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NFPA Committee Coordinates Recommendations for Amending Fire and Building Safety Codes

New York, Jul 10, 2003

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Technical Committee on Assembly Occupancies concluded a two-day meeting Wednesday that addressed harmonizing a series of Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for key fire and building safety codes: the NFPA Life Safety Code® and the NFPA Building Construction and Safety Code™. The efforts at revision began earlier this year in response to tragedies in Chicago and Rhode Island nightclubs that claimed the lives of more than a hundred people combined. (See related story: NFPA Technical Committee Holds Meeting to Address Code Writing Concerns)

The committee supports a proposal requiring sprinklers in all new nightclub type facilities and in similar existing facilities with more than 100 occupants. In addition to these interim changes for automatic sprinkler systems, the committee will also be considering requirements for wider use of crowd managers in all assembly occupancies; further restrictions on the use of festival seating; and requiring additional inspections of assembly occupancies prior to each opening of the building.

TIAs are amendments to an NFPA document that have not gone through the entire codes and standards making process, but serve as the basis for the next edition of a document, when it is subject to all of the procedures of the codes and standards making process. Passage of these proposed changes is not guaranteed, and requires clear substantiation of emergency need. More than a dozen TIAs, combined with extensive public input, will be delivered to the NFPA Standards Council meeting next week in Portland, Oregon, for a formal voting process. The Standards Council oversees all NFPA’s codes and standards development activities.

"History will clearly show the importance of this meeting of the Technical Committee on Assembly Occupancies," said Art Cote, NFPA executive vice president and chief engineer. "As a follow-up to their earlier meeting held in March 2003, several weeks after the Rhode Island Station fire and the Chicago E2 crowd crush incident, once again we see the NFPA Codes and Standards system being responsive to these kinds of terrible tragedies."

A member of the American National Standards Institute and an ANSI-accredited standards developing organization, the NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates timely consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks. The organization has no enforcement authority. NFPA codes are made available as model documents for voluntary use; many serve as the basis for legislation and regulation.

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