I thought aftershocks came after earthquakes. The roofing industry seems to be feeling aftershocks from hurricanes.
In January of 2006, FM Global, without fanfare or advance notice, issued changes to one of its Property Loss Prevention Data Sheets, Data Sheet 1-29. Data Sheet 1-29 puts forward recommendations relating to the securement of roof decks to roof structures and the design and installation of the roof insulation and membrane systems that cover them. On examining the revisions, roofing professionals began to realize that the changes they represented were nothing short of monumental. These changes have been widely, if not universally, denounced by manufacturers and contractors who have routinely prescribed FM Global recommendations, including Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 1-29. They tell us there are many low-slope roofing systems that will no longer work according to the new recommendations, especially in areas of the country that require high wind-load standards.
Another aftershock coming from the roofing industry is the complaint that it received no invitation from FM Global to offer input on the changes to Data Sheet 1-29. The lack of advance or sufficient notice has also ruffled more than a few feathers. The next aftershock is the realization that FM Global owns its recommendations and is not required to seek anyone's input or to give any advance notice when it wants to change them.
The Search for Reasonable StandardsThe roofing industry has long recognized the recommendations put forward by FM Global as the "gold standard." FM Global standards for deck and roof securement are legendary and are referred to throughout the industry by manufacturers, designers and contractors. While there has never been total consensus on their content, FM Global's recommendations have always been dynamic, undergoing periodic review and change. The depth and swiftness of the changes to 1-29, however, have a broad group of industry interests stepping up to recommend alternate standards.
These industry interests, including the leading industry associations, will seek to work for what they consider to be more reasonable recommendations from FM Global. But everyone should realize now, if they did not before, that FM Global owns its Data Sheets and makes its recommendations based on what the organizations feel to be in the best interest of its true constituency: its insured. FM Global does not operate in the interest of any parties in the construction industry, but on behalf of its clients. Who among us does not operate in the interest of our clients?
At the same time, however, FM Global should see that its position on the pedestal as one of the leading authorities has been supported by the roofing industry interests who may choose, over time, to move away from the blanket use of FM Global recommendations. The loss of this support would seem to be a loss for FM Global as it works hard, like all of us, to find new business to grow and enhance itself.
P.S. - At deadline for this issue of Roofing Contractor, FM Global conducted a Web conference followed by a Q-and-A session attended by hundreds from the industry, including this editor. Noted was a somewhat conciliatory tone regarding the lack of notice to the industry and an announcement that 1-29 is under review for changes to clarify some issues and reduce "overspecifying." But there is much more. Look for more information online at www.roofingcontractor.com, and in our August issue.