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RE: Codes

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For the last eighteen months or more, various California building code groups and other interested parties have been lobying and educating the building community for adoption of the IBC.  This has meant that the Building Official organizations (local regional chapters and CALBO, "Calif. Building Officials"), State Agencies, League of California Cities and a number of other organizations have recently stood before the California Building Standards Commission to express their support for and adoption of the IBC.  All of this effort by the users may not change the minds of the Commission.  They are either in the process of voting or will very soon and it seems that they have not listened to the affected parties, users, enforcement officials and practitioners of the codes. 
Steve Widmayer, PE
-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Persing [mailto:jpersing(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2003 5:02 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Codes

I just finished reading the ASCE Practice Periodical (Aug. 2003) article on NFPA 5000 and it got me to wondering - again, when are we, as structural engineers, going to stand up and tell our legislators what we want for a code.  We just seem to be sitting back waiting for the plumbers and fire chiefs to have their way with the codes and then we'll complain to no end on this list why we have to deal with 2 codes that are entirely different.  And with one that probably won't even work because its never been tried (we're all going to be beta testers for the NFPA).
I have been using building codes for 35 years and have lived and breathed the UBC for all of that time.  I really don't know why I would want to switch.  Even with all of its flaws I think it has served us well.  The IBC is a very good compilation of the three model codes and was put together by people who have been writing building codes forever.  We - the architectural and structural community - have wanted a single code for years.  Now that that is within our grasp we are standing by and watching the whiney plumbers and fire chiefs, with all of their powerful union money, grab our code from us.
I have probably not used any of the NFPA codes for more that just a few times.  But the NFPA tells me that they have been in the code business for 100 years.  Well, why did it take them 97 years to decide to have a building code?  It's all about money and power and their lack of desire to work with anybody else to accomplish something for the good of the design community.  And who's going to run our building departments?  Fireman and plumbers?  When was the last time that you saw a fire chief get interested in the results of a concrete cylinder test?  Or who cared about bolt inspections or weld tests?
I don't know where anybody else is on this but I want to see one code that I have to work with and understand in depth in order to provide my client with the best design possible.  If I have to juggle codes, plan review comments, inspection criteria, new code sections, different update seminars, etc, then I cannot perform the best for any one project.
When are we going to tell our structural engineers associations, ASCE, AISC, ACI, ACEC, NSPE et all, that we want the IBC.  We are so good at the technical end of our work that we won't step up and face the matters that really count.
Rant over (or maybe just beginning)
Jim Persing, PE, SE
Washington, California, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, Alaska & Hawaii