Topic: NFPA Codes & Standards Process Updates

NFPA's Technical Meeting

A primer on how NFPA standards are developed and revised, and by whom

NFPA standards are developed through an open-consensus process in which anyone (except NFPA staff) can participate. We receive lots of questions about how this time-tested process works from individuals who are not familiar with it as well as from those that are involved in some aspect of it. In answer to these questions, here is a broad overview of how NFPA standards are developed and the parties involved: What is the NFPA standards development process? NFPA facilitates the development of more than 300 standards that cover myriad aspects of building, life, fire, and electrical safety. Each of the standards is revised every three to five years, with each revision cycle opening with a call for Public Input (publicly suggested changes in text to the current edition of a standard) and concluding with the publication of the First Draft Report, which documents the responsible technical committee(s)’s actions and responses to all Public Inputs. Next, the Public Comment period seeks review and suggested changes to the First Draft text. After the committee(s) review and action on the Public Comments, their recommended text changes and responses to all Public Comments are published in the Second Draft Report for additional public review. Then, at the NFPA Technical Meeting each June, there is an opportunity to challenge a proposed change to a standard through a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM), which is submitted in advance of the meeting. Anyone may attend and debate motions, then the NFPA membership in attendance votes to either support the debated motion or the technical committee’s recommended second draft text as presented. The outcome from the public process and committee actions along with the Technical Meeting results are presented to the NFPA Standards Council who decides, based on all evidence, to issue the standard or return the standard to the technical committee for further work if necessary. Can a standard be changed before the next revision cycle? Yes, anyone may submit a Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA), which serves as an emergency recommended change to a standard in advance of the next revision cycle. Among other requirements, all TIAs must include the proposed text to be changed, added, or deleted and a statement of the problem and substantiation for the TIA must be provided, including identifying why the TIA is of an emergency nature requiring prompt attention. Because of the emergency nature of TIAs and the limited public review all TIA’s require three-fourths (75%) approval of the respective Technical and Correlating Committee members to be recommended for issuance by the NFPA Standards Council. Is there an appeals process for standards and TIAs? Yes, all appeals within the NFPA standards process are considered by the NFPA Standards Council. The Standards Council hears any process-related appeals, including those related to standards or TIAs. Appeals are an important part of the process, ensuring that all NFPA rules have been followed and that due process and fairness have continued throughout the standards development process. The Standards Council looks at the written record and conducts hearings when a hearing is granted, during which all interested parties can participate. Appeals are decided on the entire record of the process. It’s important to note that when appeals are made to the Standards Council, the focus of the appeal is based on whether the standards process was executed correctly, and to assess whether the technical committee followed the process correctly, adhering to the NFPARegulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards at each step. Appeals to the Standards Council are not a further opportunity for technical debate on a topic, to introduce new information, or to review the technical merit of content within the document.  Technical debate and actions are addressed through the public process and by the appropriate Technical Committee of subject matter experts. After deliberating on all appeals related to a standard, the Standards Council either proceeds to issue the standard or to determine any further action as required, including sending the topic back to the respective technical committee for further attention.With respect to appeals on TIAs, the Standards Council determines whether to issue the TIA. Under limited and extraordinary circumstances, a final appeal of the Standards Council action, called a Petition, can be made to the NFPA Board of Directors. In these cases, the NFPA Board of Directors may take necessary action to fulfill its obligation to preserve the integrity of the standards development process. The new NFPA standard or TIA becomes effective 20 days following the Standards Council’s action of issuance. Who does what? NFPA Board of Directors The NFPA Board of Directors, which has general charge of all activities of the NFPA, issues rules and regulations that govern the development of NFPA standards and appoints the 13 members of the NFPA Standards Council. Members of the Standards Council are thoroughly familiar with the standards development process of the association and are selected from a broad range of interests. In extraordinary circumstances the NFPA Board of Directors may take necessary action in review of Standards Council action (through the Petitions process) to fulfill its obligation to preserve the integrity of the standards development process. NFPA Standards Council The NFPA Standards Council is responsible for overseeing NFPA standards development activities, ensuring compliance with the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards; appointing members to NFPA Technical and Correlating Committees; and serving as the appeals body over matters related to the standards development process. Additionally, members of the Council serve as presiding officers for the yearly NFPA Technical Meeting. The NFPA Standards Council is responsible for considering all appeals relating to the NFPA standards development process. NFPA Technical Committees Appointed by and reporting to the Standards Council, NFPA Technical Committees serve as the primary consensus bodies of subject matter experts responsible for developing and revising NFPA standards. Collectively comprised of more than 9,000 volunteers, the technical committees are responsible for the technical debate and requirements for the more than 300 NFPA standards. NFPA Technical Committees are the balanced consensus bodies of technical experts that are responsible for the development of technical requirements within NFPA standards, responding to all Public Input and Public Comments, and processing all proposed TIAs. NFPA staff An NFPA staff liaison is assigned to each NFPA technical committee and acts as the neutral facilitator for the NFPA standards development process. Each staff liaison is responsible for monitoring the activities of the technical committees to which they’ve been assigned, ensuring the process and procedures move forward in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. NFPA staff is not permitted to participate in the NFPA standards development process, including serving as members on technical committees and submitting public inputs or public comments. Additional resources Here is more detailed information and resources about how the NFPA codes and standards process works: How the NFPA standards development process works NFPA Standards Directory Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards
PPE 1971

