Strategy 5 of the Vision 20/20 National Strategies for Loss Prevention is focused on this very issue. Our brother Sean DeCrane, representing the IAFF, in the various code development processes, is tasked with leading this effort. I believe that based on Sean's excellent performance the last few times, he will be able to do a great job in leading this effort, if we all give him our support.
I believe that the support from our peers in the more established fire prevention associations such as the Michigan Fire Inspectors Society (MFSI) and the Washington State Association of Fire Marshals (WSAFM) with a long history of code development and their strong membership could be of tremendous value in promoting our cause.
Supporting the ICC -The fire service must put their support behind the ICC. Although the National Association of Home Builders is considered as a "strategic partner" of ICC, they are not too pleased as you can imagine. Undoubtedly, the ICC will feel the wrath of the NAHB.
It is important for us to put our support behind our building official peers that went on a limb for us.
At the local level, NAHB will undoubtedly put pressure on the local building officials not to adopt the 2009 edition of the ICC codes. That could put financial strains on the ICC for a period of time. Many state requirements and also as a result of the Insurance Services Office (ISO) building accreditation requirements. Most jurisdictions have a limited window of time before adopting the most recent edition of the codes. But, even a couple of years could really hurt the ICC.
Let's work on being part of the solution. It is even more important now since the ICC's new president, Adolf Zubia, is a fire chief and one of our own. He will have a very challenging term this year, and we need to support him in any/all national and local events.
He is the first fire chief in that position. We must prove that the fire service participation on the ICC Board and at the helm of their organization is constructive and not divisive.
Federal grants - I believe that we need to work with officials on the federal level to require local officials to meet certain code requirements before they are considered for grants. That may include the adoption of the national IRC 2009 edition or the NFPA 1 Uniform Fire Code, with the residential fire sprinkler requirement for all new homes.
All I am saying is that the federal grants can be the impetus for the change at the local levels. Webster defines impetus as "stimulation or encouragement resulting in increased activity." And I believe that through their current grant program, the federal government has an opportunity to stimulate and encourage the local governments to better protect their communities. Jurisdictions then have the choice.
My friends, these are just mere suggestions and food for thought. I strongly encourage any and all of my peers who might have many better ideas to throw them out for discussion. But do it soon. We need to get organized, and we should do that now. There is not much time to waste.
All our gains could be wiped out by our opponents 18 months from now in the ICC's next code development cycle.
That is exactly why we need to continue focusing on establishing this organizational mechanism now. Time is of essence and considering that our opponents are well-resourced and highly organized, we need to roll-up the sleeves now and start getting organized now.
We have made great national strides in better protecting our communities. But we should not be complacent. Our success in Minneapolis was only the first step. Now we must continue the battle. Mission accomplished -- not yet. Thus, we must keep up the good fight.
AZARANG (OZZIE) MIRKHAH P.E., CBO, EFO, MIFireE, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is the Fire Protection Engineer for the City of Las Vegas Department of Fire & Rescue. Ozzie served on the national NFPA 13 Technical Committee for Sprinkler System Discharge Design Criteria and serves on the IAFC Fire Life Safety Section Board of Directors. He was the first recipient of the IAFC's Excellence in Fire and Life Safety Award in 2007. To read Ozzie's complete biography and view his archived articles, click here. Ozzie has participated in two Radio@Firehouse podcasts: Six Days, Six Fires, 19 Children and 9 Adults Killed and Fire Marshal's Corner. You can reach Ozzie by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.