Hurricanes are the Focus at AAMA Southeast Region Fall Meeting

With a record-high attendance of 103 people, representatives from the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) felt its Southeast Region's fall meeting was a success. The meeting, held August 16-17 in St. Augustine, Fla., focused on how to keep the region safer in future hurricanes.

Among the topics discussed was the new Florida labeling task group, which was formed because inspectors requested that certified products have a clear label for identification.

"A temporary label will show its size, grade, how it's fastened and information on energy," said Sigi Valentin, AAMA Southeast regional director.

The association's technical director, John Lewis, also said that the association's validator has run into some problems because individual unit labels are being placed on double and triple units, implying that the label refers to the whole assembly.

"You're going to be hearing more about that in the future," Lewis said.

Scanning the Panhandle
The enforcement of windborne debris construction in the panhandle area of Florida was of interest to many members.

Joseph Carson, president and owner of Carson Construction and a member of the Florida Building Commission, informed the group of the commission's progress.

One June 19, the commission voted, 12 - 3 in favor, to adopt the 130-mile per hour contour as the Windborne Debris Region designation in the Panhandle, including all areas within 1,500 feet of the Inland Bays that are not within the 130 miles per hour contour. The commission also voted unanimously in favor of adopting the Panhandle Windborne Debris Region designation, and to integrate the definition into the 2006 supplement to the Florida Building Code.

"Trees through roofs are 99 to 1 over something blowing through a window--I have been through it," said Carson.

Building Codes
Of utmost importance is the building codes' affect on the region, and how to improve it.

After going through the evolution of building codes from 1976 to the present, Jim Schock of the First Coast Chapter Building Officials Association of Florida concluded that from a manufacturing stand point, the building code is state of the art.

"However, from an installation and water intrusion stand points they [the codes] have fallen short," he said.

In order to understand this issue and how to get past it, the Florida Building Commission has set up a work group and looked at the issue.

Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi
Every state in the Southeast region will be impacted by a major hurricane sooner or later, emphasized Jeff Burton from the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

In Alabama, to date, there's an action, which will be final on March 27, adopting 2003 IRC and 2006 IBC. Mississippi has also finally adopted 2006 IBC and IRC.

Two states-Alabama and Delaware-have no building codes. Some states, such as Texas and Mississippi have voluntary codes.

"Mississippi perturbs me the most. You've seen what happened in Katrina-and they are ignoring it. Two cities have already opted out of the voluntary code, and one of these cities is Pascagoula," said Burton.

North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana and Florida all have mandatory requirements.

"My opinion is that it will be at least five years before Louisiana is doing it (building to mandatory requirements) at a nominal level," he said. "Florida code is the gold standard-it's torqued-up from the national code."

"Panhandle states" such as lower Alabama, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Connecticut also have mandatory requirements.

"Whatever dollars are being spent (by the states for protection), spend it better," he emphasized.

Water Performance Standards
One of the more controversial discussions of the conference regarded the test method for optional water performance standards for hurricane-prone areas.

Pete Thornton of Silver Line Building Products summarized the method the group has been studying for 18 months by saying that the biggest focus is on the pulsating test method and the dynamic testing.

"We've looked at all standards, both U.S. and International (standards), and we'll have a final report to AAMA National in the fall," said Scott Warner of Architectural Testing Inc.

The group then reviewed the draft. The method is to first test for 15 psf. Then, it is to test to ASTM E 2268 test - and vary the pressure rapidly. At this point, there are five levels of performance.

"We expect water leakage, but there's going to be some discussion over what is acceptable. Four or five hours of a hurricane-force storm may pass only 15 ml," said Thornton.

The group went over the three options of tables in the current draft proposal. Feedback was mixed.

"The pressures we are talking about are only a fraction of a real storm. Let's find out what the performance is and what we can do before we put numbers up (in the chart)," said Charlie Everly of PGT Industries.

"My only advice is that we be careful with these test methods, that while they are voluntary, they don't become political and that the state doesn't tell you how much water should come in," said Ivan Zuniga of AFG Glass.

"We are talking about two to three years of testing to answer some of these questions." said Bill Emley, president of AAMA's Southeast region.

"We need to continue the table out (to the right, further) to include the pressure you would see in a major storm," said Lewis.

AAMA Meets with the FMA
The AAMA Southeast Region's board met with the board of directors of the Fenestration Manufacturers Association's (FMA) board directly after the events for the conference ended.

The two associations signed a license agreement that will provide the guidelines for working together on the following two documents:

  • FMA/AAMA 100-06, Standard Practice for the Installation of Windows with Integral Mounting Flanges in Wood Frame Construction for Heavy Weather and Extreme Window Locations.
  • FMA/AAMA 200-06, Standard Practice for the Installation of Windows with Flanges for Masonry Construction.

FMA members have contributed to the bulk of the document development and the members of the Southeast Region of AAMA have been instrumental in the review phase, according to Rich Walker of AAMA.


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