For NFPA Standards reporting in the Annual 2013 and preceding cycles
Establishing the Consensus Body
In the NFPA standards development process, NFPA Technical Committees and Code Making Panels serve as the principal consensus bodies responsible for developing and regularly updating all NFPA codes and standards. Committees and Panels are appointed by the Standards Council and typically consist of no more than thirty voting members representing a balance of interests. NFPA membership is not required in order to participate on an NFPA Technical Committee, and appointment is based on such factors as technical expertise, professional standing, commitment to public safety and the ability to bring to the table the point of view of a category of interested people or groups. Each Technical Committee is constituted so as to contain a balance of affected interests, with no more than one-third of the Committee from the same interest category. The Committee must reach a consensus in order to take action on an item.
The codes and standards development process
The NFPA process encourages public participation in the development of its codes and standards. All NFPA codes and standards (also referred to here as NFPA “Documents”) are revised and updated every three to five years in Revision Cycles that begin twice each year and that normally take approximately two years to complete. Each Revision Cycle proceeds according to a published schedule that includes final dates for all major events in the process.
The process contains five basic steps leading to the issuance of an NFPA Committee Document (in the Annual 2013 and preceding cycles):
Step 1: Call for Proposals
Step 2: Report on Proposals (ROP)
Committee or Panel meets to act on Proposals, to develop its own Proposals, and to prepare its Report.
Committee votes by written ballot to approve its actions on the Proposals. If approval is not obtained, the Report returns to Committee.
If approved, the Report on Proposals (ROP) is published for public review and comment.
Step 3: Report on Comments (ROC)
- Committee or Panel meets to act on Public Comments, to develop its own Comments, and to prepare its report.
- Committee votes by written ballot to approve its actions on the Comments. If approval is not obtained, the Report returns to Committee.
- If approved, the Report on Comments (ROC) is published for public review.
Step 4: Association Technical Meeting
- “Notices of intent to make a motion” are filed, are reviewed, and valid motions are certified for presentation at the Association Technical Meeting. (“Consent Documents” bypass the Association Technical Meeting and proceed directly to the Standards Council for issuance.)
- NFPA membership meets each June at the Association Technical Meeting and acts on Technical Committee Reports (ROP and ROC) for Documents with “certified amending motions.”
- Technical Committee(s) and Panel(s) vote on any amendments to the Technical Committee Reports made by the NFPA membership at the Association Technical Meeting.
Step 5: Standards Council Issuance
- Notification of intent to file an appeal to the Standards Council on Association action must be filed within 20 days of the Association Technical Meeting.
- Standards Council decides, based on all evidence, whether or not to issue the Document or to take other action.
Step 1 - Call for Proposals
When the development of a new or revised NFPA code or standard begins, it enters one of two Revision Cycles available each year. The Revision Cycle begins with the Call for Proposals; that is, a public notice asking for any interested party to submit specific written proposals on an existing document or a committee-approved new draft document. The Call for Proposals is published in NFPA News, the U.S. Federal Register, the American National Standards Institute’s Standards Action, on NFPA’s website, and other publications as appropriate. A proposal form is available on NFPA’s website and in every published code and standard.
Step 2 - Report on Proposals
Following the Call for Proposals period, the responsible Technical Committee or Panel holds a meeting to consider and act on all the submitted Proposals. The committee or panel may also develop its own Proposals. A document known as the Report on Proposals, or ROP, is prepared containing all the Public Proposals, the Technical Committees’ action on each Proposal, as well as all Committee-generated Proposals. The ROP for the document in question is submitted for the approval of the responsible Technical Committee or Panel by a formal written ballot. If the ROP does not receive approval via written ballot in accordance with NFPA's Regulations Governing Committee Projects (Regulations), the Report is returned to the committee for further consideration and is not published. If the necessary approval is received, the ROP is published in a compilation of Reports on Proposals issued by NFPA twice yearly for public review and comment, and the process continues to the next step.
The Reports on Proposals are sent automatically free of charge to all who submitted proposals and each respective committee member, as well as anyone else who requests a copy. All ROPs are also available for free downloading.
Step 3 - Report on Comments
Once the ROP becomes available, there is a 60-day comment period during which anyone may submit a Public Comment on the proposed changes documented in the ROP. The committee or panel reconvenes at the end of the comment period and acts on all public Comments. This committee or panel may also develop its own comments.
As before, approval obtained via written ballot in accordance with NFPA’s Regulations is required on all committee and panel actions. All of this information is compiled into a second Report, called the Report on Comments (ROC), which, like the ROP, is published and made available for public review for a seven-week period.
Step 4 - Association Technical Meeting
The process of public input and review does not end with the publication of the ROP and ROC. Following the completion of the Proposal and Comment periods, there is yet a further opportunity for debate and discussion through the Association Technical Meeting that takes place at the NFPA Conference & Expo® each June.
