resistance of the electrical system verified and documented to be less than 25 ohms?

  • What is the measured resistance?

  • Have installation of ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) been completed?

  • GFCIs are required:
    1. When electrical outlets are within six (6) feet of a water source
    2. OR located outside.

    Pay special attention to countertop surfaces areas, garages, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, sinks, and outdoors (including pools or boathouses). GFCIs must feature a trip level of no more than 10 milliamps for 220 volt circuits OR no more than 5 milliamperes for 110 volt circuits.

  • Are the handrails and guard rails inspected to be safe?

  • Installation of handrails, typically for stairways, at 34-38 inches and guardrails at a minimum height of 36 inches (42 inches is recommended) for balconies, decks, elevated patios, and other similar structures for family and duplex housing units. Guardrail installation at apartments and representational areas open to the public must be 42 inches high. Guardrails are required where the fall would be greater than 30 inches and must not have openings of greater than 4 inches.

Other Safety Criteria - Complete Residential Checklist

  • Under 15 FAM 211.1, the objective of the Housing Abroad Program is to provide safe and secure housing. This checklist is referenced under 15 FAM 252.5 to assist POSHOs in evaluating safety, health, fire and environmental conditions during annual inspections of residences and when considering leasing or purchasing a property. This checklist not intended to be all-inclusive. Local codes that are more stringent should be followed. Contact the appropriate program office(s) for further assistance.

FUEL BURNING APPLIANCES AND EQUIPMENT - Furnaces, Boilers, Water Heaters, Kerosene Heaters, Space Heaters, Dryers, Fireplaces

  • Venting of Exhaust Gases<br><br>a. outdoors away from intakes and windows?<br><br>b. chimney and flue constructed and installed properly (per manufacturer)?<br><br>c. chimney and flue inspected annually and cleaned?

  • Combustion Air<br><br>a. adequate combustion air ducted to unit or<br><br>b. unobstructed area large enough to provide adequate combustion air? <br><br>c. small mechanical areas have sufficient combustion air and ventilation openings?<br><br>d. no hazardous or flammable vapor sources near combustion equipment.

  • Operation and Maintenance<br><br>a. instructions available for proper operation and maintenance?<br><br>b. equipment operated and maintained as intended within design limits?<br><br>c. warning labels (English and local language) present on combustion appliances.

  • Clearance to Combustibles<br><br>a. adequate clearance from exhaust flue to combustible materials?<br><br>b. adequate clearance from equipment to combustible materials?<br><br>c. boiler and furnace rooms not used for storage areas.

  • Fuel Type and Storage<br><br>a. fuel used is appropriate for appliance(s)?<br><br>b. proper type and location of fuel storage container (including tanks). <br><br>c. protect fuel storage containers from damage.

  • Carbon Monoxide Alarms<br><br> carbon monoxide alarm installed, at about eye level, outside of sleeping areas (including household staff) in residences with any combustion appliance (other than cooking oven/stove)or an attached garage<br>

  • Portable Kerosene Heaters<br><br>a. single family home use only.<br><br>b. correct grade of clear kerosene (K-1) fuel stored outside in safety cans. <br><br>c. refuel outdoors away from sources of ignition, and after the heater has cooled completely.<br><br>d. set the wick height to the manufacturer’s recommended level.<br><br>e. chimney is seated properly.<br><br>f. window opened slightly (e.g., 25mm/1 inch) in the room with the heater.<br><br>g. do not leave the heater unattended and turn off before going to bed keep the heater at least 1 m (3 ft.) from combustibles unit is operated and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instruction and residents are informed of the instructions.<br><br>h. carbon monoxide alarms must be placed in dwelling.

  • Generators<br><br>a. adequate space and, if leased, landlord agrees to the generator.<br><br>b. placed outdoors as far away as practical and a minimum of 1.5 meters (5 feet) from any building. <br><br>c. exhaust outlets >= 3 feet from exterior walls and roofs, 10 feet from operable openings into buildings, and 10 feet above adjoining grade.<br><br>d. if distance and direction of exhaust is not feasible, then extend 3 ft. above the building. (See “Venting of Exhaust Gases” section).<br>

