From Smoke Alarms to Auto Dismantlers: Five Things Every Oregonian Should Know About the New Fire Code


SALEM — One of the most important tools to ensure the wellbeing of all Oregonians may also be one of the least known.

That tool is the Oregon Fire Code, which provides more than 300 fire agencies and building and code officials the rules to protect the public from hazards like fire, explosions, or dangerous conditions in buildings and other facilities. The code covers everything from abandoned buildings to wood product facilities.

States are allowed to adopt rules in addition to the International Fire Code, which sets safety standards that are used nationally by U.S. fire agencies. The Oregon update to the 2018 International Fire Code (IFC) serves as the Oregon fire service’s manual.

After 36 months of work with more than 150 members of the Oregon Fire Code Committee, the Office of State Fire Marshal approved the 2019 Oregon Fire Code in October, the first update since 2014.

Here are five fire code changes that you may hear more about:

  1. New measures for smoke alarms in residential dwelling units: New criteria has been established for locating smoke alarms in relation to cooking appliances and bathrooms of residential dwelling units. This change is intended to reduce nuisance alarms attributed to locating smoke alarms in close proximity to cooking appliances and bathrooms where water vapor is produced.
  2. Motor vehicle dismantler fire inspections: This new Oregon amendment requires an annual fire inspection for the operation of a motor vehicle dismantling business licensed in Oregon, and the fire department having jurisdiction will provide the business owner with a written inspection report.
  3. Artwork in schools: The new fire code keeps the existing rules that limits school hallways from having no more than 20 percent of their wall areas covered by student art and allows classrooms to have walls covered by 50 percent.
  4. Outdoor events: Code updates for outdoor events require access to fire service features like hydrants, cooking safety, electrical and gas use, and the number of participants and ways of exiting.
  5. Gates and barricades across fire apparatus access roads. A new operational permit gives a fire code official the ability to ensure that access requirements are met: approving the method of locking and securing, proper dimensions and opening width, and proper devices for operations.

To learn more about the 2019 code updates, visit the OSFM website.  

About Author

Rudy Owens is the Public Affairs Specialist for the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM). The OSFM's mission is to protect citizens, their property, and the environment from fire and hazardous materials.

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