From my years working as a political reporter, I can assure you that everything we humans touch eventually turns political as long as someone somewhere has something at stake. When the stakes rise to the level of life and death, the politics are ratcheted up even higher.
That explains why something as seemingly ho-hum as smoke detector technology can turn into a lightening rod issue if you’re hanging with a certain kind of crowd. It’s the same with code and standard adoption. These are complex and thorny public policy issues that most people spend almost zero time thinking about. I didn’t before I started working here. But they are critical to ensure public safety. To give more time and thought to these important issues, NFPA Journal debuted a new Safety Policy column in November, which will explore a range of perplexing and difficult policy questions that lawmakers across the country struggle with. Not coincidentally, the column’s debut coincided with the launch of the NFPA Fire and Life Safety Policy Institute, a think-tank of sorts that studies a range of safety and policy issues and provides guidance to government decision makers and safety advocates. Also not coincidentally, Meghan Housewright, the Institute’s executive director, is writing the Policy column. Who better to do the job? In her most recent column, “Safety Delayed,” Meghan writes about the sometimes frustrating realities of code adoption and why many local governments are severely lagging in updating these critical documents. Guess what? It’s political.