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County Executive John R. Leopold Recognizes Building Safety Week

May 6th through May 12th is a time to focus on safe construction practices

Annapolis (May 7, 2007) - County Executive John R. Leopold today joined building departments worldwide in recognizing Building Safety Week to raise public awareness about the importance of following building safety and fire prevention codes.

"This Administration is working diligently to make the permitting process more consumer friendly," County Executive Leopold said. "One key component of that is outreach to let people know what resources are available and how to follow the rules."

"Building Smarter … for Disasters and Everyday Life" is this year's theme, which reflects the importance of getting everyone involved in the prevention of safety and security hazards. County Executive Leopold signed a proclamation presented to code enforcement inspectors this morning that recognizes Building Safety Week in Anne Arundel County.

Building Safety Week, which was first observed in 1980, and is sponsored by the International Code Council Foundation (ICCF), is an opportunity to educate our communities. Its objectives then and now are to promote the use, enforcement and understanding of building codes to safeguard the public. It also recognizes professional code enforcement officials who regularly attend educational training to make sure they are aware of the latest code changes and technological advances in construction.

It is a perfect time to increase public awareness of the role building safety and fire prevention officials, local and state building departments, and federal agencies play in the first line of defense to protect the public.

Today, building code enforcement is the job of professionals who work right here in Anne Arundel County and at local city halls, fire departments, County buildings or at the state and federal levels. Building code regulations enforced in the County help to ensure that homes, schools, workplaces and other buildings are as safe as possible. Building codes regulate all aspects of construction and property maintenance.

The importance of regulating and enforcing building codes is unfortunately often overlooked by the public until a catastrophic tragedy occurs. By inspecting buildings during and after construction, the Department of Inspections and Permits helps to ensure that buildings in the community are safe, sound and accessible places to live, work, play and learn. The Department also reviews building plans and issues building permits.

The first building codes in the United States, established in 1625, addressed fire safety and specified materials for roof coverings. For instance, in 1630, Boston outlawed chimneys made with wood and thatch roof coverings. In the late 1770s George Washington recommended that height and area limitations be imposed on wood frame buildings in his plans for the District of Columbia. In 1788, the first known formal building code was written in the United States (in German) in Old Salem, (now Winston-Salem) North Carolina.

Larger U.S. cities began establishing building codes in the early 1800s. In 1865, New Orleans was the first city to enact a law requiring inspections of public places. The National Board of Fire Underwriters published its Recommended National Building Code in 1905. In 1915, the world’s first building safety code organization was established to provide a forum for exchange of ideas regarding building safety and construction regulations.

Modern building codes regulate myriad safety systems, including design and structural requirements, fire prevention, electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems, property maintenance, energy efficiency and zoning.

Anne Arundel County is an active member of the International Code Council, an association that develops building codes to safeguard the public at home, school and work. The International Codes, developed by the International Code Council, are the most contemporary building safety and fire prevention codes in the world. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt and enforce building safety and fire prevention codes select codes produced by International Code Council. In addition to elected and appointed government officials, International Code Council members include architects, engineers, builders, building owners and managers.

For more information on Anne Arundel County’s building code program, visit For more information on the International Code Council Foundation, visit

William R. Bryant, Code Enforcement Administrator for the County, said there are a few simple tips to follow for safe construction:

  • Follow the building code, which sets out specific rules and recipes for materials.
  • Be sure to apply for proper building permits.
  • Request inspections as required.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Elevate a structure in a flood plain as required by FEMA guidelines, and build structures strong enough to withstand 90 mph winds.

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Anne Arundel County, Maryland. 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, Maryland 21401 | Tele: (410) 222-7000