North Carolina updates fire safety regulations following deadly SouthPark fire

April 22, 2024

Changes to North Carolina’s fire code in response to 2023 tragedy

On May 18, 2023, a fire in SouthPark, Charlotte, resulted in the deaths of two construction workers.

This incident prompted North Carolina to implement new fire safety standards, aimed at preventing future disasters.

The revised regulations will impact the construction and operation of large wood-frame buildings, among other structures, within the state.

Details of the new fire safety measures

Following the SouthPark fire, which originated from an insulation foam sprayer igniting on the building’s ground floor, North Carolina’s officials consulted with safety experts and the National Fire Protection Association.

The updated code, set to be enforced starting January next year, includes several critical changes.

It prohibits the use of torch-applied roofing systems, necessitates a fire exposure analysis before the commencement of construction projects, and mandates a fire watch for two hours during ‘hot work’.

Additionally, the usage of direct-fired heaters in HVAC systems will be curtailed.

Impact and enforcement of the updated code

The changes come as part of North Carolina’s periodic review of its fire safety regulations, which now occur every six years—a modification from the previous three-year cycle established before 2014.

Charlie Johnson, North Carolina’s chief fire code consultant, emphasized the importance of these updates.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office was approached by safety experts in Charlotte who asked them to consider new standards already laid out by the National Fire Protection Association in 2022.

FSJA comment

The recent overhaul of North Carolina’s fire code reflects a necessary evolution in safety regulations, directly influenced by the harsh lessons of the SouthPark fire.

This update is a crucial step toward mitigating fire risks in construction environments, particularly in large wood-frame buildings that pose unique challenges.

As urban development continues to accelerate, such regulatory adjustments are essential to safeguard both the workforce and the broader community.

Read Next

Subscribe Now