The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a United States organization (albeit with some international members) charged with creating and maintaining minimum standards and requirements for fire prevention and suppression activities, training, and equipment, as well as other life-safety codes and standards. This includes everything from building codes to the personal protective equipment utilized by firefighters while extinguishing a blaze.
The NFPA was formed in 1896 by a group of insurance firm representatives with the stated purpose of standardizing the new and burgeoning market of fire sprinkler systems. The scope of the NFPA's influence grew from sprinklers to include building electrical systems (another new and fast-growing technology), and then all aspects of building design and construction.
Its original membership consisted of, and was limited to, insurance underwriting firms. There was little representation from the industries the NFPA sought to regulate. This changed in 1904 to allow other industries and individuals to participate actively in the development of the standards promulgated by the NFPA. The first fire department to be represented in the NFPA was the New York City Fire Department in 1905. Today, the NFPA includes representatives from many fire departments, insurance companies, manufacturing associations, trade unions, trade organizations, even average people.
The NFPA today
Headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.A., the NFPA oversees the development and maintenance of over 300 codes and standards. A cadre of over 6000 volunteers representing the fire service, insurance, business, industry, government, and consumers develops these documents. Many state, local, and national governments incorporate the standards and codes developed by the Association into their own law either verbatim, or with only minor modifications. Even when not written into law, the Association's standards and codes are typically accepted as a professional standard, and are recognized by many courts as such. This widespread acceptance is a testament to the broad representation and input received on all the NFPA's projects.
There is a growing controversy regarding the presence of manufacturers on NFPA's committees. Some first responders see the profit motivation of corporate employees as a conflict of interest.
Sparky the Fire Dog
NFPA's official mascot since 1951, Sparky hosts his own Web site to teach children about fire safety and other important safety topics. Sparky has starred in his own series of TV public service announcements.
Access to NFPA Codes and Standards
The complete text of all NFPA standards documents are therefore available without restriction for download, offline viewing and printing, from any jurisdiction that has accepted it as law. The most recent code models are also available for free but restricted access on the NFPA website. Links to the codes as both unrestricted public law and as restricted code models are listed at the end of this article.
The NFPA provides free but restricted access to view its documents on the NFPA website. Document access requires the reader to first register and identify themselves to the NFPA, and requires the acceptance of a license agreement that states, in part:
- GRANT OF LICENSE. NFPA grants you, the NFPA visitor, a nonexclusive and nontransferable license to view online the content of the Online Document. The Online Document is designed to be viewed online only - there are no “print,” “save,” or “cut and paste” options - and the license granted to you by this agreement does not include the right to download, reproduce, store in a retrieval system, modify, make available on a network, use to create derivative works, or transmit the content of the Online Document in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise.
- NFPA 70 - National Electrical Code (NEC)
- NFPA 70B - Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance
- NFPA 70E - Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace
- NFPA 72 - National Fire Alarm Code
- NFPA 77 - Static Electricity
- NFPA 79 - Restriction of Access to Hazardous Energy
- NFPA 325, Fire Hazard Properties of Flammable Liquids, Gases and volatile solids
- NFPA 704 - Standard System for the Identification of the Hazards of Materials for Emergency Response
- NFPA 853 - Standard for the installation of stationary fuel cell applications
- NFPA 921 - Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations
- NFPA 101 - Life Safety Code
- NFPA 1123 - Code for Outdoor Firework Displays
- NFPA 1901 - Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus
- Fire apparatus
- Fire extinguisher - The NFPA classifies extinguishers into the familiar ABCD use system
- NFPA Web Site.
- Grant, Casey Cavanaugh, PE. (1996). The Birth of NFPA.
- How the Code Process Works.
- An Overview of NFPA.