Wow, we are already three weeks into 2018, and believe it or not, already into the 2021 code development cycle for NFPA 1. (More details on 2021 below). In the meantime, there is a lot to be shared about the newest edition of NFPA 1 (2018) that was released last fall. This post from December provided an overview of what I thought to be the key changes for the 2018 edition. There are of course many more than just that list and users can view those changes via the First Draft Report and Second Draft report online at www.nfpa.org/1 (scroll down on that page and you will see links to both). In the coming weeks I hope to dive a bit deeper into the Code changes by discuss the reasoning behind the changes and what they mean for the application of NFPA 1.
The first change I will discuss is new provisions in Chapter 1 that mandate minimum qualifications to enforce the Code. The new text reads as follows:
- 1.7.2* Minimum Qualifications to Enforce this Code. The AHJ shall establish minimum qualifications for all persons assigned the responsibility of enforcing this Code.
- 220.127.116.11 Fire inspectors and plans examiners shall meet the minimum professional qualifications established in NFPA 1031.
- 18.104.22.168 The AHJ shall be authorized to approve alternative qualifications for personnel conducting fire inspections and plan examination if the AHJ determines the individual possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job performance requirements of the position.
- 22.214.171.124 Fire marshals shall meet the minimum professional qualifications established in NFPA 1037.
- 126.96.36.199 The AHJ shall be authorized to approve alternative qualifications for personnel performing the position of fire marshal if the AHJ determines the individual possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job performance requirements of the position.
Past editions of the Code contained the language in 1.7.2 which put reliance on the AHJ to establish minimum qualifications for persons whom are responsible for enforcement of NFPA 1. Advisory language in the annex provided suggested NFPA standards which contain information on qualifications of code enforcement personnel. For 2018, new language was added to the body of the Code in subsections 188.8.131.52 through 184.108.40.206 which mandates compliance with the minimum professional qualifications from NFPA 1031, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Inspector and Plan Examiner, for fire inspectors and plans examiners and mandates compliance with NFPA 1037, Standard on Fire Marshal Professional Qualifications, for fire marshals. In both cases, the AHJ can approve alternative qualifications for those serving those roles if the AHJ determines that they possess adequate knowledge and skills to perform the job.
NFPA 1031 identifies the professional levels of performance required for fire inspectors and plan examiners and specifically identifying the job performance requirements necessary to perform as a fire inspector or a plan examiner. It defines three levels of progression for fire inspectors and two levels of progression for plan examiners. Job performance requirements include detailed skills and knowledge that fall under categories of plan review and field inspection.
NFPA 1037 identifies the professional level of performance required for Fire Marshal, specifically identifying the minimum job performance requirements (JPRs) necessary to perform as a Fire Marshal. Chapter 4 of the standard outlines the core job performance requirements of the Fire Marshal including administrative duties, community risk reduction, community relations, and professional development.
It was the committee’s opinion that NFPA 1 has, in past editions, adequately addressed the obligations of design professionals, contractors and owners in order to provide an environment that provides reasonable life safety and property preservation. However, the Code was lacking with addressing the competency of those individuals enforcing the Code. The new language of 1.7.2 shown above helps to ensure the Code is correctly enforced and also makes use of well-established documents published by the NFPA. It provides the necessary guidance to the AHJ as to how to determine competency and qualifications for Code enforcement.
Regarding the NEXT edition of NFPA 1…the Code is now open for public input. This allows anyone (NFPA members, industry experts, committee members, users, AHJs…any and all are welcome and highly encouraged to participate) to submit a proposed change to the Code for consideration by the Fire Code Technical Committee during the upcoming revision cycle. Public inputs received by the closing date of June 27, 2018 will be acted on at the First Draft meeting to be held sometime this fall. You can follow along this next revision cycle at www.nfpa.org/next. Please remember that it’s your participation that makes our codes and standards better with each edition. We look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks for reading, stay safe!