Fire Code Experts

Fire Code Experts

Need a little help with your fire code questions? Although there are a variety of fire and building codes and standards publications throughout the country with state and/or local adoptions, they essentially all address the same issues, fire and life safety.

In many instances, a particular project, situation or product requiring review from the local jurisdiction may be unique in nature and may not specifically be addressed in the fire or building code which requires a technical interpretation from a qualified fire code expert.

Realizing this need and having a solid understanding of fire code provisions and the purpose for which they are written, Pyrocop can provide you the assistance you need to address the concerns of the local fire authority and point you in the right direction.

What is a Fire Code?

The Fire code (also Fire prevention code or Fire safety code) is a model code adopted on a regional basis and enforced by fire prevention officers within municipal fire departments.

It is a lawful set of rules prescribing minimum requirements to prevent fire and explosion hazards arising from storage, handling, or use of dangerous materials, or from other specific hazardous conditions. The fire code complements the building code. In the event of changes to fire safety provisions within a building, or a change of occupancy, the fire code typically references the building code, which can result in a requirement upon the owner to apply for a building permit to ensure proper review and lawful execution of contemplated changes that can have an effect upon fire safety and/or structural integrity.

The building code includes construction requirements to minimize fire spread, enable suppression and detection and to provide for safe and rapid evacuation in the event of a fire. Although both codes address similar issues, the fire code is aimed primarily at preventing fires in the first place, including outside of buildings, and that necessary training and equipment will be on hand and the design basis of the building, which includes a basic plan set out by the architect is not compromised.

The fire code also addresses inspection and maintenance requirements of various fire protection equipment in order to maintain optimal active fire protection and passive fire protection measures, with the products used in accordance with their certification listing.

A typical fire safety code includes administrative sections about the rule-making and enforcement process, and other substantive sections dealing with fire suppression equipment, particular hazards such as containers and transportation for combustible materials, and specific rules for hazardous occupancies, industrial processes, and exhibitions.

Each section may lay out the requirements for obtaining permits, and specific precautions required to remain in compliance with a permit. For example, a fireworks exhibition may require an application to be filed by a regionally licensed pyrotechnician, providing the information necessary for the issuing authority to determine whether the safety requirements can be met. Furthermore, once a permit is issued, the same authority (or another delegated authority) may inspect the site and monitor the safety during the exhibition, with the power to halt unapproved operations, or where unforeseen hazards arise.

What are some of the typical fire code provisions found in a fire code?

  • Fireworks, explosives, mortars and cannons, model rockets (licenses for manufacture, storage, transportation, sale, use)
  • Certification for servicing, placement, and inspecting fire extinguishing equipment
  • General storage and handling of flammable liquids, solids, gases (tanks, personnel training, markings, equipment)
  • Limitations on locations and quantities of flammables (warehouses, factories, schools, residential dwelling, etc.)
  • Specific uses of flammable and combustible liquids and solids (e.g., dry cleaning, gasoline distribution, explosive dusts, pesticides, space heaters, plastics manufacturing)
  • Permits and limitations in various building occupancies (assembly hall, hospital, school, theatre, elderly care, prisons, warehouses, high piled storage, etc)
  • Locations that require a smoke detector, sprinkler system, fire extinguisher, or other specific equipment or procedures.
  • Removal of interior and exterior obstructions to emergency exits or firefighters and removal of hazardous materials
  • Permits and limitations in special outdoor applications (tents, asphalt kettles, bonfires, etc)
  • Other hazards (flammable decorations, welding, smoking, bulk matches, tire yards)
  • Electrical safety code
  • Fuel gas fitting code

How are fire codes developed?

The International Code Council Code Development Process (ICC)
With the International Code Council (ICC) code development process, any interested individual or group may submit a code change proposal and participate in the proceedings in which it and all other proposals are considered.

This open debate and broad participation before a committee comprised of representatives from across the construction industry, including code regulators and construction industry representatives, ensures a consensus of the construction community in the decision-making process.

A major advantage of ICC’s consensus-based private-sector code development process is that it allows both the ICC code development committees and eligible voting members at the code change hearings to participate in establishing the results of each proposal.

Voting members may either ratify the committee’s recommendation or make their own recommendation. The results of all votes are published in the report of the ICC code development hearings.

Eligible voting members of each of the three model code groups review the recommendations of the ICC code development committee at their annual conference and determine the final action.

Following consideration of all public comments, each proposal is individually balloted by the eligible voters. The final action on the proposals in based on the aggregate count of all votes cast. This important process ensures that the International Codes will reflect the latest technical advances and address the concerns of those throughout the industry in a fair and equitable manner.

The National Fire Protection Association’s Codes and Standards Development Process
The NFPA process encourages public participation in the development of its codes and standards. All NFPA codes and standards (also referred to here as NFPA “Documents”) are revised and updated every three to five years in Revision Cycles that begin twice each year and that normally take approximately two years to complete. Each Revision Cycle proceeds according to a published schedule that includes final dates for all major events in the process.

The process contains five basic steps leading to issuance of an NFPA Committee Document:

Step 1

Call for Proposals.
Proposed new Document or new edition of an existing Document is entered into one of two yearly revision cycles, and a Call for Proposals is published.

Step 2

Report on Proposals (ROP)
Committee or Panel meets to act on Proposals, to develop its own Proposals, and to prepare its Report. Committee votes by written ballot to approve its actions on the Proposals. If approval is not obtained, the Report returns to Committee. If approved, the Report on Proposals (ROP) is published for public review and comment.

Step 3

Report on Comments (ROC)
Committee or Panel meets to act on Public Comments, to develop its own Comments, and to prepare its report. Committee votes by written ballot to approve its actions on the Comments. If approval is not obtained, the Report returns to Committee. If approved, the Report on Comments (ROC) is published for public review.

Step 4

Association Technical Meeting
“Notices of intent to make a motion” are filed, are reviewed, and valid motions are certified for presentation at the Association Technical Meeting. (“Consent Documents” bypass the Association Technical Meeting and proceed directly to the Standards Council for issuance.) NFPA membership meets each June at the Association Technical Meeting and acts on Technical Committee Reports (ROP and ROC) for Documents with “certified amending motions.” Technical Committee(s) and Panel(s) vote on any amendments to the Technical Committee Reports made by the NFPA membership at the Association Technical Meeting.

Step 5

Standards Council Issuance
Notification of intent to file an appeal to the Standards Council on Association action must be filed within 20 days of the Association Technical Meeting. Standards Council decides, based on all evidence, whether or not to issue the Document or to take other action.

Sounds Confusing!

It can be as there is a lot of information on a number of topics involving fire and life safety which is processed through the above organizations. Hundreds of proposals that are submitted require hours of research, review, discussion which are either approved, accepted with changes or rejected by the voting membership, the governing bodies or both.

Therefore it is critical that one not only has a full understanding of codes and standards but also the process in which they are developed. That’s why we are here!

What can Pyrocop do for me?

We are here to assist architects, designers, developers, attorneys, fire officials, basically anyone needing assistance in finding the answers they need to address their specific fire code needs. We also strongly believe that strict compliance with both the fire and the building codes minimizes the risk of property loss, injuries and fatalities due to fire.

Should you have the need for a fire code expert to assist you with your project or need someone to review your fire loss case, please give us a call.

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