Taming the Fire Environment: Code Changes Proposed for Atlantic City Hearing, Vol. 4

“Taming the Fire Environment” will be posting Building and Fire Code Proposals for the upcoming ICC Final Code Hearing in Atlantic City (10/2-10/5) that impacts the fireground:

I.                    Code Section: F151-13 (906.1 (IBC [F] 906.1)  (underline indicates new text)

Proponent:  Dave Frable representing US General Services Admin, Public Buildings Service

Section Overview:  Where required. Portable fire extinguishers shall be installed in the following locations.

1.      In new & existing Group A, B, E, F, H, I, M, R-1, R-2, R-4 and S occupancies.

Exception Exceptions:

(2)  In new and existing Group B occupancies equipped throughout with quick-response sprinklers, portable fire extinguishers shall be requires only in locations specified in terms 2 through 6………….

Reason: The intent of this code change is to re-introduce an IFC code that was in the past editions of the IFC (i.e. editions 2000 to 2009). However, in the 2012 edition of the IFC, the subject was removed from the IFC without any technical substantiation…….

Committee Action: Disapproval

The Challenge: The GSA, purported to be the world’s largest landlord, is proposing to roll back an advancement made during the last code cycle by several fire service organizations led by the National Association of State Fire Marshals. The GSA proposal would exempt business occupancies from the requirement to install most portable fire extinguishers if they have other fire protection features. This is in conflict with the many studies, surveys, and data provided by fire service organizations during the last cycle. Those in support of continuing to require portable fire extinguishers in business occupancies would oppose this change.

II.                  Code Section: F18-13 (New) (underline indicates new text)

Proponent: Marcelo M. Hirscher, GBH International (gbhint@aol.com)

Section Overview: 315.6 (New) Storage in Plenums in Group-1 occupanciesStorage shall not be permitted in plenums in Group-1 occupancies.  Abandoned material in plenums in Group-1 occupancies.  Shall be deemed to be storage and shall be removed.  The accessible portion of abandoned cables in plenums in Group-1 occupancies that are identified for future use with a tag shall be deemed storage and shall be removed.  

Reason: This new section is intended to introduce a concept that has been in the National Electrical Code (as well as in NFPA 90A) for a long time: plenums are intended for a specific use (see definition below), namely to be a part of the air distribution system so as to allow air movement….  Although the primary reason to recommend the removal of abandoned materials in plenums is weight, fire safety should also be taken into account….

Committee Action: Approved as Modified

The Challenge:  Cables are a rich source of FUEL!  Abandoned cable in plenums areas
(One Foot of Loaded Tray = 150,000 BTUs) is equivalent to 1.1 gallons of gasoline.  Plenum cables above a drop ceiling can cause firefighter entrapment when the ceiling collapses.

To read more about these code proposals go to:

2012-2014 Code development Cycle Group-B:


Public Comments Agenda:




To all Fire Service Personnel attending the ICC Final Code Hearings in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Vision 20/20 will be hosting a fire service forum for communications, educational, and networking. 

Date:                                    Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Time:                                   4:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Location:                          Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern / Villa Mancuso 2300 Fairmount Avenue,

                                            2nd Floor Banquet Hall

Directions:                      Convention Blvd/Miss America Way to N. Michigan Ave.  Take the 1st right

                                             onto Baltic Ave.  Baltic Ave becomes Fairmount Ave.  The restaurant is on  

                                             the left.  (0.3 miles from Convention Center

See you at the hearings and be safe out there

Jack J. MurphyJACK J. MURPHY, MA, is a fire marshal (ret.), a former deputy chief and currently serves as a deputy fire coordinator for the N.J. Div. of Fire Safety (Bergen Region).  He is the Chairman of the New York City High-Rise Fire Safety Directors Assoc., a member of the NFPA High-Rise Building Safety Advisory and 1620-Pre-Incident Planning Committees. He has published various fire service articles and authored: RICS; Rapid Incident Command System Field Handbook; the "Pre-Incident Planning" chapter of the Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II; and co-authored, "Bridging the Gap: Fire Safety and Green Buildings."  He is a Fire Engineering contributing editor, a FDIC executive advisory board member, and received the 2012 Fire Engineering Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award.



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