Measuring Code Compliance Effectiveness for Fire-Related Portions of Codes

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Measuring Code Compliance Effectiveness for Fire-Related Portions of Codes" (PDF, 1 MB)
Author: NFPA and Fire Protection Research Foundation
Date of issue: 2008 


The portions of codes, standards and regulations intended to improve fire safety start by defining the level of safety or risk we collectively consider acceptable. As a jurisdiction enforces their respective codes and regulations, how do they know if their compliance efforts are effective? How do they measure their code compliance effectiveness? Effectiveness measurement is a long-established tool to assist managers of any activity in making sure that their choices and level of effort are sufficient to achieve the goals of their activity.

The state of the art in inspection effectiveness measurement is still reflected in a now 30-year-old study by the NFPA and the Urban Institute (i.e., the 1976 NFPA/UI Study). Similar measures have been developed for all types of local government services and published periodically by the International City Management Association, and similar measures have also been picked up for use in so-called performance audits by public-sector accountants.

This project addresses code compliance effectiveness for fire-related portions of codes through a twofold approach that (1) refines the effectiveness measurement methods developed in the 1976 NFPA/UI study, and (2) enhances the detail and usefulness of the effectiveness measurement methodology. The goal of the project has been to develop a tool to measure how fire prevention activities of fire safety enforcement organizations can reduce fire risk in communities, where both prevention and enforcement organization are interpreted broadly. In addition, the project includes a component on Leadership in Life Safety Design (LLSD), which is a potential management tool directly related to the measurement of code compliance effectiveness. Unlike the measures presented and discussed in other parts of this study (i.e. Volume II), LLSD-type measures focus on success in exceeding code requirements rather than success in complying with code requirements.

The Research Foundation expresses gratitude to the report authors Jennifer Flynn, Casey Grant and John Hall, the Project Technical Panelists, and all others who contributed to this research effort. Special thanks are expressed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for providing the funding for this project.

The content, opinions and conclusions contained in this report are solely those of the author.