What's at Stake?

Do you really trust the special interest groups to keep your safety in mind and provide you the necessary level of fire protection?

A recent IAFC member alert notified us that "Homebuilders Trying to Preempt Adoption of State and Local Sprinkler Regulations." Their attempts are now going beyond fire sprinklers. They're also trying to ensure local jurisdictions aren't able to adopt model building and fire codes stronger than those adopted by the state.

This could severely limit items in the International Code Council's body of codes and the National Fire Protection Association's codes and standard especially designed to protect citizens and firefighters.

The divisions, sections, committees and general members of the IAFC must unite to fight these attempts to restrict local adoption of fire and building codes. The health, safety and well-being of our citizens depend on prevention and mitigation efforts before the emergency, which is when our emergency response kicks in.

This prevention and mitigation to the built environment is best accomplished with the adoption and enforcement of national, model building and fire codes. The International Code Council is the predominant building-code organization in our country and regulates the construction of most new buildings. The NFPA is the predominant codes and standards-making organization to ensure life safety from fire.

These model codes are developed at a national level by professionals from local levels, intended to be adopted and enforced by professionals at the local level.

As the fire chief of a local jurisdiction, you should be able to influence and encourage the adoption of the International Building Code, International Fire Code, International Residential Code, NFPA Life Code, The Uniform Fire Code or any version of the many available codes that reduce risk to citizens and firefighters in your community.

It is encouraged that our state governments promulgate codes that establish a minimum for the state, especially to cover those areas lacking any codes. However, it shouldn't be the role of the state to limit our local ability to improve the level of protection to our citizens and firefighters.

House Bill 2267 in Arizona, Senate Bill 2354 in North Dakota and House Bill 554 in Texas are all aimed at limiting a local jurisdictions ability to adopt and enhance codes. Don't lose your right as a fire chief to best serve. Don't lose your community's ability to best determine the building and fire code package best suited to protect the citizens and firefighters. Model building and fire codes protect homes to high-rises, and it's our responsibility to ensure our maximum capability to provide the best possible service to our community.

Get involved! Join forces with your local and state organizations to unite and ensure the homebuilders and other special interest groups don't take away our right to best serve the citizens and firefighters in our community. Visit www.iafc.org/flss for more information on how to be involved."

This article is a "call to arms" for all fire service members. We must unite, take a strong stance, and get actively involved in defeating these ill-intended attempts by the special interests groups that are bent to write the building construction codes to suite their meager business needs which could result in a reducing the safety of our communities and jeopardize our firefighters and the public alike.

Advocacy for fire prevention, and stepping up our public education efforts at this time are even more important than ever before. We in the fire service must educate the public and their elected officials, that the codes and standards developed by the internationally recognized organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Code Council (ICC) are the accumulation of decades of failure analysis, research, testing, technical evolution, building construction knowledge and field experience.

And the open, well established code development processes in both these organizations have passed the tests of time and trail.

Remind them that every single year, hundreds of our fire service representatives across the country actively participate in these code development processes. Cumulatively, they spend thousands of hours preparing, reviewing, researching, analyzing, and developing codes.