Michael Hazell

Chair Philip Stittleburg reflects on how NFPA efforts have true impact at the local level

Blog Post created by Michael Hazell Employee on Jun 10, 2013

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NFPA Chair Philip Stittleburg used his time on stage at the Aerie Crown Theater at the McCormick Place Convention Center to talk about NFPA’s influence.

“We have more than 300 codes and standards,” he said, “but many may seem remote from what we do day-to-day. Let me tell you how they affect me close to home.”

Mr. Stittleburg said that the issue of wildfire fires is growing worse across the United States. In fact, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, nearly 70,000 wildfires burned more than 9 million acres across the U.S. in 2012. In Wisconsin, where Mr. Stittleburg serves as Chief of the La Farge Fire Department, they’ve experienced the most-damaging wildfire season in years.

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“I appreciate the important NFPA standards that deal with this threat,” he said, noting eight separate documents that deal with wildfire issues from every angle, includingNFPA 1051, Wildfire Fire Fighter Professional Qualificatons; NFPA 1143, Wildland Fire Management; and NFPA 1977, Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting. Free access to all of these documents.

“NFPA also offers important programs, like Firewise Communities, to complement these standards,” he said. “NFPA is deeply involved in meeting the wildland fire challenge, and all of these efforts make me appreciate again NFPA’s relevance to my world.”

Mr. Stittleburg said another recent incident brought home the power of NFPA’s influence. He said that he had a casual conversation with a representative from Organic Valley, the largest co-op of organic farmers in the United States, which is headquarted in La Farge. Their talk turned to business continuity, as the NFPA Board had recently talk about NFPA’s own plan on how its business operations might recover in case of a disaster. That plan was based on NFPA 1600, Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs. Free access to NFPA 1600.

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Mr. Stittleburg gave a copy of NFPA 1600 to the Organic Valley representative, although their risk of business operation seemed low, as its headquarters building was less than five years old and full-sprinklered. But the plan was implemented. And just four weeks ago, there was a large fire at the Organic Valley headquarters. 

“The fire was in my protection district and my department responded,” said Mr. Stittleburg. “It was a large event that lasted 18 hours with 11 fire departments responding, 116 firefighters and EMS workers.” The headquarters had substantial damage but the company was soon on its way to a speedy and complete recovery. “ In fact, he said, Organic Valley lost only 2.5 hours of business time and missed no milk or egg pick-ups. “Pre-planning for this unlikely event had a major impact,” he said. “and NFPA 1600 was a part of that success.”

“All this reminded me again that what we do have a very real impact on others, including our neighbors,” he said.