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Mar 15, 2021

We are back with our second solocast and on this episode we are diving into how codes and standards function. This is one of the most quintessential functions of working in fire and life safety, so I wanted to have this as one of the earliest topics. What are model codes and standards? How are they adopted? Where do you go to find them? I discuss all these and much more in the episode.



Hello. Welcome to the solo cast of fire code tech in these episodes. It's just gonna be me, your host, Gus Gagliardi. There's gonna be a range of topics, but I'm gonna talk about like specific technologies, installation standards, codes, and how they work as well as some other interesting topics that don't neatly fit inside of the context of a normal interview.

Hello, all welcome to episode two of the solo cast with GU GA. I'm your host of fire code tech, and I'm going to start releasing these solo podcasts in order to supplement the already interesting interviews with the amazing professionals that we have had going for almost a year. Now, if you enjoy these episodes, don't forget to go to code tech.

You can get two additional solo casts a month for the price of a cup of coffee. In this episode, I want to talk to you all about the codes and standards, and just really take an overview of the codes and standards process in the United States and, uh, and globally as well. And so, yeah, this is a topic.

That I'm endlessly fascinated with. I think it's one of the fundamentals of how fire and life safety works for many jobs. Yeah. I think it's a good basis for any discussion to have a good knowledge of what is the codes and standards process, where you live. And, uh, or where you're working in, uh, more importantly.

And so I just wanted to explore how this works. It's a frequently asked questions or a frequently misunderstood topic, how this works. Um, you know, and I just. Want to have this as one of the earliest episodes, really, it should have been episode one, but, uh, as how these processes work in order to, um, have the basis or fundamentals for the rest of our discussions, don't forget to subscribe to fire code tech, wherever you get your podcasts.

Also, as a primer, we've started to release all of our content on YouTube and I'm doing my best to cut clips so that. People can get a taste of, uh, the most interesting portions of the episodes and I'll link back to the full link episodes, but you can find it there as well and follow us on social media, working on, uh, adding posts and, and resources and sharing things in order to keep you informed.

Keep a good finger on the pulse. So codes and standards, I think is a good preface for codes and standards. Um, this is, uh, through the lens of a construction professional. In the us and somebody who works in design. Um, so the way codes and standards work in the us is we have model codes, model codes are developed by an institution known as the ICC or the international code council.

Uh, so there's the building code, the international building code international mechanical code residential code. Um, it, it goes on there's even more plumbing code. And so having a frame of reference for how these different codes play together and, um, you know, how they reference other standards and criteria.

So that's kind of what I want to talk about today. And so as a baseline, uh, a code is adopted by. Certain jurisdiction. So I'll take for instance, uh, Oklahoma, since that's where I'm from. So I can speak with greater authority on the subject. But so if you look at the state of Oklahoma, it adopts the 2015, um, international family of codes.

So there's, there's different adoptions for pieces. And so 2015 international building code. Is what's adopted. So why is this important? Well, the code is what prescribes, what is enforceable by law? So the code is, uh, what you have to do and when you have to do it. So, uh, if you're looking for the overarching, when do I need a certain system, or if you are looking for how to know.

You know, specifics on building components, if you need them or not. The building code is where you're gonna start. I, um, when I've had the, the chance to, uh, mentor or instruct people in, um, you know, finding their way in engineering or in the process, I try to always make sure that there is a sound.

fundamental understanding of how codes and standards work. So, uh, for instance, sprinkler systems, you know, how do you know if you need a sprinkler system is probably the number one biggest, uh, question. I would say if somebody says, oh, we have sprinklers on this project, you know, I would. Council, uh, young fire protection designer or, you know, to ask the question or, or sprinklers code required.

You know, I mean obviously if the, if the building is of significant scale, there is a good chance that they are required, but it's good to do the research for yourself and understand. So, um, you know, that would be in chapter nine is where a lot of the different, uh, fire protection. Uh, chapters are so sprinklers is 9 0 3.

Fire alarm is 9 0 7. But so these different, um, pre-qualifies for when these systems are required are in the building code. So this is where you should start. And so. As a, just, this is one reason why codes and standards are so important for the first to say it again, it's, what's required by law. Secondly, it tells you when you need other building and system components and, uh, as a fire protection engineer, it is at the basis of, um, pretty much everything we do is something required by code.

Of course, there are other reason. In which you could need a sprinkler system that wouldn't have anything to do with the, the code requirement. You know, you could, but I'll save that for another episode. So codes and standards, um, above and beyond, uh, the. The model codes and their adoptions, you can look at.

