On Sept. 5, the International Code Council effectively terminated negotiations to develop a single plumbing code in conjunction with the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, even though both parties were in agreement on key matters, and a successful conclusion seemed only weeks away.
Formal discussions to explore the joint development of new plumbing and mechanical codes began in August 2005. It was initiated by then ICC President Frank Hodge and IAPMO President Chris Salazar. A memorandum of understanding was signed by both parties in September 2005, and meetings were held in November and February 2006. In May, both groups announced they were in agreement on certain key elements, but it was a recent July “National Town Hall Meeting” of ICC that has had the most impact on the decision to end negotiations.
“Ultimately our members and stakeholders made it clear that they were unwilling to deviate from the ICC governmental consensus process, in which public officials - who have no economic interest in the outcome - determine the content of the code,” ICC Board President Henry Green said in a statement. “Commitment to ICC's process runs deep among our members and stakeholders.”
IAPMO's Executive Director GP Russ Chaney was in a word “shocked.”
“At this point I'm almost at a loss for words,” Chaney wrote. The ICC's Sept. 5 memo to end discussions has discarded to-date agreements, and lays out “a series of non-negotiable, major ultimatums that IAPMO must meet for talks to resume,” IAPMO's statement declared.
“We hope there is still a way to save the talks, but these eleventh-hour demands are totally unreasonable,” stated Salazar.
The concern of ICC members surrounds the code consensus process. IAPMO subscribes to an “ANSI style consensus process,” and takes into account industry, governmental and consumer representatives, and reserves the decision on code content to a representative committee.
IAPMO rejects the published claims by those in protest, which include statements that IAPMO's code process gives power to “special interest groups.” “A 'hybrid' approach to code development was a feature of the Joint Venture, combining the best features of each organization's method,” the statement said.
Regardless of this recent memo, IAPMO remains open to resuming talks “in the spirit of good faith it has consistently demonstrated.”
However, ICC Chief Operating Officer Rick Weiland is following his member's wishes. “While both sides wanted this to work, ICC is a member-focused organization. The feedback ... made it clear that the joint venture as currently proposed would not be sustainable without further modification.”