By Pat Freeman, Globe Technical Services Manager
NFPA Standards in Action

NFPA 1971, 2012 Edition is in the revision process with an anticipated publish date for the new standard of 2018. Many people believe that the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is an “enforcing agency,” but that is not its function at all. NFPA is a standards writing organization that uses an open, consensus-based process for the development and revision of all standards.

An open consensus-based process means that individuals as well as organizations can provide input and feedback on fire service standards. With regard to NFPA 1971, these suggestions would be directed at protective ensembles for structural and proximity firefighting. Anyone can suggest changing, adding, or even removing design or performance requirements for PPE covered in NFPA 1971.

Technical Committee

While development and revision of NFPA standards is done through this open process, it is managed by “balanced” committees made up of people who wish to participate. Balanced committees are maintained by ensuring that no more than one third of the voting membership can represent any one interest. These interests are organized into nine classifications: Manufacturer, User, Installer/Maintainer, Labor, Applied Research/Testing Laboratory, Enforcing Authority, Insurance, Consumer, or Special Expert. Public input, in the form of proposals and comments, are submitted to the Technical Committee for NFPA 1971 for disposition.

Input and Feedback Stages

There are two stages at which input and comments can be provided. The first is the “Public Input Stage” which, as the name indicates, is for input to the standard as currently published. For NFPA 1971, that would be input based upon the 2012 Edition; and the deadline for public input was July 6, 2015.

The second stage is the “Public Comment Stage” for feedback on changes proposed for the next revision of the standard. These changes are received by NFPA staff and forwarded on to the Technical Committee. The Technical Committee then reviews, discusses, and reaches consensus on EVERY SINGLE item submitted. The deadline for the comment stage for the 2018 revision of NFPA 1971 is May 16, 2016.

Some of the proposed changes for garments include more stringent testing of outer shells against liquid challenges, a possible RET composite test, and changes to the shower testing. For footwear, there is clarification of testing requirements and defining specific information to be included on boot labels.

How to Get Involved

Getting involved in the revision process for NFPA standards is easier now than it has ever been. New in 2015, NFPA implemented an online platform for public input and comments. Not only does this new system allow easier and wider participation in standards development and revision, but it also facilitates faster compilation of issues on the back end.

At Globe, we advocate firefighter safety and protection through the PPE worn today and in the future. We make our voice and the voice of our customers known through the NFPA process – and you can too. If you feel strongly about a specific PPE issue, get involved and let your voice be heard.

Watch NFPA’s Standards in Action video for a real-time account of the tasks and functions firefighters take on during an actual fire, and how NFPA plays a role in all of them.