Michael "Mick" Mayers, battalion chief with the Hilton Head Island (SC) Fire and Rescue, says that during a recent discussion with fellow firefighters, he was surprised - and encouraged - by the fact that no one brought up "the usual" complaints about standards developed by NFPA and other consensus standards organizations.
"As a participant in the standards process, I get a little frustrated when people complain about standards," he writes on his blog Firehouse Zen. "Why, you may ask? Well, because while standards may seem to be prohibiting aspects of our jobs, the fact is, standards are necessary to help us define things, to establish our expectations in regard to a certain item, title, or discipline."
Chief Mayers, who also serves as an Emergency Response Coordinator with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical System Incident Response Coordination Team, says he's heard complaints about standards being developed by those who don't understand the firefighting profession.
"In fact, the standards are actually written by those who have a vested interest in the job," he writes. "People like you and I are invited to come sit on committees and working groups to help define these standards, and the committees go to great lengths to ensure balance between users, enforcers, manufacturers, educators, and any other number of interest groups, to act as a check and balance to the accusations that the only people writing standards are those making a buck in the effort."
You can also learn about how to get involved with NFPA's more than 300 codes and standards by selecting a document from this list on NFPA's web site.