I love the Olympics. The competition, the pride, and the two weeks that this world can come together under one roof and celebrate. It's certainly a breath of fresh air from the rest of the news we are so used to hearing lately.
To prepare to host an Olympic Games is a massive undertaking by the host country. They are required to provide state-of-the-art facilities for hundreds of events across the city and country, feed and house thousands of athletes and provide accommodations for tens of thousands of visitors. They must provide safe infrastructure, support for the local community, and minimal environmental impact. Cities beam with pride to show off their culture and community to millions and millions of visitors and people watching on TV in their homes.
So, how did Rio prepare for this event while making sure its property and people are safe?
Back on January 27, 2013 a a fire at the KISS nightclub in Santa Maria Brazil began when members of a band that was performing waved lit flares, igniting the club’s interior finishes. The death toll was 239 and it was Brazil’s deadliest fire in more than 50 years. Like many tragedies, events such as the KISS fire raised awareness in Santa Maria and Brazil as to the state of local fire codes. Soon after the fire in 2013, Jim Dolan, then NFPA's director of the Fire Code field office, traveled to Santa Maria to discuss how NFPA could help Brazilian authorities update their fire protection and life safety codes.
Around the same time, the state of Rio de Janeiro had contacted NFPA with a request for support services on its codes. With the then approaching 2014 soccer World Cup and this year's 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil recognized the need to adopt and implement modern and effective codes — especially NFPA 1, Fire Code — with standardized rules and regulations that would help them keep buildings and facilities up to date.
So, where does Brazil stand today?
NFPA has worked with Rio on the adaptation and adoption of NFPA 1 which has included translating the Code into Portuguese. Through training offerings, NFPA has also educated local code officials. NFPA's local representative in Brazil, Anderson Queiroz, confirmed that Brazil already uses many NFPA standards as reference for their local fire code. Adoption is a long term process since it has to do with old laws that are partially reviewed over the years according to specific and current needs. Mr. Queiroz is currently working with Rio Fire Department on means of egress provisions from NFPA 1 which will become part of the State Fire Code with reference to NFPA. Then, Rio will start working on another subject which to become part of the Fire Code. São Paulo state has used around 80 NFPA standards so far as the basis for their Fire Code.
So, whether you are one of the millions of people that will tune in to watch the Olympic games this week, or those that are on the ground there competing or visiting, you will be witnessing the impact of NFPA codes and standards at work; keeping people safe around the world!