• Notice of Correction Reveals Some Hurricane Shutters Under 2010 Florida Building Code Do Not Incorporate Former Testing Standards
  • March 5, 2013
  • Law Firm: Colodny Fass Talenfeld Karlinsky Abate Webb P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Office
  • A Notice of Correction issued yesterday, February 28, 2013, to proposed Rule 61G20-3.015, F.A.C., "Equivalence of Standards," revealed that the current Florida Building Code does not incorporate the ASTM E 1996-05, a testing standard to which certain hurricane shutters/impact protective devices had formerly been compliant under the previous 2007 Code.

    This comes in the wake of a Final Summary Judgment Order issued in early January 2013 in the case of a Port Charlotte hurricane shutter manufacturer that alleged conspiracy by a metal supplier to fraudulently sell the Bertha HV-3 Blade System, which was approved for use on September 10, 2008 in all Florida high-velocity hurricane zones (HVHZ), as well as non-HVHZ zones. The shutter manufacturer, West Coast Aluminum Manufacturing ("West Coast"), alleged that the Bertha HV-3 had failed high velocity tests under the circumstances of certain types of installations.

    The Bertha HV-3 Blade System product carries the original application number of FL#11352-R2.

    West Coast's President, Dawn Stover, appeared before the Florida Building Commission's Product Approval Oversight Committee on January 24, 2013 after being referred by the Florida Attorney General. The opposing counsel in the case, Eastern Metal Supply, Inc. v. West Coast Aluminum Manufacturing, Inc. and Dawn Stover, was on hand to provide his version of the legal proceedings.

    Florida law permits the Florida Building Commission to determine the equivalency of standards not specifically adopted within the Building Code for purposes of state product approval. According to the aforementioned Notice of Correction, this practice avoids unnecessary expense and delay associated with testing under a new standard when the existing data indicates the product meets or exceeds the requirements thereof. A rule is then amended to recognize the equivalency of the standards identified.

    Initiated in April 2012, rulemaking on 61G20-3.015 "Equivalence of Standards" proposes the addition of the following language:

    4) Standards which meet or exceed standards referenced by 2010 edition of the Code and recognized as equivalent for determining Code Compliance are:

    (a) ASTM E 1996-05 Standard Specification for Performance of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, Doors and Impact Protective Systems Impacted by windborne Debris in Hurricanes equivalent to ASTM E 1996-02.

    (b) ASTM E 1996-05 Standard Specification for Performance of Exterior Windows, Curtain Walls, Doors and Impact Protective Systems Impacted by windborne Debris in Hurricanes equivalent to ASTM E 1996-06 with respect to protective devices, with the exclusion of mullions.

    The February 28 Notice of Correction states:

    "This Rule amendment is needed to help certain hurricane shutters/impact protective devices manufacturers to self-affirm their existing statewide approvals as meeting the updated 2010 edition of the Florida Building Code ("Code"), pursuant to section 553.842, F.S. By clarifying that the edition of ASTM E 1996-05 is equivalent to the testing standards editions that are incorporated in the 2010 Code (ASTM E 1996-02 and ASTM E 1996-06, with the exclusion of mullions) qualified hurricane shutters manufacturers will be able to self-affirm their existing approval as meeting the new edition of the code and therefore, they will be able to sell the affected products in their existing inventories without the need for additional product evaluation/revision.

    The hurricane shutters manufacturers have requested this rule amendment and have asked that it be accomplished by March 15, 2013, when the new edition of the Florida Building Code went into effect. Without this amendment, certain hurricane shutters manufacturers will incur additional costs of approximately $1,000 for the evaluation/revision of each affected product. This amendment will prevent certain hurricane shutters manufacturers from having to incur these additional costs for evaluating affected products. The Florida Building Commission's Product Approval POC (Program Oversight Committee) met on January 5, 2012, and determined that the standards were equivalent (except with regard to mullions)."