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USGNN Original StoryAmericas Glass Association Meets with Fire Administration, Glass Association Officials

Donn Harter, director of technical services for the Americas Glass Association (AGA), reports that the association's July board meeting saw opportunities for forging alliances with two different groups.

On July 29, members of AGA's Fire and Safety Glazing Council (FSGC) steering committee met at the Orange County, Calif., Airport Hilton with Robert Neale, deputy superintendent of the U. S. Fire Administration (USFA), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. The purpose of this meeting was to promote dialogue between the glazing industry and the USFA to develop on-going educational programs on fire-rated glazing.

During the meeting, Neale offered the following four major goals:

  • Educate architects and code officials to make knowledgeable, consistent and confident decisions about glass and ceramic products;
  • Improve relationships between fire and building officials for applications and interpretations of the use of glass and ceramic products;
  • Educate architects and code officials about the capabilities and limitations of fire-rated glazing, intumescent and ceramic products; and
  • Keep code officials informed of new products and techniques in the use of glass and ceramic products.

Neale and the committee members discussed several means of implementation for these items, including coffee break training sessions, online training, two day courses for building officials through the International Code Council (ICC) and the development of a brochure outlining a glossary of terms, types of glass and standards that apply.

Harter described the FSGC's development of one tool, the "Matrix," a listing of all of the manufactured fire-rated glazing products and their rated use for protection, radiant heat resistance and safety glazing. This brochure is expected to be available online in the near future.

Representatives of the glass association agreed that the opportunity to work more closely with the USFA in forging close working relationships between building officials, the National Fire Protection Association, testing laboratories, architects and fire officials with the glass and glazing industry was a priority challenge.

At the July AGA Board meeting, GANA Executive VP Bill Yanek presented to the board an overview of current GANA efforts. Additionally, Yanek discussed with the AGA board areas where GANA and AGA should contemplate collaborating. These areas include:

  • Joint advocacy efforts by GANA and AGA on fire-rated glazing issues. Such efforts could include a close alliance between GANA's Fire Rated Glazing Council and AGA's Fire & Safety Glazing Council;
  • Development of joint educational seminars;
  • A concerted effort to harmonize advocacy on building and fire code amendments to the building code between the Glazing Industry Code Committee (GICC) and the AGA;
  • Developing a united advocacy effort on energy issues, which could include producing a workable solution for meeting the Department of Energy onsite glazing requirements and joint efforts on issues being debated by the National Fenestration Rating Council;
  • Establishing a realistic means of offering each association's publications through their respective bookstores;
  • Offering GANA the opportunity to present an educational seminar at AGA's Glass Showcase and potentially having AGA present its code seminar at a GANA meeting.

"Whether the issue involves building codes, industry education or energy, AGA and GANA should forge a closer working relationship," Yanek told USGNN.com/USGlass regarding the discussion on the associations' relationship. "Importantly, AGA boasts a significant California membership. State level efforts in California impact the rest of the country. With GANA and AGA collaborating on advocacy efforts, both the AGA and GANA will impact California and national issues more effectively."

The AGA board continued its meeting with a report on the progress of the Matrix, membership evaluation, codes and industry standards report, and plans for the May 15-16, 2009, Americas Glass Showcase at South Point Casino & Resort in Las Vegas.

The next AGA board meeting is scheduled for November 11, 2008, in San Diego.

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