EXPLAINED SLOW and GENTLE W R I TT E N BY S H AW N B E R G E R O N
hen we wrapped things up in Artisan Spirit Magazine’s Winter 2015-16 winter issue we concluded your new venture should be classified a High Hazard H-3 occupancy, which means the building and fire code officials are going to look at your operation with more scrutiny than most. With that in mind, let’s continue down the path towards the permits you need to get your new distillery functioning. In this article, we are going to identify the first important building and fire code requirements that you should not be allowed to ignore, because if you do they will haunt you like an unknown strain of yeast. Remember, the goal of this quest is to earn you the elusive Certificate of Occupancy, and after you get it, it is important that you keep it. In the last installment, we learned that the quantity of your premium hooch (that wonderful class 1-B flammable liquid) dictates your occupancy classification. That is really WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
important, because if the amount of alcohol within your distillery is very, very small (hobby volumes), the building and fire code requirements will be less prohibitive, which also means less expensive. But answer this question honestly: Can your new venture sustain itself at the small production volumes allowed by the less prohibitive and less expensive occupancy classification? Unfortunately, this question is often never asked, or if it is, it is not answered honestly, which leads to a future debacle. If you scrimp on being appropriately code compliant at the beginning, the real cost in money and lost time to make things right in the future will be significantly greater. Now imagine you have hired a good consultant to plan your distillery so they will not allow you to wander a primrose path. They plan away, working under the premise that your venture needs to be self-supporting and provide you a reasonable living. You need adequate, safe and code
compliant space in which you will spend most of your waking hours, and all of this is depicted on a set of wellprepared plans. Like many other distilleries that we have visited, there will be a spacious room in the center where all the fun and scientific hard work takes place. This is also where you set up your cot to take a nap in the midst of your typical 20-hour day. In a separate space, there are the materials receiving and storage areas, and at the opposite end, there is the promised land: tasting and retail. That is where we find the beautifully crafted tasting counter, the attractively displayed bottles of fine spirits and some aging casks piled three-barrels high. From one end to the other, this is the perfect space from which you will take over the spirits world. When you arrive at the local building department with your professionally prepared plans, you gently unfurl your documents onto the table in front of the permit technician. You take a step
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