Fire Side Chat: Steps Set Stage for Standard Sign-Off
Fire/Life-Safety standards endure much analysis and scrutiny by a number of committees and interested parties en route to ratification. As these decisions affect installing professionals, it is wise to be familiar with the process and participate where and when appropriate.
If the committee does not accept the amending motion, the language of the standard reverts to that of the previous published edition for the section that was debated. For some, this in itself is an acceptable outcome.
The actions at the Tech Session may be appealed to the Standards Council. The Standards Council is not a TC and does not look at the technical merits of a code change in most cases. Rather it examines whether there was a violation of the process during any part of the code development cycle for a given section. In most cases, an appeal will be denied by the council. Appellants who argue their appeal on strictly technical matters do not understand the function of the council.
The ANSI/NFPA process can be a bit of a mystery to understand at first, but for the most part in the end it does produce a consensus-based document. A key to success in the process is getting involved during the First Draft stage and not waiting until the Association Technical Meeting or Standards Council appeal to make a change to a document. In that regard, the Second Draft is the most important segment in the process to make comments on proposed changes to a document.
Further information on the NFPA standards development process and documents that are undergoing review can be found at nfpa.org.
I wrote this article while overseas attending the Essen (Germany) Security 2012 Expo and a NFPA Technical Committee meeting in Venice, Italy. Next month, we will explore some of the technology that was on display in Essen.
Shane Clary, Ph.D., has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is Vice President of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pacheco, Calif.-headquartered Bay Alarm Co.
Who May Submit a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM)
- The original submitter of a proposal or comment (note that the submitter must follow the process through if their proposal was not accepted during the First Draft Meeting).
- A member of the Technical Committee, if there was a change during the Second Draft Meeting. If there was a change during the First Draft Meeting the committee member would first have to submit a Second Draft Comment.
- Anyone (if there was a change made during the Second Draft Meeting by the TC).
Documents Associated With Correlating Committees
- NFPA 70, National Electrical Code
- NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
- NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code
- NFPA 101, Life Safety Code
- NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code
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