BCSI - Shout It from the Trussed Rooftops

President's Message

BCSI - Shout It from the Trussed Rooftops

BCSI is a win-win: Component Manufacturers provide thoughtful best practices for installation, and construction professionals get industry guidelines for efficient, safe handling of components.

This issue’s focus on handling, installing and bracing naturally makes me think of BCSI: Guide to Good Practice for Handling, Installing, Restraining & Bracing of Metal Plate Connected Wood Trusses. It’s hard to believe, but BCSI will turn 10 next year. Shoot, if it were a kid, it would already be in grade school. Much like a son or daughter, we’ve watched BCSI grow over the years. From a small booklet, this guide has evolved into the B-Series Summary Sheets, summary sheets bundled into multiple JOBSITE PACKAGE formats, online Component Technology Workshops, and the current, much larger, 8.5" x 11" BCSI book. In 2008, SBCA’s Cold-Formed Steel Council released a steel version based on the same best practice concepts of its wood predecessor. In just under a decade, BCSI has certainly come a long way.

Developed for the structural building components industry by a diverse group of industry members, including specifiers, builders/framers and component manufacturers, BCSI provides tremendous value. To put it simply, BCSI is a win-win: Component manufacturers provide these best practices to the market to help with better handling and installation of trusses, and construction professionals get industry guidelines for the efficient and safe handling of components.

Chances are, if you’re a component manufacturer (CM), you already know about the importance of BCSI. The book, B1 on temporary bracing, B3 on permanent bracing and other BCSI materials are part of our everyday vocabulary. They have become so commonplace to us that sometimes we take it for granted and forget that not everyone knows BCSI’s contents and how best to use them for everyone’s benefit. It’s important to remember that when some people hear terms like “B7” or “B9,” they think of vitamins, not parallel chord trusses or multi-ply girders. Although much like a vitamin does a body good, if you take and properly use B7, B9 or any of the other BCSI materials, they can do a lot of good for your business.

CMs don’t always use this valuable tool to its full advantage. We need to continue to get the word out. Shout it from the trussed rooftops—“BSCI offers bracing best practices that benefit everyone!” 

Sample CM Invoice including Jobsite Package line itemThere are a number of ways to educate your market about BCSI and build good will to boot. Many CMs get this information out in the market every day by including an SBCA JOBSITE PACKAGE with each project. In addition to the package, some manufacturers also give at least one BCSI book to every customer. Many CMs also include the JOBSITE PACKAGE and book as a line item on their invoices and charge or mark up a bit if they choose (see example above). Remember, BCSI assures proper installation and bracing if used and will prevent collapses or fall-downs, and therefore minimize property damage and bodily injury. This can be a priceless defense if a truss collapse occurs due to inadequate bracing and anyone tries to point a finger and blame the CM.

Some CMs help their sales people get in front of customers by providing BCSI as a lunch and learn. This format gets everyone talking about efficient framing using components, and good ideas generally come from these events. SBCA staff is always looking for ways to improve BCSI, so please forward any ideas that come your way to bcsi@sbcindustry.com.

In many cases, SBCA Chapters are on the frontlines in bringing this vital information to the marketplace. Along with passing on critical best practice information, it’s amazing what offering a free BCSI book to a professional can lead to:

• Since BCSI was first published in 2003, SBCA – Northeast has distributed more than 2,600 copies, not counting the copies purchased by individual members. In fact, anyone who requests information on our industry from the Northeast Chapter will come away with a chapter membership roster and a copy of BCSI. That’s a pretty good deal for just asking a question!

• The Missouri Truss Fabricators Association (MTFA) brings BCSI information to professionals live and in person. Over the past few years, the chapter has developed strong relationships in Johnson County, MO, and given presentations on BCSI-related topics at a number of the county’s Contractor Licensing Educational Seminars. The presentations were so well received that the county’s building officials committee unanimously recommended forming a partnership with the chapter for a series of training classes. MTFA also worked on developing truss documentation best practice guidelines, which are now recognized by the Johnson County Building Officials Association.

• The Capital Area Chapter has hosted a booth at the Annual Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) Conference held by the U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Academy in Emmetsburg, MD, for the past four years. The chapter has supplied BCSI books and Carbeck’s Wood Truss Construction & Fire Performance CDs. Following the 2010 conference, the show featured the Carbeck education program in its electronic newsletter. Within hours, SBCA started receiving requests for Carbeck CDs—90 in the first day!

From personal experience, I can say BCSI has provided a great deal of support to our managers and design staff around the country, ranging from simple bracing questions to more complex storage, lifting, truss flying and fall protection questions. The most notable question BCSI has helped us answer in recent history came from a builder on the east coast. This customer was applying significant pressure on our manager, asking us to provide documentation saying he could use 1x4s for continuous lateral restraint and diagonal bracing. He also said that this practice was allowed by our competitors. After digging into this issue, we found out that all plate suppliers say that 1x4 “stress rated boards” can be used. BCSI clearly lays out the industry best practice:

Minimum size Bracing and Lateral Restraint material is 2x4 stress-graded lumber, or approved Proprietary Metal Restraint/Bracing, unless otherwise specified by the Building Designer.

Our homework found that 1x4 is readily available with no grade stamp but no one makes 1x4 stress rated boards. After gathering the facts and giving that information to our customer, the builder was able to make the necessary changes in the field, preventing a potentially costly compliance problem if something were to go wrong on the jobsite. Again, if you have any new ideas that you’ve run into like this, we would appreciate hearing them.

BCSI—great stuff and just another outstanding tool in our tool box courtesy of SBCA. So let’s get out there and educate and remind construction professionals about BCSI. It’s a win-win for all.