NFPA Seeking Input on New Fire Prevention Standard

June 3, 2013

By Cathy Spain

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is seeking public input on a newly released proposed standard that focuses on fire prevention activities. City officials are encouraged to review and comment on the proposal to assess the completeness and workability of the standard that is directed at city fire prevention programs.

NFPA is a leading advocate for and authoritative source on fire prevention. Through the work of its technical committees, it develops codes and standards intended to minimize fire risks. NFPA standards are voluntary. They can be formally adopted by cities or used by cities as a resource to guide the development of new programs or evaluate existing programs.

NLC is represented on the technical committee that has worked for almost two years on the fire prevention standard. NLC Executive Director Clarence Anthony said, "NLC commends the technical committee for its work and leadership in helping cities prevent fires and more effectively target their scarce resources."

Prevention activities have been found to reduce the number of fires in a community and are embraced by many world-class fire service organizations because of the results achieved. The elements of a prevention program addressed in the standard are inspections and code enforcement, plan review, investigations, and public education programs.

The standard also specifies the elements of a community risk assessment. This is a process to assist in the development and implementation of a community risk reduction plan and program to reduce, mitigate or eliminate a community's fire risks.

In the past, NLC has criticized some NFPA standards because of the one-size-fits-all approach taken to standard setting and the lack of science to determine what the standards should be. In the draft prevention standard, the technical committee steered away from specifying level-of-service indicators for staffing such as the number of inspections per inspector. Instead, it provides guidance in an annex on a methodology for determining the number of full-time equivalents needed for prevention programs and activities that the community decides to undertake in response to a community risk assessment.

A community risk assessment is a data gathering and analyzing exercise that helps the community make decisions. NLC views a community risk assessment as the starting point for any decision making regarding staffing, response times and prevention and other fire service programming.

An annex to the standard includes a community risk assessment guide and outlines the components of an assessment. These are community demographic, geographic, building stock, fire experience, response, hazards, and economic profiles.

The standard is titled NFPA 1730: Standard on Organization and Deployment of Fire Prevention Inspection and Code Enforcement, Plan Review, Investigation, and Public Education Operations. Comments are due on September 9, 2013 by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Go to www.nfpa.org/1730 and click on the "Next edition" tab to view the document and submit comments electronically. Search for "NFPA Public Input Form" on the website to submit comments by paper.

The 1730 technical committee will review the comments in the fall and prepare a revised draft. The final version of the standard is expected in August 2015. For more information, contact Cathy Spain, Consultant to NLC, at cathyspain@verizon.net.