RECENTLY, I HAD the privilege of traveling to Costa Rica for the 150th anniversary of the country’s Benemérito Cuerpo De Bomberos, or Distinguished Fire Brigade. A single fire service serves the entire nation, and it was an honor to take part in the celebration and recognize the brigade’s long, proud history. I saw firsthand its modern approach to fire protection, including state-of-the-art equipment, a new command center, country-wide digital communications systems, and more.
The relationship between NFPA and Costa Rica dates back many years and serves as a great example of our international reach—fire is global, and the information and knowledge cultivated within NFPA are applicable around the world. Costa Rica has adopted numerous NFPA codes and standards, including NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®; NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems; the NEC®; and many others. An enforcement system was established to ensure that the codes and standards are applied and followed; the brigade’s engineering department includes a group of dedicated professionals that conducts plan reviews, inspection, testing, and fire investigations. The brigade also teamed up with the country’s engineering community to tackle fire and safety challenges, an innovative approach that can serve as a model for other countries. The efforts of CIEMI—the Colegio de Ingenieros Electricistas, Mecánicos e Industriales, or the College of Electrical, Mechanical and Industrial Engineers—were instrumental in Costa Rica’s adoption of the NEC, and today the institution serves as a key training and enforcement body for electrical installations.
I also met with the president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís. He was aware of the relationship between NFPA and Costa Rica, and was grateful that we were there to take part in the celebration. I shared with him how Costa Rica is a model for other countries in Latin America and across the globe in building a system of fire protection for its citizens.
The visit also made me realize that we still have a tremendous amount of work to do. As I travel around the United States, many of our stakeholders have no idea of NFPA’s well-respected international brand or of the impact we have had, and can have, on the future of global fire safety. We need to bring together people from all over the world to share that information and knowledge. Our NFPA XChange community is intended to do just that: gather international fire and safety professionals to share information, solutions, and best practices. It’s not about getting countries to do everything the same way—it’s about helping them take positive and meaningful steps to tackle fire, electrical, and related hazards, just like Costa Rica has done. NFPA is well positioned to help them take those steps.
From Costa Rica with love
NFPA President Jim Pauley, at right, visited Costa Rica in July to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the country’s fire service. Pauley met with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís, at left, as well as members of the fire service from Costa Rica and other Latin American countries. Costa Rica has widely adopted NFPA’s codes and standards and has been a longtime supporter of the organization’s work. “On behalf of NFPA, congratulations,” Pauley told the crowd gathered at the anniversary celebration at the Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San José. “You have served your country well and you serve as a model for other countries in Latin America and around the globe.”