Fire and life safety regulations increase efficiency

Although code books are written in black and white, everyone in the industry knows that the way requirements are applied in real life is far from made up out of thin air.

By Ray Bizal, Contributing Author


Digital platforms enable teams to organize workflows efficiently and share information with interactive notes, bookmarks and collection functions. Project stakeholders can use keyword search capabilities to quickly find relevant requirements across all National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publications at once, add notes and color-coded bookmarks, and create a collection of these bookmarks that can be shared with both internal and external parties Contractor. For example, teams can create a collection of safety issues that need to be addressed before approaching the AHJ. They can also leverage this capability throughout the permitting process by creating a collection of plan review redline requests that are returned by the AHJ. And once construction begins, teams can create collections for any issues that arise.

Although code books are written in black and white, everyone in the industry knows that the way requirements are applied in real life is far from made up out of thin air. Digital tools can help add context and helpful information to codes and standards with supplemental content. This can include expert commentary, images, added manual content, or situational navigation. For example, in a less sophisticated code review where a contractor has very specific issues, he or she could use situational navigation to refer to a labeled representation of a fire pump to examine the various elements that contribute to its compliance. This type of content can also be used to train or onboard new employees. And as a bonus, because digital platforms are not static, which means they can constantly update new content as needed.

Reducing miscommunication

It is not uncommon for disputes or misunderstandings to arise between trades during a code review. The sprinkler system contractor may say one thing, while the architect and mechanical engineer may say another. Or sometimes, during a final check or tour, AHJ or the insurance carrier can point out a specific aspect that doesn’t meet the code without providing much further context and send contractors to search through their code books to try to send the right thing find requirements to rectify the situation.

When these conversations happen, the ability to quickly pull up any digital NFPA publication on any device, search for any section or keyword in those publications, and find the relevant section of code to share with all parties for discussion is a huge benefit. That way, contributors can make sure they’re referring to the same section of code in the same edition, and work from there. Digitizing this process helps reduce misunderstandings, resolve disputes more quickly, and complete projects faster, while ensuring that all aspects of building and life safety are accurate and compliant.

Fire and life safety regulations are constantly evolving and it is crucial that teams have real-time access to the latest editions. Digitization contributes to the fact that new information on codes and standards, e.g. B. Interim Provisional Amendments (TIAs), errata, and formal interpretations, are propagated quickly and accurately to keep projects compliant. Digital platforms not only update new releases or changes in real-time, but also mark these significant changes with interactive change marks to ensure nothing goes unnoticed. This helps teams know any requirements that may have changed between code editions and understand what aspects of the building need to be changed.

Resilience is the key to safety, and complying with the code is the key to resilience. Code reviews are a critical aspect of maintaining the highest level of safety for employees, customers, and first responders during an emergency. Therefore, it is important that trades take advantage of new digital tools to conduct code reviews efficiently and effectively.

Ray Bizal is the director of regional operations for the NFPA. He oversees the Canadian and US regional directors who reach out to NFPA stakeholders regarding the association’s many activities. With over 30 years in the fire protection profession, Bizal has also worked with the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company Fire Department as a fire protection specialist and with the Factory Mutual Engineering Association as a loss prevention consultant.

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