Industry Defeats Wood High Rise Buildings at Code Hearings

NRMCA and industry allies at last week's International Code Council's (ICC) Committee Action Hearings in Memphis helped defeat a proposal to allow building nine-story wood structures. The hearings were the first step in hearing proposals and testimonies from the various industries and code officials that will then be considered for a public hearing this fall. The results of the code development cycle will be the publication of the 2018 IBC model code.

There were significant wins along with expected losses for the concrete industry. Interest in preventing future conflagrations like the ones seen in an Edgewater, NJ, multifamily fire brought the general public and fire chiefs out to support limits to combustible wood construction. PCA, the Masonry Alliance for Codes and Standards and Tien Peng of NRMCA delivered testimony with the following successful results:

• Nine story Type IV NOT allowed;
• Firewalls constructed by cross-laminated timber CLT protected by gypsum board NOT allowed;
• Type III and V parking garages NOT allowed;
• Occupied roofs NOT excluded as a story;
• Combustible construction NOT allowed in Type III;
• Limiting allowable areas in disaster prone areas disapproved;
• Increasing Fire resistance rating in disaster prone areas disapproved;
• Fire watch for 40-foot Type V construction belongs in Fire Code, not IBC; and
• Enhanced resiliency measures in appendix disapproved.

Unfortunately, the committee did not take action on some proposals which supported increased fire robustness or resiliency. NRMCA will continue its advocacy efforts with the International Building Code in the next building code cycle.

For more information on ICC Committee Action Hearing results, visit or contact Tien Peng at 206-913-8535 or

National Ready Mixed Concrete Association