Which Code Should I Use?

February 5th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I recently did an all day training for the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association and I found myself talking about using multiple codes for violations.  Fire inspectors often work with both the IFC and the Life Safety Code and have to decide which one to use.  I find that the IFC has superior administrative provisions and gravitate towards it for enforcement.  The Life Safety Code is a great code to follow when something is being constructed.  Beyond that, I sometimes find that using the IPMC is helpful when dealing with a problem property because it has very specific sections on the condemnation of unsafe buildings, structures and equipment.  In some jurisdictions, the building department writes the violations for the fire department or fire district.  In those cases, I’ve often seen the inspectors use Chapter 7 of the IPMC for fire code violations since it’s fairly comprehensive for common fire safety violations.  Ultimately it doesn’t matter which code you use as long as it’s appropriate to the situation and it meets the local requirements of your jurisdiction and state.  Being flexible is important because you may find that you hit a dead end using one code but the solution lies in another.  When I wrote the guide books for the IBC, IFC and IRC, I included a chapter on using the IPMC when unsafe structures were involved.  The IBC and IFC have some guidance for unsafe buildings but not to the point of condemnation. The IRC has nothing about unsafe structures.  Now that there are many half-built single family structures standing around, this becomes a problem since the IBC doesn’t apply to them.  I usually recommend using the IPMC (if you have adopted it) if the permit has expired.  If you don’t hve the IPMC, you better have a decent public nuisance ordinance.  Otherwise, the only alternative is a demolition lawsuit which in most jurisdictions can be a costly procedure.

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