Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Submit Codes to NFPA

Do you Want to Submit Ideas for New Codes and Standards in the Fire Alarm Industry?


We recently submitted a post on our Facebook Group that asked the questions, "If you had the ability to change one code or standard in our industry, what would it be?  The post received nearly 200 comments in a little over 24 hours so we figured it deserved its own follow-up article right here on www.firealarmsonline.com.

Is it Possible to Submit Codes and Standards for Use in the Applicable References?


The answer is YES!  NFPA's Standards Development Process is a full open consensus-based process.  In fact NFPA encourages the public to participate in this process and they understand its a necessity in code/standard evolution.  In this industry, we see changes constantly.  These changes can be construction types, installation techniques, cross-trade integration, technology and the codes and standards themselves.  The technical committee for NFPA understands that they themselves cannot see all of this and rely on you to submit revisions or maybe even new codes.  The NFPA standard's cycle are revised and updated every 3 to 5 years in segments known as revision cycles that take place twice a year and take about 2 years to complete.



Steps to the NFPA Revision Cycle for the Standards Development Process


The revision cycles for the NFPA Standard's Development Process are broken down into 4 fundamental steps:

  1. Public Input
  2. Public Comment
  3. NFPA Technical Meeting
  4. Standards Council Action


Above is a Flow Chart for the NFPA Standards Development Process


What is the NFPA Technical Committee?



The NFPA Technical Committee is a panel that is responsible for developing and updating all of the codes and standards fund throughout NFPA's lineup.  These technical committees are appointed by the Standards Council and are around 30 voting members.

You do NOT need to be a paying member of NFPA to participate on the technical code committee.

To become a member of a technical committee, you must first apply and be selected based on you expertise, experience, professional standing, commitment to public safety and most important, be able to express your views and opinions to a category of interested people or groups.

NFPA 72 Technical Committee Personnel
NFPA 72 Technical Committee Personnel
Each technical code committee is made up to contain a balance of interests with no more than one third of the committee be from the same category.  This ensures a fair consensus is reached.  Below is a list of the categories along with their designation (*):

  • Manufacturer (M)
  • User (U)
  • Installer/Maintainer (I/M)
  • Labor (L)
  • Applied Research/Testing Laboratory (R/T)
  • Enforcing Authority (E)
  • Insurance (I)
  • Consumer (C)
  • Special Expert (SE)

You can find each member of a specific Standard/code in the front of the reference.


Step #1 of the NFPA Standard Development Process


Public Input - Right after the publication of the current NFPA standard or code, the Standard Development Process for the next edition begins.  Public Input is a chance for anyone interested to submit input on an existing standard or a new draft standard approved by the technical committee.  The closing date for public input is published in a few places such as NFPA's website, NFPA news, etc.  Once the closing date is reached, the technical committee with conduct a first draft meeting to respond to all of the input submitted by the public.

How do you Submit Public Input?

  • Here are the steps to take if you are interested in submitting public input for a specific standard.  First choose the document in which you want to submit input.  For this example, we will be using NFPA 72.  You will need to choose the document form NFPA's website under "List of NFPA codes & Standards" or use the "Documents Accepting Public Input" search feature.
  • Once you have reached the page for your standard, click on the link that states "Next Edition"
  • Now click on the link that stats "The next edition of this standard is now open for Public Input."  You will need to be signed in to complete this step so make sure to set up a free online account.  Follow the instructions on how to use the submission system.
  • Once you have saved or submitted your public input in the system, it can always be located on the "My Profile" page by selecting the "My Public Inputs/Comments/NITMAMs" sections.

What Happens Once the Public Input Closing Date is Over?

As stated above, the technical committee will host a first draft meeting.  This is the time when the committee considers and provides a response to all of the public input that was received.  Some of the input may be used to develop the first draft revisions to the standard however the final position of the committee must be established by a ballot.  To appear in the first draft, a revision must be approved by at minimum 2/3 of the technical committee.  Any revisions that do not make the vote, appear in the first draft report as "Committee Inputs".  Once the revisions are approved by the committee, they are published as the First Draft Report on the NFPA website.  Now the First Draft document is open for Step #2 Public Comments.

Step #2 of the NFPA Standard's Development Process


Now that the first draft is published, anyone can submit comments.  Any objections or changes to the first draft must be completed during the  Public Comment Stage.  After the closing date for public comments, the technical committee will host a second draft meeting.

How do you Submit Public Comments?

  • Here are the steps to take if you are interested in submitting public comments to the first draft of a specific standard.  First choose the document in which you want to comment on.  For this example, we will be using NFPA 72.  You will need to choose the document form NFPA's website under "List of NFPA codes & Standards" or use the "Documents Accepting Public Input" search feature.
  • Once you have reached the page for your standard, click on the link that states "Next Edition"
  • Now click on the link that stats "The next edition of this standard is now open for Public Comment."  You will need to be signed in to complete this step so make sure to set up a free online account.  Follow the instructions on how to use the submission system.
  • Once you have saved or submitted your public comment in the system, it can always be located on the "My Profile" page by selecting the "My Public Inputs/Comments/NITMAMs" sections.


What Happens Once the Public Comments Closing Date is Over?

If there are NO public comments received and the technical committee agrees that there is no need for a second draft meeting, the document is sent directly to the Standards Council for issuance.  This is known as "Consent Standards".
NFPA 72 Second Draft Report
Example of the Second Draft Report for NFPA 72

If there are Public Comments, the following takes place:

Similar to the first draft meeting, the technical committee will now host a second draft meeting.  This is the time when the committee reviews the first draft and may make revisions based on the comments received.  The committee reviews all comments and provides a response/action to each.  The public comments are used to develop the second draft revisions to the standard however the final position of the committee must be established by a ballot.  To appear in the second draft, a revision must be approved by at minimum 2/3 of the technical committee.  Any revisions that do not make the vote, appear in the first draft report as "Committee Comments".  Once the revisions are approved by the committee, they are published as the Second Draft Report on the NFPA website.  Now the Second Draft document is open for public to submit what is known as a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM) for further consideration.

Notice of Intent to Make a Motion - Details 


There are a lot of details and regulation regarding the Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM).  We suggest you visit NFPA's website for additional information on who is allowed to submit these and the process and time frames for acceptance.  Here is a link to help you out.  Some Basic Details about NITMAM are noted below:

  • NITMAMs are accepted 5 weeks after the posting of the second draft report
  • The NITMAMs are reviewed and certified by the committee.  If they are certified, they may be presented at the NFPA Technical Meeting.
  • The NFPA Technical Meeting is each June where the membership meets to act on the Standards with certified NITMAMs.
  • The committee votes on any successful amendments to the technical committee reports made by the NFPA membership at the NFPA Technical Meeting.




Step #3 NFPA Technical Meeting


This step is ONLY required if there are any Notice of Intent to Make a Motions filed and they are certified.  If this is the case than these motions can be heard at the NFPA technical meeting.  This meeting takes place every June at the NFPA Conference & Expo.

Step #4 Council Appeals an Issuance of Standard


If there are NO NITMAMs filed, then the standard is not placed on the agenda for the NFPA Technical Meeting (Step #3).  At this time, the standard is sent directly to the Standards Council to be issued.  This is known as "Consent Standards".

Issuing the Standard - At the time when the council gathers to issue a standard, it will also listen to any related appeals.  This is a process to ensure fairness and due process have been followed throughout the entire process.  After all appeals are decided, the Standards Council proceeds to issue the standard.  One issued, the decision of the Standards Council is now final and the document has limited review by the NFPA Board of Directors.  The new standard will become effective and official 20 days after the issuance by the Standards Council.