May is Building Safety Month, an international campaign to raise awareness about building safety. The campaign reinforces and advocates for the need to adopt regularly-updated building codes. The goal is to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, Virginia has more than 24,000 home fires annually. These fires cause more than $8.3 million per week in property loss. Residents of Stafford County can rest assured that Stafford’s Department of Development Services and code compliance personnel are using every tool they can to ensure the safety of new and existing structures—the department’s number one priority. The permitting and inspection process serves the purpose of requiring industry standards for safety.
Modern homes and buildings adhere to the latest building codes when designed and built. The codes are created to lessen the possibility of fires and mitigate their effects. While Stafford County works hard to maintain this system, residents can do some things at home to stay safe and help reduce the fire risk.
Knowing how to exit safely is imperative if a fire starts in your home or business. It takes less than 30 seconds for a small flame to burn completely out of control and spread, turning into a major fire. The International Code Council created this list of a few fire safety tips to follow in homes.
- Put a smoke alarm on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and inside every bedroom.
- Test each smoke alarm regularly. Keep batteries fresh by replacing them annually.
- Make an escape plan so everyone knows how to get out fast. Pick a meeting place outside the home where everyone will meet.
- Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away.
- Keep all items that can burn away from your home, clean leaves from your gutters and clear dead leaves and branches from shrubs and trees.
WHAT IS A BUILDING CODE
A building code is a set of rules that specify the minimum requirements to ensure the safety of structures. These codes reduce casualties, costs, and damages to homes by creating structures designed to withstand disasters. The primary purpose of building codes is to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures.
BUILDINGS CODES PROTECT
Building codes protect you from a wide range of hazards – whether by implementing safe wiring, fire prevention, or stronger structural integrity. A community with up-to-date building codes is more protected against these hazards.
BUILDING CODES WORK
In the FEMA study Building Codes Save, an analysis shows that over 20 years, cities and counties in the United States with modern building codes have avoided at least $132 billion in losses from natural disasters. This statistic is based on a comparison of jurisdictions without modern building codes. In addition, to the money saved, property damage is reduced. This data shows that immeasurable losses are also avoided, such as the stress of temporary relocation, lost income, and community disruption.
BUILDING CODES ARE ALWAYS IMPROVING
You can trust that a building built to the latest codes keeps up with the latest findings and technological advances. Built on a solid foundation of decades of construction knowledge and experience, model building codes are updated every three years and incorporate new information such as results of post-disaster research. When a community adopts code updates, it involves a range of stakeholders who prioritize public health and safety with affordability in mind. In addition, there is an increased desire for sustainability and climate adaptation.
BUILDING CODES LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD
Building codes set common minimum design and construction requirements across communities, resulting in improved construction quality, consistent permitting, and vigorous code enforcement. When neighboring communities follow and enforce the same rules, it makes it easier for smaller communities to work together through mutual aid agreements to implement the code.
Find out more about Development Services at Stafford County by visiting: https://staffordcountyva.gov/cdsc.