Hard Code Sections [How to Understand Them]

Have you ever been reading through the code and come to a section that you just can’t understand? One of those code sections that you read, read it again, think about it, then re-read it. Only to still not understand what it is saying? I’ve been in this spot more than once. So, how do you get past it? What are some steps to understanding what you are reading?

Here are the four steps to understanding hard code sections:

  1. Annex information. Is there an asterisk by the code section (for NFPA codes and standards)? If so, refer to the annex for this code reference or section. Additionally, reading the code section before and after the problem section can help by providing context. If these sections have annex information, then review that, as well. 

  2. Other editions. Refer to past editions and future editions of the same code section or language. Sometimes the same concept is stated or explained another way in other editions. Other editions may make the concept to be more clearly understood.

  3. Handbooks. Many codes have handbooks that are published by the code organization, or even outside publishers. Refer to the code section in the related handbook for potential commentary, explanation, or illustration, for clarity.

  4. Google search. Finally, do a Google search of key phrases from the code section, the code reference, or copy and paste the entire code section into the search bar. This may produce other resources such as articles, blog posts, social media comments, and other items that may provide clarity and direction for understanding.

How do you comprehend hard code sections? 

Download this free guide, Affecting Change Through Codes and Standards.

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