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Code Committee Members
The mission of the Code Committee is to develop the Minnesota fire code on an ongoing basis, to maintain an active posture of participation in a national model code process, to provide a forum for the identification, discussion and preparation of recommendations for fire code related issues submitted by any interested parties and to provide for the review of fire code related decisions.
2012 Code Committee - Luke Stemmer
As I said last year because of the skipped code cycle it looked like the upcoming year would be a busy year for the Code Committee; I wasn’t disappointed. I was focusing on the State Fire Code which by itself is the most amended code in the State, and forgot to take into consideration the impact that changes in the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Code (IRC) all have on each other. Something as simple as changing a word in a definition that is used in all three codes means that the two other codes must also be changed, if the other committees agree with the original change, which I learned is not always the case. That said I can say that after many meetings and much discussion, along with an incredible amount of work by members of the State Fire Marshal’s office, the amended draft of the 2012 State Fire Code has been given to the State Fire Marshal for his review and submittal to the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) as it continues along its adoption process. A process that will likely include a public hearing and a trip to an administrative law judge. So at this point it is far from done but on its way.
After many attempts by the fire service to meet and discuss residential sprinklers with the Builders Association it appears that at this point compromise is not going to be an option. It is expected that the builders will continue to attack the installation of residential sprinklers during the code adoption process. As I have stated before there has been some confusion as to what code the residential sprinkler requirements are actually in. It is not the Fire Code but the International Residential Code (IRC) that contains the language that everyone finds so offensive. For a cost of less than two dollars a square foot, $4,000 for a new 2000 square foot, a home and the family in it can be protected for the life of the structure, even if its water supply is a well.
This is not just an urban issue, as daytime staffing issues and increased costs for fire protection continue to impact the fire service Statewide we must look at ways to lower costs and allow for response of minimum staffed apparatus. Building fire protection into all structures with sprinkler systems puts the responsibility onto the building owner and not the municipalities and the firefighters that protect them.
I remember when the Federal government was first requiring air bags in automobiles; the auto industry was screaming that it would drive the cost of a car up to where no one could afford to purchase one. Now because of public demand they are advertising that they have more air bags than the competition, a cost which is born by the new owner.
So where is the public demand in Minnesota for residential sprinklers? For that matter where is the demand from the over 700 fire departments in the State? We know they will save lives. We know that the new houses today built with light weight construction will become the old houses of tomorrow. So why isn’t the fire service out pounding the streets proclaiming the greatness of this new over a hundred year old invention? We should be.
Remember that just like seat belts save lives, sprinklers save lives. Please buckle up when going to fires and support the installation of sprinklers in all buildings.
Luke Stemmer, Chair MSFCA Code Committee
The Code Committee is made up of several dedicated people from several different disciplines. We usually meet once a month for about a half day in Maple Grove. We are always looking for chiefs with an interest in fire prevention and the codes, in particular chiefs from the greater Minnesota area. If you are interested in joining the Code Committee, please call me. We are looking to diversify the knowledge base of the committee with representation from as many applicable organizations as possible. I would recommend this learning experience to anyone. You don’t need to be a “code nerd” to get involved!
If you have any recommendations or questions, please contact Code Committee Chair Luke Stemmer at work: 952-924-2596 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The committee will help you as best as we can.
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