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"Doug, I can't do what the Code says we have to do, how do we get around it?" While climbing up on my soapbox I start by saying, it is not about getting around the Code. It is about understanding the intent of the Code. Inevitably this is where we begin talking about variances. The Code is not meant to give a prescriptive direction for every situation, it is not a cookbook. However, the Code does give a level of performance that should be achieved. When RAN obtains variances to the Code, we break it down in three simple steps. Step one starts with dissecting the Code to identify the intent and to identify the level of performance. Step two is identifying the viable design options.
Step three is the important step, it is about communicating the Code intent and design options to all the players involved. This means that the building owner, architect, engineers, code enforcement officials, fire department, and insurance company have to all be on the same page.
Sounds impossible, right? With a little help from RAN and our experienced engineers it is definitely achievable, if the intent can be identified and viable options built.
The basis of RAN's experience with obtaining variances dates back 20+ years with an international publication and presentation on how performance based designs should be addressed. It is thinking outside of the box, while knowing the purpose of the box.
RAN receives weekly calls asking for our opinion in obtaining a variance. Not all variances can be obtained, especially if they are just for an economic reason as opposed to an impractical constructible reason. We can help you through the steps and the options, fire protection engineers are more than sprinkler designers.
Interested in learning more about variances? Check out RAN's project, Ogdensburg Border Patrol.