Washington Building Code Invokes Emergency Rule on Wired Glass

The Washington State Building Code Council's executive committee, at its meeting in Spokane on Friday, June 10, voted to implement an emergency rule to prohibit the use of polished wired glass in hazardous locations in all new building construction in the state.

The emergency rule by the executive committee on Code Change IBC 2406.1.2 will be in effect for 120 days, by which time permanent rule-making is expected to be completed.

The code change proposal was brought forward by Greg Abel of Advocates for Safe Glass of Eugene, Ore. He said he took the action because a number of schools are being built and renovated now before the wired glass ban is put into effect by the code change.

Washington is the first state in the nation to adopt the new model code by emergency rule.

"Advocates for Safe Glass will continue to be a strong presence on this issue as we educate school districts and industry professionals on the new building code standards, as well as to provide assistance in addressing existing applications of wired glass," said Abel.

Thirteen-year-old Zach Darmanin of Bellingham, Wash., and his grandparents, Alice and Anthony Darmanin, joined Abel in presenting testimony to the council. Zach was rollerblading at Silver Beach Elementary School last year and impacted an exterior door containing wired glass. He suffered nerve, tendon, artery and muscle damage to both arms and his chest.

Steve Nuttall, the local government fire services official for the city of Bellevue and a member of the Washington State Building Code Council who supported the motion to adopt the emergency rule, stated, "I feel that we as a committee have a rare opportunity to perform the duties we were enlisted to do, that of life safety."

The council's agenda and minutes can be found on its Web site www.sbcc.wa.gov.

Abel formed Advocates for Safe Glass (www.safeglass.org) after his son, Jarred, was seriously injured when his hand impacted wired glass while playing basketball in a University of Oregon gymnasium in January 2001.

Shortly thereafter, Abel joined forces with Oregon State Senator Vicki Walker to force the wired glass manufacturers to meet the same safety standards as all other architectural glazing products. They worked with code officials, members of Congress and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to bring awareness to this issue and to advocate for glass safety. They were successful in securing support from the International Code Council (ICC), the regulatory body who oversees the development and implementation of the International Building Code (IBC).

Oregon became the first state in the nation to adopt the 2003 code change that eliminated wired glass in educational occupancies and athletic facilities. It also became the first state to advocate for a code change for all other occupancies.

The ICC overwhelmingly voted to restrict the use of wired glass in hazardous locations in all buildings at its Overland Park, Kan., meeting on May 19, 2004. The matter was appealed by the wired glass industry, but the vote was upheld by the ICC board of directors in September of 2004. The code change will now become a part of the IBC to be adopted by states in the 2006 code cycle.

Abel said that he plans to meet soon in Washington, D.C. with representatives from Oregon and California as well as Washington state to discuss wired glass use between now and the next code cycle.

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