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Buildings throughout the world must be designed, constructed, and maintained in compliance with legally binding building codes, fire codes, and standards. Such codes and standards are predominantly prescriptive in nature, meaning that many design parameters are dictated by the code.
Prescriptions within a code are there to ensure certain safety objectives are achieved. The objectives are inherent in the prescriptions, but often unstated in the code and this presents a well-recognized and well-documented dilemma. The prescriptions contained within codes cannot possibly anticipate and adequately address the almost infinite variety of buildings that are designed and built. Sometimes it is impossible to apply a code prescription to a given building situation. Other times the prescription is applied, but the inherent safety objective is not actually achieved.
When prescriptive codes are in use, but do not fit well with the specific building situation, there is a need for code equivalency analysis. U.S. building codes contain provisions to allow solutions that may differ from the code prescriptions, but are deemed equivalent because they achieve the inherent safety objectives. These are often referred to as “alternative methods”.
Alternative methods must be developed to provide a level of fire safety equivalent to that achieved by the prescriptive methods contained within the code. The alternative method and supporting documentation must be presented to the code official for approval. The code official may simply approve it, or may refer it to a board of appeals for a decision.
Often, alternative methods can be successful if the proper approach is used. The code consultants with Harrington Group have developed an approach that has a long-term track record of proven success.
If you would like more information, or believe your firm could benefit from Harrington Group’s expertise, we invite you to
contact us. Our engineers are trained to listen to your needs and concerns, and help you move forward to find
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