By: Roosevelt DaCosta

1.    The International Fire Code (IFC) comprehensively addresses issues to prevent fires as well as to
      extinguish them. It accomplishes the task of maximizing fire safety in buildings by ensuring that:
      i) Proposed buildings are designed to minimize the likelihood of fire and to facilitate quick as
           well as safe escape of occupants in case of a fire.
      ii) If fire does occur systems are in place to detect, locate and fight them so as to minimize
           their harmful effects on the buildings itself but more importantly to minimize their harmful
           impact on the health and safety of building occupants.
      iii) Permits are required for a wide range of activities and businesses having significant fire
           potential so fire experts can review planned operations and influence their safety level prior
           to the start of operation.
      iv) Buildings are designed and constructed so all sections are easily accessible to fire-fighting
           even if special access-ways for fire-fighting equipment are required.
      v) Effective fire fighting operational plans and personnel are in place for business and
           multistory residential buildings so in case of a fire, building occupants are trained and
           constrained to follow proven fire escape plans. AGREED

2.    The IFC covers the abovementioned issues under topics such as “General Precautions Against
      Fire”, “Emergency Planning and Preparedness”, “Fire Service Features”, „Building Services and
      Systems”, “Fire-Resistance-Rated Construction”, “Fire Protection Systems”, “Means of Egress”,
      “Aviation Facilities”, “Dry Cleaning”, “Fire Safety during Construction and Demolition”,
      “Flammable Finishes”, “Fruit and Crop Ripening”, “Fumigation and Thermal Insecticidal
      Fogging”, “Lumber Yards and Woodworking Facilities”, “Motor Fuel-Dispensing Facilities and
      Repair Garages”, “Tents, Canopies and other Membrane Structures”, “Explosives and
      Fireworks”, “Flammable Gases” and “Water-Reactive Solids and Liquids”. AGREED

3.    The IFC is extremely well written and relevant to Jamaica and so very little changes were needed
      for us to adopt it as our code. Changes made to the IFC have been more by additional
      requirements and in very few cases upgrading or lowering requirements.[Example - minimum on
      premises fuel supply for standby power generators have been upgraded from 2 to 3 hours at full
      demand . AGREED

4.    Despite the fact that many of our existing buildings do not meet some key requirements of the
      IFC, local code reviewers readily identified with the necessity for some provisions in the IFC and
      recommended adoption of these requirements examples of which are the need for:
      -     Buildings to be constructed so they are accessible from all sides for fire fighting purposes.
      -     Large buildings to be constructed so that they provide an area for assembly outside of
            harms way for occupants evacuated because of fire or some other disaster. Such assembly
            area shall not be the street.
      -     Large buildings to have sufficient exits to accommodate the quick exit of its occupants in
            case of a fire or other disaster.
     -       The need to have fire escapes that offer a minimum of 20 minutes to escapees before
             becoming unusable. To be referred to the Fire Regulation Act.. There was also a
             recommendation that a guideline and an operational manual be submitted for approval.

5.   The IFC Application Document adopted the IFC provisions for a wide range of businesses to
     obtain permit to operate aerosol products manufacturing; amusement buildings; aviation
     facilities; carnivals and fairs; battery systems; combustible dust-producing operations;
     compressed gases filling or manufacturing; malls or shops offering highly combustible goods, or
     liquid and gas-fired equipment for sale or use open flame or flame-producing equipment; cutting
     and welding facilities; dry cleaning plants; exhibits and trade shows; explosives sales as well as
     a wide range of businesses utilizing or manufacturing flammable and combustible solids, liquids
     and gases such as lumber yards, gasoline and LPG. Code Reviewers felt that despite the absence
     of existing Acts and Regulations to cover the operations of some of the businesses mentioned,
     the principle of obtaining an operational permit was crucial to the Local Authorities protecting
     the public‟s safety and health. It was felt that it was best for these requirements to be left in the
     code and allow the legislation to catch up with the requirements. AGREED

