With more states and municipalities adopting the International Code Council model codes as their building codes, the inquiry I received the other day from a manufacturer of a thin film fireproofing product in Ohio did not come as a big surprise to me. The caller had been informed by a distributor that the Ohio building code officials were now requiring inspection of thin film applications be performed in accordance with the requirements in AWCI Technical Manual 12-B, Standard Practice for the Testing and Inspection of Field Applied Thin-Film Intumescent Fire-Resistive Materials; an Annotated Guide.
The caller’s question was, How did a document from a trade association of drywall contractors become a part of the building code? To answer his question I had to give him some background on the code development process as well as the model code that Ohio has adopted.
The 2006 International Building Code is the model code for the Ohio Building Code. The IBC is a compilation of the three legacy codes with which we are all familiar: BOCA, Southern Building Code and the Uniform Building Code. This was an effort to develop a nationwide building code. The basis of the many requirements for the IBC and the International Residential Code are references to Consensus Standards. There are also industry standards, but these are not used in the I-Codes. It is important to know the difference between these two types of standards. The Office of Management and Budget in Circular No. A-119 provides the following explanation:
“Voluntary consensus standards bodies” are domestic or international organizations which plan, develop, establish, or coordinate voluntary consensus standards using agreed-upon procedures … “Voluntary, private sector, consensus standards bodies,” as cited in Act, is an equivalent term. The Act and the Circular encourage the participation of federal representatives in these bodies to increase the likelihood that the standards they develop will meet both public and private sector needs. A voluntary consensus standards body is defined by the following attributes: (i) Openness; (ii) Balance of interest; (iii) Due process; (vi) An appeals process; (v) Consensus, which is defined as general agreement, but not necessarily unanimity, and includes a process for attempting to resolve objections by interested parties, as long as all comments have been fairly considered, each objector is advised of the disposition of his or her objection(s) and the reasons why, and the consensus body members are given an opportunity to change their votes after reviewing the comments.
… Other types of standards, which are distinct from voluntary consensus standards, are the following: “Non-consensus standards,” “Industry standards,” “Company standards” or “de facto standards,” which are developed in the private sector but not in the full consensus process.
The consensus standards that we deal with most often are from the American Iron and Steel Institute and ASTM International Standards and Specifications. AWCI’s technical manual was developed under the consensus standards guidelines.
Unlike the legacy codes, the ICC decided to incorporate by reference standards instead of spelling out the requirements for many on the tasks required by the IBC and IRC. This allows the updating of these standards by the originating standards bodies. The ICC does require that when changes are made to the original standard that they be notified so the code can be updated in the next code revision cycle. This also makes the actual code books much lighter and thinner than the legacy codes were.
TM 12-B the other standards referenced in the IBC and IRC ended up in these model by going through the code hearing process that all changes to the code undergo. There will be others standards added as the ICC revises the codes in future years. This a heads up not only to our members in Ohio but to members in other states whose government will be adopting the model ICC codes as their state codes. It would be a good idea to start, if you do not already have one a technical library containing those standards that have an effect on the type of work that your company does. This will allow you to quickly produce as standard that substantiates the quality of your work when you are questions about a particular item by an inspector, general contractor or owner.
About the Author
Donald E. Smith, CCS, is AWCI’s director of technical services.