  • Liquefied Petroleum (Propane)Gases (LPG)<br><br>1.cylinders during use:<br><br> a. must be located on the exterior of the building.<br> b. equipped with a pressure regulator having a pressure relief valve.<br> c. upright and securely anchored or chained in place.<br> d. at least 7.6 m (25 ft) from sources of ignition and 1.5 m (5 ft) from building openings.<br><br>2. cylinder storage:<br> a. outside within a fenced enclosure.<br> b. outlet valves closed with cap or cover.<br> c. steel posts or barriers if vehicle damage is possible.<br> d. “No Smoking” signs clearly displayed around the storage enclosure with universal symbols or local <br>language and English.<br><br>3. trained employees for LPG installation and cylinder replacement.<br><br>4. refilled tanks or bottles delivered, no recharging or filling of tanks or bottles at the site.<br>

  • All Gas Service<br><br>a. supply through rigid pipe (iron or steel), or tubing (steel, brass or copper).<br><br>b. Exceptions for seismically active areas-see Seismic Safety.<br><br>c. manual shut-off valve within 1.8 m (6 ft) of appliance.<br><br>d. leak detection using soapy water or other means must be conducted over all fittings and connections during cylinder or appliance replacement or anytime supply line work is done.


  • Emergency Egress<br>Adequate emergency egress can vary with the type of building. Consult the Fire Protection Guide(FPG) for guidance.

  • Maximum Travel Distance to an Exit<br><br>Life Safety Code/NFPA 101<br><br>a. without automatic fire sprinkler protection: 150 ft (45.8 m)<br><br>b. automatic fire sprinkler protection: 200 ft (61 m)

  • Smoke Alarms<br><br>15 FAM 841<br><br>a. each sleeping room.<br><br>b. corridor leading to bedrooms.<br><br>c. top of internal stairwells.<br><br>d. one on each floor level.<br><br>e. placement should be on the ceiling, or alternately on a wall between 4” (10 cm) to 12” (30.5 cm) away from the ceiling.<br><br>f. regularly check detectors for proper operation.

  • Portable Fire Extinguishers<br><br>15 FAM 842<br><br>a. one Department standard 10 lb. (4.45 kg) extinguisher (4-A:40-B:C)<br><br>b. wall mounted in each kitchen.

  • Alarm Systems<br><br>Life Safety Code/NFPA 101<br><br>a. several factors influence fire alarm and/or fire suppression system requirements.<br><br>b. consult the Fire Protection Guide (FPG) and contact OBO/OPS/FIR.

  • Lighting<br><br>NFPA 70<br><br>a. apartment buildings or congregate residences with 10 or more occupants: public space,hallway, stairway or other means of egress must have illumination of 1 foot candle power at floor level by emergency lighting. <br><br>b. if emergency generator is not available to provide emergency lighting, provide battery-packed emergency lights in public spaces, hallway, stair way or other means of egress.<br><br>c. installed and maintained correctly

  • Exit Signs<br><br>Life Safety Code/NFPA 101<br><br>exit doors in public corridors on floors with sleeping accommodations:<br><br>a. illuminated exit signs.<br><br>b. directional signs if path is not straight or the exit is less than obvious.

  • Window Grilles<br><br>Life Safety Code/NFPA 101<br><br>a. operable from the inside.<br><br>b. minimum opening: 5.7 ft.2 (0.529 m2) <br><br>c. minimum dimension: 24” (61 cm) x 20” (51 cm) and not be more than 44” (112 cm) from the floor <br><br>d. bars or grilles must have inside release mechanism

  • High Rise Matrix

    High Rise Matrix.jpg


  • Temperature and Pressure Relief Valves<br><br>a. separate temperature and pressure relief valves (PRV and TRV) or combination temperature and pressure relief valves (TPRV) installed.<br><br>b. TPRV drain piping installed to direct discharge to floor.<br><br>c. TPRV drain piping is not reduced, threaded at the end and has no uphill runs.<br><br>d. TPRV drain piping has no other valve downstream of TPRV.<br><br>e. Water temperature is not above 120 degrees F (49 degrees C)


  • Tempered/Safety Glass Locations<br><br>a. entry and exit doors, storm doors, glass sliding doors.<br><br>b. windows located within 18” (46 cm) of the floor<br><br>c. doors and enclosures for bathtubs, showers, sauna<br><br>d. stairway enclosures and handrail panels.<br><br>e. locations listed above without tempered glass, need safety glass or non-breakable replacement materials, or protection with barriers. Doors at ground level may be treated with a Mylar coating or with decals or markings.


