Volume 2   Issue 3               Fall 2001

Rocky Mountain High

AAMA Heads to Hills of Denver for Summer Meeting
by Penny Beverage

While the rest of the nation met temperatures of 90 degrees or higher in the earliest days of summer, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) was relaxing—and busily working—in the cool mountains of Denver. The group held its summer meeting June 10-14 at the Omni Interlocken Resort in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Although the resort and city offered attendees an array of activities in which to participate, AAMA spent most of its time getting down to business: finalizing its numerous standards, debating the heated topic of deflection (see page 4 for related story) and organizing for a quick response to a ban on vinyl windows in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Action by Fire

The Wildlife Urban Interface Task Group, which was formed recently, held its first in-person meeting to organize a quick response to a ban on vinyl windows in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. The task group learned of the ban just weeks before the meeting and formed a fast-response action group via teleconference.

In the midst of a recent construction project in the county, the Urban Wildlife Interface Code, introduced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) banned certain vinyl products in dry, wildfire-prone areas. However, AAMA’s position is that the prohibition against vinyl windows is arbitrary and without merit.

During the AAMA meeting, FEMA was conducting testing on vinyl windows under circumstances of burning. By forming a fast-response task group, AAMA hoped to complete the following tasks: clarify the basis for the exclusion, qualify product limitations, conduct immediate testing, witness the FEMA testing and initiate an AAMA research project. Doug Cole of Mikron is chairing the committee with Bill Gorman of Milgard as vice chair. The group set its scope as follows:

• To reverse the ban on PVC windows in wildland/ urban interface areas;
• To ensure vinyl windows are allowed to be used in these areas; and
• To design a test for fire-rating windows.

“What this rapid-response group is doing is trying to get this [ban] changed,” Cole said.

As the group worked to develop a test, Cole showed a video of Mikron’s own testing on vinyl windows using convection heat. In Mikron’s testing, the glass broke, but the frame withstood the high temperatures. FEMA was also conducting its testing with radiant heat.

Ray Garries, AAMA chairperson, announced that the association sent a letter immediately to the government of San Diego County, which encompasses Rancho Santa Fe, asking it to consider a reverse. “They wrote back and said ‘send us data and we’ll think about it,’” Garries said.

One attendee suggested the association check with insurance companies and see if their reports showed what parts of a house withstood the wildfires and see if the fires actually did have a bearing on vinyl windows. Another suggestion was made to find out to what temperature firefighter’s uniforms must be rated. Yet another participant noted that Rancho Santa Fe is an upscale community that actually might have banned vinyl windows for aesthetic reasons and he blamed the ban on fire resistance.

“We’re now to the point of looking at how to bring all of this technical 
into one big certification program.” -Carl Wagus

Takin’ Care of Business

While not all of the task groups had to take such urgent action, all of them spent their time in Denver taking care of business, finalizing their various documents for approval by the AAMA board.

The door hardware task group, chaired by Jan Huml of Newport News, Va.-based G.U. Hardware, debated referencing a water standard in AAMA 907. Doug Adams suggested referencing the European water standards for locks and hardware.

“The problem you’re going to have with this standard is that dirt and debris get into the lock system out on the construction site,” Adams said.
Likewise, by adding limited water specifications to the standard, the standard would have to rate the entire hardware system—not just individual parts—and that might cause problems on the job site. “What if one part can handle limited water but another can’t and the contractor puts it in the wrong way?,” Huml asked.

This problem is exacerbated by the fact that in Europe, a door and its hardware are tested as a unit, whereas in the United States they are tested separately. Thus, to use the European standard for limited water—how much water each part of the door can handle—AAMA would also have to take on the European test method, or develop one of its own.

Huml urged the group to adopt the European standard in an effort to save AAMA’s limited time and funds. “The document already exists and people are already testing to it, so it would save a lot of money just to reference it. I don’t know what we’re going to do to make it better,” he said.

A motion was made and seconded to present the suggestion to the AAMA board and see if the door task group, which meets separately from the door hardware task group, agreed that the European standard for locking hardware should be used for testing doors and their hardware as units in the United States. However, the group decided to accept the existing standard minus the part about limited water, and take some time to study that topic itself before the next meeting.

Coming Together

While most of the meeting was spent in smaller groups, the quality assurance task group held a large meeting with most of the association in attendance, in an effort to close in on its scope and divide into subtask groups to accomplish it. According to Carl Wagus, technical director of the association, the group’s eventual goal is to be able to certify whole companies, not just their individual products. “We’re now to the point of looking at how to bring all of this technical information into one big certification program,” he said.

While individual products will still be tested, the entire company will also be able to say it is AAMA-certified, meaning all of its products are also up to AAMA’s standards, according to George Thiret, chair of the task group. “What it says to our individuals and customers at-large is that we manufacture at certain standards and we’re going to be held accountable for that,” he said.

Larry Livermore, AAMA’s installation manager, followed with an update on AAMA’s Installation Masters™ program, in which it trains installers to become AAMA-certified installers of its members’ doors and windows. As of June, 51 manufacturers were involved in the program; 15 instructor training classes had been held; and 39 classes had been held for installers by manufacturers. “This is just a start. We’re committed to having 200 trainees by the end of this year,” Livermore said. “We have 51 companies involved in the program and 82 accredited instructors, yet we’ve only had 39 classes.”

Livermore said so far he has received positive feedback on the program from all of those involved. In an effort to promote the program and encourage more involvement, AAMA has designed a press release for manufacturers to submit to their local newspapers when they’re giving Installation Master classes.

AAMA is also working with the National Association of Home Builders and the Home Builders Institute to recruit builders to train. 

Looking to the Future

The association wound down on the last day of the meeting at a baseball game at the famed Coors Field, where it watched the Colorado Rockies battle the Seattle Mariners. 

AAMA will reunite for its fall meeting at the Marriott Marco Island Resort in Marco Island, Fla., September 30-October 3.

Penny Beverage is a contributing editor for Door & Window Maker magazine.

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