NFPA Impact: Creating more user-friendly standards
By Shayne Mintz
By Shayne Mintz
In recent years, responders and the technical committee members who volunteer to develop National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards have expressed concerns about conflicts within the Emergency Response and Responder Safety (ERRS) standards. The concerns include a lack of coordination among related standards, lack of knowledge about what different technical committees are working on, and the inability to have representation on some committees due to the sheer number of standards.
In response to those concerns, the NFPA is combining applicable information from similarly focused standards to reduce the number of standards by one-third. This consolidation will enable responders to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently by grouping standards more logically and provide easier access to comprehensive equipment, manufacturing and safety guidance, selection, care and maintenance tips, professional qualifications benchmarks and other critical information.
NFPA has more than 100 codes and standards for the responder community and as new threats and hazards arise, various technical committees come together to address the multitude of challenges and opportunities. Early last year, the NFPA Standards Council (the body responsible for governing the development and approval of all codes, standards, guides and recommended practices) approved a plan to consolidate the information currently contained in 114 NFPA ERRS related documents into 38 overarching standards.
On Jan. 1, a five-year NFPA ERRS standards consolidation project was launched. It included a plan of having 20 to 25 standards combined annually. In order to ensure there is no loss of content or changes required to SOPs, policies or regulations, certain ERRS related standards will be merged into single all-inclusive standards with the existing standards becoming separate chapters.
For example, there are currently four standards that address wildland fire: NFPA 1051 (Professional Qualification for Wildland Firefighting); NFPA 1141 (Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land Development in Wildland, Rural, and Suburban Areas); NFPA 1143 (Standard for Wildland Fire Management); and NFPA 1144 (Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire). These four standards will be combined as chapters into one new standard: NFPA 1140 (Standards for Wildland Firefighting). This chapter will contain all the information previously housed in each separate standard. Consolidation of these four documents will also allow the combining of Chapters 1 to 3 from each document into one overlaying standard. In this case, nine chapters will be eliminated while retaining all the information previously contained in each.
Overall the number of administration, reference and definition chapters requiring review will be reduced from 456 to 144 chapters — a reduction of 312 chapters. The end result will be a decrease in the number of ERRS related standards from 114 documents to 38 (none of the current information contained in any standard will be lost). This will result in more user-friendly documents and allow users to obtain most, if not all, the information they need from a single document containing standards related to a particular subject.
A new revision cycle specifically for ERRS related standards has been proposed and first and second draft meetings of the standards process (and any necessary correlating committee meetings) will now occur during the same year and in the same location. First draft meetings will be held in January and second draft meetings in November of the same year. Additional meetings will be as needed.
This change means technical committee members can work more cohesively on similar topics. Emergency responders will have more convenient access to a library of topic-specific content that is critical for their roles. So far, the consolidation announcement has been welcomed by technical committee members as it means less time commitment on their part, lower travel costs, and greater participation across several standards technical committees.
Shayne Mintz has more than 35 years of experience in the fire service, having completed his career as chief of the Burlington Fire Department in Ontario. He is now the Canadian regional director for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Contact Shayne at Canada@nfpa.org, and follow him on Twitter at @ShayneMintz.