Building safety coming to Jamaica
Two building code experts headed to Jamaica for a week in May for the next step in a 15-year process to help the island country update its building codes and provide training for their code officials.
The code experts visited Jamaica to undertake a training needs assessment of local building authorities. The insights gained from this trip will provide valuable inputs for the roll-out of a building code training program. This technical support to the Government of Jamaica was funded through the Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management.
The visit was part of a wider engagement between the Code Council and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), aimed at increasing building safety and resilience to natural disasters. This partnership was initiated back in 2003, when BSJ approached the Code Council and requested the provision of the Code Council model building codes and assistance in strengthening its code training capacity.
Since 2003, the Bureau of Standards has used 10 ICC codes as the basis for updating the National Building Codes of Jamaica. In 2017, another important milestone was achieved when the Bureau of Standards Jamaica signed a memorandum of understanding to continue working with the Code Council to produce customized building codes for Jamaica as part of its overall resilience efforts based on the 10 International Codes. Under the agreement, ICC also will provide its expertise to help with strengthening training programs for code officials in Jamaica.
“ICC’s engagement is critical to Jamaica, as it will set the stage for a successful implementation of the new Jamaican Building Code. This will be a major step to protect health, safety and welfare and make Jamaica more resilient to natural disasters.” Bureau of Standards Jamaica Chairman James Rawles (2017)
The collaboration between the Code Council and the Bureau of Standards has received support from the World Bank as part of Jamaica’s Disaster Vulnerability Project — a US30 million loan to the Government to support investment in resilient infrastructure and disaster risk reduction measures. The project includes rolling out a building code training program for building authorities, building professionals and Government officials.
As part of the training needs assessment, the code experts met with representatives of larger municipalities such as Kingston and St Andrews, as well as those from some smaller jurisdictions. The Code Council representatives engaged in lively discussions with the roads and works departments and gained an insight into the day-day working of the departments, challenges faced in implementing the code and training requirements.
Mark Johnson, Executive Vice President and Director of Business Development for the International Code Council, said the involvement of ICC experts was highly valuable given that the ICC codes are the basis of the National Building Codes of Jamaica.
Johnson noted ICC’s increasing international reach. The ICC is also assisting countries with building safety and resiliency is happening in other areas through the world, including Trinidad and Tobago. “Building codes help the World Bank protect their investments,” Johnson said. “And we can help. This is a pretty exciting time.”
 The International Building Code, International Fire Code, International Existing Building Code, International Mechanical Code, International Plumbing Code, International Residential Code, International Property Maintenance Code, International Fuel Gas Code, International Energy Conservation Code and the International Private Sewage Disposal Code.