Building Code on its Way to Being Published

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Tragedies such as the collapse at Arch Cot in 2007 and the Campus Trendz fire in 2010, were offered as examples of calamities which need not recur, should the Revised National Building Code be put into practice.

Speaking this morning at the National Awareness Seminar on the Code at the Warrens Office Complex, Technical Officer with the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), Jonathan Platt, explained that the amendments covered a gamut of issues. He highlighted Part Five of the Code – Structural Requirements – design and installation of main types of foundation; and Part 4, Means of Escape from Fire – Facilities for Firefighting and Fire Alarm Systems, as clauses which were applicable to the national tragedies.

Mr. Platt said that "the 1993 edition of the Building Code had six parts. It is now proposed that we have 18 parts…," with areas such as Resistance to Transmission of Sound; Ventilation of Buildings; Fitness of Materials and Workmanship; and Thermal Insulation and Energy Efficiency, addressed in the document.??

He also noted that "The draft [Code] was done some time ago…It’s just a matter of [completing] the last stage, which is [getting] approval from our technical committee," with the hope that the Code would be published by the end of this year.

The Technical Officer emphasised that the BNSI was merely the author of the Code, while the Building Standards Authority (BSA) would be the agency responsible for enforcing it. However, Mr. Platt explained that while the BSA currently facilitates the Town and Country Planning Development Office with issues related to fire and means of escape from buildings, the organisation still required legislation to fulfil its mandate.

"We’re urgently seeking for the legislation to be put in place so we would not have the scenario of [regret]…The Building Code will be published, as a voluntary document … [We need] the professionals to do their due diligence and ensure that they comply even though it is a voluntary document at present."?? This, he said, would not only ensure the integrity of the building and the safety of its occupants, but would also allow stakeholders to become familiar with the revised Code, which will become mandatory when the Building Act, which is pending, is finalised.

In response to audience queries, Mr. Platt gave the assurance that the Revised National Building Code was a living document.

He said: "The Building Code is not static, we are still moving forward… [if you think] ???this can’t work, this doesn’t make sense’, I would like to hear from you…Find that particular part of the document that you’re having some concerns with…[and] tell me what your proposals are," he suggested, adding that amendments could be made and the Code could be shaped to meet new requirements.

He also reiterated the need for the Code to be embraced, stating "…we seem to be untouched, but the day may come when we could be saying ???why didn’t we put this in place?’".

For additional information on the Revised Building Code, persons may contact Jonathan Platt at the BNSI, Flodden, Culloden Road, St. Michael at 426-3870 or jplatt@bnsi.gov.bb

nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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