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Taming the Fire Environment: Code Proposals Affecting Our Work Environment

"Taming the Fire Environment" is looking for your code change proposals for the upcoming ICC Code Dallas Code Hearings (April 21-30).

Building and fire codes affect the safety and survival of civilians and firefighters alike, and the fire service needs to be as actively involved in the code process as we are in fire suppression. After all, changes in the codes will also affect our firefighting and rescue operations in the buildings of the future. Join us to help shape the battleground for years to come and help proactively save lives through the codes and standards process.

If you have a building, fire or residential code proposal to share with the fire service, please submit the code proposal to Jack J. Murphy at Lfdfmret@nj.rr.com. We will be posting these code proposals on the Fire Engineering Web site at fireengineering.com.

"Taming the Fire Environment" is a Fire Engineering podcast that deals with the impact of building codes. It is hosted by Jack J. Murphy and Sean DeCrane. Archives of the show can be found at fireengineering.com/podcasts.html.

An example of a code proposal submission is below:

Taming the Fire Environment (TFE)

A Code Proposal Affecting Our Future Work Environment

Code Proposal Number: I.e. Code Proposal: F 236-13

Building, Fire or Residential Code Section Number: I.e. Fire Code Section:1002.1

This proposal was submitted by _________. Briefly state the code proposal in 300 to 500 words.

Code Consideration:

This proposed code change……. Briefly state the reason to approve or deny the proposal…

For more information on a code proposal go to www.iccsafe.org


Code Proposal No: F151-13

Fire Code Section No: 906.1

This code proposal was submitted by the GSA, purported to be the largest landlord in the world. It would roll back a code change that passed during the last code cycle that was submitted by the National Association of State Fire Marshals and supported by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and a host of other fire service organizations. The proposal, as submitted, would delete the requirement for most portable fire extinguishers in Group B occupancies that are equipped with automatic sprinkler systems.

The proposal ignores the fact that fire extinguishers are intended to be used on small, incipient fires that have not grown large enough for sprinklers to activate. All available data and numerous studies show that, in most cases, people will attempt to extinguish a small fire rather than evacuate the building. If fire extinguishers aren't present, they will attempt to use whatever means available to put out the fire, placing themselves, other occupants, and responding firefighters at greater risk. Having a tool that's designed and intended to be utilized on these small fires is appropriate and cost effective. NFPA 10 states: "Portable fire extinguishers are intended as a first line of defense to cope with fires of limited size. The selection and installation of extinguishers is independent of whether the building is equipped with automatic sprinklers, standpipe and hose, or other fixed protection equipment."

Code Consideration: The proposed code change is in direct conflict with our mission to provide a reasonable level of safety to the public. Please consider asking the International Fire Code Development Committee to deny this proposal.


Code Proposal No: RB166–13

Residential Building Code Section No: R316.4, R316.5.1, R316.5.2, R316.5.3, R316.5.7, R316.5.8

This code proposal was submitted by Sean DeCrane, Battalion Chief, representing Cleveland Division of Fire, International Association of Fire Fighters seeks to revise that the thermal barrier foam plastic shall be separated from the interior of a building and the exterior of the building when installed within ten feet of a property line by an approved thermal barrier of minimum 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) gypsum wallboard or a material that is tested in accordance with and meets the acceptance criteria of both the Temperature Transmission Fire Test and the Integrity Fire Test of NFPA 275…. Also for the revision of Sections R316.4, R316.5.1 (Masonry & Concrete Construction), R316.5.2 (Roofing), R316.5.3 (Attics), R316.5.7 (Foam Backer Board), and R316.5.8 (Residing)….

Code Consideration: This proposed code change seeks approve to the revisions that one of the main challenges the fire service is encountering in today's environment is a pressing need of resources. Across the United States we are experiencing the loss of structures due to exterior exposures. These exposure fires can have devastating effects on an individual's home and also place responding fire fighters at risk for rapidly spreading fires. As the Fire Service encounters the economic realities of smaller budgets and increased demand we are continuously being asked to do more with less. Responding units many times must address growing exposure fires due to the narrow property lines. A search of the Vinyl Siding Institute's website www.vinylsiding.org produces a great deal of information on the R-Values and potential cost benefits of increasing the use of foam backing on the vinyl siding. There is little information on the fire performance of these products. It is true many of the foam insulation products are given a Class A flame spread rating in an ASTM E 84 Test Standard.


Code Proposal No: RB94-13

Residential Building Code Section No: R302-12, RB302.12.1, RB302.12.1

This code proposal was submitted by Sean DeCrane, Battalion Chief, representing Cleveland Division of Fire, International Association of Fire Fighters seeks to revise that R302.12 Draftstopping shall be provided in construction in accordance with this section. And also Sections R302.12.1 Concealed spaces. R302.12.2 Attics (NEW). Draftstopping shall be provided in attics with an area that exceeds 1,500 square feet (92.9m2). 2). Drafstopping shall be installed such that each draftstopped area of the attic does not exceed 1,500 square feet (92.9m2).

Code Consideration: This proposed code change seeks approve to the revisions and new for void spaces that are areas of potential large fire growth that can have explosive results for responding and operating on the fireground. We have seen multiple large single family residences which can simulate commercial size fires due to large open areas. These large floor plans lead to increased amounts of void spaces in attics and floor systems. The author will acknowledge the lack of technical justification at the time of submission as there is current testing being conducted at UL and NIST and we hope to have additional data available at the Dallas code hearings.


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