November 2006

There's static in the air | As I was saying ...

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There's static in the air

by Bill Good
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FM Global, the insurance organization that emerged from a restructuring at Factory Mutual (and others), has created quite a stir in the roofing industry by mandating changes to its 1-29 wind-design guide. The changes have to do with roof attachment in high-wind areas of the U.S.

FM Global—as all roofing material manufacturers, most roofing contractors and, to be generous, a fair number of specifiers know—is an insurance provider for owners of large commercial buildings. FM Global develops wind- and fire-resistance recommendations for its insureds. Although FM Global insures a small percentage of commercial buildings, its recommendations routinely are incorporated into roofing specifications.

Make no mistake: FM Global has every right to prescribe rules for its insureds to follow. And those rules generally are based on sound engineering and have helped reduce wind and fire losses.

But there are two problems with FM Global's recent actions. First, FM Global forgot to tell anyone in the industry the changes were coming. Roofing material manufacturers now must spend literally millions of dollars to retest their products against the new recommendations and change specification manuals that already are printed. The second problem lies within the roof design community, where new FM Global recommendations will make their way into specifications because it is easy to include "must meet FM" language. As a result, some contractors in, say, Nebraska, will be installing...

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