NFPA Journal®, January/February 2007
By John Nicholson
How would you characterize 2006 for our membership?
I think it was an excellent year. I am very happy to say that adoption of NFPA codes and standards is stronger than ever. There are a lot of reasons for this. Adopting authorities like the fact that our process is open and balanced. They also appreciate the effort and resources we put into support for the codes. NFPA does not feel that its work is done when the code is developed and adopted. Our advisory services and the work of our regional representatives show that we take very seriously our responsibility to insure implementation.
NFPA’s Professional Development programs had a tremendous year in 2006. Professional training is an essential element if our codes and standards are going to reach their potential to protect the public. NFPA’s professional development programs have expanded to meet that need and are taking off.
Finally, I am pleased at the success of our advocacy programs and especially our campaign for fire- safe cigarettes. We began the year with three states (
Discuss the importance of NFPA being an advocate for change in fire protection.
Over the last few years, we have developed a higher profile as an advocate for change. The fire-safe cigarette initiative is one example of the impact NFPA can have when we get behind something. But our advocacy ability is not limited to the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes. Our public education campaigns continue to reach individuals who are at the highest risk.
Over the next few years we are going to identify each of the areas NFPA believes are the greatest contributors to the fire problem in the
From there we want to see if we can create advocacy programs based on the experiences we have had with fire-safe cigarettes and with the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition to dramatically reduce the fire death rate in the United States.
We had seen great progress on the fire problem for a long period, and now it has leveled off. We still have about 3,000 people who die in fires each year. We would like to reduce that number to zero.
How could the successful coalition model used for the fire-safe cigarette campaign be used with other advocacy issues?
We realize at NFPA that we can contribute, but we cannot do the job all by ourselves. By working with a variety of other groups NFPA will accomplish more. One of the great things about the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes is how we have broadened the membership. In addition to the fire service, we have representation from public health, medical, and consumer organizations.
We need to be more creative than we have been in the past and reach outside the circle of those traditionally involved with NFPA. We must ask ourselves “Who would be a natural partner to work with us?” The Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes has taught us this valuable lesson.
Fireworks continue to be a threat to life safety. What can NFPA do to combat this deadly and easily accessible hazard?
For me, the fireworks issue is one of the most frustrating that we have to deal with at NFPA. Every year, fireworks cause thousands of injuries and sometimes deaths that are avoidable. Most of the injuries, damage, and fires from fireworks take place around the Fourth of July. It is perfectly predictable that there will be children who are maimed or who go blind because of the use of fireworks at that time of year.
We try to sound the alarm every year, but it has been a very difficult battle. Today, there are 44 states where the consumer use of fireworks is allowed. Some have accused NFPA of being unpatriotic because we fight this. Needless deaths and injuries to children are not as “American as apple pie.” Since 1910, NFPA has taken this position against consumer use of fireworks. We will not only continue our efforts against consumer fireworks but will step them up.
NFPA has said all along that the only way people should enjoy fireworks is by going to displays put on by professionals. While we haven’t nearly had the success we would like to have, we will continue to make this a priority.
Discuss the internal changes at NFPA.
This was a year of change at NFPA because Art Cote retired at the end of the year. I spent a great deal of time thinking how we might come up with the best structure to fits these times. I am glad to say that we have been able to find an excellent chief engineer for NFPA from within the association and that’s Chris Dubay. He is one of our principal sprinkler engineers. He has worked here for a dozen years. Chris is highly regarded within the industry and he knows the fire protection world well.
I thought it was important to have a chief engineer who comes from one of the principal disciplines we are involved in but has the breadth to address all the areas where NFPA is involved. I am confident that we found the right person in Chris.
What are your expectations for 2007 and how can our members assist in fulfilling those goals?
I am excited about what I think we can accomplish in 2007. As we have stepped up our advocacy efforts and created a higher profile, we have involved more of our members in our campaigns. That is only going to get stronger. One of the great things about NFPA is the thousands of people who are committed to the cause of fire safety. As we move forward with an aggressive advocacy agenda we have the opportunity to use the talents of our membership. Just as people have jumped in to help with the fire-safe cigarette campaigns and code adoptions, there will be other opportunities to work with our membership to have a real impact in the communities where they live.
In this Section:
Waiting for the fire
One hundred years in print
Fire heavily damages older hotel
NFPA President Jim M. Shannon provides a review of 2006
Debating single-point design
|In A Flash
Candle fires had been climbing steadily from 1990 to 2001
Egress capacity factors
Frightful outside, delightful inside
Understanding storage hazards
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Rate of flow is an essential part of a pre-incident plan.