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Questions on Adopting your Code

Referenced Standards, What Applies

This question was posed by one of our readers and we thought we would turn it over to you the experts!  In order to properly enforce a model building or fire code, it must be formally adopted by the governing body of the municipality where the enforcement occurs.

The adoption process typically occurs when an ordinance is enacted which states the code document which will be utilized and it indicates which additions or deletions to the document will take place.

Codes refer to other codes or standards through out the code text as “referenced standards.”  For Instance in section 903 of the International Building Code (IBC) it refers the user to the International Fire Code (IFC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard for the Design and Installation of Automatic Sprinkler Systems (13) for the installation of sprinkler systems.

The statement in 903 of the IBC is not intended to give the building code official the full use of the IFC, just the specifically referenced section.  This is clarified in section 102.7 of the IFC (Similar code text in NFPA or other I-Code documents)

102.7 Referenced codes and standards. The codes and standards referenced in this code shall be those that are listed in Chapter 47 and such codes and standards shall be considered part of the requirements of this code to the prescribed extent of each such reference. Where differences occur between the provisions of this code and the referenced standards, the provisions of this code shall apply.

So the question becomes as a municipality do you adopt the documents individually, as a code group, or do you just enforce the referenced standards as necessary.

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{ 5 comments… add one }

  • KELLY REYNOLDS January 4, 2010, 12:27 pm

    The reference standards are automatically adopted when you adopt the code. However, each Code (IFC, IMC, IPC, etc.) must be adopted individually.

  • Paul Dove January 5, 2010, 9:49 am

    It has always been my understanding of code administration that one can only apply a referenced code or standard (section) that has been “specifically” referenced through a legally adopted code or ordinance. The fact that an adopted driving code references a specific code or standard section does not give one the ability to use the entire code or standard for regulation unless the adoption specifically permits the use of the entire document. Personally, I had a similar debate regarding a state’s adopted building code (lets say IBC) and it’s references to NFPA 72. The state’s code administrator was under the impression that the state building code could use all sections of the entire NFPA alarm code as they saw fit. My argument was not unless the entire document was specifically referenced by their building code’s administrative rules or adoption language while pointing out what sections were specifically referenced in the (Referenced Chapter of IBC and IFC for NFPA 72). Funny, the debate never went further and they never got back to me.

    If a jurisdiction or it’s regulatory officials don’t like a fact that the driving or model code does not address a situational matter or a specific situation and they would like to create greater regulatory means; they would need to modify or amend the model code through a locally specific ordinance adoption process or apply to their state code administration for allowance to exceed a minimum adopted code those areas where a state legislated mini-maxi scenario exists in states that dictate how a locally adopted code is to be applied.

  • In the State of CT the referenced standards are adopted simply by their being cited in the base code that is adopted. The referenced standard is only applicable to the specific requirement or situation for which it is cited. The entire standard document is not adopted.

  • Paul Pomaville January 8, 2010, 11:29 am

    I have a question i hope someone can HELP with . what rules and or regulations do railroads fall under ? for being exempt from DEQ and billing for fire services

  • Paul Dove January 11, 2010, 12:30 pm

    Excellent question and you could possibly research PA 74 of 2006 (Section 259 of 462.259) for law pertaining to fire loss or incident and the responsibility for restitution:
    Page 12:


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