Make a Difference – Improve the Safety of Firefighters and the Public in the Built Environment

Get Involved in Code Development In Person or Online – Your Participation Counts!
By Adolf Zubia, Chairman of the ICC Fire Code Action Committee
The International Code Council (ICC) Fire Code Action Committee (Fire-CAC) was appointed by the ICC Board of Directors to review the 2015 International Codes (or I-Codes) and develop code change proposals for the 2018 edition for any matters of concern to the fire service. They have the specific responsibility to review the fire safety chapters in the International Building Code (IBC), the entire International Fire Code (IFC), the International Wildland-Urban Interface Code (IWUIC), and International Performance Code. 
In addition, the ICC Board decided in July of 2014 to sunset the activities of the Code Technology Committee (CTC). This is being accomplished by re-assigning many of the CTC Areas of Study to the applicable Code Action Committee. Items assigned to the Fire-CAC included IBC Chapter 7 issues such as labeling of fire-rated glazing, unenclosed stairways, and qualification for fire inspectors and frequency of building inspections for fire code compliance.
The Fire-CAC roster includes ICC members from the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) – Fire and Life Safety Section Executive Board, the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), and other fire service representatives, building officials, and industry code experts. Under the leadership of Chairman Adolf Zubia and Vice Chairman Andy King, and with administrative support by ICC staff from the Government Relations and Technical Services Departments, the Fire-CAC generated 15 code change proposals for the 2018 IBC and several other changes to the IBC and International Property Maintenance Code in cooperation with the Building Code Action Committee. These changes address:
  • Cooking safety requirements in institutional occupancies
  • Timing of stair installation in buildings under construction
  • Construction requirements for fire-pump rooms
  • Maintenance requirements for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
The Fire-CAC was assisted by four Regional Work Groups (RWGs) that worked by conference call during 2014. These RWGs are comprised of fire service representatives from the NVFC, IAFC Divisions, NASFM, and members appointed by ICC. The RWGs are charged with submitting recommended code changes to the Fire-CAC based on regional issues of concern and also address specific topics as assigned by the Fire-CAC.
The Fire-CAC held three meetings in Chicago in 2014 to complete its work and will meet three more times in 2015 to see their Group A code development cycle proposals all the way through the code development process and develop Group B cycle proposals for the International Fire Code.
Issues that the Fire-CAC plans to address with code change proposals in 2015 include:
  • Potential conflicts with security lockdown plans and fire evacuation
  • College labs and hazmat requirements
  • Requirements related to high-rise combustible (wood) structures and cross-laminated timber 
  • OSHA Haz-Com requirements; classification of flammable liquids
  • Cooking in I-2 – cook-top safety technology
  • Requirements for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detection
  • Fire Inspector qualifications and inspection frequency
  • Combustible dust (recommendation from CSB) and reference to various NFPA standards
  • Retroactive requirements for fire sprinkler systems
  • Fire sprinkler requirements in S-1 self-storage facilities
  • Fire protection in vacant buildings
  • Fire protection for historic buildings
  • Safety for roof-top assembly occupancies
  • Re-write of IFC Chapter 32 (High-piled Combustible Storage) 
  • Fireworks requirements and reference to NFPA 1124
  • Requirements for liquid carbon dioxide soda systems
  • Requirements for outdoor stages and other temporary structures 
  • Requirements for tents, trade shows, and special events
  • Requirements for outdoor idle pallet storage

If you have thoughts and ideas about how to improve the model I-Codes, reach out to your organization or state representatives on the Fire-CAC or Fire-RWGs and get involved! 
We hope that you will participate in the ICC Annual Conference and Public Comment Hearings in Long Beach, CA (September 30-October 7). Information about the conference and Code Hearings is available on the ICC web site at
Your participation in the code development process at the state and national level is the best way to improve safety in your work environment – buildings that catch fire or require an emergency response. See you in Long Beach!
Adolf Zubia is the current Chairman of the ICC Fire Code Action Committee. He also serves as the Chairman of the IAFC Fire and Life Safety Section. Adolf was the Chief of the City of Las Cruces (NM) Fire Department from 2001-2009. He held the position of South Carolina State Fire Marshal from February 2011-August 2012, and served as the President of the ICC Board of Directors in 2008.