Getting codes adopted and enforced by AHJs can be a long, uphill battle that leads to many mutual benefits. We often get a better understanding of the practical and actionable information needed by the enforcer community in the process. And yet as eye-opening as it may seem on the domestic front, there are even greater challenges and rewards that come with getting codes adopted internationally.
NFPA has been working for many years to support Latin American stakeholders as they champion fire safety and code adoption. This week in Mexico City the level of engagement was elevated during NFPA's first Electrical Workshop for Latin America. NFPA's Antonio Macias, Rafael Yañez, Olga Caledonia and Diana Jones met with representatives from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Chile and Paraguay to share NFPA 70: National Electrical Code® (NEC) insight and learn about the adoption challenges in their countries.
Workshop attendees discussed their adoption differences and the enforcement concerns that they share. Professionals - contractors, engineers and vocational school contacts - explained how they use the NEC. Officials from Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama talked about working hand-in-hand with NFPA to engage government officials, business leaders and contractors to initiate code adoption in their territories. Case studies were shared, technical aspects of the NEC were discussed, legal framework was considered, a current edition of the code translated into Spanish was requested, and participants provided insight on the role of the government. For instance, the fire department is always viewed by communities in Latin America as the authority, even if the regulatory agency is a federal or municipal entity. The greatest obstacles for many in the room, however, center around enforcement, the role of the AHJ, and overcoming the argument about safe electrical installations costing more money.
The Electrical Workshop in Latin America was a great success. There was tremendous value in hearing different points of view and learning from non-traditional players during the two-day forum. NFPA staff and stakeholders emerged with a greater understanding of local issues, global adoption strategy, and relevant tips for improving international enforcement processes. The code trials, tribulations and successes resonated with all attendees, especially the government representatives from El Salvador, Peru, Chile and Guatemala who are currently looking to formalize adoptions or consider NFPA's wealth of electrical information for safer installation practices in their countries.