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RE: California voted yesterday to adopt NFPA 5000

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Title: Message

Hello all,


Here's a news story that caught my interest and thought others might like to read it, regardless of your position on the Codes.



Dave Adams, S.E.

Lane Engineers, Inc.

Tulare, CA







Posted on Thu, Jul. 31, 2003


Politics suspected in building code choice

Mercury News


A California commission has picked a new state building code favored by a firefighters union that is among the biggest donors to Gov. Gray Davis' anti-recall campaign.

Critics say the new code will lead to delays and higher costs in construction.

The Davis-appointed Building Standards Commission voted 8-2 Tuesday night to replace the state's outdated code with one developed by the National Fire Protection Association, a fire safety group. The code is used by only one city in the nation -- Pasadena, Texas.

The new regulations are supported by the California Professional Firefighters and its national affiliate, among others. The two groups have contributed at least $168,000 to Davis' anti-recall effort, according to data compiled by opponents of the association's code. Moreover, the union's Sacramento office until recently served as headquarters for the anti-recall drive.

Thinking of safety

Commission members said they backed the new code because it would lead to safer buildings.

But city building officials, developers and others had favored a different code adopted in more than 40 states. They suspect the commission's decision may have stemmed at least in part from Davis' close ties to the California firefighters union.

``I'm afraid of the political possibilities, but I don't know that they exist,'' said Margaret Bruce, environmental programs director for the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group, which had favored an alternative, dubbed the international building code. ``The perception of many is that there are some kinds of relationships -- or some kinds of, I don't know, biases -- that have led the commission to make this decision.''

Ruben Grijalva, Palo Alto's fire chief, shared Bruce's concern about the new code, which will apply to all buildings except private homes and is expected to go into effect in 2006.

``There appears to be a lot of influence of the unions on this issue,'' he said. ``I'm disappointed in the outcome, because in all the meetings I attended, the testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of the international building code.''

No lobbying

But Davis spokesman Steve Maviglio denied that the contributions influenced the choice and said no one from the governor's office had lobbied the commission about the matter.

Three members of the Building Standards Commission on Tuesday, including its chair, Aileen Adams, denied being contacted by anyone from Davis' office.

``As a former president of the Los Angeles City Fire Commission and as someone who lost both of my husband's parents in a high-rise hotel fire a number of years ago because of inadequate building standards, I supported the code that provides the highest level of safety,'' Adams said in a prepared statement.

Supporters of the fire-association code said they preferred it because the other code would have permitted high-rises made of less-fire-resistant materials and with narrower stairways, making them potentially less safe.

Additional requirements

Unlike the international building code, they said, the fire association's version also requires owners of buildings where large public events are staged to assess the structures' vulnerability to terrorists and other disasters. They also said the fire association's process for updating its code was more inclusive of different interest groups.

But the international building code was supported by a wide range of government officials, developers and some fire officials. Three of four state agencies that reviewed the two versions picked the international building code. They claimed the fire association's code was so vaguely written that it will prove difficult for builders and city officials to use, resulting in more lawsuits over alleged construction defects, as well as costly construction delays.