AWC/NAHB Provision Eliminates Free Market for Floor Trusses & I-Joists in Ohio

Originally published by the following source: SBCAApril 16, 2014

The following article was produced and published by the source linked to above, who is solely responsible for its content. SBC Magazine is publishing this story to raise awareness of information publicly available online and does not verify the accuracy of the author’s claims. As a consequence, SBC cannot vouch for the validity of any facts, claims or opinions made in the article.

Editor’s Note: SBC Industry News has recently shared a series of firefighter-related news items that has made us reflect on the IRC code change proposal effectively banning the use of trusses and I-joists from residential markets that have basements. The news items contained in this SBC Industry News-Special Edition! provide a retrospective on the facts surrounding the need for a ½” gypsum wallboard membrane to be applied to everything but 2x10 floor joists that became part of the 2012 model code. It is clear this code change has altered the free market to favor 2x10s, where all other structural floor member alternatives are now more expensive. This is important news from a public policy point of view so we have included hyperlinks to other recent, related news items, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Ohio as a Case Study

Section 502.14 of the Residential Code of Ohio (RCO), which replicates Section R501.3 of the International Residential Code (IRC), effectively bans from the market floor trusses produced and I-joist distributed by Ohio truss manufacturers by giving 2x10 joists a cost preference since they do not need to be specially protected and floor trusses and I-joists do. The additional cost of protection provides 2x10s with a competitive advantage.

The pertinent language of the RCO states:

502.14 Fire Resistance of floors. Floor assemblies, not required elsewhere in this code to be fire resistance rated, shall be provided with a ½ inch gypsum board membrane or a 5/8 inch wood structural panel membrane or an equivalent material on the underside of the floor framing member which complies with section 302.14.

Exceptions:

1. Floor assemblies located directly over a space protected by an automatic sprinkler system designed and installed in accordance with Sections 313.1.1 or 313.2.1...

4. Wood floor assemblies using dimension lumber or structural composite lumber equal to or greater than 2-inch by 10-inch nominal dimension, or other approved floor assemblies demonstrating equivalent fire performance.

Stark Truss in Canton, OH, outlines the significant impact this provision has had on its business a letter addressed to the Ohio Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) dated March 12, 2014.  A copy of that letter can be viewed by clicking on the pdf link at the bottom of the page.

Observations

If the “purpose of this code is to establish the minimum requirements to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment and to provide safety to fire fighters and emergency responders during emergency operations, exception four in 502.14 should be struck (as shown above) because eliminating this sentence of the code would add that same protection to 2x10s and provide greater safety to fire fighters.

Additionally, this provision of the RCO violates the four basic criteria of Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative as follows:

  1. Regulations should facilitate economic growth. (This provision, as written, effectively bans the sale of floor trusses and I-joists by Ohio truss manufacturers creating serious economic harm. The revision cures this restraint of trade.)
  2. Regulations should be transparent and responsive. (There is no transparent scientific ASTM E-119 full design load data-the only test standard that provides direct apples to apples comparisons-that suggests this provision is accurate and needed as written. The revision proposed above is supported by ASTM E-119 full design load data that strongly suggests, if fire fighter safety is of value to the state of Ohio and the Ohio Board of Building Standards, leaving 2x10 joists unprotected is a much higher risk to life safety than to protect all structural elements equally).
  3. Compliance should be easy and inexpensive. (The proposed revision makes code compliance easier as the provisions that remain are floor structural member independent and easier to apply.)
  4. Regulations should be fair and consistent. (Currently, this regulation is patently unfair in an unjustifiable way. The revision provides greater protection to the fire service and allows for truss manufacturers to be back in the floor truss and I-joist business, providing greater jobs and tax revenue for Ohio.)

This revision re-creates business for all Ohio truss manufactures, which has the valuable potential of serving the Ohio public’s best interests with respect to enhancing free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade. There does not appear to be a down side to this revised language. 

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