6.   The IFC Application Document requires under Section 405 dealing with “Emergency Evacuation
     Drills” that an officer to be called the “Fire Safety Manager” be designated not just the training
     responsibilities outlined in the IFC but training responsibilities also for the following:

             The fire routine
             The action to be taken upon discovering a fire.
             Exits and exit routes control.
             Raising the alarm, including the location of alarm indicator panels.
             The action to be taken upon hearing the fire alarm.
             The arrangements for calling the Fire Service.
             The location, selection and use of fire-fighting equipment.
             Knowledge of the escape routes, refuges and exits, especially those not in regular use.
             Appreciation of the importance of fire doors and of the need to close all such doors at the
              time of a fire and on hearing the fire alarm.
             Process shutdown and shutting down non-essential equipment, stopping machines and
              processes as well as isolating power supplies where appropriate.
             Evacuation procedures.
             Evacuation of the building under fire (this should include reassuring members of the
              public, escorting them to exits and encouraging them to get well clear of the building).

     The Application Document has also recommended and outlined upgrading the functions of the
     Fire Safety Manager in regards to the fire prevention function section of his job. AGREED

7.   To ensure that systems respond properly in case of a fire emergency the Application Document
     recommends and details the tasks to be undertaken by the Fire Safety Manager. Tasks to be
     undertaken in the case of small buildings have been outlined and additional tasks required on
     larger buildings have been separately outlined. AGREED
8.    The IFC Application Document has allowed buildings in the A-3 category (assembly uses
      intended for worship, recreation or amusement) and A-4 category (assembly uses intended for
      viewing of indoor sporting events and activities with spectator seating) with exit doors at the
      same level as the fire area to have the choice of being fitted with twice the exit door requirement
      of the IFC instead of an automatic sprinkler system. The exit doors are required to be secured in
      the open position during the time the building area is in use. AGREED

9.    The IFC Application Document has added a clause requiring that where access-ways (doors) are
      grilled in all categories of buildings they should be releasable from the inside without a key or
      special device or more force than would normally be needed to operate an exit door. AGREED
      (except for correctional buildings) section 903.2.1.10 change shall to should

10.   The IFC has added a section in the chapter dealing with “Fire Safety During Construction and
      Demolition” giving designers of buildings the responsibility for specifying in their contract
      documents requirements for minimizing fire hazards during construction. The added section
      excludes designers from having any responsibility for construction site first aid and fire fighting
      during construction. AGREED

11.   Unlike the IFC that allows spray finishing, which may be flammable, to be done in Assembly,
      Educational, Institutional and Residential type building occupancies provided it is contained in a
      room fitted with an automatic sprinkler system, the IFC Application Document only allows spray
      rooms in these type building occupancies if the buildings are of non-combustible construction.

12.   Unlike the IFC that allows dipping operations, which may be flammable, to be done in
      Assembly, Institutional and Residential type building occupancies provided it is contained in a
      room fitted with an automatic sprinkler system, the IFC Application Document only allows
      dipping rooms fitted to IFC specifications in these type building occupancies if the buildings are
      of non-combustible construction. AGREED

13.   The notice period for person occupying a building to temporarily vacate to facilitate fumigation
      and fogging has been upgraded by the IFC Application Document from 24 to 72 hours.
      AGREED Refer to the Fire Regulation Act.

14.   The period for reporting lost explosive material from a magazine or permitted facility has been
      reduced from 24 hours in the IFC to 8 hours in the IFC Application Document. AGREED( refer
      to the police and or the local Fire Code Official) Section 3303.3

15.   Appendices on Board of Appeal, Fire Flow Requirements for Buildings, Fire Hydrant Locations
      and Distribution, Fire Apparatus Access Roads, Hazard Categories, Hazard Ranking and
      Cryogenic Fluids – Weights and Volume Equivalents have been customized for Jamaican
      conditions and have been left in code subject to the New National Building Act and Regulations
      choosing to make them mandatory requirements or not. AGREED
16.   Several US Acts, Regulations, Standards, responsible officers and practices have been replaced
      by the appropriate Jamaican counterpart. AGREED (suggestion was made that the Jamaican
      ones be listed/stated.)

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