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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NFPA documents concern: building construction and life safety; electrical engineering; fire protection applications; chemical engineering; and public fire protection.
Dueling Model Codes
The competition between the ICC and NFPA has resulted in the failure to deliver a unified set of model codes. Both model code developers aggressively push for jurisdictions to adopt their relative sets of codes. This directly affects construction as projects integrate code requirements within the design process and changes are prohibitively expensive and time consuming.
NFPA has joined with a consortium of International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Western Fire Chiefs Association to create a code set called the Comprehensive Consensus Codes, or C3.
The centerpiece of C3 is NFPA 5000 and its companion codes: National Electrical Code; NFPA 101 Life Safety Code; UPC; UMC; and NFPA 1.
It is important to note the NFPA 5000 conforms to ANSI procedures and standards. The ICC does not adhere to ANSI being the only set of standards to use.
I-Codes (developed by the ICC), which include the IBC and other coordinated building safety and fire prevention codes, are the most widely recognized building codes in the country used in 48 states at the state or local level.
Where NFPA 5000 is still relevant it has received strong opposition from powerful trade groups such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA), BOMA International and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
Obviously a building may be governed over one set of codes or the other.
The best means to determine which set of codes apply is to consult the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). The AHJ is the governmental agency which regulates a given set of codes.
Usually the AHJ is the municipality in which the building is located. However there are other regulative bodies, each with their own AHJ influenced by: ownership, zoning and planning.
Buildings owned by the state or federal government will be regulated by state and federal officials.
Zoning regulations require their own inspections and enforcement. For instance, hospitals are required to conform to JHACO (Joint Committee on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization) regulations. Building applications dictated by JHACO meet or exceed standard building codes.
Planning commissions can regulate building conformance to the community's general plan. Every urban city or town has a general plan for land use. Land use is influenced by environmental and social needs.
When municipalities act as AHJ, it is usually the building department and sometimes the public works department that determine conformance. On matters of fire safety usually the municipality's fire department has jurisdiction.
During the construction of the building the AHJ provides constant oversight.
After construction that AHJ must approve any changes to the building including: expansion; modifications that affect structural integrity, life safety and fore protection.