Fire and life safety codes drive efficiency

Although codebooks are written in black and white, anyone in the field knows that the way requirements are applied in real life is anything but simple.

By Ray Bizal, Contributing Author


Digital platforms allow teams to efficiently organize workflows and share information through interactive note-taking, bookmarking and collection features. Project stakeholders can use keyword search functions to quickly locate relevant requirements in all National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publications at once, add color-coded notes and bookmarks, and create a collection of these bookmarks that can be shared with internal and external users. external contractors. Teams can create a collection of security aspects that need to be addressed before approaching the AHJ, for example. They can also take advantage of this feature throughout the authorization process by creating a set of requirements for plan review red lines returned by the AHJ. And, once construction begins, teams can create collections for any issues that arise.

Although codebooks are written in black and white, anyone in the field knows that the way requirements are applied in real life is anything but simple. Digital tools can help add context and useful information regarding codes and standards with additional content. This may include expert commentary, images, added manual content, or situational navigation. For example, in a less demanding code review where a contractor has very specific issues, they can use situational navigation to refer to a labeled rendering of a fire engine to examine the various items that go into their compliance. . This type of content can also be used to help train or onboard new employees. And as a bonus, because digital platforms are not static, meaning they can continually update new content as needed.

Reduce misunderstandings

It is not uncommon for there to be disputes or misunderstandings between trades during a code review. The fire sprinkler contractor may say one thing while the architect and mechanical engineer say another. Or, sometimes, during a final inspection or walkthrough, the AHJ or insurance company may point out a specific aspect that is out of code without providing much more context, sending contractors through their codebooks to attempt to locate the correct requirements to remedy the situation.

When these conversations are happening, the ability to quickly pull all NFPA digital publications on any device, search by section or keyword within these publications, and find the relevant section of code to share with all parties for discussion is a major asset. This way stakeholders can make sure they are referencing the same section of code in the same release and work from there. Digitizing this process helps reduce miscommunications, resolve disputes faster, and complete projects faster while ensuring that all aspects of construction and life safety are accurate and up to code.

The provisions of the fire and life safety code are constantly evolving and it is essential that teams have real-time access to the latest editions. Digitization enables new codes and standards information, such as Interim Interim Changes (TIAs), errata, and formal interpretations, to be quickly and accurately disseminated to maintain project compliance. Digital platforms not only update new edits or changes in real time, but also flag those important changes with interactive change markers to make sure nothing goes unnoticed. This helps teams learn about requirements that may have changed between code releases and understand what aspects of the building need to change.

Resilience is the key to security, and code compliance is the key to resiliency. Code reviews are an essential aspect of maintaining the highest level of security for employees, customers, and first responders in the event of an emergency. Therefore, it is important for businesses to take advantage of emerging digital tools to perform code reviews effectively and efficiently.

Ray Bizal is Director of Regional Operations for NFPA. He oversees the regional directors for Canada and the United States, who educate NFPA stakeholders about the many activities undertaken by the association. With over 30 years of fire protection experience, Bizal has also worked with the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company Fire Department as a fire protection specialist and the Factory Mutual Engineering Association as a as a loss prevention consultant.

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