The Association Technical Meeting provides an opportunity for the NFPA membership to amend the Technical Committee Reports (i.e., the ROP and ROC) on each proposed new or revised document. The specific rules for the types of amending motions that can be made and who can make them are set forth in NFPA’s rules which should always be consulted by those wishing to bring an issue before the membership at an Association Technical Meeting. The following presents some of the main features of how motions to modify a Report are handled.
What Amending Motions are Allowed. The Technical Committee Reports contain the Proposals and Comments that the Technical Committee or Panel has acted on. The motions allowed by NFPA rules provide the opportunity to propose amendments to the text of a proposed code or standard based on these published Proposals, Comments and Committee actions. Thus, the list of allowable motions includes motions to accept Proposals and Comments in whole or in part as submitted or as modified by a Technical Committee action. Motions are also available to reject an accepted Comment in whole or part. In addition, Motions can be made to return an entire Technical Committee Report or a portion of the Report to the Technical Committee for further study .
Who Can Make Amending Motions. Those authorized to make motions are also regulated by NFPA rules. In many cases, the maker of the motion is limited by NFPA rules to the original submitter of the Proposal or Comment or his or her duly authorized representative. In other cases, such as a Motion to Reject an accepted Comment, or to Return a Technical Committee Report or a portion of a Technical Committee Report for Further Study, anyone can make these motions. For a complete explanation, NFPA rules should be consulted.
The filing of a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion. Before making an allowable motion at an Association Technical Meeting, the intended maker of the motion must file, in advance of the session, and within the published deadline, a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM). A Motions Committee appointed by the Standards Council then reviews all notices and certifies all amending motions that are proper. The Motions Committee can also, in consultation with the makers of the motions, clarify the intent of the motions and, in certain circumstances, combine motions that are dependent on each other together so that they can be made in one single motion. A Motions Committee report is made available in advance of the Association Technical Meeting listing all certified motions. Only Certified Amending Motions, together with certain allowable Follow-Up Motions (that is, motions that have become necessary as a result of previous successful amending motions) will be allowed at the Association Technical Meeting.
Consent Documents. There will be those documents which receive no controversial proposed changes, and therefore, no Notices of Intent to Make a Motion are filed. In some cases, NITMAMs are submitted on documents up for revision, but none of the NITMAMs are certified as proper by the Motions Committee. In both these cases where no NITMAMs are submitted or no NITMAMs are certified as proper for a specific document, the document is not placed on the agenda for the Association Technical Meeting, but is instead sent directly to the Standards Council for issuance. Such documents are referred to as Consent Documents.
Action on Motions at the Association Technical Meeting. In order to actually make a Certified Amending Motion at the Association Technical Meeting, the maker of the motion or their designated representative must sign in at least one hour before the session begins. In this way a final list of motions can be set in advance of the session. The presiding officer in charge of the session opens the floor to motions on the Document from the final list of Certified Amending Motions as sequenced by the Motions Committee followed by any permissible Follow-Up Motions. Debate and voting on each motion proceeds in accordance with NFPA rules. NFPA membership is not required in order to make or speak to a motion, but voting is limited to NFPA members who have joined at least 180 days prior to the session and have registered for the meeting. At the close of debate on each motion, voting takes place, and the motion requires a majority vote to carry. In order to amend a Technical Committee Report, successful amending motions must be confirmed by the responsible Technical Committee or Panel, which conducts a written ballot on all successful amending motions following the meeting and prior to the Document being forwarded to the Standards Council for issuance.
Step 5 -Standards Council Issuance
One of the primary responsibilities of the NFPA Standards Council, as the overseer of the NFPA codes and standards development process, is to act as the official issuer of all NFPA codes and standards. When it convenes to issue NFPA documents it also hears any appeals related to the Document. Appeals are an important part of assuring that all NFPA rules have been followed and that due process and fairness have been upheld throughout the codes and standards development process. The Council considers appeals both in writing and through the conduct of hearings at which all interested parties can participate. It decides appeals based on the entire record of the process as well as all submissions on the appeal. After deciding all appeals related to a Document before it, the Council, if appropriate, proceeds to issue the Document as an official NFPA code or standard. Subject only to limited review by the NFPA Board of Directors, the Decision of the Standards Council is final, and the new NFPA code or standard becomes effective twenty days after Standards Council issuance.
The illustration (right) provides an overview of the entire process, which takes approximately two full years to complete.
Time periods are approximate; refer to published schedules for actual dates.
It takes approximately 104 weeks for Annual revision cycle documents and Fall revision cycle consent documents.
It takes approximately 141 weeks for Fall revision cycle documents receiving certified motions.
Learn more about the codes and standards-making process: