Subject: Re: FEMA 310 vs FEMA 178. (Is FEMA 310 Prestandard ready for PrimeTime?)
From: Charles Greenlaw <cgreenlaw(--nospam--at)speedlink.com>
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2000 10:59:42 -0800
Frank McClure, I gather from your report of Mar 8, 2000, that FEMA 310 is on
an express track that (1) will make it a mandatory-use standard, and (2)
avoids doing what is necessary to resolve all of the errors,
inconsistencies, and areas where ignorance on the part of its authors still
The count of such problems ("issues" and areas needing research), as you
relate were reported by Andrew Merovich in the FEMA 343 review, reached
Yet it appears now that resolving many of these 100 problems is itself too
big a problem for FEMA or whomever. Another commenter suggested that FEMA
paid its SE consultants only to WRITE these guidelines and pre-standards,
and to make presentations, but not to FIX the glitches in what they wrote.
Fixing is what happens after the money ran out, it was asserted.
So the remedy is to make the hapless user of FEMA Standards responsible for
outcomes caused by discovered and confirmed, but still uncorrected, errors
and glitches and unadmitted "don't know's":
>It is important to note that in the 1997 FEMA 273 and 1998 FEMA 310 is
>wording that states: "Users of information from this publication assume all
>liability arising from such use."
This looks like "Gatesian Logic" to me, or am I too harsh on Mr Gates?
Suppose we, as Engineers of Record on individual building projects, issued
sets of construction drawings that had been peer-reviewed and discovered
riddled with bugs. But we disregarded the larger of the errors we were
informed of, and required the contractor to build to the partially corrected
plans. Then, to absolve ourselves, we used the same disclaimer wording FEMA
has, and make the builder "assume all liability" for use of our knowingly
I wouldn't want to be the attorney or defense expert for EOR's like those.
But my example was for ONE project at a time. Why should it be completely
different for a mandatory standard that affects ALL buildings?
I think there is a duty to fix all design errors one is on notice about, and
not to turn a blind eye either to them or to other potential errors implied
by what was found, ESPECIALLY for a "design" that is a mandatory Standard
affecting all buildings in a class and all persons who become involved with
The same as (from experience and highly credible reports) I don't trust the
ICBO ER process blindly, or the Cal SE Exam problem and solution writing and
grading process, I don't trust the ASCE/ANSI standards adoption process
blindly. One need only read Emerson on consistency and conformity to
understand why defective, as-is adoptions by committee become so hard to
prevent or correct.
Charles O. Greenlaw, SE Sacramento CA
At 10:00 AM 03/08/2000 EST, you wrote:
>An ASCE/FEMA 273 Prestandard Global Topic Report 2, Resolutions of Global
>Issues, January 18, 2000, in Appendix B, Research and Study Needs, reports
>that there are 33 important needs for more basic research to facilitate
>future improvements to the 1997 FEMA 273 Guidelines and FEMA 273 Prestandard
>as well as resolution of the 42 Usability and 25 Technical Adequacy issues in
>FEMA 343. As of January 2000, none of the needed basic research has been
>In the face of the above facts, what is the professional obligation of the
>1997 FEMA 273 Guidelines and 1998 FEMA 310--Prestandard authors to advise
>FEMA that until the issues of Usability and Technical Adequacy in FEMA 343
>are successfully resolved and FEMA 273 and FEMA 310 has gone through the
>ASCE/ANSI standards process, it is premature to make available 5,000 more
>copies of 1998 FEMA 310 now?