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Independent Voice

Better Building Safe than Sorry

May 08, 2024 01:18PM ● By Angela Underwood

Dixon inspectors Chase Martini, left, and Joel Engrahm smile for the camera during Building Safety Month. Photo courtesy of the City of Dixon

DIXON, CA (MPG) - For nearly half a century, May has marked Building Safety Month.

Forty-four years ago, the International Code Council founded what is now recognized yearly by the governing president with a White House Proclamation and acknowledgments by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA).

Locally, Dixon officials are spreading the word themselves, according to public information officer Madeline Graf.

"Throughout May, we are planning to highlight our building division staff on social media to share what they do on a day-to-day basis and why building safety is important," Graf said.

Chief Building Official Larry Paisley said the month-long coverage covers all facets of building safety, beginning with the basics such as ensuring "buildings, remodels and work meets current codes which are in place to ensure the safety of property owners, residents and neighborhoods."

According to the 2024 White House Proclamation, building coding safety surrounds the record 1.7 million new housing units are under construction nationwide." With that much new construction, Community Development Director Raffi Boloyan said Building Safety Month allows the public to understand why there are specific requirements. 

"For example, the municipal code requires fire setbacks to prevent a fire from spreading from one property to the next, starting a chain reaction that could spread to a whole neighborhood," Boloyan said. 

So when it seems like there is a lot of paperwork to fill out, know it is for a reason, according to Boloyan, who said, "The purpose of the permitting process is to ensure that construction and remodels meet local rules and safety requirements and ensure that the resident's contractor is meeting code."

Dixon Building Safety Month Banner

The Dixon Building Safety Month Banner focuses on understanding, preparing, learning, engaging and celebrating all things structurally secure. Photo courtesy of the City of Dixon 

The good news is that the Dixon Building Division is implementing a more expedited submittal process, allowing for electronic and file submissions.

"This new system will launch this fall," Boylan said. 

Timing is everything when it comes to permits. Paisley said the California Building Codes are updated every three years, requiring cities to adopt them and allowing any municipality to modify the state codes further for local conditions.

FEMA confirms the same.

"Today, 31% of hazard-prone communities have adopted current, natural hazard-resistant building codes," FEMA reports. "There is much room to increase these numbers in local jurisdictions that are more vulnerable to natural hazards such as fires, floods, and storms."

Paisley said city staff take ICC training for required continuing education to stay abreast of current trends, new codes, and best practices.

"Inspectors are also certified by ICC," Paisley said. 

Any Dixon resident can take specific steps to make meeting code easier, beginning with checking with the building department to see if a permit is required. Boloyan said working with the city from the beginning can save time.  Next, research any professional before hiring anyone.

"Always check their licenses and references," Boloyan said, adding that the last suggestion is as easy as knocking on a door. "Talk to neighbors ahead of time and let them know about the project you want to begin." 

Boloyan said any resident interested in planning a construction or renovation project should speak with the City of Dixon Community Development Department to determine what types of work requires a permit and how to make a submittal.  

To Paisley, Boloyan and all Dixon Building Department staff, the White House Proclamation for the month says it best: "We thank the engineers, construction workers, trade unions, building inspectors, and other building professionals who make our buildings stronger, more sustainable, and more resilient." 

For Dixon Building Division information, email [email protected].

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