NFPA releases Standards Council TIA decision on NFPA 1971

A couple of months ago I wrote a blog explaining how individuals could get involved in the conversation about NFPA standards and firefighter PPE.  That blog provides a good overview for reference, and this piece provides new developments related to one particular standard - NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, 2018 Edition. A recent NFPA Standards Council decision relating to NFPA 1971 has been partially referenced in many areas of social media and publications. Throughout the processing of the Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA), several serious safety concerns were raised by firefighters and others on both sides of the technical issue. Ultimately, the NFPA Standards Council determined that the balanced consensus Technical Committee (TC) and the current Task Group working on this issue were the best place to determine a proposed technical solution that provided the vital lifesaving performance requirements of PPE and the moisture barrier while at the same time addressing health risks to first responders.  NFPA Standards Council Decision The NFPA Standards Council voted on August 26, 2021, to deny an appeal requesting that the Council overturn the TC ballot results and issue TIA (No. 1594 on NFPA 1971 (2018 edition). The TIA was seeking to remove an ultra-violet (UV) light degradation test applicable to firefighter turnout gear. The appellant asserts that requiring this test causes the use of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the moisture barriers of turnout gear.  TIA No. 1594 was balloted through the Technical Committee on Structural and Proximity Fire Fighting Protective Clothing and Equipment and the Correlating Committee (CC) on Fire and Emergency Services Protective Clothing and Equipment in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards (Regs) to determine whether the necessary three-fourths majority support was achieved for recommendation of issuance. The TIA failed to achieve the necessary support of the TC on both technical merit and emergency nature, as well as failed to achieve the necessary support of the CC on both correlation and emergency nature. When a TIA fails to achieve the recommendation of the responsible committee, the resulting recommendation of the standards development process is to not issue the TIA. On appeal, the Council accords great respect and deference to the NFPA standards development process. In conducting its review, the Council will overturn the results of that process only where a clear and substantial basis for doing so is demonstrated.  The Council found no such basis demonstrated in this matter. Here are a few key points from the decision: As stated above, the TIA failed on all levels, including the Technical Committee and the Correlating Committee. From the decision, “The TIA failed to achieve the necessary support of the TC [technical committee] on both technical merit and emergency nature, as well as failed to achieve the necessary support of the CC [correlating committee] on both correlation and emergency nature.” This is not a simple issue. The moisture barrier provides significant protection to firefighters from various threats, and if this test is eliminated the Committee’s position was that it was not known technically what other impacts there may be on firefighter protection. From the decision, “This TIA seeks to remove an ultra-violet (UV) light degradation test applicable to firefighter turnout gear. The appellant asserts that requiring this test causes the use of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the moisture barriers of turnout gear. Appellant expressed serious concern for health consequences to firefighters with continued use of PFAS in the moisture barrier.  Opponents to the TIA agree that PFAS should be removed or limited where possible, but express concern that removing this test without understanding of how removal will affect the moisture barrier could inherently be a serious risk to firefighter safety given the barrier is a primary protection from water and other common liquids, including chemicals and bloodborne pathogens encountered.”  The Technical Committee Chair formed a Task Group to address this topic in June 2021. The Council believes that the Task Group and the Technical Committee are in the best position (since they are the experts) to determine the best solution. From the decision, “The TC chair formed a Task Group in June 2021 to address this issue (and evaluate other issues related to hazardous substances). The Task Group membership includes topical experts, such as the appellant (IAFF), a representative from a nationally recognized testing lab, a turn-out gear manufacturer, and representatives from fire departments, among others. For these reasons, Council finds that the Task Group is in the best position to consider all technical and scientific information and to make an informed recommendation for the responsible TC’s consideration.”  The Council indicated that this is an important issue and urged the Task Group to continue its work. From the decision, “The Council notes that all parties in favor and against this appeal agreed that the TIA raises timely, important issues therefore the Council directs that the progressing Task Group work on this issue be expedited.  Additionally, the Council encourages the Task Group to submit a TIA for processing to the current edition and in parallel to the work being done within the next edition of the standard, if appropriate.” Background on NFPA Standards Process and NFPA 1971 NFPA does not write the standards. NFPA facilitates the development process for more than 300 different standards, including 114 that are fire-service-related. Technical Committees comprised of subject matter experts employ a transparent process that has relied upon diverse participation for 125 years. NFPA standards are typically updated every 3 to 5 years. NFPA standards do not specify or require the use of any particular materials, chemicals, or treatments for PPE. Those decisions are up to the manufacturer. NFPA 1971 specifies the minimum design, performance, testing and certification requirements for structural and proximity firefighting turnout gear including coats, trousers, coveralls, helmets, gloves, footwear, and interface components. The standard safeguards firefighting personnel by establishing minimum levels of protection from thermal, physical, environmental, and blood-borne pathogen hazards encountered during firefighting operations. NFPA 1971 does not, however, dictate what materials are used or how the manufacturer complies with the performance requirements of the standard.   Next Steps When the Task Group was established in June 2021, they were asked to submit their recommendations as public input on the next edition of the standard, which must be received by Nov 10, 2021. However, it is possible that the Task Group will continue to work beyond this date to complete or refine their recommendations. If a new consensus position is not reached in the First Draft stage, changes can still be considered in later stages (pending certain circumstances exist) or be adopted through a TIA, should one be filed. Public input to the next edition of the standard (which will be a consolidated standard as NFPA 1970) closes on November 10, 2021. Anyone (except NFPA staff) can propose a change to the standard by going online and suggesting specific wording and providing a rationale. NFPA anticipates that the First Draft Reports will be posted for public comment in the fall of 2022. The latest information on this standard can be found at nfpa.org/1970next.
Hatem Kheir, NFPA Board of Directors, Jim Pauley, NFPA President

Remembering NFPA Board member Hatem Kheir of Egypt and his contributions to life safety

