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Wildland Urban Interface Code

SB 6120 and Emergency Rule Affecting State WUI Code and DNR Map

SB 6120 modified laws in Washington related to the Wildland Urban Interface Code (WUIC).  SB 6120 included emergency provisions and will take effect upon the Governor’s signature, which is expected to occur in mid-March 2024.

SB 6120 removes SBCC authority to modify the State WUI beyond what is included in RCW 19.27.560(1).  Specifically, SB 6120 restricts the State WUIC requirements to Chapter 1 of the International WUIC and limited technical provisions (excluding defensible space).  All counties, cities, and towns may adopt some or all of the International WUIC referenced in RCW 19.27560(2), if they wish to have defensible space and other provisions that will not be in the State WUIC. When adopting the International WUIC locally to meet local needs, jurisdictions may amend the code and may exceed the minimum performance standards of the International WUI.

In order to start or continue enforcing the WUIC after this emergency rule takes effect, local jurisdictions should be aware of implementation recommendations.

WUI Code Amendments for 2021 Code in SBCC

On November 17, 2023, the SBCC proposed amendments to the WUI code that weaken or remove defensible space requirements and ask local jurisdictions to adopt their own map (the DNR map would no longer be referenced).   These amendments have a hearing on February 9, 2024.

WSAFM has concerns and provided an official letter to the SBCC.  Defensible space is a national best practice and proven code strategy to reduce death and property loss from wildfire.  WSAFM feels the SBCC exceptions go too far in Chapter 6, particularly for jurisdictions in the eastern, drier part of the state.   In addition, WSAFM is concerned that the SBCC is creating an unfunded mandate for local jurisdictions by removing the DNR map (SBCC amendments to Chapter 3).  WSAFM would rather see the DNR map improved with more local flexibility rather than require all local jurisdictions to create and maintain their own maps.   WSAFM's official comment is here: WSAFM WUI Position Paper  The proposed Draft Language from the SBCC is here: Microsoft Word - Defensible Space Proposal Council Decision Nov 17 (  Please contact Dave Kokot with comments or feedback at

Wildland Urban Interface Maps and RCW Requirements - November 2022 Updates

Because of the high risk of wildland fires in parts of Washington, and the benefit from taking steps to reduce these risks, WSAFM encourages member agencies to start thinking about your agency’s enforcement strategy for wildland urban interface (WUI).  This code affects most jurisdictions in Washington, including urban and rural, east and west.  

The State Building Code Council (SBCC) voted in November 2022 to adopt the WUI Code in Washington State.  The WUI Code will take effect in the state on October 29, 2023, along with the other state codes (this reflects a delay past the original July 1, 2023, date, due to pending litigation).  The SBCC accepted the Technical Advisory Group's (TAG's)  amendments to the WUI code for the 2021 code cycle.  Among other things, the amendments offer more flexible framework based on site and construction specifics as an alternative to the straight requirements in RCW 19.27.560.  WSAFM and WABO were both represented in this work.  

What should I do to get ready to implement WUI?

WSAFM recommends that fire marshals and their staff become familiar the provisions in RCW 19.27.560 and the anticipated amendments to the WUI code being worked on by the SBCC.  

  • Browse the new WUI map for your region and determine if you want to make any changes or if the parcel classification looks appropriate
  • Review RCW 19.27.560 International Wildland Urban Interface Code and proposals for WUI Code updates at the SBCC.
  • Engage the building official in your jurisdiction and talk about roles in terms of permitting, plan review, and site inspections - for example, the building official may be appropriate to handle all the construction related provisions and the fire marshal staff may be appropriate to handle access and water supply questions.  One new item is vegetation management.  
  • See also the slides from the Fire Marshals Round Table on WUI from the 2022 FPI.

Washington State Association of Fire Marshals

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