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Committee on Wood[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
- Subject: Committee on Wood
- From: "Ron O. Hamburger" <ROH(--nospam--at)eqe.com>
- Date: Sat, 27 Nov 1999 08:52:06 -0800
In recent threads that have run back and forth on this list server, it has been strongly suggested by certain correspondents that the members of various SEAOC committees that are active in the code development and maintenance process are ignorant of wood issues and go about writing code changes in an ivory tower, isolated from reality and thoughtless as to the consequences of their actions. Although I risk incurring the wrath of some of the more prolific of these correspondents, I think it is important to state that the above are distorted, extremist views, offered by a few individuals who are extremely disaffected with the process. The following is intended to provide a more realistic and balanced view of the committees and code process, for those of you who have not actually been involved. SEAOC maintains three committees that actively participate in the code development, code update and code maintenance processes. These include the Seismology Committtee, the Code Committee, and the Existing Buildings Committee. The Existing Buildings Committee has historically worked on the provisions for upgrade of archaic structures as they have appeared in the Uniform Code for Building Conservation. The Code Committee has worked on administrative provisions of the code, gravity load provisions of the code and most issues related to wood frame construction. The Code committee, for example, made a major rewrite of the Conventional Construction Provisions that regulate not-engineered wood frame construction. The Seismology Comittee works with the "seismic" design provisions of the code. Each SEAOC committee has regional counterparts in each of the four regional SEAOC organizations. These local committees are comprised of design engineers (and some times engineers on building department staffs) who have interest and regularly practice in each of the areas of specialization of the committees. The have close relationships with leading academics at the local Universities. Each regional committee elects a local chair person and delegates to the State Committee. Although there are exceptions, the delegates are typically those individuals who have shown both the committment and knoweldge to represent the committee in an appropriate manner, at the State level. The State Committees are comprised of 3 delegates each from Northern and Southern California and 2 delegates each from Central and San Diego. The committees represent a wide range of practice (from samll buildings to large buildings) (from design to plan check) and no proposal is passed along to the code bodies without development of a complete committee consensus. Since 1994, this process has become even more complex. The SEAOC committees send delegates to the Building Seismic Safety Council Committees. The BSSC Committees are a national version of the same process conducted in California. Here the representatives of SEAOC, meet with design engineers from around the United States as well as with building officials, contractors, and representatives of the wood, steel, concrete and masonry industries. In total, more than 120 nationally prominent engineers are involved in this process of reviewing various proposals, modifying them andn passing them along for approval. Proposals at this stage go through a rigorous balloting and consensus process. Before being approved, proposals must be balloted through the Provisions Update Committee (a group of more than 30 engineers) and all negative ballot comments must be resolved to the satisfaction of 2/3 of the PUC members. Then the proposal is sent out for ballot to the member organizations of the BSSC. These include - the variosu SEA's around the nation, as well as the various industry associations including AFPA, AISI, AISC, ACI, PCA, etc. Again all negative ballot comments must be resolved. Finally, proposals are passed along to the code organizations (ICBO in the past, but now ICC) and again, the proposals go through rounds of hearings, challenges and voting. The entire process, takes about 4-1/2 years. During this 4-1/2 years there is ample chance for interested parties to make comment and also to run example problems, and challenge the validity of various proposals. The result is a code that the United States can be proud of . When we have earthquakes or hurricanes, we dont loose 20,000 or so lives, as do people in Turkey or Mexico or China or Japan. Is the code perfect? Absolutely not. Does it have problems? Of course. Can it be made better? Definitely. Are the opinons of the people who use the code day in and day out in design important to the process? Absolutely. Is the list server a valuable addition to this process. Yes, of course. Do the members of the committees listen to the points raised on the list server threads:? Again, yes they do. The system is not perfect. However, to suggest that the code committees are unconcerned or unknowledgable in design issues is ludicrous. Further to suggest that because some one designs a specific type of building on a regular basis, they do so properly, is also incorrect. As a somewhat exagerrated example, I believe it is fair to say that many designers of unreinforced masonry buildings felt they were being wrongly persecuted by unknowledgable academics when the code was changed to prevent construction of these buildings. After all, hadn't they built thousands of these structures? This is not to suggest that any of the individuals who have been active in the list server are inexpert in design. Since I have not personally reviewed their work, I would have no way to comment. However, I am familiair with the work with many of the members of the State and National committees and can attest to their competence and legitimate concern and desire to improve professional practice. I would like to conclude by requesting that members of the list server continue to make known their concerns with the code and issues of pratice, but to do so in a manner that is respectful of those members of our profession who care enough to donate hundreds of hours of time to participate in the process, rather than try to tear it apart.
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