Category Archive: Uncategorized

Detroit Free Press: Strong Building Codes Can Mitigate Tornado Damage

By Joseph Myers

Tornado season has started earlier than usual and is wrecking havoc in communities across the United States. In Dexter, more than 100 homes were severely damaged and 13 destroyed outright from the twister that recently touched down in Michigan.

The severity of this year’s tornadoes could mean that we are in for an even more devastating tornado season than last year when 550 people lost their lives and damages topped out at $28.7 billion.

Mother Nature is clearly sending us a message and we need our lawmakers in Congress to respond with a national strategy that will make our communities safer from natural disasters.

One of the smartest and most effective steps Congress could take would be to provide states with incentives to adopt statewide, model building codes. Strong building codes are widely embraced in the emergency management community as being our best first line of defense against tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding and other weather-induced disasters. Click here to read more »

Biloxi Sun Herald: Building Codes Can Save Lives

By Joseph Myers:

There is bipartisan legislation pending in Congress that would provide a powerful incentive for states like Mississippi to adopt and enforce statewide building codes as a disaster-mitigation strategy. The aptly-named Safe Building Code Incentive Act would provide qualifying states with an additional four percent of post-disaster grants in exchange for passing strong, statewide building codes that adhere to the standards put forward by the International Code Council.

As a story (“Lack of building code inflates state insurance rates”) in the Sun Herald on Friday pointed out, Mississippi property owners are paying higher insurance rates because the state doesn’t require strong building codes. I believe the availability of additional disaster relief from FEMA would ignite an important debate in Jackson about the role strong building codes can play in minimizing the cost of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and other major disasters. Click here to read more »

Indianapolis Star: Before the Next Storm Hits, Make Us Safer

The tornadoes that swept through Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia marked an early and deadly start to the tornado season in 2012. According to the National Weather Service, there have been 152 tornadoes through March 1, which is 30 percent higher than the average over the past six years.

Mother Nature is sending us a message, and it's time for our lawmakers in Congress to respond with a national strategy that will make our communities safer from natural disasters.

One of the smartest and most effective steps Congress could take would be to provide states with incentives to adopt statewide, model building codes. Strong building codes are widely accepted in the emergency management community as being our best first line of defense against tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding and other weather-induced disasters.

The evidence is compelling. When homes and commercial buildings are constructed to the model codes issued by the International Code Council, it is simply harder for wind and water to knock them down. According to an Institute for Building Sciences study commissioned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for every $1 invested in pre-storm mitigation such as promoting the statewide adoption of strong building codes, the nation reaps $4 in benefits. Click here to read more »

Fireman’s Association of the State of New York Endorses Safe Building Code Incentive Act

One the nation's most prominent first responder organizations, the Fireman's Association of the State of New York (FASN), has thrown its support behind the Safe Building Code Incentive Act.

Read FASN's letter to members of Congress.

Florida Times Union: Incentives Needed for Building Codes

By Joseph Myers

A recent Times-Union editorial hit the mark in illustrating the profound financial risks that are associated with major hurricanes in Florida.

Florida has been fortunate that this year’s major storms haven’t inflicted serious damage to our communities.

While it is important for lawmakers to pursue insurance reform in Tallahassee, Florida has taken some meaningful steps to fortify the state’s defenses against nature’s forces.

Florida is one of only 16 states nationwide that have adopted and enforces a statewide model building codes.

These strong building codes provide one of the surest ways to reduce the damage of hurricanes and other natural disasters.

A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Home and Business Safety found that Florida’s model building codes reduced the severity of property losses from Hurricane Charley by 42 percent in 2004. Click here to read more »

Congressional Fire Services Institute Endorses Safe Building Code Incentive Act

The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI), a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute dedicated to educating members of Congress about the challenges and needs of America's fire and emergency services, has passed a resolution urging passage of The Safe Building Code Incentive Act.

Click here to read the approved resolution.

For more information on CFSI, please visit www.cfsi.org

Sacramento Bee: California a Model? Yes, on Building Codes

By Joseph Myers

The high economic costs and tragic loss of lives associated with natural disasters this year should motivate our elected officials in Washington to advance comprehensive solutions that better protect the nation. The numbers are staggering. In 2011, there have already been 10 major disaster events that combined have cost the nation more than $40 billion.

