How to Stay Up-to-Date with NFPA Codes and Standards
Stay in the Loop, Keep Up-To-Code
In the age of fast-paced technology and innovation, it can seem impossible to stay up-to-date with the abundance of information constantly flooding through your computer screen. Matched with the current climate, information is spreading online even more frequently and quickly (as everyone is at home).
This, of course, has its ups and downs. We are privileged to have access to so much information so quickly, but we must be careful of what information we receive. IE: FACT CHECK! Even more so, a lot of valuable information gets shuffled into the mix that you may never even get the chance to see.
That is why, this week’s blog, in alinement with the National Fire Protection Association’s Journal, we are discussing codes and standards. How can WE stay up-to-code with current regulations? Well, for starters, you can visit the NFPA page for updates, OR, if you don’t have the patience and time, FireAlarm.com offers a unique array of services (See 6 Services you need to know about NOW to keep your buildings safe). These services allow you to ensure you are up to code with pre-maintenance and maintenance checks, Fire Safety Director services, and even violation services to get you back on track.
The NFPA revises and updates its standards every three to five years. With the cancellation of this year’s NFPA Conference and Expo in Orlando, it has become a challenge to relay these current codes and standards. [Read/Watch NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley’s statement here]. As a result, they have posted a review on their revision proposals. We are happy to give you an abridged version of their “Code Revision Round-Up”.
Building Owner/Construction Site/Commercial Building Regulations
According to the NFPA 1, existing high-rise buildings MUST have a sprinkler system installed within 12 years of adopting the code. Yet, there are many jurisdictions changing that requirement. While there have been many setbacks for high-rise buildings to be retrofitted with sprinkler systems, the NFPA 1 committee has proposed that all high-rise buildings not fitted with an automatic sprinkler system must display warning signs at all main building entrances.
The idea, though not ideal for the committee, is essentially to show that sprinklers are important in buildings and the public should be made aware when they are not protected by a sprinkler system. It, additionally, informs first responders if a building is not equipped with a sprinkler system.
Classroom Door Locks
Classroom Door Locks are a change for the NFPA 101 committee members, as they must consider the existence of active shooters and fire dangers together. Door locks in K-12 classrooms should be robust enough o keep intruders out but not so complicated that they could prevent occupants from escaping a fire or keep emergency responders from entering the room.
The NFPA 101 suggested allowing the installation of door locks/latches that require up to two releasing motions to open, whereas earlier document editions permitted only one releasing operation on locks. Here, it is a balance of life safety and security. The committee stresses that as long as educators are trained on how to open two-motion doors, they will operate as a safe arrangement awhile also providing additional security for this day and age.
Health Care, CO Alarms, Sprinklers
Additionally, the NFPA has stated that the NFPA 101 committee has made some changes to “alleviate some of the unforeseen noncompliance issues” from a 2012 updated version of the Life Safety Code in response to concerns in the health care sector.
One significant proposal that impacts health care occupancies is eliminating the inspection, testing and maintenance requirements for inessential fire doors that aren’t required by code. Instead, they will be treated as regular doors, which could ultimately save time and money for facilities.
Another proposal is the elimination of optionally forgoing sprinklers in high-rise buildings that do not have an approved engineered life safety system in place. According to the NFPA 101 staff liaison Gregory Harrington, if adopted, this means that “unless you already had a previously approved engineered life safety system, this requirement would say you’ve got to go into your building and install sprinklers within a specific number of years, depending on the occupancy classification.”
Interestingly, the NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigation began with its first edition in 1992 with 14 chapters and 119 pages. The NFPA Journal says that the 2021 edition will have 29 chapters and over 400 pages with photos and images. The committee, itself, stresses that their goal is to “continue to raise the bar of professionalism within the fire investigation community.”
With its constant additions and many public inputs, the Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigation is conforming to the committee’s goal. Next year, you can expect to see clarification between the cause of a fire and the classification of the fire cause, which is important to understand when completing NFIRS reports, as it leads to a disproportionate number of incidents to be classified as “undetermined”, which—ultimately—skews statistics.
Valet Trash Services
This, obviously, affects building owners and the likes, but it affects the actions of residents more. Valet trash collection service allows apartment residents to set their trash in the hallways outside their apartment doors rather than taking it to the street or building trash room. This is of course, is popular amongst older residents.
This— as building owners, safety directors, and landlords know— poses some dilemmas. Trash in the hallways is obviously a fire-risk, and the trash itself can add fuel load in the event of a fire. While the notion was nixed, it is possible it will be allowed under certain conditions (the NFPA 101, Life Safety Code).
Next year (2021), the new edition of NFPA 1 will include another chapter on 3D Printing. “Additive Manufacturing” is nothing new in the larger sense, but it is a relatively new concept for 3D printing to occur in residencies. The new Chapter 46 has two subcategories on 3D printing: industrial and nonindustrial.
A growing industry, the production of cannabis was included in Chapter 38 of the NFPA 1 as of 2018. In revisions, not only has “marijuana” been changed to “cannabis”, but the committee added new sections of CO2 enrichment rooms. As cannabis growers use additional CO2 pumped into rooms to increase plant growth, it creates more hazards if a leak were to occur. Thus, in Chapter 38, you will find additional information on gas monitoring, signage, alarms, and equipment to prevent leaks and accidents (The NFPA Journal).
While very rightfully against the public use of consumer fireworks, that notion isn’t actually displayed in an NFPA document. The committee, apparently, is adding a short line to Chapter 65 stating that this act is prohibited.
Well, there you have it, an even more concise version of some of the things you might expect to see for the 2021 Revised NFPA Codes and Standards. What do you think of these proposals? Write to us at email@example.com for a chance to be featured in one of our upcoming blogs and posts. Until next week!
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Roman Jesse, et al. “NFPA Journal.” NFPA Journal – 2021 Code Revision Roundup, 2020.