NFPA Calls for Immediate Meeting of Code Writers to Address Concerns

Quincy, MA – The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) has called upon its Technical Committee on Assembly Occupancies to convene in Quincy, MA for an immediate review of the safety issues relevant in public assembly buildings. The meeting of the 30-person committee will be held on March 13 at the Seaport Hotel, One Seaport Lane, in Boston, MA. A public forum, limited to 90 minutes, will precede the technical committee agenda and will begin at 8 am. All are welcome.

At issue are several core components of a total system of building safety that have come to light following two deadly nightclub incidents. The first was in Chicago, in which 21 patrons were killed in a crowd crush on February 17th. The second incident occurred on February 20th when a fast-spreading fire in a West Warwick, RI nightclub killed 98 occupants.

“We must not waste any time in examining all the available information about public assembly occupancies in the wake of these building emergencies,” said NFPA Executive Vice President Arthur E. Cote, P.E. “Although we still don’t have all the facts about these terrible incidents, we know enough right now to warrant a serious review and scrutiny of the future direction of codes and standards, and their enforcement locally. We must learn from these tragedies, and the time to act is now.”

NFPA is calling for a review of the following issues addressed or affected by NFPA codes:

  • The minimum thresholds for requiring automatic fire sprinkler protection;
  • Allowable interior finish and decorations;
  • Adequate egress;
  • Exiting arrangements;
  • Retroactive application of code requirements; and
  • Inspection and permitting

NFPA facilitates the development of more than 300 building, fire, electrical and life safety codes and standards under a consensus code-making process that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). More than 6,500 volunteers serve on NFPA technical committees, writing NFPA model codes, standards, and recommended practices. NFPA is a private, nonprofit membership organization, and is not an enforcement authority. NFPA codes and standards are developed as minimum requirements and are voluntary, unless they are adopted by a jurisdiction and then enforced locally.

Regularly revised and updated, NFPA model codes and standards have rapidly incorporated the lessons learned following significant fire losses throughout the 20th Century. While voluntary, they have served on many occasions to stimulate needed reforms nationwide.

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