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JIS News

Superintendents of Roads and Works from eight of the island’s parish councils will leave the island next week to attend a week-long workshop and training seminar in Florida, where they will be updated on the various requirements for international building codes.
Technical Director in the Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Patrick Wong, informed JIS News that the workshop came about as a result of the Jamaica Institute of Engineers (JIE) “working diligently in collaboration with the local authorities in trying to make the international building code into law as it relates to specific requirements for Jamaica.”
Mr. Wong said the JIE had been involved in ongoing discussions with the International Code Council (ICC) as to the possibility of having training courses for the various representatives in Jamaica whose jobs were directly impacted by building codes, such as engineers and government officials in the parish councils.
With the ICC officially giving its commitment to offer training, the upcoming workshop/seminar will be held from Monday August 15 to August 23 in Miami, Florida and is scheduled to cover international disaster code requirements; the code as it relates to energy and energy conservation; non structural planned review; structural planned review, and safety. In addition to the eight superintendents from the parish councils, nine members from the JIE will also comprise the party to Florida.
He explained that the participation in the seminar for the various representatives would be useful and instructive given that “the building code is quite exhaustive.”
Furthermore, he said when the code was implemented locally, “it will be a very good guideline. it will cut out the grey areas and clearly define the requirements for any building development taking place in Jamaica”.
“What it [the code] will do is standardise the requirements so that the buildings will be designed to be able to deal with natural disasters in a much better way,” Mr. Wong added.
Mr. Wong told JIS News that Jamaica’s participation in the workshop/seminar marked one of the first steps in bringing the country on par with international building code standards.
The introduction of the international code, he said, would assist in “familiarising the technocrats who are interpreting it and also get them familiar with it, and they will be able to see the reasons why certain codes are required”.
He further noted that the international building code would require junior officers of the parish councils to be certified as inspectors. In that regard, he said, “we are hoping to maybe set up some local seminars for junior officers of the councils so that everybody is brought up to date as to where we are with the building code.”
At present, Jamaica does not have a mandatory up to date building code as the current building code is based on a 1902 London code. As such the Bureau of Standards and the JIE recently undertook the adoption of the International Building Code (IBC) as a base document for which an appropriate application document will be developed. The application document will incorporate special construction practices peculiar to Jamaica.
Consultant with the JIE, Roosevelt Dacosta, speaking last October at a meeting with local authorities, said adopting the IBC solved the problem of updating, improved the quality of the built environment and made for best returns from limited resources.
The JIE Consultant informed that discussions are ongoing with the University of Technology to work with the ICC and JIE to put courses in place to enable architects and engineers to design to the Code as well as to allow parish council officials to be able to evaluate under the Code. “They will also have to be specially trained and certified to the ICC system,” he pointed out.
The new Code will require a new compliance system, as the compliance system presently used by all parish councils is not compatible with the Code. Furthermore under the new Code design evaluation will now have to cover the architectural, structural, mechanical, fire, energy efficiency and electrical aspects of each building project.