The final step in building code development of the International Code Council is the Final Action Hearing. These hearings were held in Port-land, Oregon on October 24-28. Of interest to EIMA at these hearings were several proposed code changes that would, in essence, circumvent the requirement for fire resistance testing pursuant to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 285. NFPA 285 provides fire test methods for evaluation of fire propagation characteristics of exterior non-load-bearing wall assemblies containing combustible components.
The proposed code changes would enable building designers to specify non-compliance, untested water resistive barriers (WRBs) in the building envelope. EIMA opposed these proposed code changes and contributed to their defeat during the initial Code Development Hearings last May. The reasons why EIMA opposed these change were because the WRBs that the designers want to use are non-compliant and, in some cases, not intended for use in vertical assemblies and be-cause exterior wall assemblies with combustible components need to be tested.
Supporting these code changes were the American Institute of Architects and the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Building Envelope Technology and Environment Council (BETEC). AIA and BETEC offered the code change since designers wanted to provide innovative, un-tested designs while relying on a revised code with a less than reliable fire safety requirement while accommodating these designs.
Also, the proponents said that the requirements for fire testing were very confusing. Methods that the AIA/BETEC alliance advocated to achieve fire safety in lieu of testing were the use of fire blocking and use of sprinklers (During the hearings, it was cited.
Methods that the AIA/BETEC alliance advocated to achieve fire safety in lieu of testing were the use of fireblocking and use of sprinklers (During the hearings, there were varying degrees of reliability of sprinklers cited. Some wit-nesses said 85% and some said 98% with a few in between.)