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National Lightning Protection: Florida Building Code Proposal a Cause for Concern


5/15/2017

The Florida Building Code is contemplating a change in this cycle to require all structures to have a NFPA 780 Lightning Protection System to be installed on all new construction. The proposed change can be viewed here: https://codes.iccsafe.org/public/chapter/content/8097/. Then scroll to Lightning Protection.

The NFPA 780 document is questionable at best. The NFPA Standards Council appointed a past Standards Council President to do a study of NFPA 890. That study was called The Bryan Report. From that study come the following comments:

"The 780 document should be reformulated as a Guide or Recommended Practice. It appears to the panel the 780 document does not meet the NFPA criteria for a standard since the recommended lightning protection system has never been scientifically or technically validated and the Franklin rod air terminals have not been validated in field tests under thunderstorm conditions. The NFPA criteria for a standard as stated in the NFPA 99 Directory is as follows:

“Standard -- A document, the main text of which contains only mandatory provisions using the word ‘shall’ to indicate requirements and which is in a form generally suited for mandatory reference by another standard or code or for adoption into law. Nonmandatory provisions shall be located in an appendix, footnote, or fineprintnote and are not to be considered as part of the requirements of the standard.

“It appeared to the panel the 780 document is currently not suitable for mandatory reference by another standard or code or for adoption into law. The current NFPA 780 document appears to have been recognized by historical precedent rather than by experimental and scientific validation."

National Lightning Protection believes this code change will cause your readers a lot of time and money if passed. Some structures are impossible to protect using this standard. This proposal also stops any new technology from coming into the market.

National Lightning Protection advises readers to express their comments to the committee. Contact information for Florida building commissioners can be found at http://www.floridabuilding.org/fbc/commission/Commission_Roster.pdf. The final decision on the proposed code change will be made on June 13.


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