Um, so let's talk about the standards piece. So how do you know when a standard is applicable? You know, uh, say you are looking at a sprinkler system and, and you are interested in, in knowing which version of NFPA 13 to, to design the sprinkler system towards, well, there are different, uh, there's a couple different ways you could find that.

but, uh, one I, I would invite you to go take a look at and explore is, um, first of all, first and foremost, find the version of the building code that's adopted. And then I, in the building code, there is a section called reference reference standards. And so it will list, uh, individual, um, NFPA documents. And what year is adopted?

In corollary to the year of the building code that's adopted. So if you go to the 2015 building code and you go to the reference standard chapter, and then you take a look at, uh, N FPA 13, you'll see that the 2013 version of NFPA 13 is adopted in the 2015, uh, international building code. So these are some of the most important.

uh, things to document and to understand at the, uh, incipient stages of the project, if you don't have an understanding in what the codes and standards are, you are getting on the wrong foot from the very, very beginning of your project. You know, if you don't establish these criteria, uh, you're your, I don't know, it's your approach is all wrong.

Um, you need to establish. What is the, what is the code requirements so that you can even begin to move forward? So that's kind of why, uh, I think this subject is so important. Because I see I've seen, um, designers in the early stages and, and I've been up guilty of it myself. Um, a project manager comes to you and, and asks you, you know, or somebody comes to you and, and asks you to design this building needs a sprinkler system or a fire alarm system.

And if you don't base your. Understanding of a project and the codes and standards. Um, you won't be able to fully analyze a building and really understand what truly is required. So, you know, somebody comes to you and says, this building needs to be sprinkled. And so you just, if you would take that on just their word and not do the research for yourself, you could not realize.

You know, oh, maybe this building doesn't require a sprinkler system or, oh, maybe this building not only needs a sprinkler system, but it needs the stand pipe system. And you know, so you can, uh, if you don't have good basis and codes and standards, you can miss things that are, uh, extremely important. So you need to have this rock solid foundation.

Uh, the codes and standards and how they work. So another thing I wanted just talk about was, uh, amendments, local amendments. So what's really important on top of the adopted codes and standards is, uh, local amendments. And so your jurisdiction, um, let's say take Oklahoma city, for example, um, Oklahoma.

Adopts the 2015 international building code. And then they append the international building code with, um, additional information, uh, permitting information, Infor criteria that they've changed. Um, take for example. Uh, you know, they might modify the language that describes the international existing building code and what the different alteration levels and the, uh, how those different scopes of the work pan out for.

Different projects. So, you know, not only is it paramount importance to understand the model codes that are adopted, but also you have to be extremely diligent about jurisdictional preferences. So if you take a look, um, jurisdictions may have, you know, Other portions of the code in which they are saying, we have modified these requirements.

You know, the fire department needs these threads, or we don't recognize this section of the international residential code. And, uh, these are almost, these are, uh, oftentimes, uh, as important or more important than. Um, what, uh, building code you're looking at, because if you just designed to the vanilla building code and you are not taking a look at, um, your local jurisdictional requirements, you are gonna get in, um, into trouble because there are so many different regional requirements.

Of course, some regions are more strict or less strict depending on where you're working. And so it's really important to know. Um, okay. So let's talk about how you would find out these different things. How would you find out where your, um, what your jurisdiction adopts for the, for the building codes? So if I was going to look up in a different state or a different county, um, I would take a look at, I would Google, you know, Oklahoma state building code adoptions.

So I would Google that and oftentimes the government or the jurisdiction will have that in what they require and what their adopted building code is. So that would be my first state. And then as far as. Local amendments there's, uh, it, of course it's a little different in every state, but in Oklahoma you can search.

Um, I was just looking at this information recently, but you can, um, it's all listed on the government website and you can go take a look at their list of addenda to the international building. Yeah, another good topic is where can you find the building code? You know, if you're hearing this and you're like, okay, well, everything is based on the building code, but how do I get to, you know, the building code or the correct building code and start navigating these codes?

Well, you can start at the, the company who generates these. Different, uh, building codes. Um, they have all their codes available on their website and you can navigate there and I can throw a link down to their website, or you can go to, um, I believe they just launched a new service recently for, uh, navigating the building codes online.

Or you could go to a company like, uh, up codes who has, um, the. Different local adoptions of the building code and they're, uh, easily readable and you can go check it out there. So, yeah, so you can find the building codes there and you can navigate which one you need. Um, it's worth talking about the overall layout of the building code.

So the building code is, is very similar to different NFPA standards in that they start out with, um, different business or citation materials, some definitions, and they start, uh, very broad the standards for NFPA documents for. Model building codes. They kind of all function in a similar way. They start out very broad and like talking very largely about the building.

And then as you proceed throughout the book, they get more specific. And then, um, each of these books usually end with some, uh, appendixes or some explanatory inform. As well as some more references and, uh, usually the index or how you can also navigate. Thanks for listening. Everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business.

The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes in standards. Interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional. If you are getting involved. Fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.