NAHB Helps Stop Code Change that Would Have Hit Trade Show Exhibitors

Codes and Standards

A proposed change to the International Fire Code (IFC) was disapproved at the International Code Council’s (ICC) Committee Action Hearing earlier this week after a coalition organized by NAHB testified that the change was unnecessary and would have imposed stringent new requirements and administrative burdens on conventions and their exhibitors, including some of those at the International Builders’ Show (IBS).

The coalition included organizers of major conventions such as IBS and the Consumer Electronic Show and venue operators such as the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

“IBS exhibitors are a very important part of the NAHB federation,” said NAHB CEO Jerry Howard. “Our staff identified this issue, and we quickly sprang into action to protect our exhibitors from these new onerous requirements.”

At issue was a proposal to move an existing appendix in the IFC that applies to indoor trade shows and exhibitions to the main body of the code, making it automatically part of the IFC when adopted by the jurisdiction. The appendix requires exhibitors with large covered or multi-level booths to obtain additional permits, inspections and site plan reviews by local engineers, and meet other stringent requirements including temporary fire alarms and automatic fire sprinklers in the booths.

Large convention centers already have extensive processes in place to ensure fire safety. Booth plans are already subject to review and many facilities, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, have fire marshals and other local fire officials onsite before and during a show.

If approved, the provisions on indoor trade shows and exhibitions would have become part of the main body of the 2024 International Fire Code, meaning any jurisdictions adopting the 2024 code would have automatically adopted the provisions. By leaving these requirements in the appendix, jurisdictions must specifically opt to include them in their code as part of the code adoption process.

Clark County, Nevada, did adopt certain elements of the appendix in late 2019. After an uproar from show organizers, the jurisdiction suspended the rules later that year. Although the enforcement was halted before IBS 2020, there was great confusion among many large IBS exhibitors as they were preparing to comply with the rules.

The proposal was ultimately defeated by a 10-4 vote of the ICC’s International Fire Code Development Committee.

NAHB will continue to work vigorously for all members of the federation to ensure building codes and regulations are both safe and affordable.

For more on the fire code, contact Gary Ehrlich. For more on the codes process, contact Craig Drumheller.

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