This month's First Responder column in NFPA Journal is titled, "Getting Past the 'F' Word." Author Ken Willette discusses how the word fire may be prominent in the organization's name, but that it doesn't mean we have to only develop codes and standards that are directly fire related.
He points out that one of our original standards, dating back to the late 1800s, addressed the threads on hose couplings used to supply water to sprinkler systems. Since then, we've developed hundreds of standards that make recommendations for safe practices in industrial, commercial, institutional, and residential settings. Widely used documents such as NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code are all NFPA supported codes, but there isn’t an “F” word in any of their titles.
Despite NFPA's history, practices, and diverse membership on technical committees, some still question the ability to develop codes/standards that aren't related to fire. Willette details a recent situation regarding the development of a new standard, NFPA 1917 on Automotive Ambulances focused on EMS. NFPA worked very hard to reach out the EMS community and involve them during the code process. The experience taught us to continue to develop relationships with those regulators, users, enforcers, and researchers engaged with EMS issues, to get their guidance and invite them to participate in the code process moving forward.
Willette also notes that 'we're proud to be the National Fire Protection Association and to accommodate the changing needs of America’s responders.'