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A Code Success Story

If you know a first responder, firefighter, are one or have been one, you might recall some out-of-the-ordinary emergency calls. But there are the kind you never forget. In my early years on the fire department, I got one of those unforgettable, yet sadly recurring calls-one involving a storm door and a small child. The situation was always the same: Child running obliviously toward a storm door-then with outstretched arms and open hands, hits and breaks the glass. The hand smashes completely through, always resulting in severe injuries.

After surgery and with a lot of stitching, there were always scars; and in many cases, some loss of hand function. So along with marring, there would be life long disability, or at the very least, a permanent and visible reminder.

The code has provisions for specific hazardous locations where safety glass is required. The requirements extend not just to storm doors, but any door with glazing panels, with exceptions.

Most agree with the basic requirements for safety glazing. But, for many years the subject of which is more important-safety glazing or fire rating was a big question. The answer, of course, depended on which side of the issue was being supported. If it was fire protection, then fire rating was more important. If you worked in the area of building safety, for instance in a healthcare or other type of facility where there are young individuals, safety glazing would likely be more important.

Product suppliers, however, have been successful in making a product that addresses both concerns. The code industry responded with practical changes and exceptions that allow the requirements to work for everyone and still prevent injuries. We need only look back at the number of accidents and injuries there used to be compared to today to know safety glazing is one area which shows the code does work. And that makes this a real success story.

Richard A. Piccolo is president of B & F Technical Code Services, Inc. With more than 30 years in the building code and fire industry, Mr. Piccolo is a Master Code Professional, a Certified Building Official, a Certified Fire Official, a Certified Property Maintenance Inspector, a Certified Building Inspector, a Certified Plans Examiner, an Illinois Certified Fire Inspector and a Certified Firefighter III. He has helped write building and fire codes for the state of Illinois as well as a number of municipalities.
B & F Technical Code Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 957648
2401 W. Hassell Road., Suite 1550
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
  Phone: (847) 490-1443
  Toll-Free (800) 232-5523
  Fax: (847) 490-1476