Proposed Modification to the Florida Building Code Modification #: Section 553. 73, Fla Stat



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Proposed Modification to the Florida Building Code
Modification #: Section 553.73, Fla Stat
Name: James R. (Bob) Bailey, Ph.D., P.E.

Address: ABS Consulting, 16800 Greenspoint Park Dr., Houston, TX 77060

E-mail: jbailey@absconsulting.com

Phone: 281-673-2735 (office) or 281-734-9824 (cell)

Fax: 281-673-2799

Code: FBC 2004

Section #: 1609.2 (including Figure 1609)
Text of Modification:
Section 1609.2 Definitions (Page 16.15)
Wind-Borne Debris Region.

  1. Areas within one mile (1.6 km) of the coastal mean high water line where the basic wind speed is 110 100 mph (49 45 m/s) or greater.

  2. Areas where the basic wind speed is 120 mph (53 m/s) or greater except from the eastern boarder of Franklin County to the Florida-Alabama line where the region includes areas only within 1 mile of the coast.

Figure 1609 – Wind-Borne Debris Region (Page 16.14) – See Attached Figure


Fiscal Impact Statement:
A. Impact to local entity relative to enforcement of code: Local building code officials throughout the State of Florida are cognizant of the wind-borne debris requirements as currently described in the FBC 2004. Hence, they are, in most cases, capable of enforcing such provisions if adopted. Indeed, local officials in areas that currently do not fall within the 120-mph contour have acknowledged the need for applying such requirements. Thus, the fiscal impact to local building code authorities should be minimal.
B. Impact to building and property owners relative to cost of compliance with code: The impact of the proposed code change would be limited to owners of buildings and properties currently located outside of the wind-borne debris region (120-mph contour) as shown in Figure 1609 of FBC 2004. The financial impact to comply with the proposed change would be on the order of five percent (5%) increase in construction costs based on data for new homes and businesses required to comply with FBC 2001. However, code compliance costs would be offset by (1) the near-term benefits of lower insurance premiums and, more importantly, (2) the long-term benefits of less damage likely to be sustained by a building complying with the proposed change. Indeed, the benefits of stricter code requirements regarding wind-borne debris for new residential and commercial buildings following enactment of the 2001 FBC are well documented following the 2004 hurricane season. Hence, the net financial impact will most likely be nominal.
C. Impact to industry relative to cost of compliance with code: The cost to comply with stricter requirements for debris impact relative to the overall cost of a structure has declined considerably in recent years. The reason is primarily due to manufacturing economies of scale, as more homeowners and businesses in the State of Florida were required to comply with stricter debris-impact requirements following 2001. The market for window and door protection technologies is competitive. Moreover, companies are choosing to design new facilities beyond minimum code requirements in recognition of the potential benefits associated with reduced business interruption losses. Hence, the impact to industry relative to cost of compliance with the proposed change is likely to be nominal.

Rationale: The reason for the proposed change is to ensure that residents and business owners throughout the State of Florida are provided at least a minimum level of protection against hazards associated with wind-borne debris in a manner consistent with current engineering and scientific knowledge of these hazards.



Please explain how the proposed modification meets the following requirements:
1. Has a reasonable and substantial connection with the health, safety, and welfare of the general public: The benefits of requiring windows and other openings to comply with debris impact standards (e.g., ASTM 1886 and 1996; TAS 201, 202, and 203) as required in FBC 2001 became evident in the aftermath of the 2004 hurricane season. For example, new homes, schools, and businesses in Charlotte County built in compliance with FBC 2001 clearly benefited from the stricter requirements in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley when compared to their counterparts in the Florida Panhandle following Hurricane Ivan. Opening protection is a key element in ensuring that a structure will remain intact when subject to an extreme wind event. This aspect of wind-resistant design is becoming more crucial as the evacuation of residents, particular along the coastlines, becomes more problematic, resulting in the increasing likelihood that homeowners will stay put.
2. Strengthens or improves the code, and provides equivalent or better products, methods, or systems of construction: The proposed change strengthens and improves the current code in two ways. First, it specifies a debris impact criterion consistent with the hazard exposure level, i.e., wind speed. A timber plank is as likely to become airborne and inflict damage to a structure in Bay County as in Sarasota County, areas with the same design wind speed (120 mph). Second, it accounts for varying degrees of hazard exposures by specifying different levels of protection against wind-borne debris. Hurricane Charley, the only design level event among the four hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004, demonstrated the impact of wind-borne debris on structures located well within the 120-mph contour, particularly in DeSoto and Hardee Counties. Although the proposed change would require new homes and businesses in such counties to comply with a new debris impact standard, the criterion would be less stringent given that the design level wind is less.
3. Does not discriminate against materials, products, methods, or systems of construction of demonstrated capabilities: Not only does the proposed code change not discriminate against a particular type of construction material of system, it actually promotes their use throughout the state.
4. Does not degrade the effectiveness of the code: The proposed code change does not degrade the code. In fact, it makes it more sound and consistent regarding the application of wind-resistant construction methods and materials.


Section for DCA Only




Committee Action:

Committee Reason:

Commission Action:

Commission Reason:




Proposed Change to Figure 1609


Official Form 9B-3.047-2004


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