The Role of Codes and Standards in Fire Protection System Design

IAFF Learning Center

Building and Fire Safety Code Awareness Course

The goal of this course is to educate IAFF members on the importance of participating in code writing and adoption process. IAFF members are encouraged to use their firsthand knowledge of fire behavior to help write the fire and building codes that make sure our homes and workplaces provide the highest levels of protection against fire.

911 Never Again

This module reviews the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers and the National Institute of Standard and Technology’s study of the collapse. The module identifies specific code changes that were adopted as a result of the report and issued recommendations.

After completing this module the student will be able to:

  • Explain what the National Institute of Standards and Technology is and how it contributed to the understanding of the World Trade Center collapse;
  • Explain the risk of compromised egress in high rise buildings;
  • Understand the scope of casualties suffered on the 9/11 attacks in New York;
  • Explain the importance of maintaining egress routes;
  • Explain the importance of remote egress access;
  • Explain the changes to the current building and fire codes from the study of the 9/11 attacks;
  • Identify the specific code changes that were adopted based on the NIST Report of the Collapse of the World Trade Center towers;
  • Explain how wider stairwells benefit occupant egress times;
  • Identify changes to occupant and fire service elevators;
  • Identify the changes to radio signal strength and fire command centers

How Code Becomes Law

This module will explain the processes involved with change code provisions for both the National Fire Protection Association and the International Code Council. It will further describe the required steps for the code to be adopted into local law.

After completing this module the student will be able to:

  • Identify the two code entities who publish the National Codes;
  • Explain the step-by-step process of how a code change proposal is introduced, discussed and voted upon for the International Code Council process;
  • Explain the step-by-step process of how a code change proposal is introduced, discussed and voted upon for the National Fire Protection Association process;
  • Explain how once a code change proposal is adopted into the model code it becomes enforceable as local law.

Give Us 30 Minutes Back

This module will present various residential floor construction systems and the fire performances of these floors under fire conditions. It will also provide information regarding the Intent of the International Residential Code, the difference in the performance of legacy furniture and modern furniture under fire conditions and the steps taken by the IAFF in requiring the protection of lightweight constructed floors.

After completing this module the student will be able to:

  • Describe the highlighted incident leading to efforts to protect lightweight construction;
  • Explain what is considered truss construction;
  • Describe the weak link of a truss construction system;
  • Describe an Engineered I-joist;
  • Describe the difference in time to flashover between Legacy furniture and Modern furniture;
  • Describe the components of modern furniture;
  • Describe the building materials or components of a modern residential home;
  • Explain the impact of fire on residential structural components;
  • Describe NIOSH recommendations for the protection of lightweight wood trusses;
  • Explain the Intent of the International Residential code;
  • Explain the steps taken by the IAFF for the adoption of the 2012 language in the International Residential Code for residential floor systems;
  • List the test conducted by specific entities to produce the required technical justification;
  • Describe recent furnace tests on lightweight structural components;
  • Explain the difference between older wood joists versus newer wood joists.

Learning from Tragedy

This module will describe two specific incidents with different outcomes yet both have lessons in code participation and structural protection including the need for a balanced approach to fire protection.

After completing this module the student will be able to:

  • Describe a tragic fire in Texas where two fire fighters died plus subsequent code change proposals that were disapproved based on the fire;
  • Describe the outcome of a high rise fire in California;
  • Explained lessons learned from the Interstate Bank Building in California;
  • Complete questions on code violations.

Improving Fire Fighter Workplace

This module explains the difference between the fire fighter’s workplace and their staging area. The module also explains steps fire fighters can take to improve their own work environment. We will also discuss specific safety issues such as door closers, egress windows and residential sprinklers.

After completing this module the student will be able to:

  • Describe what is the fire fighter’s work place;
  • Describe what is the fire fighter’s staging area;
  • Explain three ways to improve occupants safety;
  • Explain how often fire escapes shall be inspected;
  • Know when egress window requirements were established for fire fighter safety;
  • Explain how vinyl siding and foam insulation products are tested for flame spread ratings;
  • Explain how automatic door closers can improve fire safety;
  • Describe some actions fire fighters can take to improve safety;
  • Explain the importance of residential sprinklers on fire growth;
  • Identify a number of sprinkler myths;
  • Explain the Fire Sprinkler Act and time table for adoption.

Green Building

This module will describe various aspects of Green Construction and the safety concern for responding fire fighters.

After completing this module the student will be able to:

  • Describe Green Building’s use of energy consumption versus traditional construction;
  • Describe a Roof Garden;
  • Describe maximum dimensions and weight limits permitted for roof gardens;
  • Describe a photovoltaic system and the associated risks to fire fighters during operations;
  • Explain where requirements for photovoltaic systems can be found in the codes;
  • Describe the insulation factors of foam insulation and associated risks inherent to fire fighters;
  • Describe complications within the codes concerning foam insulation;
  • Explain four additional concerns in Green Construction for fire fighter safety.

Put It Out There Three Times

This module will describe the basic three forms of protection from fire. It will also describe fire growth relative to modern furniture, the importance of residential sprinklers and the value of early detection methods.

After completing this module the student will be able to:

  • Describe three ways of fighting fire;
  • Provide the definition of suppression;
  • Describe a second form of suppression method;
  • Provide the definition of Redundancy;
  • Describe the difference in time to flashover between a room with legacy furniture and modern furniture;
  • Describe the impact of a sprinkler system versus a non-protected area in a night club setting;
  • Identify sprinkler myths;
  • Describe the escape time residential sprinklers are designed to provide occupants in a one- or two-family homes;
  • Describe additional sprinkler technologies;
  • Describe three forms of detection technologies;
  • Provide the Standard establishing the installation of smoke alarms;
  • Describe the difference in detection technology between Ionization and Photoelectric Smoke Alarms;
  • Describe the difference in how foam insulation is tested and how it is installed;
  • Explain how Prevention techniques protect fire fighters;
  • Describe the Interstate Bank Building fire and how the insulation may have protected the structural integrity of the building.

This module will describe how to prepare for a code hearing and the importance of the National Fire Incident Reporting System and how it impacts the fire service.

After completing this module the student will be able to:

  • Explain the steps in how to prepare for a code hearing;
  • Describe what the National Fire Incident Reporting System is;
  • Describe how completing the NFIRS assists fire fighter safety.

Learn the Language

This module will cover common terminology within the codes. Students will learn various applicable test standards, acronyms and terms that apply to aspects of the codes processes.

After completing this module students will be able to:

  • Explain various test standards;
  • Define fire-resistance rating;
  • Explain the ICC;
  • Define what how a mini/maxi state applies the code provisions;
  • What are the parameters of the NFPA 285 test standard;
  • Define a NITMAM;
  • Describe the five types of construction;
  • Utilize flash cards for study purposes.