How do modern U.S. building codes compare to the old ones for safety? | DENENA | POINTS

The modern performance-based generally don’t prescribe how buildings and components should be constructed or what specific sizes and types of materials should be used. The modern codes rely on the architects and engineers to design the structures, test them, and then certify that they meet building code requirements.

 This modern practice looks to the use of computer models to provide much of the hard work in the design and testing process. But computers are only as good as those who use them, and sometimes things go wrong. The New Zealand inquiry into the deadly collapse of the CTV tower provides a good example of how things can go wrong. The spectacular collapse of the Dallas Cowboys’ new training facility a couple of years ago provides another example.

 Our structural collapse injury attorneys point out that the old specifications building codes allowed for a wide margin of safety in the completed structure. Modern light construction, which relies on precise computer calculations, narrows the safety margin and provides for the use of lighter-weight, more combustible materials.

 Building plans under the modern performance-based codes often allow for the use of pre-fab assemblies constructed to manufacturer specifications and tested by independent laboratories using standardized performance tests such as those defined by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

 Because of the large safety margin allowed by the old specifications codes as well as the heavier construction required, older structures built under those codes can often contain a fire without collapsing for a significantly longer period than those constructed or remodeled under modern performance-based building codes. Modern buildings that catch on fire might well be ready to collapse by the time firefighters arrive at the scene. (Source: Gregory Havel, Fire Engineering, 10/16/12)

 The structural collapse injury attorneys at Denena & Points caution that fire-related structural collapses present a significant danger to firefighters. Most firefighter fatalities occur because responders get trapped in the building when it partially or completely collapses.

Even after the fire is out, the weakened structure presents significant dangers to anyone who might venture in. So homeowners returning to retrieve belongings from a burned structure are usually warned to stay out until inspectors have had a chance to test the structural integrity of the building.

 Learn more about the dangers of structural collapse in the modern home, how to prevent injury, and what to do if an injury occurs in our FREE structural collapse report. Download it free and without obligation by clicking on the report icon on this web page.