Provide your insight to NFPA's wildfire preparedness and management standards

One of the most notable features about NFPA standards is that their development process is open and consensus-based.  That means anybody can participate in the development of these important documents and the standards reflect the professional insight of their various stakeholders and end-users.  This goes for NFPA's wildfire standards as well and their current revision process is underway.  This process includes a consolidation effort, review of term definitions, and technical updates. 

Below is an overview of that current process by Barry Chase, NFPA Standards Lead for Emergency Response and Responder Safety.  Barry is also the Staff Liaison to the NFPA technical committees on Wildland Fire Management and Wildland and Rural Fire Protection.  He explains the consolidation effort and technical changes the committee are examining.  Their process is public and you can both learn more about their deliberations (narrative below) and submit your own comments for official consideration (steps described at end).    

Barry shares, "By far, the largest and most obvious change in this revision cycle is the consolidation of four wildland standards: NFPA 1051, NFPA 1141, NFPA 1143, and NFPA 1144 into a single, new document, titled, NFPA 1140 Standard for Wildland Fire Management. This consolidation is part of a larger plan to eliminate redundancy and align content across all of the emergency management, emergency response, and responder safety standards.  The consolidation will also simplify the standards-buying experience, which is something that our stakeholders have requested.

I should mention that NFPA 1142 Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Fire Fighting and NFPA 1145 Guide for the Use of Class A Foams in Fire Fighting are also being revised at the same time, but they will remain as separate, standalone documents.

One area where the consolidation of four standards into one will have a noticeable impact is the definitions of terms. Because the four standards were developed by different groups of people at different times, the definitions for several key terms were not consistent across all four books. Going forward, we will have a single definition for: defensible space, fire hazard, fuel, incident action plan (IAP), jurisdiction, risk, slope, wildland fire, and wildland/urban interface.

While most of the focus has been on editorial adjustments and technical alignment of the consolidated material in NFPA 1140, some topics that could see significant technical changes include the following: [Note: These are shared with the standard number, followed by its referenced chapter]

  1. Building separation and setback distances [1140: 12.2]
  2. Automatic protection of one- and two-family dwellings and residential apartment buildings [1140: 14.1]
  3. Planning for physical space as an element of the community's emergency operational plan [1140: 17.7]
  4. Planning for backfill costs as an element of the wildland fire response plan [1140: 20.2]
  5. Building construction design and materials specifications [1140: 2.2]
  6. Guidance on air operations for wildland fire incidents [1140: Annex J]
  7. Minimum water supply and delivery rates [1142: 4.6.1]
  8. Water availability studies [1142: 7.1.7, along with several new definitions]
  9. Water supply strainer clearance [1142: 8.5]
  10. Guidance on the use of floating submersible source pumps [1142: E.5.5]
  11. Class A foam mix tables [1145: 4.2.1]

I encourage anyone with an interest in wildland fire management to review and comment on the first draft reports by  following the "submit a public comment" option.

The comment period ends on October 9, 2020.”

Photo Credit: 
Firewise USA Photo Library

As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA's response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.

Follow NFPA's FireBreak blog and you can also follow me on twitter @LucianNFPA for more international wildfire and policy related topics.

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Lucian Deaton
Program Manager focusing on domestic policy impacting community wildfire risks & international collaboration for Firewise USA®.

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