With the year 2022 in close sight, I cannot help but realize how quickly this year has gone. We as an organization have been very busy and have accomplished much in 2021, and for that you should all be proud. Some of this year’s highlights include: finally adopting our 2018 Washington Codes, since the winter meeting in 2020 we held our first in-person business meeting in Port Angeles for the ABM, many attended the ICC ABM and code hearings in Pittsburgh, and very recently we hired our new lobbyist Marian Dacca who will replace Amy Brackenbury, who for many years did a remarkable job for us. Thank you Amy!

Our Fall Business Meeting in Chelan on October 28 & 29th was very well attended with approximately 68 in attendance and we had a total of 20 newcomers who were attending for their very first time. I think 20 first-timers has to be a record if not close since WABO’s inception. This could not have happened if it weren’t for the diligent efforts of our Board members utilizing a very long list of jurisdictions throughout the State and personally calling to invite each one, and getting it done in a very short time frame as well.

Our committee meetings that were held were well attended and very fruitful. First off, I’d like to commend Stacy Criswell, our Outreach Chair who’s had his plate quite full of late and has done a remarkable job in overseeing the creation of the WABO Building Official Handbook.  He also has led the charge of the ever-evolving Energy Code Task Force. I’d also like to acknowledge Doug Powell, our Emergency Management Chair who is taking great strides in energizing the committee by seeking more volunteers, revitalizing the EM website and strengthening the WAsafe program.

As always, I want to thank all of our active members for all that you do on our committees, as well as your participation during our business meetings. Without your support and hard work WABO could not be the great organization that it is today. With that said, I encourage you who are looking to sharpen or develop your leadership skills, code knowledge, or just want to make a difference, to make sure you contact myself or any of our Board members as to where you can contribute. It is both rewarding and fulfilling!

Our Winter Committee meeting will be held virtually on January 27, 2022. This meeting will be a legislative overview and talking points prep for all of the WABO members that will have volunteered to meet their district legislators virtually, scheduled for January 31-February 4th. We have found from the successful virtual meetings held last winter that we are able to have greater attendance and undivided attention from our legislatures than we ever had trying to meet in-person on the hill. I encourage you to sign up and attend in order to meet with your District legislatures. Until then, have a wonderful Holiday season!

Committee Reports

Technical Code Development Committee - Chair Micah Chappell, MBA, CBO

Technical Code Development Committee (TCD) discussed our participation and significant success rate of Code change proposals from attending the ICC Public Comment Hearings in Pittsburgh. We had great attendance and look forward to further success in Group B over the next year. 

TCD also discussed the moving of the WUIC into Group 2 for State changes and the revocation of WAC 51-54A-8200 that modified some sections of the WUIC. WABO TCD is coordinating a workgroup with WA State Fire Marshals Association and other jurisdictional representatives to work on proposed changes to the WUIC. If you have any recommended modifications to the WUIC, please contact TCD Chair Micah Chappell. 

Lastly TCD discussed some of the recent Emergency Rules approved by the SBCC and encourage all WABO members to read through those. The current emergency rules are located on the SBCC Website. 

The next TCD meeting's will be held November 15 & 29, 2021 from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm via GoToMeeting.  For future TCD committee dates please visit the TCD Code Development page.

Emergency Management Committee - Chair Doug Powell, CBO

EM Committee discussed the need for review of existing content on the WABO EM web page regarding: outdated information, the need for updated links to resources, other hazards, etc. Committee asks for assistance from WABO membership on what emergency management resources would you like to see available (ex. Web page is seismic heavy – address other hazards) EM web page update(s) will be a work item for the EM committee at upcoming regular monthly meetings to be held virtual beginning in December 2021, dates and times still to be determined.

EM & WAsafe Steering Committee’s need your help in determining what content you would like to see or have available to you on a “Building Official/AHJ” page on the WAsafe web site currently under development. In order to provide an informational page that works for you we need your feedback on what you would like to see i.e., request for resources during an event, training opportunities, other resources, etc.

Upcoming training opportunity for the State Emergency Operation Center (SEOC) Foundations course provided by Washington State Emergency Management Division. Prerequisites for the SEOC course are FEMA IS 100, 230 & 700; available training dates are November 18th, 2021 and May 26th, 2022, please see link for registering for this virtual training session: SEOC Foundations

EM Committee and WAsafe are looking for assistance from the membership; we still need to build our volunteer base for “Building Safety Responders” and “Volunteer Coordinators” across Washington State.

