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IAFC and IBHS Urge Congress to Enact Federal Building Code Measure

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) joined the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) in calling upon the House of Representatives and the Senate today to enact the Safe Building Code Incentive Act (SBCIA), which provides financial incentives for states to adopt and enforce strong building codes. The SBCIA was introduced in the House and Senate today.

“There is no question among first responders, and the fire service in particular, that strong building codes provide vital life safety protection during natural disasters such as wildfires,” said Chief Hank Clemmensen, IAFC president and chairman of the board.

“Every part of our country is vulnerable to one or more potentially devastating natural hazards – and that is why improving disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery should be a national priority,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “Enactment of the SBCIA is important, because thirty-four states currently do not put the power of modern building science to work for their homeowners, businesses and taxpayers. Every American community deserves to be covered by modern building codes – and that would significantly improve our nation’s safety and resilience over time.”

This bill would provide qualifying states with an additional four percent of funding available for post-disaster assistance if they utilize nationally recognized model building codes. Specifically, states would need to adopt and enforce the International Residential Code (IRC) from either of the most recent two updates (2012 or 2009). 

“The fire and emergency services know that model commercial and residential building and fire codes serve as a key to mitigating the damage done by fires and other events,” continued Clemmensen. “They will help prevent the tragic loss caused by extreme weather and natural disasters, which is why we support the SBCIA.”

May 7 to 10 is an important week in the nation’s capital, with multiple events focusing on disaster preparedness, response capability, mitigation and building codes.

  • Thousands of firefighters and Fire Service officials are joining together for the Congressional Fire Service Institute’s (CFSI) annual meetings and dinner. 
  • The Senate Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations and District of Columbia Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “The Role of the Private Sector in Preparedness and Emergency Response” on May 8.
  • CFSI and the national BuildStrong Coalition are hosting a National Thought Leaders Forum on May 9, focusing on the effectiveness of strong building codes and the steps the nation should take to better mitigate the impact of natural disasters.

“All of these events focus needed attention on a severe problem in our nation,” Rochman noted. “Extreme weather events continue to pummeling homes and businesses across our nation year after year. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 25 major disasters during the past two years each cause more than $1 billion in economic losses. The huge financial cost of these events is staggering, but the larger, more tragic costs are the thousands of shattered and lost lives. Encouraging the widespread adoption and enforcement of strong building codes at the state level will save lives, protect property and ultimately reduce taxpayer exposure to natural disasters.”

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