Building-code fire regulations are enacted by local and state governments to protect the safety of citizens and homeowners. These regulations include requirements for the construction and upkeep of homes and buildings, as well as the authority for enforcement of the codes. Anyone involved in the construction or maintenance of a building is responsible for understanding and following building-code fire regulations, and failure to comply can result in legal action.
Building-code fire regulations for houses and other human dwellings usually differ based on whether the structure is single family or multi-family or attached, semi-attached or detached. Houses and garages located in areas prone to wildfires are often subjected to additional building-code fire regulations pertaining to the interface with the environment; these regulations include clearing of debris and dead vegetation and the building of bonfires, fire pits or use of grills or other flammables (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection). Other buildings such as barns, sheds, poultry houses or stables often have different fire code regulations than dwellings intended for humans (New York State Department of Safety).
Buildings that are not intended for human habitation, including businesses, schools and public buildings, usually have different fire regulations. According to the University of Kentucky, many of these regulations include stipulations on the means of egress. Stairwell fire doors and hallways must be free of impediments and buildings must provide signs indicating fire exits. Fire code might also require self-latching and self-closing fire doors, and the doors are usually hard wired into the fire alarm system. Fire codes for these buildings often prohibit storage in mechanical rooms. In addition, the code usually requires smoke detectors at stairwell landings and in mechanical rooms (University of Kentucky). Fire code often requires the posting of evacuation routes and the location of exits. Fire alarms and smoke detectors must remain connected and activated at all times; in some cases, disconnection alerts the local fire department.
State, city or township laws or ordinances provide the legal basis for enforcement of building-code fire regulations. Fire codes are enforced locally, and inspections are performed by building-code officers or representatives of the fire department. Businesses and other public buildings usually receive an annual inspection for enforcement of the local fire codes (University of Kentucky). In addition, businesses and homes undergoing renovation or remodeling might receive an inspection before the project is formally approved. Building-code fire regulations sometimes require building managers to conduct tests of the fire alarm and smoke detector systems and document the results of these tests (Massachusetts Department of Fire Safety).
- Photo Credit fire extinguisher image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
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