Your thoughts and ideas for EM web page update, WAsafe web page – Building Official page development or most importantly if you would like to become a WAsafe volunteer please reach out to your EM Chair at [email protected].

Government Relations - Chair Tim Woodard

The Government Relations committee (GRC) met at the Fall 2021 Business Meeting and many topics were discussed.

  • As previously mentioned, the GRC created a Selection Committee to interview new lobbyist. At the conclusion of the RFP six lobbyist firms applied for consideration. The committee agreed to interview four and at the conclusion the committee unanimously selected Marian Dacca with Gordan Thomas Honeywell to represent WABO.
  • The GRC debated our Legislative Talking points and ultimately ratified the talking points including adding an additional talking point in regard to new energy code legislation.
  • Lastly a call for GRC Subcommittee members was made. Per our policy a Subcommittee will be formed with members for the East and West side of the state to recommend actions on legislation to the Executive Board.

C & R Committee - Chair Brian Smith, CBO, ACO

Deferred to next quarter.

Education Committee - Chair Todd Blevins, CBO

The Education Committee is excited to announce the full class lineup for the 2022 Annual Education Institute is finalized.  The in-person training will be held at the Lynnwood Convention Center on March 21-24, 2022.   A preview of course offerings was announced at the Fall Quarterly meeting and the annual education brochure will be released the first week of January.  We look forward to seeing you all in March!

Outreach Committee - Chair Stacy Criswell, CBO, ACO

The Public outreach committee had great discussions on two main items. The first was looking for feedback on the “What is a building official” document which was put together with the help of many people. This document is the first of several ideas coming from WABO that you can use for public outreach, have at the front counter for your customers and potentially give to your executive leaders to better explain what we do. We are looking for final feedback over the next couple weeks and some design ideas for a cover page to highlight our work. So, if you have any feedback or editorial comments, please send them to [email protected] and we will review them before we send out the completed document sometime around Christmas.

The second item was an update regarding the “Energy Code Taskforce” and several pro’s vs cons for possible ideas of focus with our membership. This is another great volunteer group of individuals looking at options that we can better flesh out regarding both short- and long-term strategies regarding the review and inspection of the State energy codes. We received good feedback and hope to bring back more in-depth ideas at our next ABM. If you are interested in helping with this group or providing some good contacts from the industry, please reach out to me at [email protected] to see where we can get you involved.

Accreditation Committee - Chair James Tumelson, ME, CBO, MCP, ACO

The Code Official Accreditation Program (COAP) is now in full swing for the first time running concurrently years one, two and three. This is a very exciting time for the committee and WABO as an organization. Having all the courses finalized is a huge milestone and a prerequisite for pursuing State licensing approval.  Once the program is licensed through the State, we may then create an advertising campaign to attract new students outside of WABO. The Accreditation Committee is engaged in discussions about the creation of a fourth year solely focused on the Building Official role.  We have also begun discussions surrounding a 12-week self-paced curriculum based on industry knowledge such has wood framed construction, energy code, mechanical and plumbing.  Stay tuned for future updates!

TCD Scholarship Reports

2021 Public Comment Hearings - Pittsburgh, PA

A few WABO TCD Members at the 2021 Public Comment Hearings!

Lee J. Kranz, CBO, ACO - Retired

I’ve been privileged to be involved in building code development process for over 25 years; writing code changes, attending committee meetings, and going to the ICC hearings.   I’ve always learned a great deal about the intent behind the codes which has served me well in my work as an inspector and plans examiner.  My trip to Pittsburgh, PA this Fall for the ICC Public Comment Hearings (PCHs) was no exception.  My biggest takeaway was the importance of networking with other professionals to get ideas on how my proposals could be improved and garner support for them.  Proposals are improved by listening to folks at the Committee Action Hearings (CAHs), Technical Code Development (TCD) members and other associates.  This process helps identify grammar issues, possible impacts on other sections of the codes and unanticipated scenarios.  Amending the text of proposals after listening to opponents, proponents and doing more research after the CAHs is part of the process and helps improve the quality of our code changes.  The benefits of collaboration are significant and typically improve the value of our codes.  I encourage every WABO member to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the WABO Technical Code Development Committee meetings as well as attendance at the Hearings.  You will always learn new things about the codes, get a better understanding of how the code development process works and make a lot of new friends who have the same interests as you.  WABO TCD is now a nationally known and highly respected code development team who consistently contribute to the improvement of the codes we enforce.  Now is the time for you to get involved.  Share your knowledge of the codes and how they can be improved. 

