Associations end talks over bath-enclosure standards, codes

August 8, 2006
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Talks have failed between officials at the Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association in Topeka, Kan., and the Americas Glass Association in Placerville, Calif. They were striving to reach a consensus on whether to create standards or building codes for the bath-enclosure industry.

Officials from both organizations held a conference call in late June to address BEMA leaders’ concerns with AGA’s proposed amendments to the International Building Code and proposed test standards for hardware to ASTM International of West Conshohocken, Pa.

A second conference call was scheduled for July 26. However, officials on both sides pulled out after AGA members refused a request from BEMA to withdraw the proposals.

The AGA “task group did not want to withdraw, so there was no reason to have another teleconference,” says Donn Harter, president and director of technical services for AGA.

BEMA began developing its own bath-enclosure standards in 2005. “It is unfortunate that the associations could not come together in the interest of the public and the industry,” said Chris Birch, BEMA executive director, in an Aug. 3 statement. “However, it is no longer a question of standard or code change for BEMA. The association simply cannot support the code change as written.”

As a result, the AGA proposal will face BEMA opposition as it advances to code hearings sponsored by the International Code Council of Falls Church, Va., in late September. “While BEMA [members] had hoped to use its limited resources to fund the standards process, it will now use them to oppose the AGA code change,” Birch said in the statement.

Harter says BEMA’s opposition could hinder AGA’s success at the hearings, as “the word of the manufacturers is pretty strong, both with contractors and code officials. … If they are able to stop us at code change hearings, then we’ll just go ahead and try again next year.”

However, Harter says he wants future collaboration to occur between the organizations, whether or not the amendments make it through the code change process. “We’ve hoped they would partner with us, and would like to bring dialogue again,” he says. “Even if we prevail, we are still willing to sit down and look at amendments [that address BEMA concerns] that might be practical.”