  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters<br><br>1. installed for wet locations (indoors or outdoors) and all kitchen countertop outlets at the outlet or the circuit breaker: <br> a. 110-volt systems, installed GFCIs trip at 4 to 6 mA<br> b. 220-volt systems, installed GFCIs trip at 10 mA<br><br>2. do not install outlets where local code prohibits them in certain wet locations

  • Grounding<br><br>15 FAM 252.5<br><br>a. an effective grounding system for a typical apartment or house includes a grounding electrode conductor (GEC) to connect the main service ground terminal to a grounding electrode system. Impedance of the ground path for any made electrodes may not exceed 25 ohms, as measured using the 3 terminal resistance measurement method and an earth electrode tester.<br><br>b. verify and, if missing, contact the FIR/FAC Help Desk via e-mail (obo@cesengineers.com) or call 866-949-6751 for assistance with grounding system installation.

  • Electric Service Supply & Panels<br><br>a. missing knock-outs and twist-outs in breaker/fuse panel(s) must have fill plates.<br><br>b. breaker/fuse panel front working clearance of 30" (76cm) wide x 36" (92cm) deep.<br><br>c. breaker and fuses labeled as to function/area served.<br><br>d. any outdoor service entrance, outlets and switch boxes have weatherproof covers.

  • Circuit Capacity<br><br>review usage and capacity and avoid excessive electrical loads. Verify that the following most commonly used branch circuit connectors in residences are protected by fuses or circuit breakers having trip elements not larger than:<br><br>Wires (Comparable U.S. Wire Size) Trip Setting<br>1.5 mm2 (smaller than #14 AWG, 15A) 10A<br>2.5 mm2 (smaller than #12 AWG, 20A) 16A <br>4 mm2 (smaller than #10 AWG, 30A) 25A <br>6 mm2 (smaller than # 8 AWG, 50A) 40A<br>10 mm2 (smaller than # 6 AWG, 65A) 50A<br>16 mm2 (smaller than # 4 AWG, 85A) 60A


  • Railings<br><br>a. installed on all porches, balconies and raised floor surfaces more than 30" (76cm) above the floor or grade below.<br><br>b. sturdy supports (balusters) with no openings larger than 4" (10cm) and bottom of railing assembly no more than 4" (10cm) from the floor.<br><br>c. top of railing is 36” (914 mm or 91 cm) or more from floor or grade level.

  • Stairs and Handrails<br><br>a. any open risers between steps do not have an opening larger that 4" (10cm)<br><br>b. where there are 4 or more risers (steps), at least one handrail installed (right-side descending preferred) for any enclosed stairway. For stairs open on one or both sides, a handrail is installed on the open side(s). Installed handrails are 34-38” (86 cm) from the top of the stair tread nosing and can withstand a force of 200 lbs. (91 kg) in any direction.<br><br>c. for open stairways, supports (balusters) no more than 4" (10cm) apart.

  • Homes with Small Children<br><br>a. latching device on windows allows opening no more than 4-5” (10-13cm), but window remains operable.<br><br>b. furniture away from windows and railings.


  • Barrier and Safety Equipment<br><br>15 FAM 957.4<br>an isolation barrier (fence, wall, etc.) 4 ft (122cm) minimum height surrounding the pool.<br><br>a. self-closing, self-latching, lockable hardware on all access points (gates/doors) with latches at 54” (137cm).<br><br>b. rescue equipment available (shepherd’s crook, pole, ring buoy) and in plain view.<br><br>c. depth markings and no diving indicated and safety rules posted community use pools and residential use pools that are used as community use pools, i.e., EMR, MSGQ.<br><br>d. first aid kits and emergency communication means for community use pools and residential use pools that are used as community use pools.<br><br>e. outlets equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) and covers.<br><br>f. pool chemicals stored separate from other materials in a cool, dry, ventilated area with restricted access.


  • Elevator Lobby & Car<br><br>a. all elevator cars have functional doors independent of shaft doors. <br><br>b. elevator doors (car & shaft) reverse direction when an object is either contacted by the leading edge of the door or detected by an electronic door protection device.<br><br>c. all external car operating features, lobby controls and hardware are intact and function properly.<br><br>d. car operating buttons, including the emergency alarm button, function properly. <br><br>e. car lights are on and bulbs or tubes are secure.<br><br>f. car service panel is locked.<br><br>g. car emergency phone is connected to a 24-hour operator.<br><br>h. car’s audible signals are operating. <br><br>i. all door mechanisms are enclosed to avoid pinch/shear points.

