Do you feel the NFPA and the NFPA Standards, are a Friend or a Foe, to the Volunteer Fire Departments.

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Although I know what is about to occur (because we have had this conversation many times and in many threads, forums, and etc.), I'm still surprised that anyone would consider consensus standards, which they are openly invited to contribute to and to be part of the process, to be a "foe" to the volunteer fire service.

The part that won't surprise me, however, is that whenever this subject comes up, I hear the ol' "We don't like anyone telling us how we should do things" argument, to which I always return by saying, "If people did the right things to begin with, we wouldn't need standards."

So there's the first post to what I'm sure will be a lively conversation as to how standards are ruining the fire service.
Definitely a friend. My thought is that some of the NFPA standards have evolved because of very unfortunate circumstances. Others are geared toward standardizing apparatus, protective gear, and other equipment. Everyone goes home.

NFPA also publishes the National Electrical Code - do you think that is a friend or foe of the building industry?
Friend, the are here to make things safer. They are kind of like OSHA to a company. Usually the only people who consider them a foe are the bosses.
Ok, im sure I'll take some heat for this. I think the premise behind it is very good and needed. The problem i see is the people who sit on these boards all have money to gain from it. 75% of them are lawyers and or people making the equipment we buy. There for they have only money to gain by it becoming a standard. I think they also focus on so much small stuff that this miss the big issues. If i'm the maker of something that very few others make of course i want it to be mandatory. I believe a board like this should only consist of highly trained knowledgeable firefighter's, than i think you will see a lot more standards that make sense
okay... i agree with Steve...its kind of like the people making the standards for school...they have no idea what goes on locally
i think thewy are friends but also foes at that. Friends becuase they help save us by setting standartd. Foes becuase most of them dont have the experiance of firefighting or ems
Anything that reflects safety standards is o.k. with me.Yes it does create more expense however I must ask you, Does the fire know if you are a volunteer or paid?We must all keep safety in mind.As for the expense factor,Check with your community for support.God Bless and be safe.
Anyone can become a committee member. Therefore complaining about the makeup of the NFPA is just plain lame. The costs associated with such a task, (being on a committee) drives the exisitance of the manufacturer's sending a company representative. So let's just say we are reviewing changes to the firefighter glove standard. The glove manufacturer representative in attendance is being paid by their company to be there... and the real firefighter's who actually commit to the same particular standard or visiting committee are highly dedicated, committed and absolutely volunteering their time to the cause.

That is what everyone should be upset about... how can we have a well rounded group of professionals if some are volunteering and others are being paid to be there.

As far as friend or foe... just let it go! Bottom line is if something happens and there is a standard out there, I am sure you will be judged or tried against the written standard that is published. So if you are the Chief of a VFD, knock off the nobody is gonna tell me how to do this or that, because sooner or later someone with a gavel will be referring to the industry standard. It would be best to become a member and get the publications...
Actually, I think most folks (so far) are a little weak on the facts. The last time I spoke with someone who actually sits on an NFPA committee, he informed me that the committees are set up by a percentage system. Only a certain percentage can be manufacturers reps, a certain percentage firefighters (or whatever interest group applies), a certain percentage lawyers, etc. This balances the committees more than you might have guessed. He also mentioned that they sometimes have a hard time getting the people from the right positions to volunteer. Go check the NFPA website and you'll find that they are looking for certain people, with certain backgrounds for particular committees. Also I was told that contrary to MY assumptions, the manufacturers tend to try to hold back on the innovations and cost builders. They feel they are being placed in a position of making products that are just cost prohibitive to buy for most departments.
Also of interest to me was that in the last couple of years the NFPA standards have gone from looking at what technology is available and incorporating it in the standards, to a system of writing standards that force new technology to be created. This is driving the manufacturers crazy and costing them a fortune in R&D work. The manufacturers are now considering whether or not they wish to continue making gear that is NFPA compliant.
At any rate, this is just another point of view, and it gave me a different perspective on the NFPA, what they do, and how they do it.
Lt. Tom
Ever notice that new standards will always require new or more equipment, which in turn cost more money, which in turn means more time fundraising and finally more time training? As volunteers in this day and age, time is luxury that some of us dont have. We as volunteers we already bust our butts. Why? Because we want to! For free!

Ever notice that the new standards never utilize less equipment, or offer the money to pay for the equipment, or offer assistance for fundraising or come out to the station to educate you on it? As lawyers and engineers sitting in a board room or cubicle, time is the only thing they have. As paid consultants they bust out butts. Why? Because they chose to! For a fee!

So, friend or foe? How do you decide who your friends are? Your foes? This is how I decide: My friend has my back, he is helping me, guiding me and setting me straight. My foe is stabbing me in the back, making me jump through hoops, stearing me astray.

So, friend or foe? The answer is yes.
(Steps up on his soapbox)
NFPA standards are most definitely our friends. I know there are some standards such as NFPA 1901 (Motorized Fire Apparatus) that are becoming a pain in the a$$ for some F.D's due to the added cost of apparatus conforming to this standard. But if you step back and look at the big picture, hopefully you'll see that these standards are there to help us stay as safe as possible in the dangerous job of firefighting. I'm sure back when the standard called for enclosed cabs on all apparatus, there were those who bitched and moaned over that. But I challenge anyone to say that it didn't improve safety.

Look at NFPA 10 (Portable Fire Extinguishers). Businesses constantly gripe that they've got to keep their fire extinguishers maintained in accordance with NFPA 10, but in reality this standard ensures that they will have a working fire extinguisher in case of fire in their place of business. In the long run, the new (and old) NFPA standards will continue to improve not only our odds of staying safe, but those of the people whom we are sworn to protect.

Those that view NFPA Standards as foes, remind me of my children when they get mad at me for imposing guidlines on them to keep them safe. I'm looking out for them, only they're not smart enough to realize it yet. Stay safe!
(steps down from his soapbox)
Anyone can become a committee member. Therefore complaining about the makeup of the NFPA is just plain lame.
It's the exact same for our Australian Standard comittees. Everyone jumps up and down about them, but then they don't offer to participate as a commitee member....

As far as friend or foe... just let it go! Bottom line is if something happens and there is a standard out there, I am sure you will be judged or tried against the written standard that is published. So if you are the Chief of a VFD, knock off the nobody is gonna tell me how to do this or that, because sooner or later someone with a gavel will be referring to the industry standard.
Ditto! Well said.

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