NFPA Fire Standards
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is seeking public comment on two draft standards that address fire protection. The existing “1710 standard,” which relates to fire department staffing levels and response times, is under revision. A new “1730 standard” focuses on the elements of fire prevention programs.
NFPA is a nonprofit organization that develops voluntary fire protection standards through the work of technical committees composed of individuals representing various interests. The National League of Cities (NLC) represents cities on the 1710 and 1730 committees. (TML’s assistant general counsel, Laura Mueller, is the NLC representative on the 1730 committee.)
NFPA standards do not have the force of law, but they do attempt to establish best practices for fire departments. In addition, state legislatures can adopt them as law. As such, the NLC committee members work to ensure that NFPA standards are appropriate for each government fire department’s individual needs. They do so by opposing criteria that do not provide the flexibility for each city to make judgments about risks, how to manage those risks, and how to allocate resources that balance fire prevention and intervention with other services.
The proposed 1710 revision addresses response to garden-style apartments, strip shopping centers, and high-rise buildings. It contains rigid staffing and response time standards and eliminates flexibility for fire departments. Most burdensome are higher staffing and deployment requirements and shorter response times. (Note: 1710 applies only to paid, career fire departments.)
The new 1730 Standard is more flexible in that it uses a community risk assessment developed by each fire department to determine the fire prevention activities that are most likely to reduce the number of fires in a community. Some examples include building inspections, code enforcement, plan review, investigations, and public education.
To review the NFPA proposals, go to www.nfpa.org/1710 and www.nfpa.org/1730, click on the “NEXT EDITION” tab, create an account, and sign in. Written comments on the proposed standards are due by April 11, 2014, and online comments are due by May 16, 2014. (NLC filed comments in opposition to 1710.)
The NLC comment memo on 1710 is available here.
Please contact Laura Mueller, TML assistant general counsel, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-231-7400 with questions.