  • Machine Room & Maintenance<br><br>a. machine room access door is locked and keys stored securely.<br><br>b. good housekeeping, no trash, not being used as a storage area, no excessive oil leaks, control cabinet(s) intact.<br><br>c. illumination is adequate to perform inspection.<br><br>d. ABC fire extinguisher located in machine room.<br><br>e. temperature is not above 120 degrees F (49 degrees C)<br><br>f. elevator is under a service contract and service logbook is utilized and up to date. <br><br>g. elevator has a current safety certificate.


  • Asbestos<br><br>OBO Directive FAC001<br><br>a. acquisitions: asbestos inspection conducted and impact of asbestos determined.<br><br>b. asbestos materials identified and maintained in good condition.<br><br>c. maintenance and minor renovations avoid disturbance of asbestos materials.<br><br>d. if asbestos material is to be disturbed, it is removed properly and records of removal and disposal are maintained.

  • Leaded Paint<br><br>ALDAC 93 State 120625<br><br>a. only lead-free paint is applied.<br><br>b. paint in good condition with minimal damage.<br><br>c. paint sampled prior to renovation or major maintenance work.<br><br>d. leaded paint removed prior to start of work or minimize disturbance.

  • Pesticides<br><br>a. building conditions or location not inviting to common local pests.<br><br>b. no history of chronic pest problems or extensive pesticide use15 FAM 957.2.<br><br>c. willing and capable to implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in USG occupied space.<br><br>d. pest control measures to reduce pest habitats.<br><br>e. self-help measures to control pests (if control measures are not effective).<br><br>f. apply pesticides listed in the IPM only as a last resort.

  • Drinking Water Quality<br><br>15 FAM 957.5<br><br>a. tap water is potable (microbiologically safe and within acceptable contaminant levels listed in the Department’s drinking water standards).<br><br>b. if tap water is not potable, then supplemental means (e.g., point of use device such as a distiller) are used to render the water potable and quality control monitoring is done.


  • Seismic Safety<br><br>a. avoid seismically unsafe structures.<br><br>b. propane tanks, kerosene heaters: use flexible connections to the tank and anchor storage tanks to the ground.<br><br>c. water heaters, propane (LPG) gas cylinders and natural gas:<br> - use flexible, metallic connections for water and gas lines.<br> - use metal straps which are bolted using expansion bolts to a masonry wall, or lag bolts to a wood stud wall, at the top and bottom of the water heater and propane cylinders.<br><br>d. block in space between water heater and wall to prevent rocking tall, heavy furniture such as bookcases should be secured to prevent sliding or tipping, using L-brackets or other device and remove casters or wheels to prevent rolling. <br><br>e. check for weaknesses in chimneys such as damage or missing bricks and install plywood above ceiling joists to keep bricks from falling through.<br><br>f. ensure cabinet latches are strong enough, especially in the kitchen, to prevent contents from falling out; install safety latches for added security.<br><br>g. brace and bolt storage racks and shelves to the floor and walls and secure contents so they can’t slide off.<br>

  • Key Citations

    15 FAM 211.1 Housing Abroad Policy (the objective is to provide safe and secure housing)
    15 FAM 252.5 Safety, Health & Environmental Requirements ( a.k.a. "POSHO certification” requirement for properties under consideration for purchase or lease and prior to occupancy)

  • References

    - FPG (OBO/OPS/FIR's Fire Protection Guide)
    - Earthquake Preparedness ( Earthquake Preparedness at US Foreign Service Posts)
    - IBC ( 2003 International Building Code)
    - IMC (2003 International Mechanical Code)
    - IPMP ( Integrated Pest Management Program)
    - IRC (International Residential Code)
    - NEC (National Electric Code)
    - NFPA ( National Fire Protection Association)
    - SHEM Resource Guide (OBO/OPS/SHEM's Safety/Occupational Health and Environment Management Resource Guide)
    SHEM CO Alarm Guides (OBO/OPS/SHEM's Carbon Monoxide Program and Guides)

  • OBO Program Offices

    - OPS/SHEM (Safety, Health and Environmental Management Division)
    - OPS/FIR (Fire Protection Division)
    - CFSM/FAC (Facilities Management Division)
    - PDCS/DE (Design and Engineering Division)
    - PDCS/DE/EE (Design and Engineering Division Electrical Engineering Branch)
    - PDCS/DE/ME (Design and Engineering Division Mechanical Engineering Branch)

  • I certify that all the information listed in the above report are correct and true.

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