Bill seeks to change building code

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Tuesday, April 1, 2003

AUGUSTA, Maine - A bill before the Maine legislature is seeking to change the building code that fire companies and the construction industry in the state adhere to.

Under the bill, Maine’s different municipalities, which now subscribe to codes individually chosen by the municipality, would all meet the requirements of the Building Officials Code Administrators International, known as the BOCA code. The intent of the bill, L.D. 529, introduced by Rep. Philip A. Cressey, Jr. (R-Baldwin), is to introduce a set of consistent standards throughout the state.

While fire officials do support the adoption of a statewide building code, they disagree that the BOCA code is the best choice and that the introduction of legislation in the House is the best forum in which to implement a statewide code. A few municipalities in Maine have adopted many different versions of the BOCA code.

“If we are going to have a code, we prefer NFPA 5000, which works well with the 58 other NFPA standards the state has adopted,” said John C. Dean, state fire marshal.

Dean acknowledges that changing to the BOCA code would not have great effects on the state’s fire protection industry, because many sections of the code already rely on NFPA fire regulations.

“Any discussion of a state mandated building code really is going to have to involve fire chiefs, other elected or appointed officials to get a good consensus,” Dean said.

L.D. 529, which has been referred to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, also calls for the adoption of the international plumbing code of the International Code Council.

Also, the bill would also require the effective date of a rule adopted by the fire marshal to be 90 days after public comment is closed; any building permit filed before the effective date would be exempt.