Sue Coffman, PE, CBO, CFM - City of Tacoma

At the start of the trip, we connected with several other TCD members in the airport.  The following morning, the City of Tacoma group consisting of myself, Hoyt Jeter, and Quyen Thai coordinated to register for the hearings and coordinate any COT testimony for specific codes.

The hearings started on Tuesday, 9/21 and I was able to attend the entire PCHs which ended 2 pm on Saturday, September 25.  The hearings consisted of the following codes on the following days: 


Wednesday:  IWUIC, IFC

Thursday:  IFC, IPMC, IBC-FS, IBC-G

Friday:  IBC-G, IBC-E

Saturday:  IBC-G, IBC-E

I was able to attend the entire Public Comment Hearings for Group A codes.  Having the opportunity to attend the entire hearing was a great opportunity to get a better understanding of the entire Group A codes and interrelations of code proposals impacting more than one code. 

There was also the opportunity to testify and hear testimony on TCD code proposals or positions.  It was good to hear both the negative and positive testimony, especially related to TCD proposals.  Hearing negative testimony will also help me write better codes in the future.  I think it also makes you realize that the proposal you thought was ready to put in the codes may need more work.  There are many different perspectives that you may not realize when putting together a code proposal and having not only other jurisdictional members, but industry representatives or other special interest groups ultimately helps get a better understanding of the many different aspects related to a code proposal.

It was also a great benefit to see people face-to-face, albeit with masks on in many cases.  These are great opportunities to meet other TCD members in person, as well as other members of ICC who were attending the hearings. 

I appreciated the financial support from WABO to attend these hearings.  This also made me want to attend the Group B hearings next year.  This is a process to help not only me in understanding the codes and the code development process, but it also helps WA state to have good representation from our state to improve our state building codes.    

Hoyt D Jeter, PE - Clarity Consulting & City of Tacoma

I have been involved in code review for many years. The first codebook I used to do code review started with the 1997 uniform building code, or should I say the 1997 SBC (Seattle Building Code) since I worked for a consulting firm that did review for the City of Seattle. I have always had a fascination with learning to keep working my brain. This brings me to one of the most important processes code reviewers and building officials should experience.  All involved in code review read the code, apply what it says, and communicate the requirements to the public in many different forms.  But one should ask if I am enforcing the code, I should wonder how it is made, why something is there, etc.  The only true way to get this experience is to go to a code hearing.  I would have never guessed that a vote of around 128 people has so much influence on the code for the whole nation.  One of WABO's members, Lee Kranz, proposals was to deal with a confusing code item that Lee purposed. E100

At the committee hearing, it was disapproved 14 to 0.  14 people were able to decide what gets approved or not, but that is not the end of it.  The committee member gave a reason; for example,  it needed to address sloped sites.  So Julius Carreon of Bellevue put in a public comment to see if it may get approved based on feedback from the 14 individuals. So by a vote of 56 to 3, public comment number 1 was approved.
This is just one example. The number of pages we sat through 5 days consisted of approximately 1425 pages of written material.   Now every proposal has individual talk for it or against it. Then, after all the testimonies for and against, we get to vote.  All testimonies are recorded, so we get our minutes of fame if we talk about an item.  As we all find in our busy lives and work we need to get done, it is sometimes time-consuming to get involved in the items we enforce.  But, if you have ever complained about something in the code that appears not correct or new items come in and how to enforce them, the only true way to understand and make an educated decision it getting involved in the code development.

Quyen Thai, CBO - City of Tacoma

I would like to extend my appreciation to the Washington Association of Building Officials for granting me a scholarship to participate in my first technical code development hearings. Through this experience, I have learned that I am only just touching the tip of the iceberg on how the processes of building code changes are established.

This experience has enhanced my understanding of how the building codes are established. Being able to vote and listen to arguments, both for and against a code proposal, helped me understand some of the challenges in adopting specific code language. It truly was amazing how certain code proposals that I thought were obvious approvals, became not-so-obvious when listening to the opposing arguments. For instance, I thought WABO’s TCD recommendation that sleeping loft guidance be included the main body of the code was an obvious choice. But after listening to the arguments, I have a clearer understanding of the opposition’s argument.  

Another proposal that I thought would have been an obvious choice to adopt, but subsequently failed, were the G99 series proposals. To me, the advent of new and emerging technologies requiring computer server rooms and cloud storage obviously required and adaptation of the code. And yet, a sizable portion of the voters did not agree that there was a current need for adoption.

