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Contractors And Installers Have Role In “Rethinking” Fire Safety, Too. April 6, 2014

Posted by shawnpci in Fire Protection, Fire Systems, Iowa Alarm Association, NICET.

The following letter was submitted to the Des Moines Register in response to the April 6, 2014 article, Des Moines to “rethink” fire safety


The April 6th Reader’s Watchdog article, Des Moines to ‘rethink’ fire safety, provided a timely revisiting of the importance of building and fire codes in the ashes of the former Younker’s fire.

March 28, 2014 fire destroys former Younker's flagship store in downtown Des Moines.

March 28, 2014 fire destroys former Younker’s flagship store in downtown Des Moines.

Des Moines and its capable fire department are to be recognized in taking prudent action by adopting the International Fire Code and for employing two fire protection engineers.  While these actions are commendable, they are not the only efforts that have been undertaken to protect the citizens of Des Moines and Iowa.

In 2004, the Legislature enacted licensing for fire protection systems contractors and installers (Chapter 100C).

Law requires contractors and their employees engaging in the layout, installation, service or testing of fire protection systems be licensed by the State Fire Marshal’s office.  A contractor’s responsible managing employee must attain certification in fire protection from the National Institute for Certification of Engineering Technicians.  Individual workers, too, must show certification for their respective disciplines.

Currently, over 110 contractors and 670 individual professionals are certified.

Left unregulated and ignored, fire is an equal opportunity disaster.  With vigilant attention to codes and standards by authorities, owners, contractors and their employees, all Iowa residents benefit from continually rethinking fire safety.



1. Jim Paul - April 7, 2014

I’m sorry , but I’m missing your point. Seems like the fire was a disaster even with regulations in place that I hope would not have been ignored. Were the codes that are in place followed ?

2. shawnpci - April 10, 2014

Jim: thank you for your comment. Insights such as yours are very helpful to me. I’m always seeking ways to sharpen my comments and observations. This particular response was limited to 200 words per the requirements of the Register.

My point was that contractors and installers, too, have role in ‘rethinking’ fire codes along with municipalities and fire authorities. In my opinion, the article failed to recognize the collaborative process that results in codes and standards. I could have also noted that architects, engineers, insurance underwriters, and manufacturers have roles, but chose to focus on my interest as a contractor.

There were regulations in place. In fact, it was recently announced that the ATF’s initial investigation showed the fire was not intentionally set. What’s still in question is the fire’s origin and if standing regulations where ignored and contributed to its propagation.

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