International Fire Code (IFC)

The International Fire Code (IFC) is a globally recognized, comprehensive document within the International Code Family. It is a model code and a design document, standardizing fire safety for new and existing buildings, facilities, storage and processes and establishing minimum requirements for fire prevention and fire protection systems based on performance-related and prescriptive provisions. Some topics covered in the code include:Illustration of a fire truck from behind with one firefighter standing on top of truck and one standing behind the truck.

  • Sprinkler systems
  • Water supplies
  • Emergency Planning
  • Maintenance of fire protection equipment
  • Fire department access.

…and more! The IFC is active throughout the United States with the code in use or adopted in 40 states including the District of Columbia, New York City Guam, and Puerto Rico, according to the International Code Council. If the IFC is the adopted fire code in a jurisdiction, the standard is the law and legally enforceable. It is designed with worldwide application in mind and is flexible enough to allow the use of alternative and innovative materials as well as performance-based methods for achieving code compliance. 

The International Fire Code is revised and promulgated every three years; the most recent edition is ICC IFC-2018. The newest publication references 144 documents in total, pulling from other standards and codes, such as NFPA and ANSI, to create a more comprehensive and fairer rule. The IFC comes in the same format as the other I-Codes and is designed specifically to correlate with ICC’s family of codes.


More than 90 are safety codes and standards referenced in the IFC were first published by NFPA. Generally speaking, the IFC tells the user what to install (fire sprinklers, alarms, etc.) while the NFPA outlines the means and methods for installation. Reference documents include NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®; NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code; and more.

The next edition of IFC will be published in 2021. Between publications, IFC consults with industry experts across the country, evaluates new technologies, and hosts forums to discuss performance and perspective code requirements.

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