“NFPA, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and the world have lost an incredible safety ambassador with the passing of NFPA Board member Hatem Kheir this week,” NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley said. “Hatem was the consummate safety professional. His mechanical engineering background, passion for reducing risk, professional collaborations, commitment to educating the young and at risk, and his quest to offer in-language solutions to stakeholders were unmatched. We are eternally grateful for his contributions over the years.” Hatem passed away this week, at the age of 62, after a brief illness. Hatem joined the NFPA Board of Directors in 2016 and was serving his second term at the time of his death. During his tenure, he was a member of the Governance & Nominating Committee and the newly formed Corporate Development Committee.   NFPA Board Chair Amy Acton said, “Hatem was interested in being an NFPA Board member because he felt it would help him serve Egypt and other developing countries to better understand the importance of fire protection. He embraced the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem™ and the opportunity to discuss safety with a long list of connections in the international marketplace.” Hatem was the owner and general manager of the Kheir Group based in Cairo, Egypt, a firm that specializes in supplying pumps, pumping services, and maintenance. He devoted 22 years to the standards development process, serving as a principal member on the Fire Pumps (FIM-AAA) technical committee that is responsible for the development of NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection.  Hatem was passionate about the proper use and application of NFPA codes and standards. With that in mind, he pioneered the first translation of NFPA documents into Arabic and worked to ensure that language was not a barrier to understanding and applying codes and standards. He believed wholeheartedly that we all play a role in safety and traveled all over the Middle East educating fire protection system users, firefighters, consultants, and engineers on how to select, install, test, and service fire pumps. He also devoted time to training and informing young engineers on the role that codes play in society and developed a study and education program for school-age children to help raise awareness of fire prevention and protection strategies.   Hatem helped launch the Egyptian Fire Protection Association so that government officials, companies, and workers were working holistically in the interest of safety; and until his death, served as Chairman of the Confederation of Fire Protection Association – International.  He worked with chamber of commerce leaders (American, British, Egyptian, and German), economic minds, fire protection industry groups, industrial engineering professionals, and those interested in culture development efforts throughout his career and was a founding member of the NFPA MENA Advisory Council.  Heartfelt condolences go out to Hatem’s wife Iman, his children, in-laws, grandchildren, and all who loved and admired him. His legacy will live on in the work that we do each day to reduce risk. 

NFPA Launches Free Structural Firefighting Online Training Based on the Fire Dynamics within NFPA 1700

NFPA released free NFPA® 1700 Guide for Structural Fire Fighting online training for firefighters to learn safer and more effective ways to handle fire incidents involving modern day materials and contents. The all-new online instructional course, centered around NFPA 1700 Guide for Structural Fire Fighting, is based on extensive scientific research and testing on contemporary structures from the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute. Today’s home fires burn faster, reach flashover quicker, collapse sooner, and result in reduced escape times largely due to synthetic contents including furniture, plastics, rugs, and composite materials versus the wood-constructed legacy furnishings of days gone by. Residences also tend to be constructed on smaller lots, include a second story, feature more open floor plans, and house all kinds of new technologies. These components and evolving fuel loads led to the November release of NFPA 1700, the first NFPA document connecting fire dynamics research to response strategies and best practices; and have prompted changes to the tactics that the nation’s 1.1 million firefighters have used for decades. The all-new instructional course is designed to help the fire service evolve the way it responds to incidents and provides evidence-based recommendations and methodologies. The course provides: Guidance focused on interacting within a structure on-fire to achieve the most successful outcome based on documented fire investigations, research, and testing Interactive modeling of residential structural firefighting with simulated training scenarios and coaching throughout exercises Concepts based on NFPA 1700 principles and tactical advice for effective search, rescue, and fire suppression operations, as well as civilian and responder safety   NFPA 1700 online training puts firefighters in an immersive digital environment that replicates in-person, hands-on learning. Ideal for both new and seasoned structural firefighting personnel, the online program offers an introduction to NFPA 1700, followed by a series of interactive learning modules. Each session offers a 360-degree, full-3D virtual experience featuring realistic scenarios and requires firefighters to make observations and decisions on how to respond and fight the fire. The course covers how to enter buildings, where to apply hose streams, and when to stand down due to potential life-threatening situations; and culminates with a Capstone exam to help firefighters synthesize learning and put knowledge to the test. The training takes into consideration fundamental occupancy, building construction, while addressing the health and safety of firefighters by reinforcing the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and methodologies for contamination control. NFPA 1700 and its corresponding free training for the fire service are prime examples of the investment in safety and skilled workforce components that are essential in the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem. Take and share the training today.
Carbon Monoxide Detector

Do you think Carbon Monoxide (CO) detection requirements are adequate in your town?

