It takes a disaster before anything is done that costs money, or so it appears. I have to ask why many blatantly obvious risks that could be mitigated with a few more dollars, always have to wait until a major disaster occurs, and/or many “important” people die, before any action is taken.
This is hardly a new situation but it was brought into close focus recently by the disastrous fires near Boulder, Colorado, where I live. I suppose I’m equally guilty in the fact that it had to happen almost at my back door step before I reacted. Unfortunately, it is also the second time in a couple of weeks that I have been confronted by a similar situation, although they are quite different in terms of danger.
A small fire, apparently in someone’s shed, fanned by 115mph winds coming off the Rocky Mountains, consumed over a thousand homes in an afternoon just after Christmas, only a few miles away from me. It was reported nationally and internationally. Some entire housing sub-divisions, in the narrow path of the fire, were reduced to ashes, with only the base concrete slab and the occasional chimney left standing. These were not slums. They were million-dollar plus homes.
The Rocky Mountains have produced wild fires for a long time, with the canyons opening out to the eastern plains serving as funnels for the flames. Yet the building codes do not seem to acknowledge that reality. When you look at the construction of new homes, offices and condominiums, they resemble the structures made out of matchsticks that some of us build as kids. Even Lego houses look more substantial. The architects and builders put down a concrete slab, then build a completely wooden structure, and cover it in Tyvex sheeting. Adding insult to injury, they then cover the whole “structure” with wood cladding. A fire trap if ever there was one. AND, in an area subject to wild fires and high winds. Absolute madness! The architects who design such dangerous structures should be shot, and the builders who build them should be required to replace them free of charge when they burn down. I’m actually amazed that they don’t just blow over in any windstorm, without the assistance of a fire. I have also just learned that the construction warranty on these new houses, regardless of whether they cost $300,000 or $3 million, is just two to five years. If that doesn’t prove that the builders know what inappropriate work they are doing, then nothing will. Where is the lobbying power of the predatory insurance companies when it would do some societal good? Lobbying for legislation to improve building codes would give them more profits with less claims, so where are they? It’s time to change the ……g building codes, and not just in Boulder, Colorado or just in the U.S.
The other issue, which I reported on in earlier blogs, follows a similar pattern. Not on the same level of devastation, but a very dangerous problem that could be mitigated by a few extra dollars. That other issue is the lack of reflective lane lines on roads. In Europe, it is standard procedure, both for the middle lane lines and the edge-of-the-road lines. In the U.S., only the centerlines on interstate highways are mandated to use reflective paint.
Hey legislators, Hey insurance companies, if you can’t see the lines, you’re an accident waiting to happen. The question you should both answer is what is more important, the cost of paint or the lives of victims and property damage.
It took Miami Dade County, in Florida, years and years of destructive hurricanes to finally pass what is the most comprehensive building code in the country. How many more people have to die, and how much more property has to be destroyed, before legislatures in the rest of the country will look at this issue of local building codes. Equally, when will they realize that paying double for road lane-line paint, is more than worth every cent.
We, the people, need to stand up and be counted. That’s supposedly how the U.S. works, or so we are led to believe!!