Flood protection is serious business, and rightly so. If a company claims that a product will perform a certain way under flooding conditions, failing to live up to those claims can be disastrous for everyone involved. As a result, various organizations have evolved in North America over the past century with the purpose of standardizing, testing and certifying manufactured flood protection measures. However, each of these entities approaches this critical task in a slightly different way, and that can lead to confusion on the part of those purchasing and installing the products. Here’s a brief overview of the most important organizations in flood control – and what each of them views as their responsibility in making sure that flood products live up to their promises.
In general, those who oversee the world of flood protection can be divided into three categories: organizations that set standards and certify products; organizations that set standards but do not certify products; and organizations that are involved with flood protection, but that do not set standards or certify products. In some instances, the distinctions can be discreet, but each has its own job to do when it comes to looking out for those who count on flood control technology.
Organizations that set standards and certify products
FM (Factory Mutual) Approvals
FM Approvals primarily works with property loss prevention products that are used in commercial and industrial facilities. It has developed more than 200 standards, which identify the approval criteria of various types of products and services. In short, FM Approvals seeks to provide a professional, trusted, unbiased ascertainment that a company’s product can do what it says it can do.
The certification process is performed by experienced researchers and is incredibly rigorous. If something says it can hold up to fire, then it is subjected to fire. Flood prevention products are submerged and expected to hold up to everything from long-term exposure to powerful impacts that simulate objects being smashed into barriers by wind and waves.
Flood Mitigation Certification Program
Related to the information above, the Flood Mitigation Certification Program was created in 2012 by the Association of State Floodplain Managers in partnership with FM Approvals and the US Army Corps of Engineers. This program tests flood mitigation products to the American National Standards Institute ANSI/FM 2510 standard (see below for more on ANSI). Products that meet all requirements of the program are certified and receive the FM Approved mark.
Florida Product Approvals
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation oversees the evaluation of companies that do business in the state (primarily involving construction) to determine if they meet the government’s requirements, including the incredibly rigorous standards set for the High Velocity Hurricane Zone (or HVHZ) that includes Miami-Dade and Broward counties. For a company to earn its Florida Approval Number, its products must comply with Florida building codes and product approvals, which is no easy feat.
Some flood doors are also “fire-rated,” a certification process overseen by UL Solutions, a global leader in fire safety and certification. Initially known as Underwriters Laborites, the UL mark is ubiquitous on both consumer and industrial products. UL Solutions’ benchmarks enable technology manufacturers to measure and manage hardware characteristics with some of industry’s most trusted and widely used performance tests.
Organizations that set standards but do not certify products:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and maintains 10 regional offices located across the United States. It is tasked with coordinating federal government resources to ensure that the country is properly equipped to prepare for and respond to disasters. It also manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which puts it in an important position to create and influence policy regarding flood preparation efforts in the United States. It takes part in legislation, the creation of insurance rules and even the development of guidelines and standards, but does not certify products itself.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a nonprofit organization that oversees voluntary standards in the U.S. While the standards ANSI sets forth are voluntary, they are also tremendously stringent. ANSI’s standards ensure that the characteristics and performance of flood protection products are consistent, that companies use the same definitions and terms, and that tests are performed in the same manner.
Organizations that are involved with flood protection but that do not set standards or certify products:
US Army Corp of Engineers
The Army Corps of Engineers provides public engineering services in peace and war to strengthen national security, energize the economy, and reduce risks from disasters. It is a formation of the United States Army, but also performs civil works missions, including flood and storm damage protection. As such, it is very involved with the process of establishing flood protection in the United States, often providing guidance, but not acting directly to set standards or certify products.
Association of State Floodplain Managers
The Association of State Floodplain Managers is a scientific and educational nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing flood loss in the United States. It works to educate policymakers on sound floodplain management policies and practices, provide training events, conduct applied research and develop tools that address all aspects of flooding and floodplain management. While it does certify floodplain mangers themselves (through its CFM certification program), it doesn’t directly set standards or certify products. It did, however, partner with FM Approvals and the US Army Corps of Engineers to develop the Flood Mitigation Certification Program (see above).
With so many organizations taking different roles in the efforts to maintain high standards for flood protection products, decision makers can easily become overwhelmed. The key to success is to partner with a trusted, experienced manufacturer who can help you to navigate the complex world of flood mitigation.
The PS Flood Barriers™ team is experienced with every facet of flood protection, including the constantly evolving world of standards, tests and certifications. We help businesses and industries across North America to prepare for and overcome the challenges that result from storms, hurricanes and floodwater.
Our products include doors and barriers that protect virtually any size of opening in your facility, deployed in a manner that best suits your organization’s unique needs. We have strong relationships with all of the organizations listed above, and our solutions have been proven in some of the world’s most punishing disasters.
Want to find out how PS Flood Barriers can help your company do business with confidence? Contact us today by clicking here or call us at 877-446-1519.