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
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