The beginning of 2013 is a good time to review what is happening with codes and standards that affect fire protection. The International Code Council held its Group A hearings for the 2015 codes last year (International Building, Existing Building, Fuel Gas, Mechanical and Plumbing codes) and are now beginning the Group B hearings (International Fire, Residential and a host of other I-codes). Fire protection requirements are developed in Group B, so it will be an active year. The deadline for proposals for Group B codes was Jan. 3 with the code development hearings scheduled for the week of April 21 in Dallas. The final action hearings will take place starting Oct. 2 in Atlantic City, N.J.
NFPA 72 also is starting its next cycle this year. The 2016 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code cycle begins with pre-first-draft meetings March 18–19. NFPA has redesigned the codes and standards development process in an effort to make the process easier to understand how proposed changes would affect the documents. It is certainly a new learning curve.
What used to be called the report on proposals (ROP) and report on comments (ROC) will now be called the public input and public comment meetings. The public input meetings will be held the week of June 24 for some of the technical committees and the week of Sept. 9 for the rest. They always used to be held the same week with some overlap of committee meetings. Now they will be held in two separate groups in an effort to minimize conflicts between chapters and better coordinate changes. This should make it easier for the committees, since many requirements are covered in multiple chapters. At the end of the 2013 code cycle, there were a number of temporary interim amendments (TIAs) needed before the document was even published to eliminate conflicts that would happen without these amendments.
NFPA 720, the Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide Detection and Warning Equipment, is in the same cycle as NFPA 72. The same technical correlating committee has oversight on both documents.
The next cycle of NFPA 3 (Recommended Practice for Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems) and 4 (Standard for Testing of Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems) also is beginning. In 2012, these were all part of NFPA 3, but the NFPA decided to split it into two documents. Currently, there are discussions about the possibility of changing NFPA 3 from a recommended practice to a standard for the 2015 edition. If you are involved in commissioning and have an opinion about whether or not NFPA 3 should become a standard or remain a recommended practice, please contact me, and I’ll share your thoughts with the committee.
Several meetings and conference calls have already taken place for this next cycle. The public input deadline was last June, and the public input meetings were held the week of Sept. 11 in San Diego. The results of this meeting should be available to the public this month. The public comment deadline is May 3, 2013.
NFPA 101, the Life Safety Code, also is in cycle now. The public comment deadline will be on May 3, 2013. The results of the first draft meetings should be made available this month.
The National Electrical Code has not started the new development process yet. Its current cycle is almost over and will be voted on at the NFPA Annual Conference in June in Chicago.
The NFPA 1 Fire Code is in the same cycle as NFPA 101 and 3, with a public comment deadline on May 3.
With regard to fire sprinklers, NFPA 13, the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, just finished its cycle and now has a 2013 document out. NFPA 25, the Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, is just finishing up its code cycle and will also be voted on at the annual conference.
Although I didn’t list all codes and standards in cycle, these are the ones that have the biggest effect on fire protection systems. It is important for all of us to get involved in the codes- and standards-making process. Even if you don’t actively participate on any committee, your input as a codes and standards user is very important to the industry. The committees need your input to continue to improve. If there are items in any code or standard that you feel should be changed, get in touch with your local association, or pass your thoughts on to me. Associations have a strong voices in the development process and are here to serve their members and industries. It takes time to make changes. There is no better time to start than today.