by John NicholsonWorld Safety Conference & Exposition™ (WSCE) into a single event, as of 2005. The 2004 Fall Education Conference, to be held this November in Miami, will be the last NFPA fall membership meeting. The 2005 WSCE, to be held in Las Vegas, will shift to June, instead of May, and all subsequent WSCEs will be held in June. The board also approved significant revisions to various NFPA code- and standards-making procedures that directly relate to the meeting change.
"We are extremely pleased to offer these changes to our members," says James M. Shannon, NFPA president. "Most recently, we have heard from members who have found attending two conferences very difficult, given demanding work and family schedules. This consolidation will provide needed relief without compromising our mission and important NFPA programs."
For those participating in our codes- and standards-development process, the difficulty of attending two Technical Committee Report (TCR) sessions a year has been reflected in declining attendance at the Fall Education Conference.
"The decision to attend one meeting or the other may be driven by interest in documents that are in cycle, educational offerings, pre-conference seminars, or section activities," says Robert Vondrasek, NFPA vice president of Code and Standards Operations. "In a way, our two membership conferences have been competing with each other."
According to Vondrasek, the Fall Conference was added in 1948, but it wasn't until 1974 that documents began to be processed through a fall TCR session.
Task force concern
NFPA began looking at the feasibility of holding one membership conference a year in 2003, forming a task group, which included staff and Standards Council members, to examine the issues. The biggest concern the group faced was how to deal with the documents that would normally report at the fall TCR session.
Vondrasek, task group chair, says 75 to 80 percent of documents reporting at a typical TCR have no floor action, and most larger committee projects and key standards have already been shifted to the Annual document cycle culminating at the WSCE."The NEC® has long come to the floor of the TCR session at the WSCE," he says. "After NFPA 5000®, Building Construction and Safety Code®, was adopted, NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, and NFPA 1, Uniform Fire Code™, elected to report at the same WSCE TCR session."
The decision was made to maintain the two revision cycles per year, annual and fall, but with a single TCR session in conjunction with the WSCE to hear motions on documents.
Revised regulations and procedures now in effect for all NFPA documents processed in the 2005 Fall cycle and in subsequent revision cycles will help eliminate unnecessary time expenditures during the TCR sessions and provide management tools that will increase these sessions' efficiency.
Among the new procedures is one requiring those who wish to make a motion at a TCR session to file in advance of the session a "notice of intent to make a motion." This will allow the technical committees to identify "consent documents," non-controversial documents with no motions that can bypass the TCR session and go directly to the Standards Council for issuance. This applies to approximately 80 percent of all processed NFPA documents.
Having advanced notice of what motions will be made on documents presented at the TCR session will also allow them to be processed much more efficiently.
Under the revised procedures, a Motions Committee, made up of three Standards Council members, will review all notices of intent to make a motion and certify all properly noticed motions. The Motions Committee will also have the authority, in consultation with the makers of the motions, to clarify the motions' intent and, in certain circumstances, combine motions that depend on each other so that they can be made together. A Motions Committee report listing all certified motions will be made available to the membership in advance of the meeting.
To make a certified motion at the TCR session, an individual will have to sign in at the TCR session an hour before it begins, and only those motions on the final list can be made and debated during the session. Following all the certified motions on a particular document, attendees will have time to make follow-up motions that have become necessary as a result of successful floor motions.
Another streamlining move is the suspension of the presentation of non-controversial documents on which no motions were made at the TCR session. On average, says Vondrasek, 30 non-controversial documents are processed in a typical revision cycle, taking about one hour at each TCR session.
The revisions package also contain a number of measures that will give the Presiding Officer more control over the TCR session agenda, giving him or her more flexibility in managing the debate and ensuring that all documents can be fairly and efficiently processed in the available time. The Presiding Officer will be able to limit speakers to five minutes, or such other time as he or she, in consideration of the available time, may designate. He or she will also be able to alternate debate between proponents and opponents of the motion. In addition, the Presiding Officer will be able to resort to a set of non-exclusive guidelines at his or her discretion. These include avoiding recognizing speakers more than once, limiting repetitive or irrelevant debate, and, to encourage speakers to coordinate their presentations, allocating time to each side in groups or allowing a side wishing to make a presentation as a group to yield additional time to one speaker.
"Not only will the revision package enable the processing of documents at a single yearly TCR session, it should make that session more interesting and productive, and allow for fuller and fairer debate by the membership of the important issues before them," Vondrasek says.
The NFPA Board of Directors approved a new revised version of the Regulations Governing Committee Projects, effective for all NFPA documents entering the fall 2005 and all subsequent revision cycles. The current regulations, approved by the board in October 1996 and amended in November 2003, remain in effect for all NFPA documents processed in the May 2005 and preceding revision cycles.
The Board also approved a revised version of the Convention Rules, effective for all NFPA documents entering the fall 2005 and all subsequent revision cycles. The current "rules, approved by the board in September 1993 and amended in November 2002, remain in effect for all NFPA documents being processed in the May 2005 and preceding revision cycles."
In addition, the current rules have been revised, effectively immediately, to read, "Limit or Extend Debate. Each speaker shall be limited to five minutes, or such other time as the Presiding Officer, in consideration of the available time, may designate, to present his or her arguments."
Impact on the WSCE
Another thing the task group considered when consolidating the two conferences was how a single annual conference would affect the content of the WSCE educational program, and membership sections. The group concluded that program content could expand somewhat, since the slightly larger attendance the WSCE is expected to draw could justify adding educational tracks and pre-meeting seminars.
Some sections' bylaws will have to be revised to reflect changes in section executive board elections, and some section boards may choose to hold an additional working meeting each year to conduct business they formerly handled at the Fall Conference.
In this Section:
|Consolidating NFPA's Membership Meetings
Task group recommends series of changes to NFPA meeting dates and TCR sessions.
|A Lot of Space to Cover
The Kennedy Space Center presents unique challenges to NASA fire protection engineers.
|Fire and Life Safety Challenges at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center
How the experts came up with the best safety solutions for the new convention center.
The reasons behind the density change to NFPA's residential sprinkler standards.
|Something Is Cooking for NFPA 96
NFPA members will vote on a revision that aims to simplify the code by moving toward a unified test standard.