There is a silver lining behind the storm clouds. California, which has achieved the gold standard in building codes, provides a useful model that lawmakers can duplicate to protect property, save lives and significantly reduce taxpayer exposure to future disasters.
California’s strong building codes adhere to the standards issued by the International Code Council (ICC). These model building codes are a proven way to mitigate the damage of hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes.In a landmark study conducted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, researchers at Louisiana State University’s (LSU) Hurricane Center estimated that strong building codes would have reduced wind damage from the storm by 80 percent, saving $8 billion. They also found that model building codes would have reduced Katrina-related economic losses in Mississippi by $3.1 billion and saved nearly 40,000 buildings from major damage.A similar study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Home and Business Safety found that Florida’s strong building codes, which also adhere to ICC standards,  reduced the severity of property losses from Hurricane Charley by 42 percent and the frequency of losses by 60 percent. 

In California, model building codes were put to the test during the Cedar Fire in 2003. This fire, the largest in California history, destroyed 14 percent of the 15,000 homes in the burn area in San Diego County. Yet, only four percent of homes in the county that were built to model building codes were lost.

Richmond Times Dispatch: Strong Building Codes Can Reduce Taxpayer Exposure

By Joseph Myers

With the federal government carrying a national debt in excess of $14 trillion, it is incumbent on policymakers in Washington to rein in the deficit and put the nation's financial house in order.

At the same time, important priorities such as helping families and communities rebuild from natural disasters shouldn't be shortchanged or held hostage to partisan politics. The nation needs a strategy to contain the cost of natural disasters, one that is rooted in strong building codes.

Encouraging the widespread adoption of strong building codes would help fortify our defenses against nature's forces and save taxpayer dollars. Virginia is one of the states that have achieved the gold standard in building codes. The problem is too few states have followed the commonwealth's lead, or lack the enforcement mechanisms to give their codes real teeth.

There is legislation pending in Congress that would provide a powerful incentive for states to institute strong building codes and the requisite inspection standards. The aptly named Safe Building Code Incentive Act would award states that voluntarily adopt strong building codes an additional 4 percent of funding for post-disaster grants. The bill wouldn't require an additional appropriation because it simply reallocates funding inside the Disaster Relief Fund. But it would ignite an important debate in state capitols across the nation about the important role building codes can play in lessening the impact of natural disasters. As one of 16 states with strong building codes on the books, Virginia would immediately qualify for additional assistance under the proposed law.

As the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and the majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, respectively, Gov. Bob McDonnell and Rep. Eric Cantor could greatly benefit Virginians and the nation by helping to bring their Republican colleagues to the conclusion that implementing strong building codes is a smart policy that fiscal conservatives should eagerly embrace. Click here to read more »

Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Gibson Calls for Safer Post-Tropical Storm Irene Building Codes

Congressman Chris Gibson is urging his House colleagues to adopt legislation strengthening building codes in communities devastated by spring flooding and Tropical Storm Irene.

Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said last week that the Safe Building Code Incentive Act encourages the nationwide adoption of stronger building codes as a means of mitigating future disasters. The bill would provide additional relief funding to states with model building codes and enforcement procedures, Gibson said.

"(This bill) will help protect lives, property and ensure long-term savings to the American taxpayer," he wrote in a letter sent to his colleagues on the Hurricane Irene Caucus, which Gibson co-chairs. "Passage of this legislation would reduce the need for post-disaster rebuilding as more homes and buildings are likely to withstand higher impacts."

According to Gibson, the legislation aims to protect property owners in the event of future flooding. He said New York is among 16 states that already have strong building codes in place, meaning it would immediately qualify for relief funding if the Safe Building Code bill is passed. Click here to read more »

Albany Times Union: Gibson Supports Stricter Building Codes

After devastating levels of rain pounded New York in the wake of tropical storms Irene and Lee, Rep. Chris Gibson has decided to add his voice to support legislation giving states a financial incentive to improve building code standards.

Gibson, R-Kinderhook, announced Thursday that he will co-sponsor the Safe Building Code Incentive Act of 2011. That bill, introduced in June by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-FL, would make states eligible for an additional 4 percent of federal post-disaster funding after an emergency declaration if those states adopt nationally recognized building codes.

“The economic losses from weather-related disasters in 2011 have been the most expensive in U.S. history,” Gibson said in a letter to his congressional colleagues. “As we rebuild communities around the United States, now is an opportune time to find solutions that will better protect communities and reduce taxpayer exposure to natural disasters.” Click here to read more »