Both the building codes and the insurance

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Both the building codes and the insurance underwriters determine fire suppression requirements. For example, the building codes specify that high-rise buildings, large shopping malls and large industrial storage buildings be equipped with sprinkler systems. The insurance underwriters prefer that the structure be of noncombustible mate- rials but, beyond that, their main concern is for the building contents whose value may far exceed the value of the structure itself. The requirements of the insurance underwriters for fire suppression devices can affect insur- ance premiums or whether or not the owner can obtain insurance coverage at all. In addition, the underwriters may provide insurance incentives in the form of reduced premiums for certain fire suppression measures such as modern Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler systems. These may exceed the building code require- ments and in turn, may allow for reductions in the amount of required fire protection on the structure itself or may liberalize building use restrictions. Building Codes Building codes determine the level of fire protection expected. Therefore, a working knowledge of the various building codes is essential. With the exception of some large cities that maintain their own codes, most areas in the United States enforce one of the following national model codes: National Building Code , published by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, . Standard Building Code , published by the Southern Building Code Congress International, . Uniform Building Code , published by the International Conference of Building Officials, . More recently, in 2000, a coordinated effort by the three model code bodies has resulted in the development of a single national code, the International Building Code (also known as IBC 2000). This was done to eliminate differences and inconsistencies among the three current codes and to simplify the task of building design. IBC 2000 acceptance is slowly growing across the country. Also, the reader should be aware that the National Fire Protection Agency is in the process of drafting yet another national model code. Two building code issues that affect the selection and design of structural systems include the combustibility of the structural materials and the fire resistance of the structural system, as discussed in the next sections.
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SYSTEMS PAGE 58 Combustibility of the Structural Materials Fires usually start small and require fuel in order to grow. In fact, most fires either self-extinguish because of a lack of fuel or are quickly extinguished by building occupants or fire suppression systems such as sprin- klers. Furthermore, even though most fires involve building contents, in the case of buildings built of com- bustible materials, the structure itself may represent the greatest potential source of fuel.
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