BOMC and FSMC Governing Committees Hold Inaugural Joint Meeting

The Governing Committees of the Building Officials Membership Council and the Fire Service Membership Council met jointly during the weekend of March 1-3, at Guntersville State Park in Alabama. Under the guidance of meeting facilitators Jim Bartl and Ken Kraus, the members of each Governing Committee worked in cross-pollinated teams to identify barriers to cohesive working relationships between building and fire officials, and identify solutions and best practices to eliminate barriers.Governing Committees members were shuttled from the airport to the ICC Birmingham District Office by staff and greeted with refreshments and a tour of the office, where they were met by ICC Board Vice President Steve Jones, Board Secretary/Treasurer Guy Tomberlin and Board Members Bill Bryant, who is the liaison to the FSMC, and Dwayne Garriss.

“I was a little nervous coming in to this meeting, not knowing what to expect, but the relationships that were built and the camaraderie that took place far exceeded my wildest expectations,” said BOMC Chair Steve Shapiro. “What a great meeting!”

The group enjoyed a coach ride to Guntersville State Park where members of the local Town Council, George Gillen and Dink Myers, welcomed the ICC group and presented ICC CEO Dominic Sims with a symbolic key to the Town.

The hospitality continued with a fabulous outdoor barbecue dinner hosted by the Alabama Association of Plumbing, Gas and Mechanical Inspectors; the Code Officials Association of Alabama: the East Alabama Code Officials Association; and the Code Officials of Lower Alabama. All are ICC Chapters.

Chef Mel Cosgrove, Government Relations Senior Regional Manager, was behind the grill preparing excellent meals. Chef Mel was assisted by his wife Ann; Chapter Members David and his wife Vickie Price, Randy and his wife Corinna Lee, Paul McLamb and Jimmy Morgan; FSMC Governing Committee Vice-Chair Jackie and wife Barbara Gibbs; and Board Members Dwayne Garriss and Bill Bryant, a barbecue aficionado. Everyone enjoyed an outstanding meal under an outdoor pavilion while watching the snow fall, a rare sight in Alabama.

Following the outdoor adventure, everyone retired to the lodge’s hospitality room where members of each council networked. FSMC Governing Committee Chair Fulton Cochran noted “that the facilities at Guntersville State Park and the hospitality provided by the Alabama Chapters created the perfect environment for everyone to truly get to know one another.”

The formal part of the meeting got underway Saturday morning with an icebreaker exercise where members of each Governing Committee were paired off and asked to interview one another and then introduce their partner to the group. Each member was asked to bring a family photograph and the introductions were focused on each other from a personal perspective as opposed to their profession. Following introductions, the facilitators assigned everyone to a work group comprised of a mix of members from each Governing Committee. Each of the four groups chose a leader and worked through several exercises facilitated by Jim and Ken.

The groups identified issues and barriers they felt inhibit the close and productive working relationship between building and fire officials, and immediately went to work suggesting possible solutions or best practices that would reduce those barriers. BOMC Governing Committee Vice-Chair Becky Baker commented on how the exercises brought the members of each group together, “We started on Saturday morning as a work group and finished on Sunday as a team.”

FSMC Governing Committee Vice-Chair Jackie Gibbs commented that “fire and building officials really have much more in common than we have differences; we just need to take time to listen to one another.”

Collectively, the teams identified the following six issues as the most important areas that would become the focus of their action plans over the next year. These issues were identified as the top answers to the question: what prevents building and fire officials from working together?

  • Lack of communication
  • Cultural differences
  • Trust/Mistrust
  • Baggage from previous actions
  • Different political pressures
  • Need for joint training and education

Each team chose one or two priority actions as their mission for 2013. With support from ICC staff, the teams will continue to work collaboratively to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timely) goals with an implementation plan to help building and fire officials work better together.

The materials developed during this first joint meeting of the two Governing Committees are posted on the Membership Councils website and available for viewing and input from all BOMC and FSMC members. To continue the enthusiasm and momentum created during the first meeting, the two Governing Committees will hold their next joint session on Sunday April 21, just prior to the start of the Committee Action Hearings in Dallas.