Some may think of “radon,” radioactive, or perhaps fire hazard, but the Maltese cross signs with an “R” an “F” or both letters in the center that are popping up on commercial or multiunit residential structures measuring eight inches horizontally as well as vertically are more than just a topic of conversation; they are a state law.
A little research reveals that the signs required to be posted on buildings are a direct result of the Aldridge-Benge Firefighter Safety Act of 2008, which became law on December 13, 2009 after unanimously passing the Florida House and Senate in 2008.
According to Hillsborough County acting deputy Fire Marshal Tammy Zurla, the new law is named in honor of two Orange County, Florida Firefighters, Todd Aldridge and Mark Benge, who in the line of duty lost their lives in 1989 when the roof of a business collapsed.
The statewide bill is now know as the Aldridge-Benge Firefighter Safety Act, and requires owners of any commercial, industrial, or any multi-unit residential structure, to mark and in fact identify as light-frame (wood or steel) truss-type construction.
“These signs or symbols alerts fireman and other emergency personnel to potential hazards by notifying them of the construction material used on the structure and to proceed accordingly while fighting fires in buildings,” Zurla said.
While the new Truss Law, Florida Statute 633.027 still has some un-answered questions local fire officials are encouraging commercial, industrial, or any multi-unit residential structure owners to be familiar of this law and comply with its regulation.
“We have been enforcing this law on the buildings for a little over a year now as our inspectors get to them,” Zurla said. “The signs do save lives.”
FIREFIGHTER SAFETY WARNING SIGNS for Structures with Light-Frame Truss Type Construction in Accordance with the Florida Administrative Code 69A-3.012
Structures with light-frame truss roofs shall be marked with the letter “R”
Structures with light-frame truss floor system shall be marked with the letter “F”
Structures with light-frame truss floor and roof system shall be marked with the letters “RF”
• Symbols must be all weather and contrasting background
• Maltese Cross shall measure 8” horizontally and 8” vertically
• Maltese Cross shall be bright red reflective in color
• Maltese Cross shall be within 24” of and to the left of the main entry
• Maltese Cross shall be not less than 4 feet above grade
• Maltese Cross shall be not more than 6 feet above grade
• It may be determined that additional signs may be needed as determined by the Fire Marshal
Zurla emphasized that the responsibility to post the signs fall on the building owners and can be purchased at local retail centers, sign shops or home improvement centers such as Lowes or Home Depot for cost of between $10-20.
The State Fire Marshal, and local fire officials in accordance with s. 633.121, will be enforcing the posting of the signs.
“It is a small price to pay on behalf of the safety of our firemen,” Zurla said.
For more information regarding this matter, residents are encouraged to visit the county’s website at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/firerescue/ or call the Fire Marshal’s office at 744-5541.