Considering CO is a colorless and odorless gas, CO poisoning has assumed the moniker of the silent killer. When you book your first post-COVID-19 vacation rental, do you know if the hotel you book or home you rent requires CO alarms? The Fire Protection Research Foundation conducted a literature review to summarize existing requirements for installation of CO detection devices and consolidated the available and pertinent non-fire CO incident data. The report, titled: “Carbon Monoxide Detection and Alarm Requirements: Literature Review” is intended to assist the NFPA 101® Life Safety Code® and NFPA 5000® Building Construction and Safety Code® technical committees as they develop proposed changes for the 2024 editions. This report will also be helpful for the 2024 editions of the International Code Council (ICC) codes, and provides a comprehensive list of the CO regulations by occupancy for each state. Think a code or standard needs to be modified? If so, please participate in NFPA’s open and consensus-based code development process by submitting a public input by June 1, 2021 for NFPA 101 and NFPA 5000. Check out their respective websites for additional information: www.nfpa.org/101 and www.nfpa.org/5000  The Fire Protection Research Foundation works as NFPA’s research affiliate to help with the challenging problems that the fire protection community faces daily.  Each year the Foundation reviews project ideas that are submitted by YOU, the public! Research requests do not need to be tied to a specific code or standard, in fact here are a few examples below of such requests and affiliated reports: Literature Review on Spaceport Fire Safety Wildfire Risk Reduction: Engaging Local Officials Hazard Assessment of Lithium Ion Batteries used in Energy Storage Systems (ESS) There is also no project too small (literature reviews, code comparisons, loss summaries), or too large (full scale fire testing), or anything in between! Not sure what research needs to be done but something must be done? Maybe a workshop (research planning meeting) can help!  So please, if you have any research needs to thread the needle or solve a problem, submit a project idea form here!

Recent Incidents at Latin American Hospitals Demonstrate the Need for Risk Reduction and Response Planning

