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International Fire Code (IFC)

Last updated: September 9, 2019

What Does International Fire Code (IFC) Mean?

The International Fire Code (IFC) is a set of provisions designed to address life and property hazards associated with buildings and related premises. It is primarily focused on fire prevention and fire protection, and it is generally concerned with addressing potential harm from fires, explosions, hazardous materials, and unsafe use or occupancy of buildings and premises.

The IFC has been adopted as a legal regulatory standard in 42 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, New York City, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The IFC should not be confused with the International Building Code (IBC). While both codes are primarily concerned with fire prevention, the IBC focuses more on building construction, while the IFC focuses primarily on building operation.

Safeopedia Explains International Fire Code (IFC)

The IFC is a product of the International Code Council (ICC), a U.S. organization that publishes model codes and standards related to the safe design, build, and operation of structures. Some other ICC codes include the International Plumbing Code and the International Mechanical Code. This collective total of 15 ICC building codes is referred to by the ICC as the “Family of International Codes.”

The ICC publishes its codes, referred to as “i-codes,” as model regulations. Model regulations are a set of privately developed criteria that are written in legal language so that they may be adoptable “as is” by governmental safety authorities for use as legally enforceable base regulatory standards. While many ICC codes are used outside of the U.S., the IFC is only used as a legal code within U.S. states and territories. It is adopted at the local, territorial, or state-level, and it is not federally mandated or enforced.

The 2018 IFC is written with reference to 144 documents and standards published by other organizations. For instance, the code requires compliance with more than 90 NFPA standards, such as NFPA 70, which addresses electrical safety. This allows the IFC to integrate the expertise of industry-specific safety associations into its model regulatory framework.


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