IAFC Official Urges Congress to Adopt Grant Program

The IAFC first vice-president urged a Congressional panel Tuesday to adopt a grant program that will encourage states to adopt building codes.

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Hank Clemmensen, Fire Chief of Palatine Rural Fire Protection District in Inverness, Ill., said adding the incentive will protect not only citizens but responders who respond to hazards.

Adopting the most current building code standards will enable states to obtain a four percent increase in FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant program.

Clemmensen specifically asked legislators to be cognizant of three issues.

"States should not be able to opt out of or reduce provisions to model commercial and residential codes and still receive the four percent bonus. To qualify for the four percent incentive, states should be required to adopt the whole model code and not be allowed to opt out of any of the substantial code requirements.

"For example, the 2009 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC) included a requirement for residential sprinklers. Many states opted out of this particular requirement, when they adopted the 2009 IRC."

He added that the IAFC is "greatly concerned about this decision" since there is overwhelming evidence that sprinklers save lives.

"The decisions by some states to opt out of the residential fire sprinkler requirements in the 2009 IRC presents a serious problem for public safety."

Clemmensen also told the panel: "Local jurisdictions should be allowed the latitude to adopt more stringent building and fire codes than the state minimum model code requirements."

Further, he suggested that the legislation include model commercial and residential building and fire codes.