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Volume 38, Issue 4, April 2003

Codes & Regulations

Wired Glass Code Changes in Oregon Continue to Advance

A public hearing last month by the Senate Business and Labor Committee in Salem, Ore., heard testimonies from a variety of sources concerning the use of wired glass in the state. One of the speakers was Oregon Sen. Vicki Walker, who had introduced SB 824, which addresses the retrofitting or removal of wired glass in existing structures.

According to a press release issued by Sen. Walker, the bill as amended prohibits the installation of wired glass in existing athletic facilities and any location subject to human impact—unless it meets certain safety standards and labeling requirements. It also requires building owners to remove or retrofit existing wired glass in those same locations no later than 2012.

As amended, Sen. Walker’s bill will no longer contain references to new construction. The issues related to new construction are dealt with in a code change proposal made before the state of Oregon’s Building Codes Division more than a year ago by Greg Abel, founder of Advocates for Safe Glass. Mark Long, Building Codes administrator, noted that an advisory board had been reviewing the matter of wired glass for the past year with Abel and Sen. Walker.

“After a 14-month review, the advisory board has recommended changes to Oregon’s building code that are essentially similar to the new construction requirements proposed by SB 824,” said the press release. Walker agreed to take the references to new construction out of SB 824, so the bill now addresses the retrofit or removal of existing wired glass only.

Abel’s code change proposal will go to a public hearing on May 20, 2003, with a proposed effective date of October 1, 2003. In the interim, the Building Codes Division will continue with a temporary ruling after April 1, 2003, that is intended to give the design and construction industries notice of the expected changes.

Walker met with code officials Friday, March 21, to iron out the amended language in SB 824. The bill then went back to the committee for a work session, where the chair, Sen. Dave Nelson, agreed to move it to the Senate floor for a vote, stated the press release.

“Representatives of the wired glass industry, Thom Zaremba, Tom Mewbourne and Timothy Johnson, were also on hand to dispute the number of injuries alleged by the proponents, and to insist that the film product used for retrofitting wired glass is not fire-rated and approved,” stated the release. The release added, “They provided no testimony to dispute Sen. Walker’s claim that wired glass manufacturers produce a safer product for use in the United Kingdom.”

Pasadena Adopts NFPA Code

The city of Pasadena, Texas, has voted to adopt the NFPA 5000™ building and construction code that will go into effect in the beginning of June. NFPA says its 5000 code is the first building code to be developed through a process accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is a major development of the Comprehensive Consensus Codes (C3), the first full, integrated set of codes and standards developed through ANSI-accredited professionals.

Meeting ISO criteria for its building code effectiveness grading schedule, NFPA 5000 makes Pasadena and all jurisdictions that adopt the code eligible for the maximum points allowed. ISO frequently evaluates building code and enforcement efforts locally for insurers to assist them in their underwriting and rating of individual properties. In addition to NFPA 5000, the city enforces several other C3 codes, including NFPA 70, the National Electric Code®, the Uniform Plumbing Code™ and the Uniform Mechanical Code™.

“The city of Pasadena is committed to improving the quality of life for our residents and visitors,” said Pasadena building official Melvin Embry. “By adopting the NFPA 5000 building and construction code, we’ve also taken an important step forward in public safety.”