One of the most notable features about NFPA’s standards development process is that it is a full, open, consensus-based process.
The NFPA standards development process encourages public participation in the development of its standards. All NFPA standards are revised and updated every three to five years, in revision cycles that begin twice each year. Normally a standard’s cycle takes approximately two years to complete. Each revision cycle proceeds according to a published schedule which includes final dates for each stage in the standards development process. The four fundamental steps in the NFPA standards development process are:
- Public Input
- Public Comment
- NFPA Technical Meeting (Tech Session)
- Standards Council Action (Appeals and Issuance of Standard)
NFPA Technical Committees and Panels serve as the principal consensus bodies responsible for developing and updating all NFPA codes and standards. Committees and Panels are appointed by the Standards Council and typically consist of no more than 30 voting members representing a balance of interests. NFPA membership is not required in order to participate on an NFPA Technical Committee. Appointment to a Technical Committee 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.