Taming the Fire Environment: Fire Code Official Flexibility and More

Final Code Hearing / Proposed Change / Vol.6

“Taming the Fire Environment” will be posting building and fire code proposals for the upcoming ICC Final Code Hearing in Atlantic City (10/2-10/10) that impact the fireground:

1.      Code Section: F39-13 Fire Apparatus Access Road (underline indicates new text)

Proponent: Carl. D. Wren, P.E. Austin Fire Department, representing self (carl.wren@austintexas.gov)

Section Overview:  503.2.2 Authority. The fire code official shall have the authority to require or permit an increase or a decrease in the minimum modifications to the required access widths where they are inadequate for fire or rescue operations or where necessary to meet the public safety objective of the jurisdiction.

Reason:  The committee agreed with the proponent that the code change provides the fire code official with greater flexibility to accommodate variables and changes in hazard associated with fire apparatus access roads.  The modification clarifies that the authorized modification may be to increase or to decrease the width.

Committee Action: Approved as Modified

Assembly: Disapproved

The Challenge:  This code change is an attempt to provide the fire code official with a method to balance the needs related to fire safety with those associated with traffic safety and sustainable development.  It’s a controversial issue that begs for logical resolution. Some in the fire service would rather forgo the flexibility due to potential political pressure; others welcome the flexibility because it clearly provides additional options. This is an important issue in need of as much input as possible from the fire service. 

2.      Code Section: G14-13 IBC [F] 421, Table 509.1, 202; IFC 5808 (new); 5802.1, 202 Hydrogen Fuel Gas Rooms  (underline indicates new text)

Proponent: Robert J Davidson, Davidson Code Concepts, LLC representing National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) (rjd@davidsoncodeconcepts.com)

Section Overview: IBC Section 421 Hydrogen Fuel Gas Rooms 

Hydrogen Fuel Gas Room [F] 421.3. Hydrogen fuel gas rooms shall not be located below grade.…….

[F] 421.5 Exhaust Ventilation, Hydrogen fuel gas rooms shall be provided with mechanical exhaust ventilation in accordance with the applicable provisions of Section 502.16.1 of the International Mechanical Code.

[F] 421.6………………………….

Reason: The committee agreed with the proponent’s reason statement that the code change provides needed revisions to the IBC and the addition of requirements in the IFC on emergent hydrogen fuel technology.  Approval is also consistent with committee action on related code changes F254-13, F256-13 and F303.13.  The modification sets hydrogen fuel gas rooms apart from the currently defined gas room.  It was pointed out by the committee that new IFC section 5808.5.3 should be reviewed for possible violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Committee Action: Approved as Modified

To read more about these code proposals go to:

2012-2014 Code development Cycle Group-B:


Public Comments Agenda:



Mark your calendars for the Vision 20/20 Strategy 5ICC FINAL CODE HEARINGS/FIRE SERVICE FORUM. For more information on the forum, CLICK HERE.

ee you at the hearings and be safe out there.

Jack J. Murphy

JACK 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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