Volume 41, Issue 8 - August 2006


FBC Rejects Measure to Move Wind-borne Debris Region to 120-MPH Mark

On July 11 the Florida Building Commission (FBC) voted 15-3 against setting the panhandle’s wind-borne debris impact region to include areas within the 120 miles per hour (MPH) contour (see map, at right). The FBC stood behind its June recommendation to establish the region at the 130-MPH contour. 

The decision to support the 130 MPH option came during an FBC meeting in June at which the commission heard the results of a study about wind-borne debris in the panhandle conducted by Applied Research Associates (ARA). The study showed a direct correlation between wind-borne debris protection necessity (by cost benefit analysis) and tree density instead of wind speed, which is how current codes are written. According to study results, this new definition could reduce the current wind-borne debris region defined by ASCE 7 in any medium- to heavily-treed states in the hurricane prone regions. 

During the June meeting the commission considered three options:

• Maintain the current one MPH limitation from the water;

• Move inland to the 130 MPH contour and include 1,500 feet if on bays (see above); or

• Move inland to the 120 MPH contour (in accordance with ASCE 7).

The commission voted to support option B.

During the July meeting, however, representatives from the insurance industry, as well as others, spoke against the 130 MPH recommendation and in favor of the 120 MPH contour. According to Kari Habrek, a lobbyist for Solutia Inc., insurance industry representatives claim that Florida’s $38 billion in storm damage was not limited to just one-mile of the cost, and that wind-borne debris damage was the leading cause of damage during Hurricanes Rita and Katrina last year.

The FBC, however, stood behind its decision to support the 130 MPH recommendation, saying that the ARA study provided a better science than ASCE 7 on which to base their decision. A final rule hearing was scheduled to take place as part of the FBC’s August meeting. 

Mississippi Governor Signs Building Code Legislation into Law

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has signed HB1406 and HB1440 into law, paving the way for the establishment of mandatory minimum building codes in Mississippi.

Though neither bill fully establishes a statewide minimum building code, both make significant advancements toward the goal of protecting people and property throughout Mississippi. HB1406 sets up the Mississippi State Building Code and forms the Building Code Council. Five counties, including all counties in the wind-borne debris region (except George), are subject to mandatory enforcement of the wind and flood provisions of the 2003 International Building and Residential Codes. Other jurisdictions may enforce these codes as well, but enforcement is not mandatory. HB1440 requires any state-owned facility, including schools, built after July 1, 2006, to comply with the International Building Code.

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