The International Fire Code (IFC) is one of several model codes developed by the International Code Council (ICC). They report that the IFC is used or adopted in 42 states, the District of Columbia, New York City, Guam, and Puerto Rico (ICC, 2016). Despite its considerable popularity, many safety professionals are not familiar with the document and its importance in enhancing workplace safety including having numerous requirements that exceed those required by OSHA. For example, most safety professionals may not know that the IFC has more strict rules for conducting hot work than those found within many OSHA regulations. Other examples include regulations related to construction, demolition, exiting, space heater use, and hazardous materials use, storage, and handling. And the list goes on and on.
This paper will discuss the code adoption process, demonstrate how to navigate within the IFC, and identify specific areas where the safety professional can use the IFC to enhance their safety programs and risk reduction efforts.
Walls (2014) identifies that with its 52,000 members, the ICC is one of the most important organizations that develop model codes for use by various governmental bodies. The organization is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that produces 15 coordinated and correlated codes which are updated and released every three years (Walls, 2014). Prior to the formation of the ICC and the development of its International Codes, a number of other model codes were used by various jurisdictions within the United States. One of the most notable of the model codes was the Uniform Codes that included the Uniform Building Code and Uniform Fire Code. Between 1995 and 1999, historic meetings between the three model code organizations took place with the goal of developing a single unified system of codes for use in the United States and other countries resulting in an adopted set of International Codes released in 2000 (Pauls, 2000). These model codes have formed the standard for use in most areas of the United States and in many other countries.