CNU's fire code proposals up today in Baltimore; watch the hearings online

BALTIMORE – The International Code Council hearings are an arena in which the (mostly) irresistible force of brevity meets the immovable agenda: hundreds of proposed additions, deletions, corrections, and clarifications for the International Fire Code. Here at the Hilton Baltimore, which offers a great view through left-center field into Camden Yards, proposals are heard, and many shot down, faster than a Milton Bradley at-bat (.257, 95 Ks in 124 games/393 at-bats this year).

UPDATED: At the current pace, we expect CNU’s two proposals, developed jointly with fire marshals participating in the Emergency Response & Street Design Initiative, to be heard today, Monday, Oct. 26, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. EDT. At the moment, we’re hopeful of approval by the 14-member Fire Code Committee, but the Cubs fan in me cautions against overconfidence. We’ll have less than five minutes to present our case, rebut opponents, and answer questions from the committee members.

The ICC is webstreaming the proceedings live. You can access the feed here. Click “Code Hearings: Track 1” under “Events.” We'll do our best to alert you here in the Salons and via CNU's Twitter feed at least a 15- to 20-minute alert before our turn comes up.

Regardless of the Fire Code Committee’s decision here, the last word on our proposals will come at the Final Action Hearings in November 2010, in Charlotte, N.C. Before that date, the ICC will seek public comments – and we’ll need yours in support of our effort. The comments window opens somewhere between Nov. 11, 2009, and Feb. 8, 2010; MS Word and PDF comment forms will be available here, so stay tuned.

By the way, if you tune in, be prepared to hear quick discussions of technical details mentioned with the casual familiarity of Geordi LaForge and Captain Picard discussing the latest mind-warping way to save the U.S.S. Enterprise in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”:

Captain, the leak in the dilithium chamber is overloading the Burnham grid, which is over-stressing the fetzer valve, and the Quaker State and ball bearings were lost when the Mumford coil failed. Ensign MacGyver tried to jury-rig a solution with Romulan twine, Rigellian Krazy Glue, and a souvenir shirt from his recent shore leave on Risa, but now the warp field is collapsing and we’re going to lose the ship in 10 minutes unless we can stop the runaway Moses reactor.

“Engage the Jacobs field.”


Kafka meets CP Snow

I've joined Jon here at the ICC Fire Code deliberations. Each proposed change in the code is handled by eleven judges summarily and almost inevitably like the execution at the end of Kafka's Trial. It's actually reassuring that many changes, most of which add regulation, are rejected; although I hope our proposal to create more flexibility in the 20' clear lane width mandate passes.
For those who've read the Masters by CP Snow the process will seem familiar as ICC members politely slice each others proposals apart. Time limits are strictly enforced; violation of the limit by itself can doom items. Yet despite the grinding bureaucratic process I detect thoughtfulness and sincerity in the eleven individuals. We'll know soon if they will respond to the argument that total life safety can benefit from narrower streets when neighborhoods have sufficient connectivity. Tomorrow morning( Monday) we'll receive our verdict. Be back soon...


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