Author(s): Angelo Verzoni. Published on November 1, 2017.

Policy Minded

NFPA launches its Fire and Life Safety Policy Institute as a resource for lawmakers

BY ANGELO VERZONI

Battles to remove key safety provisions from model codes play out all across the country. Last year in Maryland, for example, a bill that set out to give counties the ability to opt out of requiring home fire sprinklers was shot down—a move that was celebrated by NFPA and the safety advocates who helped defeat it. A number of states have attempted to reduce or remove requirements for arc flash circuit interrupters in homes. In addition, the code adoption process can differ dramatically from one jurisdiction to another, yet there is little information on what models produce the best results.

These are just some of many fire and life safety issues policymakers have a hand in. Recognizing the critical role they play, NFPA has launched the Fire and Life Safety Policy Institute as a resource for policymakers on the local, state, and federal levels who make crucial decisions regarding fire prevention and protection across the United States.

“The Policy Institute will look at issues where we can advance NFPA’s goals around safety and preventing loss from fire and related hazards,” said Meghan Housewright, who has been named the director of the institute. “We’ll be presenting to policymakers—elected officials or other government decision makers—recommendations, analyses, and ideas to help guide or influence them on different courses of action that will move us toward our goals around preventing loss.”

The institute, based in Washington, D.C., will not only help advance NFPA’s goals, it will assist policymakers in better serving the citizens they represent. “The Policy Institute becomes a way for [policymakers] to become better educated on the issues, and at the same time use the information produced by the institute to help craft the right set of policies and decisions for the citizens they’re trying to protect,” said NFPA President Jim Pauley.

Educating policymakers on relevant issues will be a key task for the institute, Pauley explained. One example is the need for education on the fire and life safety hazards associated with emerging green energy technologies like solar panels and electric vehicles. “They’re all great advancements from a technology perspective, but we need to make sure we have policies that ensure fire, life, and electrical safety can be maintained,” Pauley said.

To learn more about NFPA’s Fire and Life Safety Policy Institute, visit the website and read Housewright’s inaugural “Safety Policy” column in this issue of NFPA Journal.

ANGELO VERZONI is staff writer for NFPA Journal. Top Photograph: iStockPhoto