A conversation with Steven Peavey of the International
Fire Marshals Association.
Tell us a little bit about the fields, industries, and occupations your members come from.
The International Fire Marshals Association has several membership classes. The active membership of the association is made up of fire officials who have been lawfully appointed and authorized by the authority having jurisdiction and charged with the statutory responsibilities and duties for fire prevention accomplished through enforcement of fire laws and regulations, property inspections, public fire safety education, or investigation of the cause and origin of fires.
The mission of the International Fire Marshals Association is to assist in the preservation of life and property by advocating, promoting, and providing leadership in the prevention and mitigation of fire, explosions, and other related hazardous conditions. This mission is carried out through our work and master plan that we review on an annual basis to make sure that we continue to be in touch with all of the current fire and life safety issues.
What do members get out of belonging to this section? Why should someone consider joining it?
The opportunity to network with fire officials from throughout the nation is the main benefit. We currently have 34 chapters in the United States and Canada and we are continuing to grow. We have more than 60 member representatives serving on several NFPA technical committees.
What codes and industries are important to your section?
As enforcers, working with NFPA codes is a large part of our everyday activities, whether they’re conducting inspections, reviewing a set of construction documents or plans, conducting a fire scene investigation, or providing fire and life safety education programs. NFPA codes provide requirements and/or guidance for each of these functions. Knowledge and understanding of the codes is vital to the performance of our role in fire safety.
What are the key code issues going on in your section right now?
There are always numerous issues that come up that directly or indirectly affect us as enforcers. At the moment, some of the important issues we're dealing with include mobile food service vehicles, known commonly as food trucks, and medical marijuana extraction processes. We have formed task groups to review both of these issues as they relate to the codes and public safety.
What key code issues do you anticipate for your section in the near future?
Besides those listed above, there are several important issues that we’ll need to consider in the future. Some that come to mind are emergency energy storage systems, tall wood buildings, and an assortment of health care issues, just to name a few.
What's an example of a specific event in the news, or of an ongoing trend, that provides a real-world connection to your section’s code concerns.
One recent event was a food truck explosion in Philadelphia in 2014 that killed two people and injured a number of others. Since that time there have been other similar incidents around the country related to food truck operation. As a result of this event and others, we have appointed a task group to review the circumstances surrounding the explosion and to review the current code language to see if these types of vehicles are adequately addressed. With the recent increase in the number of food trucks currently in use, this is an extremely important public safety issue.
What events and activities has your section recently completed, and what’s coming up?
There are a few things I can mention. We participated in the 2015 NFPA Conference & Expo in Chicago, and we hosted the International Fire Marshals Association Board of Directors meeting in September in Massachusetts. We’re currently planning for the upcoming 2016 NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.
How can section members become involved? What resources are available?
We currently have three standing committees—Codes and Standards, Education, and Chapters/Membership—that are always looking for members to assist with their work. Any section member wishing to help should contact myself or Executive Secretary Steven Sawyer.