Hearings for the 2015 International Building Code began this week in Dallas, Texas. One of the first issues was a proposal allowing industry to use sprinklers as a part of the fire resistance rating in establishing the fire rating performance.  While this is currently allowed as an Alternative Method, keeping the requirement under Alternative Methods as opposed to eliminating the language prohibiting the practice places the burden on the individual making the proposed alternative protection to provide the testing results and methods to the code official and then the code official has an option of accepting the alternative or not.  Removing the current language in the code would have placed the burden on the code official to provide the reasoning for denial. We were successful in our efforts to defeat this proposal. This protects the structural integrity of the structural therefore protecting our members operating inside such structures.

The second major issue was the proposal of industry to eliminate elevator lobby protection in all buildings including unsprinklered buildings. While there are jurisdictions that have operated without lobbies many of the fire incidents have demonstrated the ability of smoke to migrate through the elevator shaft especially in unsprinklered buildings. Buildings 50 to 75 feet could be without elevator lobby protection placing our responding members in harm’s way when initiating offensive operations or during search and rescue efforts.  We were very strong in our opposition to this effort and were successful in defeating the proposal but industry will be back as they view this as a money saving issue. We will continue to monitor and will work to ensure our members’ work environment is protected.

There will be many issues the annual hearings this week and we will keep our members informed on the most important of these issues throughout the week.  The IAFF representative attending this meeting is Sean DeCrane from IAFF Local 93, Cleveland, Ohio.