This month (May) has been designated as Building Safety Month by President Obama. Building Safety Month has been observed since 1980. Its purpose is to recognize the need for standards or codes to be adapted to help make buildings safer in the face of disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and fires. In addition, it recognizes and honors those who work to develop those standards.
During the month of May local jurisdictions have worked to educate the public and contractors with respect to the many advances in building safety that have been added to the building codes. For example, 40 years ago smoke detectors were added to codes, and they have saved untold lives by giving early warning when a fire breaks out.
In addition, the month recognizes the need for new and ongoing code changes that can lead to increased energy efficiency in new construction and retrofitting. Some of these include the developments in new intumescent coatings for fire protection and elastomeric roof coatings that help reduce energy consumption.
The codes have been developed and promulgated by the International Code Council. They have been adopted by all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. In addition, Building Safety Month also promotes the FEMA standards (the FEMA Ready program) for disaster mitigation in new and existing buildings.
Whether you are involved in new construction, or in refitting an older facility, this month serves to remind everyone of the need to adhere to current codes, as well as honoring those involved in keeping buildings safe. This is essential not only because of the legal aspects of adherence, but more importantly because it can save lives.