Get Ready for the 2015 Building Codes

The City is updating the codes we use to review and inspect your projects. We plan to use the 2015 Seattle codes to review new building permit applications and plans submitted after January 1, 2017. Seattle’s codes are based on model codes published by the International Code Council, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, and the State of Washington’s adoption of codes.

Updated Codes:

  • Seattle Building Code (SBC)
  • Seattle Residential Code (SRC)
  • Seattle Existing Buildings Code (SEBC)
  • Seattle Plumbing Code (SPC)
  • Seattle Energy Code (SEC)
  • Seattle Mechanical Code (SMC)
  • Seattle Fuel Gas Code (SFGC)
  • Seattle Fire Code (SFC)
  • Seattle Boiler and Pressure Vessels Code


What to expect:

  • We are updating amendments from previous years and transferring them into the new Seattle codes.
  • Applicants can choose to have their project reviewed using either the 2012 code or 2015 code if they submit a complete building permit application and plans after the legislation goes into effect but before January 1, 2017.



  • We added a new solar-ready roof chapter that requires new homes be built so that they are easily retrofitted for future solar photovoltaic panels. Note: This will not go into effect until the State Building Code Council reviews and approves it.
  • We increased the non-residential solar-ready roof requirement to 20 stories in height, beyond the 5-story maximum in the State code.
  • The plumbing code continues its shift to reliance on manufacturer’s instructions rather than developing additional prescriptive requirements that vary across systems.
  • We eliminated the two-story limitation for the podium portion of “5 over 2” podium-style buildings. This change will allow these buildings to have up to eight stories.
  • We now require rat eradication before we issue demolition permits.
  • We revised and reorganized the Boiler and Pressure Vessels Code for the first time in ten years.


Public Outreach

The Seattle DCI Code Development Team has reached out to stakeholders including the Master Builders Association, local chapter of the Architects Institute of America (AIA), and others since the beginning of 2016. The Seattle codes incorporate amendments and changes from these groups. The City’s Construction Codes Advisory Board also reviewed our code updates in detail and recommended amendments to the codes.

What happens now?

The City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning Committee (PLUZ) will review the updated codes in September. The full City Council will review the updated codes later this fall.


Kathleen Petrie, Sustainable Codes Analyst
(206) 615-0541

Crane Fire Demonstrates Need For Safety Precautions Around Power Lines

A fire at a West Seattle construction site Thursday morning shows how important it is to be safe around power lines.


A crane operator was hoisting trusses for a building when part of the machinery came into contact with a power line. The surge of electricity started a fire that eventually engulfed the crane’s cab. Fortunately, no one was injured.


Here’s what the West Seattle Blog wrote about the fire:

8:27 AM: Seattle Fire is upgrading a “car fire” call in the 4700 block of SW Andover to a “full response” so lots of units are heading that way and we’re told the smoke is visible for some ways around. First units on scene are describing it as a “well-involved crane” with “power lines below the crane” – dangerous situation – avoid the area. Our crew just arrived and says it’s in the alley between 47th and 48th. From the scanner, the fire is “confined to (the mobile crane) and fence.” Firefighters are working to keep it from spreading.

8:38 AM: We’ve added a short Instagram video clip from our crew atop this story. Firefighters say the fire’s under control. No injuries reported. The smoke was visible from as far away as downtown.

8:46 AM: Update from our crew at the scene: The mobile crane was lifting roof trusses for a construction project nearby. Those items are largely undamaged. The fire response is scaling down. No report of flames spreading to nearby homes – firefighters got it handled in time.

8:54 AM: SFD tells us they believe the fire started when the crane touched a wire, which would explain commenters’ reports of a brief power outage at about the same time.

9:00 AM: We still have crews at the scene but also just have heard via scanner that Seattle City Light has advised SFD to keep a 30-foot safety perimeter around the burned crane.

9:23 AM: Thanks to everyone who sent photos, and to those with additional scene info in comments. The scene, meantime, has stabilized to some degree; we will be checking back later.

9:39 AM: Also via scanner – the power lines “are still energized” and they’re awaiting City Light’s arrival to cut the power as well as a salvage crew to remove the crane.

10:07 AM: Not sure how this will affect people in the area but now they’re saying SCL won’t be able to shut down the power until noon or so. At least one SFD engine is remaining on scene TFN.


You can read Seattle Fire Department’s Fire Lines post here: Fire Lines

And get safety tips from us here: City Light Safety Tips


West Seattle House Fire Determined to be caused by Electrical Wiring

August 8—Seattle Fire Investigators determined a West Seattle house fire was accidental, caused by electrical wiring.

At 6:43 a.m. firefighters responded to a 4800 block of 25th Av SW for an automatic fire alarm. The first arriving firefighters found smoke coming from the rear of the 1-story home with basement. Firefighters rescued two young adult males from inside the heavy smoke filled home. Both males declined medical treatment.

Firefighters completely extinguished the fire in 10 minutes. The fire was contained to a back bedroom.

Seattle Police Officers were called in to investigate items found in the basement of the home. The investigation is ongoing.

The fire caused $15,000 in damage.

Power Restored After Fire at Broad Street Substation

A fire at the Broad Street Substation damaged the capacitor bank on the right.

Power has been restored to about 325 customers, including the Seattle Center, the Space Needle, Experience Music Project and the Monorail, that were affected by an outage caused when a fire broke out in Seattle City Light’s Broad Street Substation at 319 6th Ave. N.

The fire occurred at 10:16 a.m. The Seattle Fire Department was quickly on scene to put it out. No one was injured. The oil within the capacitor bank is a non-toxic mineral oil used for insulation.

Power was restored by noon. Repair crews determined the fire began in a capacitor bank, which is a device that regulates the quality of electricity flow.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.