CNU's proposed International Fire Code amendments

Tags for this publication:

The Emergency Response & Street Design Initiative team developed a proposed amendment to Section 503 of the International Fire Code and a proposed new appendix to the code, and submitted them to the International Code Council on June 1, 2009. This is part of the ongoing cooperative effort between CNU, fire marshals, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to find common ground and solutions in designing streets that improve overall public safety, emergency response times, and overall street connectivity.

IFC amendment summary:

On October 26, 2009, the Initiative team attended the ICC’s Fire Code hearings in Baltimore, Md. Carl Wren and Rick Merck, who co-authored the code language, and Frank Kinnier, of the Chesterfield (Va.) Fire & EMS, John Norquist, president and CEO of CNU, Patrick Siegman, of Nelson\Nygaard, and Danielle Arigoni, of the U.S. EPA, spoke in favor of our proposed reforms. The IFC Committee

1. Gave preliminary approval by a 12-1 vote of proposed Appendix K (authored by Siegman, with input from Peter Swift).

2. Gave preliminary disapproval by a 10-3 vote of CNU’s proposed amendment to Section 503 (authored by Wren and Merck). Due to ICC rules, this disapproval vote came immediately after a vote to approve the measure, which failed 4-9.

3. Approved a proposal that originated with the ICC’s Joint Fire Service Review Committee, that demands attention from this project. Known as “F17,” this amendment forbids any traffic calming measures unless approved by the fire code official. This has a high negative potential for street design and traffic engineering, since the proposal’s definition of traffic engineering is broad enough to encompass almost every aspect of street design, and is opposed by CNU. Proponents of F17 argue that it is a means to an end – the inclusion of fire code officials in discussions about traffic engineering and street design.

Although the proposed Section 503 language was rejected, there were two positive elements taken from the hearing. First, Carl Wren, Rick Merck, and Frank Kinnier said that gaining four “yes” votes for approval of the Section 503 amendment – on the first vote for a new topic – was a better result than most first-time measures, and was better than they had expected. Second, and perhaps more significantly, despite the committee’s disapproval of the Section 503 amendment, comments from committee members and from ICC voting members on the floor indicated they were rejecting the particular language, or its placement within Section 503 – not the project’s underlying concept that local fire code officials should have the flexibility to approve streets with less than the current code’s statutory 20 feet clear.


ICC_503 amendment.pdf248.99 KB
ICC_New appendix.pdf10.74 MB
ICC_current codes.pdf244.59 KB