Why You Should Comment on NFPA Standards

By Kenneth R. Knipper, NVFC Kentucky Director
The development of standards by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a very intensive process. I chair the NFPA Technical Committee on EMS and can attest to the importance of public response to standards proposals. As a document goes through the development or revision process, those impacted by the standard have several opportunities to evaluate and respond to the document or proposed changes to the document. 
Some choose not to provide input or comments as they feel that their opinion will go nowhere. This is a myth; each step offers opportunities for public input, and every public proposal or comment is subjected to a committee process that guarantees anyone the opportunity to express their idea or concern.
When the development of a new standard or a revision of an existing standard is announced, a “Call for Proposals” goes out to the public through many different media outlets. At this time, the public can submit proposals to the responsible Technical Committee (TC). Following the “Call for Proposals” period, the TC holds a meeting to consider and act on those proposals. A “Report on Proposals” is prepared by the TC that must include a response to every proposal submitted. 
Once the “Report on Proposals” becomes available, there is a 60-day comment period which allows anyone to submit a Public Comment. Thereafter a “Report on Comments” is developed and the TC members must vote individually on a ballot to accept or deny the Comment. 
As you can see, it is a lengthy process to develop or revise an NFPA Standard – a process which relies heavily on input from the public. There are currently over 40 documents open for public input and over 20 documents accepting public comment. The Committee I chair, NFPA 450 Guide for Emergency Medical Services and Systems, is accepting public comments until May 15; I encourage you to review the proposed changes and submit your comments through the NFPA’s online system. 
Your voice does matter, and taking part in the NFPA development and revision process ensures your feedback is heard. Learn more about the NFPA public input and comment process here. Learn about all the ways you can get involved in the process here
Ken Knipper is the past Chair and current Vice Chair of the NVFC’s EMS/Rescue Section and represents the Council on many fire and EMS projects. He also chairs the NFPA Technical Committee on EMS, sits on the NFPA Technical Committee on Ambulances and the NFPA IMS Committee, is the Individual At-large member on the Advocates for EMS board, and is active on numerous NHTSA, ACEP, and NEMSMA projects, among others. In 2008, Ken was inducted into the Kentucky Firefighters Hall of Fame, and in 2011 he received the Rocco V. Morando Lifetime Achievement Award from NAEMT.