Why Do Homes Have Building Codes?

Published on: Feb 18 2014 by Austin Dopp

Washington_Monument,_Washington,_D.C._USA3Have you ever wondered why Washington, D.C. has almost no skyscrapers? Or why public restrooms have handicap accessible stalls? For that matter, have you ever wondered why most homes are built with wood, brick, or stucco instead of earth or clay?

 

Local building codes contain the answer to all these questions. Washington, D.C. has a building code that prohibits buildings over 150 feet — the Washington Monument, at 550 feet, has a special exemption! Building codes also mandate the minimum size of a public restroom stall and list what materials you can — and cannot — use when building your house.

 

fire-code-1Many building codes are designed to protect residents from fires. In many states, homes are required to have a fire alarm or smoke detector to alert those inside. Stores and restaurants also have emergency exits so that customers can quickly escape in the event of a fire.

 

Building codes often contain special requirements based on past experience. These requirements may seem surprising and unnecessary, but could have prevented major fires in the past.

 

For instance, many building codes require a minimum distance between homes. The distance between two houses may not seem related to fire safety, but it is required to prevent fires from spreading between buildings.

 

Modern building codes were created after the Great Fire of London swept through the city, destroying over ninety percent of London’s homes. This fire did so much damage because homes were built close together. With little space between homes, flames spread quickly. After the fire, builders decided to maintain a minimum distance to prevent similar disasters in the future.

 

occupancyOccupancy limits are another surprising example of a building code that to protects occupants from fires. Many restaurants, stores, and even elevators list the maximum number of people allowed in a space. It may not seem like a few more customers could be dangerous, but crowded spaces mean that people can easily become trapped in a fire.

 

A fire in a New Jersey nightclub in 2004 showed what could happen when occupancy limits were ignored. The rock band Great White was performing at the Station nightclub when fireworks set the stage on fire. One hundred people died in the fire and the stampede that followed. Later, investigators found that the overcrowded area contributed to the high number of deaths.

 

Requirements for fire exits in businesses and apartment complexes prevent fires from becoming major public tragedies. These building codes may seem unnecessary or unrelated to fire safety. However, many of these building codes are a way of preventing future disasters.

 

EcoFoil reflective InsulationOne way to prevent fire-related disasters is to use insulation products that limit the spread of flames as well as have a minimal amount of smoke in the event of a fire.  Foam board insulation is required by most building codes to be covered by a spark inhibitor due to the large amounts of thick, black smoke it produces when it is burning. In the event of a fire this smoke can make it difficult, if not impossible to exit a burning building. Products such as drywall or reflective insulation are recommended for covering foam insulation.

 

EcoFoill reflective insulation has been certified with a Class 1/Class A fire rating in accordance to ASTM E84-09 and passes the NFPA-286 full burn room test.  This allows EcoFoil to be used in agricultural buildings, commercial buildings, and homes.  It is also a code compliant covering for foam board insulation.  You can see for yourself how EcoFoil fireproof reflective insulation passes the burn room test in the video below.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDcvNA0Eb6s&w=416&h=312]

 

If you would like to learn more or order EcoFoil fire resistant reflective insulation visit www.ecofoil.com or call 888-349-3645.

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