Scottsdale updates building, fire codes for enhanced safety

Fire Engine 603


The Scottsdale City Council voted in favor of updating current building and fire city codes during its Monday, Nov. 28 city council meeting.

This is a process that happens every three years to account for “the latest building technologies, standards and construction practices,” a city staff proposal states. The changes will take effect at the start of 2017.

The city council approved an ordinance that adopts the International Fire Code, 2015 Edition, including 2016 City of Scottsdale Amendments to the 2015 International Code, according to the proposal.

Additionally, the city will adopt the following 2015 edition codes: the International Building Code, International Residential Code, International Mechanical Code, International Plumbing Code, International Fuel Gas Code, International Energy Conservation Code, International Existing Building Code and the International Green Construction Code as well as the 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code.

Some other codes the city will adopt are the 2012 International Code Council Standard for Bleachers, folding and Telescopic Seating and Grandstands, Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities and the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

According to a proposal, the goal of the changes are to benefit the community with up-to-date safety and efficiency codes and will ultimately improve the quality of living by clarifying requirements and enhancing safety. These changes will replace the 2012 code editions as well as the 2011 electric code edition.

While the basic requirements of Scottsdale’s existing codes will remain intact, each code adaptation brings a slew of changes.

According to a proposal, the changes to each code go as follows:

Building Code

  • The changes will feature new provisions for rooftop-mounted photovoltaic solar panels. Additionally, there is now an allowance of an emergency exit through an elevator lobby when a secondary exit is provided. The new code will also bring in definitions of cross-laminated timber and vegetative roofs.

Fire Code

  • The updated code provides a more in-depth provisions for decorative materials with more details for healthcare occupancies. Provisions for carbon monoxide detection and alarm have grown while smoke removal requirements are clarified.

Residential Code

  • The new code is more lenient on ramps not serving door exits. Additionally, carbon monoxide alarms are required to connect to the house wiring system with a backup battery and are required in rooms with fuel-fired appliances.  Additionally, the new residential code will change the span lengths for floor and ceiling joists as well as rafters. The new code will also feature provisions for future solar panel installations.

Plumbing Code

  • In this code, areas with limited public access will not need to provide public toilet facilities while water temperature limiting devices are required for footbaths and head shampoo sinks. Fixtures which use non-potable water will now need to acknowledge the use of non-potable water by way of sign or symbol and water heater replacements are allowed to have a darain pan without a drain line when it is unavailable.


  • This updated code features new provisions for ventilation systems in enclosed parking garages to help them continuously operate or be automatically controlled for intermittent operations utilizing both carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide detectors. The new code will also address the use of text to mark the use of a dryer exhaust duct power ventilators as well as provisions for design and construction of exhaust shafts domestic kitchen exhaust systems use in multi-story buildings.

Electric Code

  • This code features more information for solar electric photovoltaic systems, low-voltage suspended ceiling power, data centers, lighting load calculations, spa/hot tub wiring, conductor sizing, grounding electrode conductors, building disconnects, outside lighting/electric sign disconnects, DC power systems and emergency illumination.

Energy Code

  • This code now provides more clarity on energy conservation measures related to insulation, air infiltration, solar heat gain, mechanical systems, water heating and lighting. Additionally, the Energy Rating Index will be included in residential provisions as an alternative compliance path for building who might want more flexibility.
  • Changes to the energy code also feature lighting efficacy requirement revolving around reflect market penetration of lighting technologies as well as a new chapter to address the special conditions of existing commercial and residential building.

Green Code

  • This code features a clarified version of green measures related to site waste management, heat island mitigation, building material resources, renewable energy, commercial operations, mechanical systems, indoor environmental quality and commissioning.

Fuel Gas Code

  • There are new safety requirements for the installation of connectors for commercial cooking appliances as well as new provisions to help recognize the use of dryer exhaust duct power ventilators for installations exceeding the limit of exhaust duct length.

Existing Building Code

  • The existing building code will contain new accessibility requirements for the addition of sleeping and dwelling units as well as requirements for the change in occupancy.

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