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As the pace of wildfire season increases throughout the United States, the International Code Council (ICC), developer of the widely used and highly regarded set of building safety codes and standards, is emphasizing the importance of fire safety through its three newly released fire prevention titles — 2021 IWUIC Code and Commentary, Significant Changes to the International Fire Code, 2021 Edition, and the 2019 California Fire Code Amendments Handbook.
This is critical as the Congressional Research Service, citing Wildland Fire Summary and Statistics from the National Interagency Coordination Center (updated May 2021), reports that since 1960 the three largest wildfires in total acreage burned have occurred in the last five years. The report also notes people are increasingly finding themselves within or moving to wildland urban interface (WUI) zones. The WUI is defined by the U.S. Fire Administration as areas where human-made structures and infrastructure are in or adjacent to areas prone to wildfires.
The following three new publications each address a critical component of wildfire and fire safety and prevention:
“The troubling trend of more frequent and destructive wildfires, coupled with moderate to extreme drought in several states, has put a spotlight on the need for innovative and comprehensive building codes and standards that address wildfire prevention and building safety,” said Dominic Sims, ICC chief business officer and CEO. “It is important that the building safety community continues to seek ways to improve our codes and standards, while imploring local and state governments to adopt these advanced codes to keep their communities protected.”
The federal government requires its construction and FEMA-assisted reconstruction in the wildland-urban interface to adhere to the IWUIC, and according to the National Institute of Building Sciences, retrofitting 2.5 million homes in the WUI to the 2018 edition of the IWUIC could provide a nationwide benefit-cost ratio as high as $8 to $1.
With the duration of wildfire season extending across the U.S. and the consequences becoming more severe, communities must work to adopt and implement the most up-to-date building codes to help prevent wildfires.