Navigating the International Building Code and the International Residential Code—and the fire protection requirements within each—can be somewhat challenging, to say the least.
For architects and engineers who are familiarizing themselves with the current fire protection requirements systems, here are some of the key terms you’ll come across:
“International Building Code”: The IBC “establishes minimum regulations for building systems using prescriptive and performance-related provisions.” Copyright is maintained by the International Code Council (ICC). “The International Building Code is kept up to date through a review of proposed changes submitted by code enforcing officials, industry representatives, design professionals, and other interested parties. Proposed changes are carefully considered through an open code development process in which all interested and affected parties may participate.” New editions of the code are released every three years, with the most recent version dated 2015.
Following the requirements of your locally adopted IRC is essential not only to ensure designs pass building inspections, but also to help ensure the longevity of homes and, most importantly, the safety of their occupants.
Class A, or 1, is defined as a value of 25 or less. These are almost always synthetic materials. Concrete has a value of 0. Fire-retardant-treated wood is required in Chapter 23 of the IBC to have a Class A rating.
Class B, or 2, is defined as a value of 26–75. Some naturally fire-resistant woods, such as redwood, fall into this category.
Class C, or 3, is defined as a value of 76–200. Most wood materials fall into this category.
It is important to note that flame spread does not measure burn-through resistance. A material can have a Class A rating for flame spread and very little burn-through resistance.
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