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Collaboration yields successful code revisions

On the Job, Safety & Codes | August 1, 2016 | By:

F-CAC work group is a key factor in the code revision process for tents, membrane structures and outdoor assembly events.

The International Code Council (ICC) Committee Action Hearings were held in Louisville, Ky., in April. During the International Fire Code (IFC) hearings, stakeholders representing IFAI’s Tent Rental Division (TRD), the ICC Fire Code Action Committee (F-CAC), fire and building code officials and other interested parties worked diligently to achieve consensus on 13 code change proposals related to tents, membrane structures and outdoor assembly events. [Editor’s note: the results of the Committee Action Hearing were published in the June–July 2016 issue of InTents and can be read at]

The Committee Action Hearings are the first of a two-part code development process. After the hearings, the process allows for public comment, culminating in the Public Comment Hearings in October. Here is background on the process of updating codes and the stakeholders involved in the process:

The F-CAC was appointed by the ICC Board of Directors to review the 2015 I-Codes and develop code change proposals for the next edition (2018 I-Codes) for any matters of concern to the fire service.

The F-CAC roster includes members from the International Association of Fire Chiefs–Fire and Life Safety Section Executive Board, the National Association of State Fire Marshals, National Volunteer Fire Council and other fire service representatives, building officials and industry code experts. Under the leadership of chairman Michael O’Brian and vice chairman Andy King, with administrative support by ICC Technical Services staff, the F-CAC generated dozens of code change proposals for the 2018 IFC.

To address the growing safety concerns related to tents, temporary structures and special outdoor events, the F-CAC formed a work group (Tents and Special Event Work Group) of technical
experts. This work group consisted of F-CAC and TRD representatives, other tent industry stakeholders and fire code officials representing both small and large jurisdictions and different
regions of the country.

Working under direction of the F-CAC, this group focused on recent tent and temporary structure failures related to weather conditions and other factors and reviewed common failure causes, safety issues and the established industry “best practices.” This stakeholder group worked for about six months to develop a complementary set of code change proposals for the IFC. The proposals were presented to the F-CAC in December 2015, and all were submitted through the ICC formal code development process in January. These proposals were debated at the ICC Committee Action Hearings in April.

The Tents and Special Event Work Group held two conference call meetings in June to develop a public comment for proposal F310-16 to address specific concerns raised by the IFC Technical Committee and others that testified in Louisville. This proposal relates to adding the IFAI staking study to the IFC appendix.

The deadline for public comments on the code proposals approved at the April hearing was in July. The Public Comment Hearing in October in Kansas City, Mo., will review all proposals that received a public comment. Registration is now open on the ICC website, and attendance is free.
As we move forward, the tent industry and code officials have a great opportunity to work together to ensure public safety at outdoor public events and whenever tents and/or other temporary structures are erected. The new code requirements developed by the Tents and Special Event Work Group and ultimately approved through the ICC governmental member consensus process will take effect after 2018, as states and jurisdictions update to the 2018 model IFC.
These new code requirements are just the first step in achieving better public safety. Training and education is necessary so that all segments of the tent and special event industry and the responsible code officials know and understand how to achieve code compliance and an acceptable level of public safety for all events, large and small. Through local and national collaboration between the industry and code officials, we can achieve the ultimate goal of public safety and a consistent application of code requirements and best practices.

Bruce Johnson is a UL senior regulatory engineer and former fire marshal. Johnson chairs the F-CAC Tents and Special Event Work Group.

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