government affairs blog

AAIA Takes on the Complex Realm of Building and Fire Codes

Posted by David Pinkham on April 19, 2013

The earliest building codes date back to Babylonian times when it was decreed that builders should be put to death should one of their structures collapse. While the punishment for violating the code in this day and age isn’t quite as severe, the complexity of today’s codes and the fact that they are constantly changing often results in businesses falling behind in their compliance efforts. AAIA has begun to monitor the wide array of standards and codes, specifically those addressing fire hazards, in an attempt to assist our members in complying with the law.

It is difficult to fully explain the complex process by which these regulations come into being, but the gist of it has to do with federal, state and local governments adopting rules recommended by non-governmental organizations, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Code Council (ICC). The NFPA, established in 1896, is a membership-based organization that develops and publishes more than 300 standards aimed at addressing fire risks prevalent in buildings and certain processes. The ICC, established nearly a century later in 1994, is a non-profit group devoted to creating and updating a single set of codes, such as the International Building Code and International Fire Code, which reference hundreds of standards, some of which come from NFPA, and are used in the construction of new buildings. Both of these organizations rely on committees made up of volunteers from industry, manufacturers of safety equipment and full-time code officials, all of which deliberate over comments from the public on specific standards and discuss potential changes to the code.

In order to stay on top of the ever-changing fire codes that impact the aftermarket, AAIA is working with Marshall Klein, P.E., of Marshall A. Klein & Associates, Inc. Klein has more than 30 years of experience serving on a variety of NFPA and ICC committees while also handling personal consultations with aftermarket businesses that experience compliance problems. While you may already have your own way of complying with the various codes, it helps to have someone like Klein on the inside to ensure that our industry has input on these discussions. He also provides us with a heads-up on changes to the code so that our members can be prepared before any revisions go into place.

Why is having input on fire codes important? Whether it is a distribution or repair facility, a substantial portion of our membership must adhere to a set of strict fire standards that are constantly in flux. For warehouses, sprinkler requirements based on the type and height of the commodity stored, as well as special storage height limits for flammable liquids, are two matters of compliance that are far-reaching and continue to be modified. In terms of repair shops, the storage and use requirements for flammable and combustible liquids, ventilation of flammable vapors, and electrical wiring are all serious issues that must be taken into account a daily basis.

We hope that this newly-acquired expertise will serve as a valuable benefit to our membership. If you would like additional information about any of these matters or are in the process of having to comply with any new regulation, feel free to reach out to us at