PCI FIRE STANDARD ADDED TO IBC 2021
HOW A REFERENCE INCLUSION OF A FIRE-RESISTANCE STANDARD IN THE BUILDING CODE WILL IMPACT DESIGNERS, ENGINEERS, AND CONTRACTORS BY CRAIG SHUTT The International Code Council (ICC) has accepted PCI’s consensus-developed fire standard, PCI 124, Specification for Fire Resistance of Precast/Prestressed Concrete, into the 2021 International Building Code (IBC) as an approved basis for determining fire resistance of precast and precast, prestressed concrete assemblies. The reference inclusion will simplify the process for the design and construction team and allow smoother inspections of precast concrete structures.
The key changes to the 2018 IBC update the reference from the 2011 MNL 124 manual to the new 2018 PCI 124 standard and expand its application beyond slab cover in section 7126.96.36.199 to include calculated fire resistance of all precast and precast, prestressed concrete assemblies. The changes mean that fire resistance for precast concrete can be presented as code-based calculation methods based on the 2021 IBC. Designs based on the ICC-ES Evaluation Report, ESR-1997, will no longer be needed. (For other changes, see online sidebar.) “This is a big step for PCI and should please designers and engineers,” says Jason Krohn, vice president of engineering at S.K. Ghosh Associates LLC in Palatine, Ill., and PCI’s former managing director of technical activities. “It takes the manual—which was being used to a great extent already—and turns it into a code-referenced standard that can be used for all precast concrete assemblies.” Previously, the code only recognized manual-based fire resistance of precast concrete floor slabs, with other precast/prestressed assemblies only referenced in the manual, explains Steve Skalko, an independent consulting engineer on fire protection who works with PCI committees on code issues related to fire safety. “The manual made recommendations, but the wording wasn’t written in mandatory language. That gave building officials/inspectors too little direction with regards to enforceable language,” Skalko explains. “There were too many ‘mays’ and not enough ‘shalls.’ As a former code official, I understood the confusion that this could create if a designer took another approach.” In some cases, designers would look to other sources rather than use the provisions in the manual that weren’t codified. “This new approach makes PCI 124’s language a one-stop shop for designers looking to calculate fire resistance of any precast concrete assembly,” Krohn says. The 2018 version of the PCI 124 standard, Specification for Fire Resistance of Precast/ Prestressed Concrete, has been accepted into the 2021 International Building Code for all precast concrete assemblies. It is now available for purchase from PCI. Image: PCI.