Building And Fire Codes and the Locksmith

Building and Fire Codes are such an important aspect of locksmithing that every locksmith should have a working knowledge of codes that affect your market area. Locksmiths should also have a good understanding of the reference standards that pertain to...

If the listing and labeling agency is not able to issue a finding on the modification based on the information provided, a field inspection may be required. The listing and labeling agency will send a representative to the job site and the representative will review the modification and if the modification is determined to not compromise the door assembly, they will normally apply a field inspection label to the door assembly or component. They may also provide a written summary of the inspection.

NFPA is a nationally recognized association that helps regulate requirements for a safer environment for everyone. Where these reference standards try to integrate with the International Code Congresses, International Building Code, (IBC) and the International Fire Code, (IFC) the ambiguity is clear and this leaves the readers scratching their heads. There comes a problem because The IBC and IFC does not come right out and make the fire door inspection a requirement of their codes. I see this changing in the future because of the popularity of the fire door inspection by the code officials and it makes the AHJ’s job easier with “More feet on the street.”

The predominately used building code is International Code Congress 2009 International Building Code across the United States and Mexico. The dominate IBC 2009 building code has a close runner up in IBC 2006 and behind that is IBC 2003. The reason for this is that the states are slow to adopt new laws until all of the t’s are crossed and all of the I’s are dotted. This takes up to five years to get through the individual state legislations so the bill can be submitted and usually the code their adopting into their own law is outdated to the latest code guide. That is why some jurisdictions will jump a code series like going from IBC 2003 to IBC 2009 and skipping IBC 2006. This is quite common because of the time frame to get codes turned into laws.

It would be a lot easier if all of the states just adopted one code. As I write this I have to laugh because each state is its own governing body and a lot of work goes into developing the state adopted building and fire codes. What would be the drawback in adopting the new code guide when it is released by ICC? One important aspect is the language that it is written in. You’re asking yourself, “Well, don’t they all use English?” The answer is yes but the wording text is unique in each state’s constitution so all written documents must be written in the same text as their constitution or it is not enforceable in state courts.

That is the beauty of America; we have 50 states and 50 constitutions that the proposed model building and fire codes must fit into in order for these states to be able to enforce their laws.


Tom Resciniti Demont is president of Technical Services, Inc., a Pittsburgh area based consulting company and the author of “Life Safety Codes – In the Means of Egress.” He is an expert on Building and Fire Codes in the means of egress for ALOA and is happy to answer any question about doors, frames, and hardware in the means of egress. E-mail Tom at

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