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Day One: Fire Code Hearings

The IAFF has a representative attending the International Code Council's Committee Action Hearings. On Saturday and Sunday the Fire Service Membership Council met for a two day workshop. Issues discussed including training, education, service and the ICC Evaluation Services. The Evaluation Services approves products for the market place based on performance reports. This is very important to our membership as they can approve products meeting the protection requirements for structural protection, aka the protection of lightweight construction in one and two-family homes.

The IAFF has been very active with the ES process to ensure manufacturers are held to applicable performance standards as these products can be deployed into the field and our members will depend on these products to perform in the field. We will continue to follow the process as a number of manufacturers are attempting to have their products approved for the protection of lightweight construction. We must ensure the process is comprehensive and consistent.

At the end of the two day meeting the Fire Services Membership Council and the Building Officials Membership Council met to continue the established dialogue concerning how public officials can establish a working relationship as we move forward after the residential sprinkler vote in 2008 in Minneapolis. Five years later there are still strong feelings regarding the process where the fire service showed up in mass to vote in support of the requirement for residential sprinklers. While members from both Councils agree the votes were conducted within the applicable rules and regulations at the time some thought the effort violated the intent of the code participation efforts. Following the work group meetings members of both Councils convened to vote unanimously approve the follow Joint Statement encouraging members of both professions to work together, As we have rediscovered, fire and building officials have far more in common then we have uncommon. The Joint Statement reads as follows:
 
"Approximately one month ago, the Governing Councils of the Building Officials Membership Council (BOMC) and the Fire Services Membership Council (FSMC) met for a two day workshop to discuss ways of improving the interrelationship between fire and building officials. One outcome of these very productive discussions was an agreement to create this joint statement from both Councils regarding the vote to require residential fire sprinklers in new homes that occurred at the Final Action Hearing in Minneapolis in 2008.
 
In the interest of developing a better working relationship between our two professions, both of which have the public's safety at heart, the BOMC and FSMC agree that it is not productive for ICC members to dwell on the events that transpired in Minneapolis nearly four years ago. It is further agreed that participation and voting by the ICC membership at the Minneapolis hearing, and in subsequent code cycles, was done in compliance with the rules and policies governing ICC's code development process that were in place at the time and that proponents of home fire sprinklers acted with a genuine interest in public and fire fighter safety.
 
The FSMA and BOMC embrace this statement and strongly encourage fire officials and building officials to pursue our shared mission of public safety as a basis for cooperative and productive working relationships".
 
The hearings kicked off with a number of code committees being convened. Today the committee for Existing Building Codes began their deliberations. It was quickly apparent we need more fire service participation. Also many members have received e-mails regarding reductions in healthcare facility protections. While the e-mail was generated by an industry with a financial interest in the matter these proposal do reduce the protection in hospitals. The committee generating the code change proposals have no fire service representation. We encourage our members to look for areas of interest where they may have an interest and get involved in committee activities.
 
We will continue to post updates from the code hearings and opportunities for our members to become involved.  You can also watch the code hearings at this web link:  http://www.iccsafe.org/webcast/Pages/default.aspx

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