No matter where we live in the world, when it comes to fire prevention and protection in our homes and in public spaces, safety is not something we can (or should) take for granted. Recent headlines have told the story too many times of a safety system gone wrong: the London Grenfell Tower apartment building fire and the Oakland, California Ghost Ship fire - both examples of horrible tragedies that ultimately exposed a lapse in applying a code(s), enforcement, awareness and/or education around fire safety. These examples and many others signal that unless we all work together on this problem, these tragedies will continue to occur.
In Tuesday’s session, “Prioritizing Fire Prevention & Protection Through the Lens of a Safety Ecosystem” at NFPA’s Conference & Expo, Guy Colonna, NFPA Senior Director of Engineering, spoke about this safety ecosystem concept and what it means not only for NFPA but for organizations across the globe. Colonna’s presentation comes on the heels of the conference’s Opening General Session, where NFPA president Jim Pauley spoke at length about the need to focus on collective action and to create a fully functioning fire and life safety system.
“The NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem is made up of eight key elements that play a critical role in protecting people and property,” said Colonna. “We identified eight because, keeping people and property safe from fire and related hazards is not the work of any one stakeholder or element of this system; it takes all of us working together and practicing it every day no matter what our role.”
The challenge is how can we plan, manage, build, and operate safe structures while at the same time meet the needs of everyone involved. It starts, he says, with understanding how important our work is to the people who depend on us.
Colonna asked members of the audience to consider his/her role in a project. He went on to ask them to consider the stakeholders involved and their interactions with them – what is their role and responsibility in the project? Then he asked, what happens if these stakeholders are not involved in discussions and decisions, or what if an identified role or function for one of these stakeholders does not exist in their jurisdiction. “Time after time, when we have seen incidents involving fire, electrical or related hazards,” he says, “we can trace the cause of those situations to a breakdown in the safety ecosystem. Now is the time to understand the role we play and to work together to achieve our vision to eliminate death, injury, property and economic loss from fire, electrical and related hazards.”
As we participate, support and promote the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem going forward, says Colonna, NFPA pledges to work with everyone involved in the system and to be a source of information and knowledge for all. Stay tuned for more information about the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem and visit our website for resources at www.nfpa.org/ecosystem.