Overview of the International Fire Code® (IFC®)
Internationally, code officials recognize the need for a modern, up-to-date fire code addressing conditions hazardous to life and property from fire, explosion, handling or use of hazardous materials and the use and occupancy of buildings and premises. The International Fire Code is designed to meet these needs through model code regulations that safeguard the public health and safety in all communities, large and small.
This comprehensive fire code establishes minimum regulations for fire prevention and fire protection systems using prescriptive and performance-related provisions. It is founded on broad-based principles that make possible the use of new materials and new system designs. This 2018 edition is fully compatible with the Family of International Codes.
Benefits of the IFC:
- The provisions of the IFC provide protection for public health, safety and welfare from the hazards of fire, explosion or dangerous conditions in buildings, structures and premises.
- The IFC is flexible in that it allows for the use of alternative and innovative materials and performance-based methods in achieving code compliance.
- The IFC does not give undue preferential treatment to particular types or classes of materials, products or construction methods.
- The IFC references nationally developed consensus standards.
- The IFC addresses extraordinary fire risks in existing buildings with retrospective requirements, but only in this limited area is there a need for alterations, as long as the building and its occupancies comply with reasonable fire prevention provisions.
- The IFC includes reasonable yet comprehensive regulations for hazardous materials.
- The IFC includes requirements or expanded requirements for: vacant premises, indoor displays, fire protection water supply, fire apparatus access roads, key boxes, high-piled storage, tire rebuilding and tire storage, mechanical refrigeration systems, explosion control, smoke and heat vents, lead acid battery systems.
Today's IFC is known for:
- Safety – It has a proven track record in fire prevention precautions, handling flammable liquids and other hazardous materials.
- Ease of Use – The IFC uses the same easy-to-use format provided in all I-Codes.
- Embrace of New Technology - The IFC and its predecessors have a tradition of innovation while protecting the health and safety of the public.
- Correlation – The IFC is specifically correlated to work with ICC's family of codes.
- Open and Honest Code Development Process - The IFC is revised on a three year cycle through ICC's highly-respected consensus code development process that draws upon the expertise of hundreds of plumbing, building and safety experts from across North America.
Current Version: 2018 IFC
- Purchase the newest edition of the code and references.
Upcoming Version: 2021 IFC Development
The International Fire Code provisions provide many benefits, among which is the model code development process that offers an international forum for fire safety professionals to discuss performance and prescriptive code requirements. This forum provides an excellent arena to debate proposed revisions. This model code also encourages international consistency in the application of provisions.
Adoptions of the IFC
The International Fire Code (IFC) is in use or adopted in 42 states, the District of Columbia, New York City, Guam and Puerto Rico.
As a model code, the IFC is intended to be adopted in accordance with the laws and procedures of a governmental jurisdiction. When adopting a model code like the IFC, some jurisdictions amend the code in the process to reflect local practices and laws.
Support references for the IFC
ICC publishes a wide range of support products and materials to help users and enforcers of the IFC to improve their knowledge and understanding of the code. Several key publications are provided below, or get the full list from the ICC Store.
Certification of Personnel
ICC offers certification programs for inspectors, examiners and technicians to the International Fire Code. Current certification programs specifically designed for the IFC include:
Fire Inspector I, Fire Inspector II, Fire Plans Examiner, Certified Portable Fire Extinguisher Technician, Pre-Engineered Kitchen Fire Extinguishing System Technician, and Pre-Engineered Industrial Fire Extinguishing System Technician.
ICC-ES Evaluation Reports
ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) is the United States' leader in evaluating building products for compliance with code. A nonprofit, public benefit corporation, ICC-ES does technical evaluations of building products, components, methods, and materials.
Staff Code Opinions and Committee Interpretations are intended to provide technical support and clarification of code text for adopting jurisdictions, design professionals, and members of the construction industry. Technical Opinions on codes and standards are an exclusive benefit of ICC Membership.
Training and Education for the IFC
ICC provides a full suite of training courses geared specifically for the IFC. ICC instructors provide hands-on, practical problem-solving training and are available to teach on-site single or multiday courses. For more information, visit the ICC Learning Center.
Select topics include:
- 2015 IFC Update
- 2015 IFC Significant Changes
- 2015 IFC Essentials
- 2012 IFC Fundamentals
- 2012 IFC Significant Changes
- 2012 IFC Performing Commercial Fire Plan Reviews
- 2012 IFC High-Piled Combustible Storage
- 2012 IFC Fire Protection Systems
ICC operates a number of committees and councils related to the development and maintenance of codes and standards. There are several that relate specifically to the IFC.
- International Fire/Wildland-Urban Interface Code Committee
- IBC Fire Safety Code Committee
- Fire, Performance, Wildland-Urban Interface Code Interpretation Committee