Codes and standards
NFPA Impact: November 2015
Have you ever had a question about standards or best practices and didn’t know who to ask?
By Shayne Mintz
Or have you wanted to find a safe place to ask about challenges other fire services may have experienced meeting a standard – without being judged or feeling silly?
The NFPA’s new Xchange application offers that safe place – an online forum through which fire-service personnel can pose questions and find answers. Xchange was unveiled by our new president, Jim Pauley, at the NFPA Conference and Exposition in Chicago in June.
This new NFPA online community lets anyone in the fire service connect with NFPA technical staff, explore content, share ideas, ask questions and network with professionals worldwide. In addition, users can set up private chat areas with invitation-only access. NFPA members can also access a private members-only section to search and submit technical standards questions.
Over this past year, NFPA leadership, senior management and staff established a new strategic plan and modernized our mission and vision to be more in line with future challenges – how to stay abreast of change and be responsive to the needs of our users.
Throughout that process, NFPA leadership focused on improving our standards, products and member or stakeholder experiences, and building stronger relationships with our organization. The Xchange is one of the many ways we are pursuing our vision to be the leading global advocate for the elimination of death, injury and losses due to fire, and executing our mission: to help our stakeholders save lives and reduce loss with information, knowledge and passion.
More and more people are venturing online to find information and answers; Xchange is designed to help the NFPA meet this demand. Traditionally, the NFPA’s online presence has involved one-way communication – from us to you – but with an increased social-media presence we’ve begun to make our communication strategy a two-way street. Xchange provides the NFPA with truly interactive relationships with users. Our intent is to make Xchange the primary location for all our content that attracts, engages, or gets our users involved.
Once users sign in for the first time, they can interact directly with NFPA experts. Users can post their own content, ask questions, and share their expertise by answering other users’ questions or queries. If you’ve got a problem or issue, there’s probably someone else out there who has had a similar experience or has found a solution that could be helpful.
How can you get on board? Just visit www.nfpa.org/xchange. If you’re a first time visitor to the Xchange web page (or the free access page – which provides free access to all our codes and standards) you will be asked to register before proceeding to the content. There is no cost to register, so you can simply fill in your information and then continue to the Xchange page.
Registered users can then create profiles and begin exploring what others have posted and post their own content. NFPA staff liaisons and subject-matter experts will monitor the commentary and correct inaccuracies, so you can be assured that the content you’re reading is accurate and current.
The forum includes a search function to find specific content or other posts about your topic. The website allows for online discussions so users can get the information they want or need as soon as possible.
Xchange is still new but aims to involve members, engage users and attract viewers by presenting relevant, timely content that promotes collaboration and interaction between our stakeholders and staff.
You can test-drive Xchange; visit once a week or so to see how, or if, your colleagues plan to implement NFPA 1730, the new Fire Prevention Deployment Standard, follow the progress in British Columbia – which is moving toward allowing local communities to opt-in to local sprinkler bylaws – or, see how your peers are dealing with energized photo-voltaics, green roofs and the continuing movement toward electrical storage systems in commercial and domestic applications. Research on something as obscure as tire replacement on fire apparatus, handling a large-scale train derailment, or comprehensive medical programs and how medical requirements differ between new candidates and incumbent firefighters.
Better yet, set up a push notification so you can be automatically alerted to activities that relate to your topics of interest. The subjects can be endless and if you can’t find anything on your subject already – feel free to start the conversation.
Shayne Mintz is the Canadian Regional Director for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Contact Shayne at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter at @ShayneMintz