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NFPA Impact: December 2011

Strategic planning is a great way for organizations to focus. This is even more important for an organization such as the NFPA, which has many facets.

December 5, 2011 
By Sean Tracey

Strategic planning is a great way for organizations to focus. This is even more important for an organization such as the NFPA, which has many facets.

In 2011, the NFPA undertook a strategic planning effort, during which a number of its corporate goals were enunciated and clear objectives were set out for each region, including Canada.

From my experience, this was a welcome initiative, considering the limited resources available to Canadian fire services. The strategic planning exercise provided me with an opportunity to share these goals with our major stakeholders and get their buy-in. With 2012 just around the corner, it is important that I share these objectives with you to shine a light on the NFPA, its mission, and fire-safety issues in Canada
As a standards-development body, it is very important that the NFPA’s standards be accepted. To do this, the NFPA is looking at means to facilitate wider participation by Canadians in the standard-development process. Thus, we sponsor the online resource PTSC-Online (, and write for media (such as this fine magazine). Through these mediums, we can update Canadians on proposed changes and new standards and their potential impact in a Canadian context. Through PTSC-Online we can even support discussion forums on specific topics.

Residential fire sprinklers remains one of the key advocacy efforts for the NFPA in 2012, with a focus on increasing awareness of the benefits through support of the expanding Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition and its planned Canadian spinoff.


The NFPA will also look to support a number of side-by-side burn demonstrations across Canada. We will also offer a stipend to support communities that wish to build and run residential sprinkler side-by-side burn demonstrations in their communities. This initiative was funded by a FIRE Act grant in the United States, and the NFPA will fund this in Canada.

We will also continue efforts to have sprinklering adopted into the National Building Code and the provincial codes. The NFPA has submitted a number of code-change proposals and has looked at parallel firefighter-safety issues that can benefit from sprinkler adoptions. Because the installation of residential sprinklers is not well supported outside the fire service, the NFPA will support individual communities that wish to introduce sprinkler bylaws. The NFPA is prepared to offer a full range of support, including assisting in council presentations if need be.

The NFPA board has also identified wildland-urban interface risk reduction as a high priority. The NFPA is advocating this internationally, with Canada being the first stop in this effort. The formal memorandum of understanding (MOU), signed by Partners in Protection (PiP) and the NFPA was the first partnership formed. The NFPA hopes to roll out elements of the MOU in 2012, with key points including adapting the materials for use in Canada, running provincial FireSmart workshops and assisting PiP in launching a FireSmart community recognition program. We will also work with PiP to seek wider adoption of NFPA standards 1142, 1143 and 1144 by communities in their development plans. These standards are complemented by PiP’s FireSmart manual. Communities following these standards could then easily qualify to meet the recognition criteria, thus raising the profile of the protection activities.

The NFPA will also continue to support the activities of the Canadian fire service. It wants to be the go-to source for guidance on fire/life safety issues. For this reason, the NFPA will remain active in monitoring and supporting local fire services on issues in and around care-home fire safety, First Nations fire protection and mid-rise construction, to name a few.

The NFPA may not have a specific policy addressing its concerns on each of these issues, but it will use the baseline information found in the NFPA consensus codes and standards. The aim is to help present best practices and reduce the risks to Canadians and to the Canadian fire service. With this aim, the NFPA will provide support and technical advice from its entire network of resources to local departments and provincial departments as necessary.

The year 2012 promises to be challenging, thanks to the many issues that the Canadian fire service faces.

With luck and hard work we hope to see the presence and influence of the NFPA grow yet again.

Thanks for your ongoing support of the NFPA. We look forward to serving you in the new year.

Sean Tracey, P.Eng., MIFireE, is the Canadian regional manager of the National Fire Protection Association International and formerly the Canadian Armed Forces fire marshal. Contact him at

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