Building and Fire Codes Past, Present, Future

The purpose of this article is to familiarize the Semiconductor Safety Association with the building and fire code system, the process that it has gone though over the last five years to move to a single building and fire cod, and changes that impact the industry. I will address the building and fir codes, including a brief history, the content of the codes, how the documents are currently developed, and the future of the codes. For the last fifty years, three building codes and four fire codes have coexisted. The system has been a regional system divided in to the Northeast, Southeast and Western states. The building code, developed by building officials, addresses how and form what materials a building is to be constructed. The fire cod, used in tandem with the building code, covers how the structure is maintained and operated. The documents are developed through annual processes that ensure openness, public participation and fairness. During the last five years, the code writing organizations have attempted to join together and produce a single family of codes for the United States. Though there have been problems and defections, the objective of a single set of codes appears to be achievable with the possible exception of a completing National Fire Protection Association set of codes. In addition to the single set of codes, the US is following the lead of Europe and New Zealand in attempting to create an alternative performance-based system.



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