Guest Editorial: Another View on the IAPMO/ICC Negotiations
I recently read Guy Tomberlin's thoughtful commentary (Sept. 06 PME, pp. 8-24) regarding the attempt at a joint venture between the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and International Code Council (ICC), the purpose being to consolidate their respective plumbing and mechanical codes into something acceptable to both. A negotiation of this magnitude requires willingness to give and take on both sides, but it should not require surrender on either side.
A total of four codes [International Mechanical Code (IMC), Uniform Mechanical Code (UMC), Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and International Plumbing Code (IPC)] came to the table with the intent that there would be only two at the conclusion of successful negotiations. My understanding is that IAPMO was willing to abandon its long-standing UMC, and ICC would set aside its IPC, each to be replaced by jointly developed and retitled Mechanical and Plumbing Codes.
The IAPMO voting bloc and that of ICC are very different in size and require a means to offset this disparity, such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process. This is not unlike the electoral college that is utilized in Federal elections to compensate for major population differences in U.S. voting districts. In an effort to be fair, it was evidently deemed appropriate by the IAPMO and ICC representatives to utilize a process (ANSI) that would level-out differences in the size of each organization's membership and the raw voting power of the larger group.
Additionally, use of the UPC as the base plumbing code and the IMC as the base mechanical code allows all participants an opportunity to begin with two complete documents, after which amendments can be recommended and voted upon as deemed necessary by the membership. Attempting to reconcile two quite different codes into a base document would be as time-consuming and burdensome as the effort to achieve a joint venture has been.
It may be possible to streamline the ANSI process. In every case, the process should be fair and not weighted in favor of the "big guy."