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ICC, NAHB, NMHC will initiate safety review of recent fires in buildings under construction

WASHINGTON, D.C. – International Code Council, National Association of Home Builders and National Multifamily Housing Council members, stakeholders and others with technical expertise in the built environment will come together to review fires in buildings under construction that recently caused severe property damage and personal injury. The initiative will seek to identify causes and publish its findings to provide an opportunity for code and fire officials, architects, engineers, builders, construction workers, manufacturers and others to collaborate on recommendations for prevention, mitigation and safety.

Using a roundtable, open discussion format, participants will meet on July 31 for a day-long session at the ICC Governmental Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., and deliver its findings by Sept. 15. Retired California State Fire Marshal Ronny J. Coleman will be the moderator. Interested participants can get details by calling 888-ICC-SAFE (422-7233), ext. 6235.

“We have noted a series of recent fires that have struck buildings under construction,” said ICC Board President Stephen Jones, CBO. “Once we identify common causes, participants will explore strategies so the building industry might prevent or mitigate the primary causes of these incidents.”

Under construction building sites can have large amounts of combustible materials that create risks for onsite construction workers, the structure and first responders who may have to battle a fire or other man-made disaster. Both the 2012 International Building Code and 2012 International Fire Code address safety during construction, including mitigating fire hazards, standpipes, water supply for fire protection, precautions against fire, owner’s responsibility for fire protection, fire reporting, access for firefighting, portable fire extinguishers and safeguarding roofing operations.

“While the codes address safety measures for buildings under construction, code development and code compliance are ongoing improvement processes,” Jones said. “Eliminating unsafe worksite practices in the built environment, improving contractor and worker competencies through training programs aimed at compliance with current ICC building and fire codes, applicable federal and state fire protection requirements, and identifying best practices can help prevent future incidents.”

Roundtable participants will review the official report of cause for major under construction fires as determined by the local investigating fire and/or building department or any other official agency. The group also will work with site owners and contractors to examine the relevant information about each incident in developing any recommendations for improving safety at construction sites.