The Relationship Between Building & Fire Codes

The primary goal of fire codes is preventing fires, including concerns relating to the exterior portions of the building. The main purpose of the building codes is to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and...


A fire code is a standard established and enforced by government for fire prevention and safety. The Fire Code is a model code adopted into law by the jurisdiction and enforced by municipal fire prevention officers. It prescribes minimal requirements relating to fire prevention; explosion...


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Model building codes have no legal status until they are adopted or adapted by a jurisdiction or local authority. Once the jurisdiction or local authority embraces a model building code, the code is written into law and then enforced by the jurisdiction or local authority.

Typical authorities that adopt or adapt model building codes are state governments, fire districts, municipalities and federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the National Park Service, and the Department of State.

The developers of model codes (model code developers) are funded by the sales of the model codes, the reprint royalties, and consulting services.

Every three to five years, model building codes are updated. This is called a new edition. Once the new edition is released, it takes a length of time for a subscribing jurisdiction to review and approve of it. For this reason jurisdictions will enforce currently approved editions of codes even though more recent editions are in publication and concurrently enforced by other jurisdictions.

When jurisdictions approve model building code, they adopt it into the law of the jurisdiction and specify the precise edition that is approved. Adopted codes are not automatically updated. The jurisdiction may choose to ignore updates and new editions and continue to use older versions.

Jurisdictions are motivated to update model codes on a regular basis to accommodate the progression of more efficient design solutions and technologies.

Some jurisdictions decide to purchase model building codes outright and then develop and maintain their own upgrades. The Los Angeles Building Code is based on the 1997 Uniform Building Code, which is a model code developed by the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO).

 

ICC (International Code Council)

The International Code Council (ICC) is a private organization established in 1994, which allows U.S. jurisdictions and other private entities to collaborate in the creation of a single set of model building codes and safety standards.

The founders of the ICC are Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI).

The ICC members are dedicated to fire prevention and building safety; promoting continual code enforcement and higher quality construction. The membership participates in developing construction and safety codes for both residential and commercial construction.

The ICC has developed the International Building Code®, a model building code that has been adopted throughout most of the United States . The ICC has also developed a model energy efficiency code; the International Energy Conservation Code®.

A subsidiary of the ICC is the International Code Council Foundation. It is dedicated to changing the devastating effects of natural disasters and other building tragedies by promoting ideas, methods and technologies that encourage the construction of durable, sustainable buildings and homes.

 

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association)

In 1896, the National Fire Protection Association was established as an independent, voluntary-membership organization. Its mission is “to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.”

The NFPA provides technical research and education. The association develops codes and standards while providing instruction relating to safety from fire, electricity, and other hazards.

Within the NFPA, codes and standards are developed by over 250 committees. Each committee is assigned a topic relative to the state of building design. Committees consist of unpaid volunteers that can either be proponents or opponents of the topic. Papers are generated from these committees that are unbiased and fair.

Once documents are scrutinized and a consensus is achieved through peer-review codes and standards are developed under the procedures of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). ANSI assures fairness, openness, and decision making from all affected parties.

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