Author(s): Jesse Roman. Published on September 4, 2018.

Find that Code

Which codes, and which editions, does your jurisdiction enforce? A new NFPA tool helps you find out.


Diana Jones kept hearing the same lament from building contractors and designers: Why is it so hard to find out which NFPA code or standard (and which edition) is enforced in a particular jurisdiction?

“These are professionals who are designing buildings and systems all over the country and the world, and constantly having to figure out what codes are used where can be a tedious job,” said Jones, who as NFPA’s segment director for architects, engineers, and contractors is tasked with keeping tabs on her stakeholders’ pain points.

To alleviate some of this headache, NFPA recently launched a web-based tool called CodeFinder. On the CodeFinder site, users can either click on a map to find out which NFPA codes and standards are used in a given jurisdiction, or scroll through a list of countries and regions; results can be filtered by topic area to help users quickly find the information they seek. The site includes information on what codes and standards are used where, which edition is used, and extends to NFPA codes and standards incorporated via reference by other codes.

Currently, this information is available for every U.S. state, as well as for every city and county with a population of 250,000 or more. The tool also includes code information for provinces and territories in Canada, South America, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Eventually, CodeFinder should be able to drill down further to provide code information for every jurisdiction in the country, regardless of size, Jones said.

To aid in that effort, the site includes a “Share Your Knowledge” button where users can quickly add information on a jurisdictional level that isn’t already on the site. “That information will then be vetted by NFPA and uploaded to the database,” Jones said. So far, NFPA has received a few dozen user submissions to the system, which is promising considering NFPA has not yet marketed the tool, Jones said.

For years, NFPA’s regional field representatives have kept spreadsheets detailing which editions of the codes are used in jurisdictions in their coverage areas, but the information was never public. To develop CodeFinder, the regional spreadsheets were gathered in a single database, and web developers created an easy-to-use searchable interface. As future changes are made on local or state levels, the regional reps will update the master database, and the new information will be pushed live to the CodeFinder tool once a week. Although pains are taken to ensure that the information in the tool is accurate, users should still confirm with local officials, Jones said.

Reactions to the tool have been positive. Laurie Christensen, the fire marshal in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, called CodeFinder “an outstanding tool” and an “additional benefit for the community.” Many similar comments have been made on NFPA Xchange and other social media sites.

Much of that positive feedback comes from enforcers and authorities having jurisdictions (AHJs), groups that Jones thinks will also benefit from CodeFinder. That’s because AHJs “routinely see design plans designed to the wrong edition of the code, and they have to ask the submitter to go back to the drawing board,” she said. “Hopefully this will alleviate some of the back and forth between the AHJ and designer and reduce the amount of time it takes to submit a successful application.”

JESSE ROMAN is associate editor for NFPA Journal. Top Photograph: NFPA