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Seeing Eye-to-Eye With ICC Codes

Although NFPA codes may be foremost in most fire technicians’ minds and practices when it comes to how they install and service safety systems, there are other important documents that come into play. At the top of that list are the codes emanating from the International Code Council (ICC).



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After testimony is given at ICC’s annual Code Development Hearing, proposals go to committee. Pros and cons are discussed before all in the hearing room, typically a large space at a convention center.For the current cycle, ICC has formed Code Action Committees (CAC) that may also have nongovernmental members. CACs develop proposals to be submitted for consideration. Other groups submitting proposals within our industry include AFAA, ESA and NEMA. CAC meetings provide the opportunity to see which possible direction the fire service and others may be going in the next cycle. One may also have a little longer to speak on a topic.

In addition to CACs, there are several other Technical Committees within ICC that develop proposals for consideration. They include the Ad Hoc Committee on Healthcare and Code Technology Committee. Both of these committees submit proposals to a number of ICC codes, including the Building and Fire Codes.

Cases Made For, Against Proposals

Once all of the proposals have been received, they are published for all to review. They are also sent to their respective code committee for review. Once a year, there is a Code Development Hearing (CDH), which is now about a week in duration. It is during the CDH that the code committee for a code will be up on stage to receive testimony and ask questions related to each proposal. A person has two minutes to make their point and one minute in rebuttal. One learns to be to the point very quickly. The code committee may ask questions, which have no time limits but they do tend to cut off anyone who rambles.

After the testimony is given, the proposal is turned over to the committee. Pros and cons are then discussed before all in the hearing room, typically a large space at a convention center. The committee then votes to accept, reject or modify the proposed code. Depending on the issue, the process for a single proposal may take 30 minutes or more. It is not unusual for a hearing to go from 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m., then resume first thing the next morning, and so on for a week.

The results from the vote of the code committee are posted after the conclusion of the CDH. Next month, we will look at the process from this point through the Final Action Hearing.

Shane Clary, Ph.D., has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is Vice President of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pacheco, Calif.-headquartered Bay Alarm Co.

Summary of ICC Codes

  • International Building Code
  • International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings
  • International Fire Code
  • International Wildland-Urban Interface Code
  • International Fuel Gas Code
  • International Mechanical Code
  • International Plumbing Code
  • International Existing Building Code
  • International Property Maintenance Code
  • International Energy Conservation Code
  • International Zoning Code
  • International Private Sewage Disposal Code
  • ICC Performance Code for Buildings and Facilities

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Article Topics
Fire/Life Safety · Other · Fire/Life Safety 2 · Dr. Shane Clary · Fire Side Chat · Fire Side Chat with Shane Clary · ICC · NFPA · All Topics

About the Author
Shane Clary
Shane Clary, Ph.D., is Security Sales & Integration’s “Fire Side Chat” columnist. He has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is vice president of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pancheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm Co.
Contact Shane Clary: smclary@bayalarm.com
View More by Shane Clary
Dr. Shane Clary, Fire Side Chat, Fire Side Chat with Shane Clary, ICC, NFPA


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