Special to CONTRACTOR
ONTARIO, CALIF. — Following a three-year process, the Uniform Plumbing Code and Uniform Mechanical Code were designated Sept. 8 as American National Standards.
Except for the A40 Safety Requirements for Plumbing code, the UPC and UMC are the only plumbing and mechanical codes to receive the American National Standard Institute’s designation.
Commencing with the recently published 2003 editions of the UPC and UMC, the documents will now have the designation of IAPMO/ANSI UPC 1-2003 and IAPMO/ANSI UMC 1-2003, respectively.
IAPMO filed a PINS, or Project Identification Notification System, with ANSI in late 1999, said IAPMO General Counsel Neil Bogatz. A PINS is a document that tells ANSI that a group wants to seek an ANSI designation for a standard, he explained.
“In order for a standard to be an American National Standard, it has to use the ANSI protocol of consensus-based development and be developed using ANSI-accredited procedures,” Bogatz said.
IAPMO began the process in 2000 while ANSI was still mulling over whether the group’s procedure would qualify. ANSI didn’t grant accreditation until May 2001.
The accreditation regulations require that the committee voting on the content of the codes be a “valid” committee that includes a host of interests. No single interest group can have more than one-third of the representation on the committee.
The regulations further require many levels of public input on what’s submitted as proposed changes to the code.
IAPMO sent out notices, press releases and advertising in 2000 that the 2003 edition of the codes would be developed using the ANSI consensus process and invited input. The group received more than 300 proposed changes to the plumbing code and more than 100 proposed changes to the mechanical code, Bogatz said.
In April and May 2001, the technical committees for both codes considered all the submissions and were required to take action on every proposal. The committee confirmed its actions with written ballots on every proposal.
Committee members were required to state in writing why they voted no on any proposal that was rejected. All votes and comments were compiled and published in a book called Report on Proposals. That report was distributed to the public in the summer of 2001 and the public was invited to comment on the committees’ actions, Bogatz said.
The written comments were collected and the committees considered each of them at meetings in spring 2002. The committees had to respond to every comment, which were likewise published in a Report on Comments that is viewable at the IAPMO Web site, www.iapmo.org.
The codes, in almost final form, were considered at an annual business and education meeting of IAPMO in September 2002. Any item on which the membership had a difference of opinion from the committee was sent back to committee for additional consideration.
After the code committees’ additional review, the documents were sent in November 2002 to the IAPMO Standards Council, a nine-person oversight body that reviewed what happened during the entire process. The council considered any items where the membership disagreed with the technical committees and any items where anyone else in the world had been dissatisfied with the process and who had filed an appeal.
In November 2002, the Standards Council issued written decisions on every matter that had been presented to them on appeal and issued the final version of the 2003 codes.
“What happened after that is that all that material was submitted to ANSI and ANSI reviewed whether or not, in compiling all this material, if IAPMO complied with ANSI procedures,” Bogatz said.
“In September of this year, the ANSI Standards Board of Review concluded that the documents had been developed in accordance with its regulations and became American National Standards,” he said.
Both the UPC and UMC are part of the Comprehensive Consensus Codes or C3, a set of code documents for the built environment, which are all accredited by ANSI.
Under the ANSI system, only one code or standard within a particular scope can be designated as an American National Standard.
Steve Daggers, a spokesman for the competing International Code Council, said that ICC codes are developed using an open “government consensus process.”
Daggers said that he didn not know if the ANSI process is any better or worse than the ICC process, but in any case, “The content of the code is more important than how it got to be,” he added.
In ICC’s case, anybody in the world can submit a written code change proposal to the relevant committee.
“It’s reviewed by the committees and approved, or not, by building safety people who have no vested interest other than safety,” Daggers said.
ICC’s codes are in use in 48 states at either the state or local levels, Daggers noted. The only exceptions are California and Hawaii. Forty-four states use the International Building Code, 43 states use the residential code and 32 use the fire code.
More information about the UPC or UMC development process is available by calling 909/472-4100 or by visiting www.iapmo.org.
More information on the International codes is available by calling 703/931-4533 or by visiting www.iccsafe.org.