Fire Marshals Fight Pro-Tall Wood Building Code Changes

Originally published by the following source: SBC MagazineOctober 1, 2018
by Sean Shields

   

The National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) issued a statement this week to the International Code Council (ICC) opposing all code change proposals (G75-18, G80-18, and G84-18) aimed at allowing tall wood construction. This position is consistent with their other advocacy efforts to limit and even ban wood framing in larger buildings.

They argue these particular proposals seek to, “validate, and codify, various changes to the tables regarding height, area, and stories,” using conclusions that are based more on ‘professional judgment,’ as opposed to rigorous science and test data.

They state, “the current proposals go too far, too fast, in an area of significant and long-lasting importance.” NASFM then makes the following assertions with regard to the code change proposals:

  • There is no scientific basis for increasing height and area limits beyond what is currently allowable in code.
  • There has been no live fire testing at the limits being proposed.
  • There has been no "wind aided" fire testing conducted.
  • There is incomplete data regarding the fire loading of test burn buildings.
  • "Professional Judgement" is insufficient justification for a change of this magnitude.
  • No indication that any seismic testing has been performed or evaluated which goes to the issue of resiliency and sustainability.
  • To allow a proliferation of larger, taller wood buildings without proper testing and justification is premature and would impact the fire suppression environment significantly.
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