It’s good to be back at AWCI’s technical service desk after having spent a mere nine years across the Potomac at the Gypsum Association helping promote the gypsum board industry. While at that post, I learned a thing or two about gypsum panel products and building systems, so I will do my best to avoid overdoing it on the topic of drywall in this column even though it may be the most comfortable subject for me in the short term. When I sat in this chair before—from January 1999 to January 2004—I spent much of my time fighting the good fight for the spray-applied fireproofing segment of the industry, first in the code arena and then in the public relations arena, which in part provided the incentive to pursue the promotion side of the business. Now it looks like the building envelope and safety will be my new best friends for the foreseeable future. So, bear with me as I get back up to speed on these and all other things near and dear to the wall and ceiling contractor community. And do not hesitate to throw interesting or oddball issues at me; researching those topics is the best way for me to learn them.
A hat tip to my successor/predecessor Don Smith, who has done an admirable job keeping this spot in the magazine both informative and interesting. I only hope I can serve as well as he has. I am fully aware it can be a challenge meeting deadlines while keeping the conversation fresh and lively. I second his parting words about our editor, Laura Porinchak, our goddess of the blue pencil, who ensures we don’t run to far off the rails and stick to the AP Stylebook while standing on our desks if necessary to keep that deadline. Don’s approach to this column evolved from the Q & A format that I found when I first got here and continued to use until he took over into more of a commentary on things happening in the industry. As I was quite comfortable with the old Q & A, I will most likely revert to that format as I get back up to speed at AWCI. In the meantime, I would like to make note of a few changes that met me at my first AWCI convention in nine years.
One new duty for me is the role of staff support on AWCI’s Safety & Loss Control Forum. While at AWCI’s Convention in March, I attended my first of these forums. We discussed several items, but the most significant and recurring theme throughout the meeting was that though safety programs are viewed by many businesses as a necessary evil/expense, they do actually help protect the bottom line. So, having everyone up to speed on their respective safety requirements not only prevents injuries and saves lives, which should be incentive enough, it can prevent a business from taking an unsustainable financial loss. In view of this, one would expect a larger presence of safety people at the convention than we had, and we kicked around some ideas to improve the interest and participation of the members in the forum. In the coming months, I will dig into the possibilities of making the Safety & Loss Control Forum a bigger deal to our members, which, if executed properly, should serve the whole industry.
Another new wrinkle to this job, though less unfamiliar, is coordinating with the Steel Framing Alliance. I’ll be sitting in on discussions about limiting thermal transmission through steel framing, which ties into the ever-growing conversation on continuous insulation. So, look for occasional mention of developments in that arena, as well.
Don Smith’s project that tests for the possible creep of stucco applied over various thicknesses of insulating materials used in a continuous insulation application is also high on my to-do list. He reported on the first round of testing, which showed very limited movement of the stucco systems applied over several types of exterior insulation, but there are several more steps to go before we know everything about how these systems will perform in real-world situations, including fire. Conversations about getting more mockups with these materials made and fire tested are ongoing, but there are a few details that remain to be sorted out. I will be working with several of our stucco-savvy members and suppliers to continue the project, and I expect to be offering regular updates on this subject as well, with the usual invitation to you, our readers, to weigh in when you feel the need.
Lee G. Jones is AWCI’s director of technical services. He can be reached at (703) 538.1611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.