Court Ruling Allows Continued Development of Public Health and Safety Standards

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Hon. Tanya S. Chutkan) has issued a ruling that will support federal, state and local governments’ efforts to support public health and safety through the use of voluntary consensus codes and standards. The court granted a motion for summary judgment filed by a number of standard development organizations (SDOs), including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), ASTM International and ASHRAE. The court’s ruling permanently enjoins Public.Resource.org from its previous systematic infringement of numerous SDO copyrighted codes and standards. The ruling vindicates the longstanding public-private partnership pursuant to which government entities may, if they choose, incorporate by reference high quality safety codes and standards.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision, which recognizes the importance of a time-tested process that serves governments and individuals well and is vital to public health and safety,” says Jim Pauley, president of NFPA.

The history of not-for-profit SDOs developing voluntary consensus standards goes back more than a century. Governments, businesses, and individuals across the country rely on a variety of works, from product specifications and installation methods to safety codes and standards.  SDOs, not governmental agencies, underwrite the costs of developing standards.
 
“The court’s ruling means federal, state and local agencies can continue to rely on not-for-profit SDOs to develop voluntary consensus standards at a high level of excellence and at minimal cost to government,” says Kathie Morgan, president, ASTM International.

SDOs pay for the standard development process and invest in new standards with the money earned selling and licensing their copyrighted works.  This model allows SDOs to remain independent of special interests and to develop up-to-date standards.  It also allows the U.S. government, and governments at all levels, the freedom to decide whether to incorporate these standards by reference without a drain on their resources.
 
“We and many other SDOs already provide free online access to many standards as part of our commitment to safety,” says Timothy G. Wentz, ASHRAE president. “And, preventing the infringement of copyrighted material will allow not-for-profit SDOs to continue meeting the needs of the people and jurisdictions we serve.”
 
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A Roofer’s Guide to Lightning Protection

Your roof is not only a weather barrier, it is a work platform for other trades, including lightning-protection installers. Understanding a few basics about lightning protection will simplify job-site coordination and lead to more successful projects.

Lightning protection installers are highly trained craftsmen. Like roofers, they work exposed to the weather and often at dangerous heights.

Lightning protection installers are highly trained craftsmen. Like roofers, they work exposed to the weather and often at dangerous heights.

Lightning protection systems (LPS) are increasingly being used to enhance building resilience to natural disasters. More architects are specifying them because climate change is increasing the frequency of lightning strikes, and the growing use of electronic devices in buildings make them vulnerable to lightning surges.

Lightning protection installers are among the first trades on a job site and one of the last to leave; grounding may have to be installed simultaneously with foundations and final connections cannot be made until all building systems are in place.

The Maryville, Mo.-based Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) has certification programs for journeymen and master installers. An advanced Master Installer/Designer certificate is also available; it is crucial because project architects typically delegate design authority to the lightning protection contractor. The installer/designer must then meet stringent standards issued by the Quincy, Mass.-based National Fire Protection Association; Northbrook, Ill.-based UL LLC; and LPI.

COMPONENTS

Most of an LPS is below roof level. The most obvious above-roof components are air terminals, formerly called lightning rods. They must be located at the highest points on a roof. Depending on the building’s size and configuration, additional air terminals are required around the roof perimeter at intervals not exceeding 20 feet, within the field of the roof, on rooftop equipment and as dictated by the standards. Air terminals can be as slender as 3/8-inch diameter and as short as 10-inches tall; larger ones can be used for decorative purposes or to meet special requirements. While most air terminals now have blunt tips, pointed ones are still encountered and can be a hazard to the unwary.

Air terminals are interconnected by conductors—typically multi-strand cables that can safely carry up to 3 million volts of lightning to ground. Conductors must also be used to bond rooftop equipment and metal components to ground. In most buildings, through-roof penetrations are required so the down conductors can be run inside the structure; the penetrations can be sealed with typical flashing details. If conductors are exposed to view, they should be located in the least conspicuous locations and follow the building’s architectural lines.

Every wire entering the building must have a surge-protective device on it, and these are sometimes mounted above the roof. A variety of mounting devices, connectors, fasten- ers and adhesives are also required. All LPS components should be listed by UL specifically for lightning protection.

LPS components are typically cop- per or aluminum. To prevent galvanic action with roofing and flashings, copper components should be used with copper roofing and aluminum components with steel or aluminum roofing.

Cables interconnect the air terminals (on top of the parapet) to roof penetration (foreground) and other metal items, such as the rooftop exhaust fans and their anchorage points. Interconnections are vital to the function of the lightning protection system.

Cables interconnect the air terminals (on top of the parapet) to roof penetration (foreground) and other metal items, such as the rooftop exhaust fans and their anchorage points. Interconnections are vital to the function of the lightning protection system.

CONSTRUCTION

Before getting on the job, the roofer, LPS installer, and general contractor should agree on project schedule and roof access, as well as review proposed locations of lightning protection components. Penetrations, especially, should be located and marked prior to roofing so they can be found afterward.

The roofing manufacturer should be consulted for its recommendations. Adhesives, for example, must be compatible with the roofing, and some manufacturers require an extra layer of membrane under attachment points.

For added assurance, the building owner should have UL or LPI Inspection Service inspect the job and certify the LPS was properly installed.

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