WASHINGTON, D.C. – Federal agencies conclude and agree that code adoption and compliance, training for code officials and updating codes based on lessons learned from natural disasters are major factors in creating more resilient structures and safer communities.
“When homes and buildings are built to the most current codes, structures on the edge of the direct path of a tornado or hurricane should be able to survive,” said International Code Council CEO Dominic Sims, CBO. “That was the conclusion by the University of Alabama after studying tornado damage in Tuscaloosa. It mirrors findings from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It is about reducing damage and saving lives.”
Federal, state and local governments benefit from their involvement in the ICC code development process without taking on the high cost of developing codes and standards.
“The FEMA and NIST findings reaffirm the importance of public and private sector collaboration to develop building safety codes,” said ICC Board of Directors President Stephen Jones, CBO. “Government can put valuable research into action by participating in the ICC code development process, and using ICC as an established resource to turn to for code official training and certification.”
A NIST report on its preliminary reconnaissance of the May 20, 2013, Newcastle-Moore Tornado in Oklahoma says insight gained from the disaster, if implemented at the policy level, should lead to improvements in standards, codes, and practices that will reduce losses and improve safety in future events. The primary findings of the NIST technical investigation provide a technical basis for improved codes, standards, and practices related to tornado hazard characterization, and tornado–resilient design and construction.
According to FEMA’s Hurricane Sandy Mitigation Assessment Team Report, recently constructed low-rise buildings generally suffered less flood damage because they complied with modern building codes and floodplain ordinances. The report also says code officials and inspectors are required to be licensed and to maintain qualifications through continuing education. Having flood provisions incorporated into a code generates a need for training that specifically addresses those provisions.
Additionally, the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood plain management report states that model codes are effective in reducing flood-related damages because of specific mitigation provisions required for compliance.