Iowa Department of Public Safety Office of the Commissioner

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Regulatory Assistance: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This "frequently asked questions page is a work in progress. If you have a question which is not asked and answered here, please feel free to submit your question to the Regulatory Assistance Coordinator by e-mail.

1. What is regulation?
2. What does the Department of Public Safety regulate?
3. Where may I obtain information about when a weapons permit is required in Iowa and how I may obtain one?
4. Is it possible to obtain criminal history information in Iowa and how do I do so?
5. Does Iowa have a State Fire Code and to what does it apply?
6. To what does the Iowa State Building Code apply?
7. Will construction projects be affected by the new requirements for statewide licensing of electricians and electrical contractors?
   

1. What is regulation?

One definition of "regulate" is "To control or direct according to rule, principle, or law." Generally, regulation is about requiring something to be done, be done in a certain way, not to be done in a certain way, or not to be done at all. However, the term is used here in a somewhat narrower sense, because it excludes what is generally called "law enforcement," particularly the enforcement of criminal laws.

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2. What does the Department of Public Safety regulate?

The Department is responsible for fire safety regulations, the State Building Code, weapons permits, access to certain types of criminal justice information, and licensing or certification of the following businesses: private investigation, private security, bail enforcement, commercial explosives, manufactured housing installers, and fire extinguishing system contractors. On January 1, 2007, the Department assumed responsibility for licensing of manufactured housing dealers.

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3. Where may I obtain information about when a weapons permit is required in Iowa and how I may obtain one?

The weapons permit program is administered by the Program Services Bureau in the Division of Administrative Services of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. While most weapons permits in Iowa are issued by county sheriffs, the administrative rules which govern the program are adopted by the Department of Public Safety pursuant to Iowa Code Chapter 724. Detailed information about weapons permits in Iowa is available from the Program Services Bureau. Questions may be submitted to the Bureau via e-mail.

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4. Is it possible to obtain criminal history information in Iowa and how do I do so?

Iowa criminal history records are public records, with some restrictions on how they may be obtained. Requests from outside of law enforcement for Iowa criminal history records must be addressed to the Division of Criminal Investigation. Further information is available here. Note that only Iowa criminal histories are public records; national criminal history records from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are available, other than to criminal and juvenile justice agencies, only when specifically authorized by law. Iowa requests for national criminal history checks, when authorized by law, are also handled by the Division of Criminal Investigation. Please note that requests for Iowa or national criminal histories, when the request is not coming from a criminal or juvenile justice agency are subject to fees.

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5. Does Iowa have a State Fire Code and to what does it apply?

General requirements for fire safety in Iowa are established by the State Fire Marshal. These rules of the State Fire Marshal apply statewide; cities and counties may also adopt local fire ordinances, which apply within the jurisdictions in which they are adopted in addition to the rules of the State Fire Marshal. Iowa Code section 100.35 sets out a list of the specific types of buildings and facilities for which the State Fire Marshal is authorized to establish fire safety standards. Rules of the State Fire Marshal may also apply to any structure or building "in which persons congregate from time to time, whether publicly or privately owned."

Effective January 1, 2007, the State Fire Marshal has adopted the International Fire Code, 2006 edition, along with selected chapters and sections of the International Building Code, 2006 edition, as the primary basis for fire safety requirements in Iowa. The National Electrical Code, 2005 edition, has been adopted as the requirements for electrical installations in the state. Further information regarding amendments which have been adopted to each of these codes, along with specific requirements which apply to a few specialized occupancies may be obtained from the Fire Marshal's Web site.

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6. To what does the Iowa State Building Code apply?

Iowa provides for the adoption of the State Building Code by the Building Code Commissioner and for the adoption of local building codes by cities and counties. Certain portions of the State Building Code apply statewide, but most of the Code does not do so. Political subdivisions are given the option of adopting the State Building Code by local ordinance or may adopt their own building codes by local ordinance, but are not required to adopt any building code at all.

The following portions of the State Building Code apply statewide:

  • accessibility to persons with disabilities of buildings and facilities available to the public
  • energy conservation requirements in the construction of buildings and facilities (local jurisdictions are allowed some discretion to adopt their own energy codes in lieu of the state requirements)
  • lighting efficiency standards in certain buildings
  • minimum plumbing facilities in places of public assembly, restaurants, pubs, and lounges
  • standards for factory built structures, which include modular buildings, including modular houses, and manufactured housing

The whole of the State Building Code applies to the following construction:

  • any construction of state owned buildings and facilities
  • any construction in any local jurisdiction which has adopted the State Building Code by local ordinance
  • new, or initial construction of any building or facility whose construction is financed in whole or in part by the state, but is not owned by the state, if the construction is in a local jurisdiction which has not adopted a local building code or which has a local building but does not enforce it through a program of both plan reviews and inspections
  • construction of school buildings in a location in which there is no local building code, provided that the school district uses local sales and services tax
    moneys for school infrastructure
  • any construction of a gaming facility in a location in which there is no local building code
  • any construction of elder group homes where there is no local building code.

Further information about the State Building Code may be obtained from the Building Code Bureau area on this Web site.

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7. Will construction projects be affected by the new requirements for statewide licensing of electricians and electrical contractors?

No. Licenses will be required once the Electrician Examining Board is appointed, the administrative rules are in place, the program is established, and prospective licensees have had an opportunity to apply for and receive their licenses.

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Created: 05-10-2006
Last Updated: 06-28-2011 (JGL)