Fulfilling International Obligations
Some of you might ask: Why do we need to do this? The answer is simple: NFPA must be an international organization in order to fulfill our mission to save lives and property from fire.
The fact of the matter is that the global economy and our trade relations mean that codes and standards must be accepted internationally. This doesn't mean that a code or standard has to be developed or approved by an organization such as the International Standards Organization in Geneva. However, it does mean we need to show that our codes and standards reach beyond national borders.
That's easy for NFPA because we're widely used in so many countries. And we're going to do even more to expand NFPA's international activities in the coming years.
Part of our strategy is to broaden international participation in our process. The NFPA's Board of Directors and the Standards Council already have members from countries outside the United States, as do several of our major technical committees. With growing use of the Internet, I expect to see full international participation on all of our major committees in the near future. We're discussing with our volunteers how we might use technology to facilitate communications and committee participation, which could make it easier for a fire protection engineer in Bogotá or a sprinkler installer in Hong Kong to participate in our process. Then nobody will be able to deny that the consensus reached in the NFPA codes- and standards-making process is truly an international consensus.
NFPA's mission to save lives and property from fire and other hazards isn't limited by national boundaries. Now that we have the means to carry our mission around the world, we have the obligation to do so.
James M. Shannon