Performance-based codes and standards specifically state their safety goals, and reference approved methods that can be used to demonstrate compliance with their requirements. The document may be phrased as a method for quantifying equivalencies to an existing prescriptive-based code or standard, or it may identify one or more prescriptive codes or standards as approved solutions. Either way, the document allows the use of any solution that demonstrates compliance.

The performance-based design process:
One whose safety solutions are designed to achieve a specified goal for a specified use or application. This process allows performance-based documents to be implemented and insures that their goals are met. The following describes a performance-based design procedure:

  1. Establish safety goals
  2. Evaluate the condition of the occupants, building contents, process equipment or facility in question with regard to safety
  3. Identify potential hazards
  4. Define appropriate hazard scenarios
  5. Establish performance objective and performance criteria
  6. Select suitable calculation methods (e.g. computer models)
  7. Develop a proposed solution
  8. Assess the proposed solution
  9. Obtain approval of the proposed solution.

NFPA´s performance-based primers (available below) were developed by the NFPA Performance-Based Support Team (PB Support Team). The team functions under the auspices of the NFPA Standards Council, and reports directly to the Council on an on-going basis. The PB Support Team was created in 1995 to assist NFPA Technical Committees with the transition to performance-based documents. The following set of five primers discuss: Goals, Objectives and Criteria; Characteristics and Assumptions; Fire Scenarios; Verification Methods; and Reliability. The Performance-Based Codes and Standards Preparation Primer discusses these and other topics that may be useful for Technical Committees members who are considering developing performance-based provisions for their document. The PB C&S Preparation Primer also provides an overview of the performance-based approach.

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