A number of additional proposals in the Residential Code concerned the IAFF including our proposal attempting to have a non-combustible covering between foam insulation and the exterior covering. The proposal was intended to require a ten foot set back from the property line if there was no barrier. This was an attempt to address the flame propagation due to radiant heat exposure. The proposal failed but we are working with the vinyl siding industry and others to address exterior flame spread. One challenge is the difficulty in the accumulation of data. This really highlights the importance of properly completing NFIRS reports after fires. Believe it or not many people scrub the narratives in these reports. If something is difficult to classify or just as a matter of habit fire officers should include a narrative outlining the fire, actions taken and types of construction or materials involved in the fire.

There were a number of code change proposals addressing the protection of lightweight construction. One proposal was to require all residential floors to be protected. This is actually a preferable method of protection as residential floors are an issue for our members. We have seen the performance of modern lumber and it does not perform in fire conditions as legacy lumber. We engineer our trees to grow faster, we harvest them earlier and we have reduced the dimensions required to classify dimensional lumber. This proposal was defeated by the committee 11 – 0 as they consistently voted against cost increase proposals.

A second proposal addressed the equivalency issue for alternative methods. One of our concerns with the language where it was in the language is that it did not highlight the requirement of utilizing a certified testing laboratory as the required source for an Evaluation Report. This was debated for quite a bit at the microphone but again the committee voted it down.

The third major proposal on lightweight was an attempt from Utah to remove the requirement the IAFF worked so hard on to get the requirement into the code. Although the proponents had little support at the microphone the committee was a concern by their voting records. After the debate the committee voted 9 – 2 to reject the proposal. Therefore we were successful in retaining the requirement of protecting engineered residential floor systems. As we speak there are numerous companies working on alternative products to gypsum board to create alternative design methods of protection. If they can meet performance standards we welcome them but we again have to remain active to make sure they actually meet performance standards. One goal is to establish benchmark time performances based on product testing in applicable scenarios and not using calculation methods to determine the target performance.

With over 400 code change proposals for the Fire Code and 500 code change proposals for the Residential Code it was a long week. Overall the fire service did well especially in this economic environment. We consistently address issues based on safety for our members and the public. Make no mistake, industry uses this format to introduce new products and concepts into the built environment, our work environment, and we must be vigilant to ensure unsafe products and practices do not get approved.

Read more from the IFC hearings.