Discussing code proposals with proponents and opponents alike was interesting. For instance, I met with two opponents (AirBnB representatives) the day before the G44-21 proposal was to be heard. It was an opportunity to listen and learn their reasons for opposition to this proposal, but also an opportunity for me to provide and educate her on my arguments for the matter. I don’t believe my argument swayed them, but it was still a great opportunity to understand the process of how the ICC Public Hearing works.

I was able to attend four days of the hearing (from 9/21 – 9/24), each day was thoroughly enjoyable. There was never a dull moment during the hearing when listening to speakers such as Marcello Hirschler (whom I had the pleasure of speaking to during a break) and John Taecker. I look forward to attending and participating in future ICC Public Hearings and again express my gratitude for the scholarship and invaluable opportunity.

Stacy Criswell, CBO, ACO - City of Monroe

Being in the inspection, plan review and enforcement side of construction for over 20 years, it still amazes me how regulations are put into the codes that we have to enforce. For years I just knew that every 3 years there would be new codes and we were tasked with learning them, educating the contractors of the changes and then enforcing them... I honestly didn't know that I could be part of this process and have a say in what changed.

This was the second time I have been a part of the code hearings, and again I learned so much from reading the committee's recommendations/public comments and hearing testimony on all the proposed changes. It is also important to remember that unless code professionals like us are at these functions, the industry who stands to benefit from less restrictive codes will prevail. Even though the codes we discussed won't be modified until the 2024 code if approved, just knowing that our actions today will keep buildings safe in the future is important and satisfying.

I strongly recommend that you take part in these hearings in the future and if money is an issue, there are a lot of scholarships available.

Shane Nilles, CBO - City of Cheney

Votes ‘N Bro’s! – If you didn’t read that with the movie “Step Brothers” in mind, then I suggest setting this aside, watch the movie, and then reread it with the passion that Huff ‘N Doback sings, uh, the original phrase.

As a past recipient of the WABO TCD scholarship I’ve written about the experience within the hearings, the process, the politics, the surprising twists that only a code geek would care about, ultimately leading to the “Votes!”. But my experience in Pittsburgh made me think about the other, possibly more valuable part of attending the hearings, and that’s the “Bro’s”. By that I mean the time spent with other WABO members (Bro’s being a slang for “friends” so yes this includes men and women members). That’s what I found most valuable about this trip was sharing the experience with WABO members that, despite being almost entirely on the opposite side of the state from me (Yes, I’m an Eastern Washingtonian), have truly become people that when I see them it’s like visiting a friend you haven’t talked to in a year. Time has gone by, different things have happened in your life, but it’s comfortable conversation as if no time had gone by at all.

Admittedly I think the feeling was amplified by the fact that I had brought my wife and 6-week-old child along so I had the opportunity to share my personal life more intimately with people that at one time the conversations never went beyond, “yeah that one new section of code, blah, blah, blah”. It was great to have them be a part of such a new experience in my life as a new dad, and of course take advantage of those that were willing to take a shift holding him so my arms could have a break. It’s those moments when we were getting together outside of the hearings for dinner, and of course the occasional beer (which I’m not alone in saying that they do not know how to make good beer on the East coast), where attending the hearing didn’t feel like it was “doing extra work”. It was having fun with others that also have just enough of a messed-up mind that they might even enjoy the professional side of it where we fought over often minute differences in the language that could result from a code proposal.

In what other realm does a person get to put the regular day-to-day life behind, and spend time with good people, doing fun things, in a beautiful new City, albeit without quality beer? I’d share all the details, but some things are better kept to those who were there. Besides, if you weren’t there, I’d rather see you get involved, join in on the fun, and see it first-hand. Just remember if you decide to attend a hearing on the East coast, BYOB.

Angela Haupt, CBO - City of Kirkland

I recently attended my 4th ICC Public Comment Hearings and Annual Business Meeting in Pittsburgh PA. This was the first hearings held in person since everything shut down in 2020. The attendance seemed much lower than previous hearings I have attended. This could have been due to not having any really major code change proposals, but also likely due to the on going pandemic concerns. The proposals moved along at a good rate these hearings. The actual event was scheduled to go through Sunday Sept 26th, but concluded on Saturday the 25th.

I was able to attend all days of the hearings and testified on one proposal. Between the low attendance and the high attendance by WABO TCD/ Seattle we made up a fairly large portion of the voters. WABO TCD had a very high success rate for WABO proposals, Seattle proposals and other items that we felt warranted our attention. I look forward to continued participation with the TCD at both the State and national level. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this process.