For about a year now, much of the world has been focused on fighting the Coronavirus. The pandemic has certainly challenged healthcare providers and hospitals; our gratitude for all their efforts since COVID-19 began spreading throughout the globe cannot be overstated. The coronavirus has affected the healthcare industry in a way that modern society has not seen before, but it’s important to note that the idea of risk is not new to medical people or those charged with management of healthcare properties.  Patients, staff and visitors rely on those who run medical facilities to ensure that all safety measures are being taken to keep those receiving care, working in or visiting a hospital free from harm.  Fires can and do occur in the medical environment and given high occupancy rates, foot traffic in healthcare settings and the vulnerability of patients, hospital fires can have a significant impact on a community. Just think about how complex it must be to safely evacuate patients, staff and others when an unfortunate incident occurs. In Chile’s capitol city of Santiago, healthcare officials were forced to move from thinking what to do in case of fire to actually springing into action when a fire broke out at San Borja Hospital, forcing the evacuation of 30 patients with COVID-19 this past weekend. Infected patients were transported to other health centers in the city, an undertaking that was extremely difficult given that at least eight patients were intubated and listed in critical condition. The emergency incident coincided with a spike of coronavirus cases in Chile, so as you can imagine the healthcare system was already working at maximum capacity when the fire alarm sounded early in the morning. The epicenter of the fire was located in a third floor pediatric area of one of the hospital’s warehouses. Approximately 40 fire trucks and more than 150 firefighters responded; flames and dense columns of smoke were visible from many points in the Chilean capital. Firefighters joined forces with police officers, members of the army, and doctors to evacuate patients to a parking lot and other safe havens outside of the hospital. Appropriate sanitary measures were taken due to the coronavirus. Fortunately, thanks to this effective deployment strategy, there was no loss of life but the Ministry of Health in Chile confirmed that the fire damaged 4 floors of the hospital, as well as boilers, electrical installations and other service systems. Right after the New Year, there was another horrible hospital emergency in Morelia Michoacan, Mexico that took the lives of at least 36 people who were hospitalized in the COVID area. A leak began in a supply pipe and was reported immediately on a Friday. Apparently, the pipe froze from low temperatures but was not addressed by the institute’s authorities until on Sunday when a white cloud appeared in the lower area of the tanks. According to news reports, staff members began to hit the pipe that was frozen, ultimately causing a fissure that prompted the lethal leak. Around the same time, fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Adolfo López Mateos hospital in the City of Toluca, Mexico. Medical staff and patients were immediately evacuated, including those being treated for COVID-19. After the incident, the Secretary of Health of the State of Mexico reported that the incident, caused by a short circuit, was minor. The fire was controlled quickly without injuries and hospital personnel were allowed to return to their normal duties in a reasonable amount of time.                That was not the case at the Federal Hospital of Bonsucesso in Rio de Janeiro last fall. A fire there prompted more than 200 patients to be evacuated and urgently transferred elsewhere. Doctors and nurses relocated patients in mobile beds with the help of firefighters, but unfortunately during the rescue operation, two women who were hospitalized for coronavirus died. A mechanical workshop that was located nearby became a temporary nursing location for a few hours; and in the days that followed, the doctors’ union denounced the hospital, pointing to a lack of protocol for evacuating patients and health professionals. In the summer of 2019, staff from the “Hospital de Alta Especialidad” in Zumpango, México, within the metropolitan area of Mexico City, were evacuated when fire broke out. One of the panels of the hospital caught fire after a short circuit occurred between a luminaire and a ceiling in a patio area. Civil Protection personnel cordoned off the affected area and worked with medical personnel to evacuate hospitalized patients who were in the building next to the fire. The municipal fire department responded and State of Mexico Red Cross ambulances assisted in evacuating and protecting patients, relatives and hospital personnel.  