New Codes and Standards Influence Future Tactics Just gotta make sure your fire escapes are waterproofed with FIRE RESISTANT COATINGS FROM ICC-ES Div 7 Pedestrian Traffic Coatings…
BY JACK J. MURPHY AND SEAN DeCRANE
Although many past codes and standards have addressed building construction, building features, fire protection systems, fireground operations, and past building failures, how will the new codes and standards impact future tactical operations and firefighter safety? In the International Code Council (ICC) International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC) (2012 editions) and in several new National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, the code and standard changes include new additions, changes in application, modifications, clarifications, special significance, and code section deletions. In the code highlights below, underlining indicates changes to the previous edition of the code or standard. Below are some significant approved code and standard amendments that will influence emergency tactical operations.
- Fire escape stairs and balconies shall be examined for structural adequacy and safety, in accordance with section 1004.16.5, by a registered design professional or others acceptable to the fire code official every five years, or as required by the fire code official. An inspection report shall be submitted to the fire code official after such examination.
Code enforcement plays a key role in ensuring that the exterior life safety evacuation and firefighter access stairs are maintained.
Tactical considerations. If you have ever studied for a promotional test, you have encountered numerous firefighting authors warning you about the dangers of operations on a fire escape. “Never stand below the access ladder when it is released because you don't know the last time it was serviced or operated. It may be corroded and susceptible to failure, placing you in harm's way.” This is a typical passage in these books and probably has also appeared in Fire Engineering.
The fire service has known the dangers of operating on these fire escapes, but emergency operations require us to operate with some element of risk, and when it comes to accomplishing the required tasks, ICs often have no choice but to rely on fire escapes for operations or occupant evacuation.
With this code requirement, building owners are now responsible for having trained and certified engineers evaluate and ensure the fire escape's safety and submit reports with the local jurisdictions to ensure compliance. This is a great example of the codes ensuring a safer work environment for our members by specifically requiring that certified personnel inspect elements of our work environment.