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IBC vs NFPA 5000 - Was: Calif and the ICC

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Fellow Engineers,
For California engineers, there is no need to be alarmed whether the state adopts IBC or NFPA code, as both reference industry standard specifications - ACI, AISC, NDS, ASCE, NEHRP, and so on. At many instances, these standards, IBC, or NFPA are not as stringent as UBC in many regards. So, california will have to modify them to create California specific code. The much touted "one nation - one code" is practically never going to happen because every region, has its own requirements.
There has been much negative publicity about NFPA code. Rather than POLITICS, it seems it is about groups of people trying to protect their turfs. What's wrong with Fire Marshals wanting to have code which is safer for themselves and people they serve, and are expert on the issues? For example, if it is safer for people and the rescuers to have minimum 8' high ceiling than 7'-6", then let us adopt the safest code. Afterall, how many Building Officials have died in duty, and how many of them are experts on structures or building sciences? I was told that only the building officials have voting rights regarding code ammendments etc, not ordinary members who may be experts on issues like structures, or fire; and that any member of NFPA has a voting right.  Someboy correct me if I am wrong.
No hard feeling toward ICBO, but it seems to me ICBO is nervous about California adopting NFPA because they will not reap the same profit as it is making now by selling the code which somebody else wrote for them, and charging for "Research" reports. 
Let the poor fire people also have some fun!

THunt(--nospam--at) wrote:


You need to take off your engineering hat and think politics and money.

The NFPA requires metal piping and in many parts of the country this is  required to be installed by Union workers.  The IBC allows plastic piping which in many parts of the country is installed by non-Union workers.  The plumbers unions have united to push the NFPA code since it is obviously in their best interest.  The plumbers union has MONEY and they have POLITICAL clout.  As I have mentioned before, California (at least for the next three months) has one of the most liberal back-door-dealing Democratic governors in the Country who is so bad his approval rating is lower than Nixon during Watergate and he is now in the process of being recalled.  He stacked the commission with his union backed loyalists.

Another group that supports the NFPA code are the fire marshals.  Within most municipalities the fire marshals have much more stroke than the chief building officials.  Remember, he has all the neat looking fire trucks.

From the federal level you have Ted Kennedy who is also a liberal democrat who owes his career to the Unions.  Note that the NFPA is headquartered in Massachusetts.  Ted Kennedy has been submitting legislation trying to force the federal government to be code non-specific.  This removes any lock the IBC may have had on the "one code for the country" and opens the door to the NFPA.

Thomas Hunt, S.E.
ABS Consulting

"Schwan, Martin K." <SchwanMK(--nospam--at)>

07/31/2003 06:35 PM

Please respond to

"'seaint(--nospam--at)'" <seaint(--nospam--at)>
RE: Calif and the ICC

I thought the intent of having one nation wide model code was so we didn't
have to learn several codes and if you cross a state or county line you did
have to play by a different set of rules.  Also didn't the government
"suggest" about 12 years ago to ICBO, BOCA, and SBCCI to get together on
this issue.  So what motivated NFPA (and IAPMO) to publish the NFPA 5000?
I'n not for (more) government regulations but it made sense to have one
model code.  

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Widmayer [mailto:SWidmayer(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2003 3:11 PM
To: Seaint (E-mail)
Subject: Calif and the ICC

The latest from ICC re Calif. adoption of the NFPA codes:

>Tuesday, the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) voted against
>recommending the International Codes (I-Codes) as the state's building
>safety and fire prevention codes; they did so in spite of strong support
>from state agencies and a coalition of private and public sector interests.
>This recent decision by the CBSC will have wide reaching negative
>consequences on the safety of the residents and businesses of California.
>As a result of an extensive review of model code options, the California
>Department of Housing and Community Development, Department of General
>Services Division of the State Architect and the Office of Statewide Health
>Planning Development supported adopting I-Codes.  These state agencies were
>joined in support by a coalition representing hundreds of California
>municipalities, fire departments, code enforcement officials, labor and
>professional organizations such as, the American Institute of Architects,
>Structural Engineers Association of California and Building Owners and
>Managers Association.
>"California has always been at the forefront of safety in the nation and we
>are dedicated to continuing our work with our members and partners to
>improve the codes in California; residents deserve to be as safe as
>in their homes, at school and in the buildings where they work," said James
>Lee Witt, CEO of the International Code Council.  "The ICC is disappointed
>in the decision, but we are not giving up.  We hope that the state agencies
>that recommended the adoption of the I-Codes will stand by their
>recommendations for the safety of the citizens of California."
>This recent decision could leave California as one of only two states that
>do not use I-Codes at the state or jurisdictional level. Federal agencies,
>including the Department of Defense, also reference and enforce the
>International Codes.
>International Codes are the logical successor of the Uniform Codes, which
>are the codes that been used in California for the past several decades.
>burden of the additional cost to retrain and recertify local government
>officials, who are already certified and familiar with the I-Codes, will
>fall on the California taxpayers.
>The preponderance of testimony clearly demonstrated the NFPA building code
>is deficient, unusable and unenforceable. However, in order to address one
>of the glaring deficiencies related to housing construction, the Commission
>decided to include provisions of the International Residential Code for One
>and Two Family Dwellings published by ICC.
>The ICC, a 50,000-member nonprofit association dedicated to building
>develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings,
>including homes and schools. The majority of U.S. cities, counties and
>states that adopt codes choose building safety and fire prevention codes
>developed by the ICC. The ICC is chartered in California and has an office
>in the Los Angeles area. For more information please visit

Steve Widmayer, PE

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