Building Code Legislation Aims to Save Lives, Funding

A bi-partisan bill aiming to reduce loss of life and damages after disasters has a Congressional hearing set for Tuesday at 10 a.m. ET.


A bi-partisan bill seeking support from public safety aims to reduce loss of life and damages after disasters.

A hearing for the Safe Building Codes Incentive Act is set for this Tuesday, July 24 at 10:00 a.m. and will be webcast live.

The Safe Building Code Incentive Act would create a financial incentive for states that have adopted and are currently enforcing statewide building codes for residential and commercial structures. Under the proposed law, states that do so would qualify for an additional 4-percent in post-disaster funding.

The program would be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Congressman Jeff Denham (CA-19), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, spoke to fire service media about the pending legislation.

The bill, HR 2069, was introduced by Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-21) and was referred to Chairman Denham’s subcommittee.

"We can cut the cost and amount of damage done with stronger building codes; we did it in California," Denham said.

Denham explained that the goal is for nationally recognized codes to be selected and enhanced at the state level to address local perils, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fire, ice storms and other natural catastrophes.

"We want to make sure we're empowering states to put in the types of safeguards they need," Denham said.

In addition, standardized building codes would create a consistent playing field for design professionals, suppliers, and builders, and create a minimum standard that consumers could rely upon.

However, "Most importantly," Denham said, " it's about saving lives."

The witness list for the hearing includes Chief Hank C. Clemmensen, First Vice President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs; Mr. Chad Berginnis, CFM, Executive Director, Association of State Floodplain Managers; Mr. Jim Mullen, President National Emergency Management Assoc; and Mr. Jimmy Gianato, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, State of West Virginia.

Thirty-one states currently qualify or could qualify with minor legislative changes to state laws and regulations, including: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.