Fire and Building Code Services
In the US, many companies adopt established (but non-mandatory) codes of good practice from organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Often overlooked is that all fifty US-states have adopted, as state law, the International Building Code (IBC). Forty-two states have also adopted the International Fire Code (IFC) as enforceable law. In many jurisdictions, enforcement occurs during the Building Permit or Occupancy Permitting processes. The IBC and IFC both contain requirements and limitations on the use and storage of Hazardous Materials (HazMats).
The IFC addresses process hazards and hazardous materials during use, storage, and handling. It contains specific restrictions on the use of hazardous materials (flammables, corrosives, toxics, etc.), in industrial facilities. Initial process design or modification of an existing process can easily result in assignment as one of the High-Hazard Occupancy Classes.
The IBC establishes construction and layout requirements based on Occupancy Class. It also establishes standards on a variety of topics including building height and area limitations, structural capability, fire spread resistance, means of egress, fire protection, and environmental aspects - just to name a few.
These codes include a combination of often-complex prescriptive and performance-based requirements that can be difficult to navigate. It often requires a Technical Report, written by “a qualified engineer, specialist, laboratory or fire safety specialty organization”, to be submitted to code officials.
Unlike many regulations, the IBC and IFC are written the consensus of a committee comprised of technical staff, Safety and Health professionals, industry/company representatives, equipment manufacturers. The codes are considered to be minimum requirements. Government entities then adopt these codes as law and establish the “Authority Having Jurisdiction” or AHJ. The AHJ in your facility’s location may be a professional state, city or county-level Code Compliance Officer, a municipal official, or the fire company serving your facility.
DEKRA has Subject Matter Experts on Fire and Building Code to guide you through the maze of building and fire code compliance. Our experts are experienced in:
- Identifying materials and processes covered by the IFC and IBC
- Evaluating the magnitude of the hazard
- Conducting gap analyses with the appropriate code
- Suggesting pragmatic options for code compliance
- Developing both prescriptive and performance-based options
- Advising on the sufficiency of the Code’s minimum requirements for your process
- Providing documentation for presentation to the AHJ
- Participating in meetings and discussions the AHJ and local permitting authorities.
Compliance with building and fire codes is a legal requirement. Our experts can assist early in the design process, during detailed design, and also during enforcement actions or permitting delays. The information we gather can also assist in other efforts including Facility Siting Studies, Process Safety Management, Process Hazard Analyses, and developing engineered solutions to fire and explosion hazards.