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November - December 2002

Fischer 123 

Code Advocacy at Its Best
WDMA Outlines Code Issues at the Forefront
by Michael Fischer

Although I’m relatively new as the director of codes and regulatory compliance for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), I already consider myself part of the WDMA’s technical team. Together, we’re working to elevate the stature of our membership to its highest levels and provide a cohesive, multi-faceted approach to codes, regulations, standards, certification and more. One of my goals is to continue the organization’s fine tradition of leadership in code-policy decision-making.

Protecting your Interests
Revisions and other changes are a normal part of the code process. It’s definitely a full-time job to stay current and ahead of the curve when it comes to changing code developments.

The WDMA is tracking a number of items currently. The development of an international family of codes under the direction of the International Code Council (ICC) formed from three separate code entities—BOCA, ICBO and SBCCI—continues. The 2003 edition of the I-Codes, as the international codes have been dubbed, is scheduled to be printed early next year and will supercede separate model codes throughout the United States. The I-Codes consist of a family of documents including residential, building, energy, plumbing, electrical, mechanical and several other volumes. Having a single, comprehensive model building code, rather than several codes with different requirements, will enable the industry to develop new product solutions to the code requirements more effectively. 

We’re still watching some parts of the code, including impact-resistant requirements for homes in wind-borne debris regions found in coastal areas and a proposal requiring minimum sill heights for windows in elevated locations. Adoption of the harmonized North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS-1), also to be referenced in the 2003 I-Codes, is another element in WDMA’s overall code strategy. 

Code Strategy
Speaking of strategy, WDMA has a three-pronged approach to its code development advocacy. First, we must maintain our involvement in the long-term maintenance and revisions that are at the core of the ICC process. Second, as states and other entities move to adopt the I-Codes, WDMA must monitor the process to ensure that code consistency coast-to-coast is not lost. The concept of one code across the United States was an important factor in the merger of the three model code organizations into one code body.

Finally, WDMA must continue in partnership with the code community and other regulatory parties. We must assist with the implementation of code requirements through communications and training for the industry and regulators alike. WDMA membership will need assistance in the application of window, skylight and door products to the new I-Codes. 

Florida Building Code
Right now, we’re also knee-deep in activities related to the Florida Building Code. The WDMA is monitoring some key issues, including impact protection requirements for replacement windows, default energy ratings for glazed products and product approval requirements. My first three days on staff were spent attending Florida Building Commission meetings in Orlando, Fla. WDMA was an active participant, making certain its memberships’ best interests were reflected in code language. Florida has long been considered a leader in the creation of codes designed to provide protection from hurricanes and other storms. Code language in Florida may set the standard as other coastal states adopt the I-Codes. 

Michael Fischer serves as director of codes and regulatory compliance for the WDMA in Des Plaines, Ill.

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