Building Safety Month
May is Building Safety Month. With the explosive growth of new building construction in Erie, the role and responsibilities of the Building Division are more important than ever.
“Our main objective is to make sure the housing stock and commercial buildings are safe to occupy, live and work in,” said Chief Building Official Ed Kotlinski. “We do this by ensuring compliance with fire and life safety codes for all new construction.”
Erie follows the International Code Council (ICC) “I-Codes”. ICC is the leading global source of model codes and standards and building safety solutions that include product evaluation, accreditation, technology, training, and certification. The ICC updates their codes every three years and communities following the I-Codes update as needed.
Erie’s last code update was in 2019 and is currently being revised with new code (2021 I-Codes) and amendments, which will be adopted by October 2022. While the ICC creates the international standard, communities can adapt and adjust as needed. For example, since the 2009 edition of the I-Codes fire suppression systems in single family homes are required, but sensitive to the costs of retrofitting homes, Town of Erie Board of Trustees elected not to include that requirement with the current I-Code update.
The assurance of building codes also benefits homeowner’s pocketbooks. Insurance rates are set by adherence to a jurisdiction’s fire and safety codes. Without a strong building code, premiums would be more expensive.
In addition, building codes help ensure the safety of first responders who may have to enter a home during a fire. Firefighters found that floor joists on the ground level of homes would burn quickly and created a hazard for firefighters who would fall through the floor. The code was subsequently updated to include a treatment material to slow the burning of these joists so firefighters are at less risk.
“We are here to help homeowners who want to do home improvement projects, from decks to full remodels,” said Kotlinski. “We can help offer options and alternatives to design issues so they comply with building codes. Some are non-negotiable, such as the rise and run of stairs, but whenever possible, we work to assist the homeowner to achieve their home improvement goals while still complying with the code.”
Learn more about Building Safety Month at www.buildingsafetymonth.org, join the conversation on social media using #BuildingSafety365 and follow the Erie Facebook page for tips throughout the month. The themes for this year are:
- Week One - May 1-8 | Planning for a Safe & Sustainable Tomorrow
- Week Two - May 9-15 | Exploring Careers in Building Safety
- Week Three - May 16-22 | Understanding Disaster Mitigation
- Week Four - May 23-31 | Creating a Safe & Abundant Water Supply
Learn more about the Planning Department at the Town of Erie.