An initiative led by members of CEBA and GCCA has passed an important milestone in its effort to secure changes to the building code requirements for installing smoke vents in controlled environment buildings.

The work of expert volunteers on a Smoke Vent Taskforce, formed by members of the joint CEBA-GCCA Construction Codes Committee, led to the submission formally requesting a code change to the International Fire Code. The submission seeks to redefine and expand the scope of an existing exemption that applies to ‘frozen food warehouses’ to a more inclusive definition of ‘refrigerated facilities and spaces’ and make some further changes to how the rules are interpreted.

In the submission, CEBA and GCCA clarified the importance the industry places on fire detection, early intervention, and personal safety in cold storage design and construction. It also presented evidence showing that smoke vents are often inappropriate for refrigerated facilities. Vents, which are essentially holes in the thermal envelope of the building, reduce energy efficiency and impair the steady temperature regulation in rooms storing perishable products. CEBA and GCCA also presented evidence that mixing warm and cold air causes indoor vapor, leading to damp environments and ice build-up.  This creates risk of water damage, slippery surfaces and rust or decay of mechanisms in the vents and other equipment. Finally, evidence was presented that alternative, more effective, mitigations to fire risk were available.

Brian Lynch, Executive Director of CEBA, said, “We are pleased that our carefully considered submission has passed this first milestone. We take fire safety incredibly seriously, and our aim is only to ensure controlled-environment warehouses are fire-safe and secure. If we can secure this change in the code, it will significantly reduce the time, effort, and uncertainty experienced by cold storage contractors. A change in the provisions will mean no longer having to educate and negotiate with inspectors on this issue project-by-project.  This detailed, painstaking, work is invaluable and shows the unique service working through CEBA  and GCCA provides for our industry.”

The National Fire Sprinkler Association joined CEBA-GCCA in the initiative. The joint request for a code change passed its first hurdle when it was approved by an IFC Committee hearing on 8 April. Further hearings and considerations will now take place later in 2024 and 2025. Assuming the request secures support at the remaining stages of the process, it will take effect in 2027.

For more information contact Jeff Greenwald at

Published Date

May 7, 2024


Cold Chain Development, Design Build, Sustainability


Africa, Asia-Pacific, Australia, Canada, Central & South America, Europe, Mexico, United States


Controlled Environment Building