Last week the California State Building Standards Commission unanimously voted to adopt new fire and building standards that will come into effect in January 0f 2011. By far the biggest change is the requirement for fire sprinkler systems in all new single and two-family homes, which until now were only required by the state in commercial and apartment buildings. That’s great. There is plenty of evidence that residential sprinklers save lives, and the cost of the sprinkler is offset by reduced insurance premiums (PDF).
Just as significant in my mind are the new regulations aimed at new homes located in the volatile wildland-urban interface (WUI). Though they only apply to new construction (and the retrofit of homes that were already compliant with the regulation on WUI construction, Building Code Chapter 7a), the new standards are excellent and will dramatically increase the ignition-resistance of homes through vent protection and better construction requirements for windows, exterior walls, roofs, and decks.
The adoption of the 2010 California Fire and Building Standards brings California into line with the 2009 International Building, Fire, and Residential Code, a model building code developed by the International Code Council which is widely used in jurisdictions throughout the United States.