Codes and standards
NFPA Impact: LiNK-ing your department with codes and standards
By Laura King
Here I am, back writing regularly for Fire Fighting in Canada, this time as the NFPA’s regional director for Canada. After 10 years as editor of Fire Fighting in Canada, I joined the NFPA in 2017 as a public-education representative, a role I loved. With the recent retirement of my colleague Shayne Mintz, who was regional director for almost 10 years, I’m excited to have taken on the regional director position.
The NFPA has changed considerably since 2017, most notably in digitizing all assets and becoming a truly online provider of codes and standards, training, and public education.
This was a much-needed, strategic and sometimes frustrating process, as is always the case when organizations need to keep up to user demands. Priorities changed, new initiatives replaced projects already in the works, and positions were overtaken by new roles. In 2020, the NFPA hired a vice-president of marketing and technology to align the company’s strategic plan and digital future.
Part of this process was the already-in-the-works creation, development, and launch of NFPA LiNK (www.nfpa.org/LiNK), an online codes and standards platform that replaces NFCSS, the National Fire Codes Subscription Service, to which many Canadian fire departments subscribe.
At first LiNK included only the electrical code and the fire- and life-safety code, so the platform wasn’t particularly relevant to Canadians. Now, all NFPA standards have been uploaded.
It’s not my job to sell LiNK, but I’m going to anyway! LiNK is much more than a tool. Users can bookmark items, add notes, share stuff, and the content transfers when a new edition of a standard is released.
LiNK costs less than the old subscription service, it’s more user friendly, it’s intuitive, and the developers have listened to the users. For example, originally, the developers did not plan to include previous versions of standards but opted to do so after learning that adopting current editions takes time, and users needed the earlier incarnations. Users can cut and paste (up to a certain number of words), so if a training officer is planning a scenario, requirements can easily be transferred from a pro-qual standard to a department form (there has been much applause for this feature!).
LiNK can be used on computers, tablets and phones, in offices and classrooms, on trucks, or at a scene. The LiNK tagline – you can go by the book without the book – is true. There’s an offline option, so if an inspector is going to be in a remote are with no internet access, documents can be saved (for a period of time) and easily accessed.
There are subscription options for single users (less than a Netflix subscription!), teams of up to 10, and larger groups. There are no special deals for associations or mutual-aid groups because pricing is accessible for even the smallest fire department.
Users can tell what’s new in a standard, expand diagrams, activate a reference panel to see two pieces of content at once, and see enhanced content with context and background information. The search function is excellent.
Our development team indicated in January that large teams will soon be able to create sub-teams, so your fire department’s training division can keep its pro-qual and safety standards, notes and bookmarks separate from the logistics team that focuses on apparatus and/or equipment standards.
And what’s more, the whole LiNK project is ahead of schedule; all current NFPA standard are now in LiNK, with previous editions being added.
Anyone can sign up for a free, two-week LiNK trial. Be sure to use the email address you will use if you choose to subscribe so that favourites, bookmarks, and notes will remain.
As I said, it’s not my job to sell LiNK, but it is my job to make you aware of tools that can help your department work more efficiently and effectively. Let me know if your department would like a preview; I’d be happy to LiNK up! •
Laura King is the NFPA’s regional director for Canada. Contact her about codes and standards, and public education, at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @LauraKingNFPA