How to Approach Local Building Officials To Promote Fiber Reinforced Concrete in Residential Construction
January 17, 2011
Back in March 2005, the three reining construction code bodies in the United States united into a single code body with a single set of standards and specifications. ICBO, BOCA, and SBCCA united under the banner of ICC or International Code Council. Today there are two sets of standards and specifications; one referenced as International Building Code (IBC) and the second as the International Residential Code (IRC). The IBC provides standards for commercial construction and IRC covers single and multi-family residential construction. Almost all states and local agencies utilize the ICC codes, both IBC and IRC.
In 2009, there was an upgrade to the IRC wherein the code required that the wire mesh, if used in residential slabs-on-ground, must be elevated on permanent supports. Furthermore, the wire mesh must be in the upper half of the slab as prescribed by typical specifications. The reference in the code is Paragraph R506.2.4 Reinforcement Support.
This change in the code immediately established an added burden for the contractor, both in the time required to place the wire mesh on the supports as well as the cost of the labor and permanent supports.
Back in 1991 the first iteration of AC32- Concrete with Synthetic Fibers was published by ICBO. When ICC came into being this document was adopted by ICC in toto. This Acceptance criterion provided for the use of synthetic fibers as plastic shrinkage crack reinforcement in concrete (Section 3.1.1) and/or temperature-shrinkage crack reinforcement in concrete (Section 3.1.2). Testing requirements using consensus test methods were established in AC32 to determine compliance. An Engineering Evaluation was provided by ICC ES based on the results of the required testing that must be performed at an ICC ES accredited commercial laboratory. The use of AC32 evaluated fibers provided an opportunity to replace wire mesh with a better solution to the problem; one that met the ‘Value Engineering’ criteria. This code provision coupled with the changes in 2009 provided an option to the contractor to salvage the monies he would potentially lose with the wire mesh requirements.
To take advantage of these code modifications in any county or local municipality it became the responsibility of the contractor to educate the local building officials and to gain approval for the use of the synthetic fibers. The contractor called on the ready mixed concrete producer to provide the technical support required to gain these approvals. As would be anticipated the ready mixed concrete producer requested that the marketer of the fiber reinforcement for concrete to handle the education process and to secure the approvals.
ABC Polymer Industries is experienced in this process and is most willing to work with the contractors and ready mixed concrete producers in their quest to accelerate the approval process. Furthermore and more importantly ABC Polymer Industries has gone through the process of having those of our products that would provide plastic shrinkage cracking reinforcement and/or temperature-shrinkage cracking reinforcement tested per AC32. These products Mono-Tuf and Fibril-Tuf meet the appropriate criteria and ICC ES has provided an engineering evaluation report (ESR-1699) for these products. Testing has been completed and all of the required documents have been submitted to ICC ES for Mono-Pro.
– R.C. Zellers, PE/PLS, Director, Engineering Services