Codes and standards
NFPA Impact: December 2010
By Sean Tracey
Thanks to a push by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the NFPA standards council has recently agreed to the creation of a deployment standard for fire prevention activities.
By Sean Tracey
Thanks to a push by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), the NFPA standards council has recently agreed to the creation of a deployment standard for fire prevention activities. The standard is aptly nicknamed the NFPA 1730 standard, as it is anticipated to have a great impact on fire inspection, fire investigation and public education numbers in the fire service, just as the NFPA 1710 and 1720 standards have. The fact that this issue warrants the consideration of its own standard reflects the importance of the need to implement a balanced approach to fire protection, including suppression, inspection, investigation and public education services.
One expressed need for a service standard is to help to counter potential future budget cuts in fire department operations. An international consensus standard that sets a baseline for fire inspections, fire investigations and public education programs, as well as standardized approaches to benchmarking these services, would be greatly welcomed by groups that may often be the first to have their services cut in an effort to save suppression operations. These service standards would also be welcome for setting insurance gradings in communities.
This is not the first time that this issue has been brought forward to the NFPA. A previous request from the IAFC to prepare such a standard was acknowledged by the standards council and was sent to the committee responsible for NFPA 1201Standard for Providing Emergency Services to the Public for consideration. Once an item is tasked to technical committees, the NFPA must remain removed from the process of developing the standard. The NFPA merely publishes standards; you and your peers write them. The first request did not produce any clear direction and resulted in only minor language in NFPA 1201. A push was re-established for a stand-alone standard, similar to what was prepared for the career and volunteer departments in 1710 and 1720.
The CAFC was one proponent of a fire prevention deployment standard. It had already tasked a committee to study this. In its June 23, letter to the NFPA it stated that the executive committee of the CAFC “unanimously supports and strongly recommends the creation of an NFPA standard for fire prevention work.” The result was that the NFPA standards council listened and a new NFPA committee was created – the Committee on Organization and Deployment of Fire Prevention Activities. The committee is responsible for creating a new document on the organization, operation, deployment and evaluation of code enforcement, public fire and life safety education and fire investigation operations. The CAFC has even prepared a draft for the standard and forwarded it to the NFPA as a potential starting point.
Ron Farr, the state fire marshal for Michigan, has been selected as the technical committee chair. The committee is calling for volunteers to help draft this standard. The NFPA expects that many enforcement authorities will wish to apply, and so the push is on to get a balance of other representatives. It will be at least two years before the standard is finalized, but in the interim, the public and the fire service will have ample opportunity for comment.
One tool for input on the standard is the Partnership Towards Safer Communities Online (PTSC-Online), a new web community that encourages dialogue and broadcasts the activities of the NFPA. It can be found at www.ptsc-online.ca. PTSC is a new CAFC initiative supported by Public Safety Canada for a limited time. Using this collaboration tool will help to support PTSC in its ongoing mission to foster better collaboration among emergency services. Readers are encouraged to visit and register on the site as it has the potential to be an excellent resource; however, ongoing PTSC support will be contingent on the success of the trial period.
Remember, codes and standards are written by those who show up to participate. If you wish to have a say in the standard, voice your opinion in the coming months. This will be your standard; if you feel passionately about fire prevention, now is the chance to leave your mark.
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 email@example.com.