D+AS MAGAZINE

FEATURES — One Nation, One Building Code … Not For Long!

© 2000 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Fall 2000
Author: Joe Hetzel
Page 24

One Nation, One Building Code … Not For Long!

By Joe Hetzel
DASMA Technical Director

With the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) recent announcement that it will develop a building code for release in 2002, the United States will have another building code alongside the International Building Code (IBC) that was recently released. Many thought that the IBC would clear up the patchwork of building codes used nationwide.

While the development of yet another building code (designated as NFPA 5000) may appear to be a step backward, some view “competing” codes as a healthy situation. The greater issue is the means by which each code organization approves code content, and there are significant differences in the process utilized for NFPA 5000 and for the IBC.

Here are some common questions asked about NFPA 5000.

How will the NFPA Building Code be different from the International Building Code?

A key difference is how new language is approved. All dues-paying NFPA members (this includes industries as well as building officials) will vote on the content of NFPA 5000. However, only building officials vote on the content of the IBC.

Which way is better?

People supporting the NFPA document say that a consensus-based document is the best way, since it is a “balanced” approach. Meanwhile, people supporting the IBC say that building officials know best. Since they must enforce the code, it’s thought they have a clearer picture of the user’s perspective.

How will the NFPA Building Code resemble the IBC?

NFPA 5000 will draw heavily from the numerous existing NFPA standards, many of which are already referenced in the IBC. It also appears that the wind related provisions of ASCE 7-98 will be incorporated or referenced in NFPA 5000 similar to how they are included in the IBC.

Will DASMA try to influence the final draft of NFPA 5000?

DASMA will work to make sure that the requirements applied to garage door products in NFPA 5000 are the same as those found in the IBC. Examples would be the regulation of foam plastics in garage doors, and fire related requirements for rolling steel fire doors. We at DASMA will monitor progress and work to ensure the best possible outcome for our industry.

A working draft of NFPA 5000 was expected to be available to the public by late summer. You can keep up with the latest developments at http://buildingcode.nfpa.org.