Within 25 minutes, the incident was under control. Thanks to the preparedness steps taken in advance and the security protocols that were successfully applied during the incident, the elderly and patients were allowed to re-enter the hospitalization building to continue their care, while the affected area was isolated. Preplanning and safety measures helped hospital authorities and responders protect patients and preserve the majority of the facility. These are just a few examples of hospital fires of note in Latin America. There have been many throughout time, all around the world, that have resulted in tragedy. I hope the few I have mentioned in this blog underscore the reality that Latin America is not exempt from such incidents. Hospital fires cause loss of life, property, equipment, essential supplies and hospital records – and leave economic and business/care continuity challenges in its wake. Each of these events share a common thread – ignorance or dismissal of danger signs, panic reactions or stampede tendencies. The incidents also showed inappropriate use of flammable and toxic materials, the absence or ineffectiveness of basic security measures, deficiencies in regulatory framework, and a concerning lack of training in evacuation planning, among other proactive safety measures. All of these safety components and a few others need to be addressed if we are going to reduce risk. Safety is a system, and one that should be taken very seriously especially in hospitals where many occupants will be unable to evacuate on their own or without assistive equipment. Healthcare officials, regulatory leaders and responders should use the recent spate of incidents in Latin America and the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem to evaluate whether they are connecting the dots on hospital safety. In 2016, the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) did just that. In May of that year, CMS required health care facilities to meet requirements of the 2012 editions of NFPA 101® Life Safety Code and NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code. Since 1970, hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory surgical centers and related facilities in the U.S. have needed to demonstrate that their fire and life safety programs satisfied different editions of NFPA 101 in order to meet the requirements of the Conditions of Participation (COP), as defined by CMS. Health care providers that participate in federal reimbursement programs are required to meet the COP expectations. Then in September of 2016, CMS announced that its emergency preparedness rule would require a coordinated set of requirements to be established by various providers. The emergency preparedness spectrum extends to the public who rely on the various organizations that provide different levels of medical and social wellness care as well as to the staff and physical plant assets that are part of the delivery system. Per the rule, hospitals, transplant centers, critical access hospitals and long-term care facilities must carefully evaluate their emergency and standby power systems. Specifically, they must be inspected, tested, and maintained in accordance with the 2010 edition of NFPA 110 Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, as well as the 2012 editions of both NFPA 99 and NFPA 101. NFPA can help healthcare authorities proactively navigate the changes that are needed to ensure that Latin America’s hospitals and other health facilities have a solid safety infrastructure. Visit nfpa.org/cms for training, certification and other related resources. This blog is also available in Spanish.  
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