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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.

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 »

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

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.

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 »

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 »

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 »

Chairman of Hurricane Irene Caucus Urges Colleagues to Pass Safe Building Code Incentive Act
Click here to download

By Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Albio Sires
Special to Roll Call

From the tornadoes that ravaged Alabama and Missouri to the severe flooding along the Mississippi River to Hurricane Irene's pounding of the East Coast, we have been reminded throughout the year of the dramatic manner in which major storms can disrupt communities and destroy lives.

The economic losses associated with major weather events in 2011 are already among the most costly in the nation's history. Ten disasters this year have resulted in combined damages of more than $40 billion.

Mother Nature is sending us a wake-up call. We need to answer it and move decisively to promote sound strategies to mitigate the devastation of future disasters and to save taxpayer money. The foundation of our national response should be the statewide adoption of model building codes that will make our homes and office buildings more resistant to nature's forces. It is not enough to simply pass another supplemental appropriations bill and wait for the next storm to hit. Click here to read more »

Instead of engaging in partisan bickering, our representatives in Congress need to move decisively to adopt proven strategies that will mitigate against future disasters and save taxpayer money ("Disaster-aid breakthrough leaves congressional bitterness,", Tuesday).

Florida Congressmen Mario Diaz-Balart, Steve Southerland and Allen West have introduced legislation that would provide financial incentives for states to adopt strong model building codes to fortify our defenses against nature's forces.

According to a landmark study by Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center, strong building codes would have reduced wind damage from Hurricane Katrina by 80 percent, saving about $8 billion.

A study by the Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety found that the damage from Hurricane Andrew in Florida would have been reduced by nearly 50 percent, had Florida's existing strong building codes been in place then.

The evidence is overwhelming. Strong building codes save lives, protect property and ultimately reduce taxpayer exposure to natural disasters. The problem is too few states have strong codes or lack the enforcement mechanisms to give their codes real teeth.

Adoption of the Safe Building Code Incentive Act would provide momentum in state capitols across the nation to follow the Florida model and adopt model building codes. This vital legislation should be adopted before the next big storm hits the nation.

Joseph Myers Former director, Florida Division of Emergency Management

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