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NFPA Impact: March 2012

While preparing for this column on incident management, I thought I would give you an update on changes to the NFPA 1561: Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System, as the standard is up for republishing in 2014.

March 19, 2012 
By Sean Tracey

While preparing for this column on incident management, I thought I would give you an update on changes to the NFPA 1561: Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System, as the standard is up for republishing in 2014. However, I realized that doing so could be an opportunity to showcase all the changes to the NFPA standards process since last year and identify how you can get involved in the refinement of NFPA 1561. Remember, NFPA does not write the standards – we just publish them. We need readers like you to take ownership of these changes to the standards as they affect you.

For those not in the know, the NFPA’s board of directors recognized as a priority the need to revise the standards-making process in order to make it more inclusive. This resulted in a number of significant changes announced in November 2010 and approved by the NFPA board. These changes not only result in a further clarification and streamlining of the standards-revision process, but also set up more time for the technical correlating committees to do their work.

The most noticeable change is the discontinuation of the terms report on proposals (ROP) and report on comments (ROC). These have been replaced with the more colloquial terms first draft and second draft. These changes will be made for documents that are scheduled for rewrite in 2014 and onward. Change submissions can now be done electronically, making the process much easier. A much more detailed explanation of the changes can be found at, including YouTube video links describing the changes – all very 21st century!

The current 2008 edition of NFPA 1561 is widely referenced throughout NFPA standards and contains the basic elements required to improve the safety, health and survival of responders. It is an excellent resource on what is recognized as the basis of an incident-management system for any emergency-response organization.


At the time of publication, the proposed 2014 edition will have completed the first call for comments and the first draft should be published Aug. 7. Comments on the second draft will be open until Nov. 16. (Remember: anyone can send in suggested changes; you need not be an NFPA member.) The second draft will be published on July 19, 2013.

You have until Aug. 23, 2013, to decide if you have any concerns with the proposed changes and wish to make a floor motion at the NFPA annual meeting against any of them. This is called a notice of intent to make a motion, or NITMAM. The NFPA Standards Council determines whether the NITMAM is acceptable. If there are no approved NITMAMs, the standard will be released. If there is a NITMAM, change proponents will be given their due at the annual meeting and NFPA members will vote on the proposed change at the annual meeting. Votes are now conducted electronically on all motions. This process unfolds on the NFPA website under the codes and standards tab. If there are any issues, contact me, and I can guide you through the process.

In December, a new policy was announced regarding the NFPA’s support of participants like you, who would be categorized as enforcers. It is open to technical committee members from the United States and Canada. In recognizing that many enforcers cannot attend technical committee meetings because of public-sector employer restraints, the NFPA has increased the support it provides to these individuals on technical committees. This includes reimbursement of most of the travel and lodging expenses to attend technical committee meetings. This will help to attract and retain enforcers like you in writing NFPA standards.

Outside of the standards process, the NFPA Canadian Regional Office has renewed its sponsorship of the PTSC-Online website, You will note that NFPA-Canada has a dedicated section on the site. We aim to use this as a means to create discussion forums with input on standards changes of particular interest to Canadians, and to help us formulate our policy efforts in Canada. We also see the page as a potential forum through which we can alert Canadians to standard changes that might be of interest to them, and to solicit feedback. In addition, the page can be used to post downloadable presentations on subjects of interest to authorities having jurisdiction such as NFPA 96 (inspection basics), and inspection of care homes, for example. The site gives the fire service a place to discuss key fire-safety issues, such as industrial fire brigade standards and wildland urban interface. We can initiate new discussion forums. And it is all free. Please check out the site.

We believe we are making the entire standards-development process more accessible. We are also looking for ways to extend our reach on key issues of concern to the fire service through PTSC-Online. In doing so, we hope to see broader use and understanding of the standards and, thus, a more fire-resilient Canada.

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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