Citing the need to have an arm’s-length view on policy issues that impact fire, life and electrical safety, the National Fire Protection Association has announced the launch of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute. The institute will study a range of issues and provide guidance and information to policymakers on the best approaches governments can take to improve safety for the citizens they serve.
“We have made tremendous progress in reducing loss from fire since NFPA’s inception, but we are painfully reminded every day that there is more to be done,” said NFPA President Jim Pauley.
According to NFPA, in 2016 U.S. fire departments responded to a fire every 24 seconds; one structure fire was reported every 60 seconds. While the number of civilian fire deaths in the U.S. has decreased by 54 percent from 7,395 in 1977 to 3,390 in 2016, fire still claimed nine lives a day and caused almost $11 billion in direct property damage.
There have been recent situations where some combination of code adoption, enforcement and awareness efforts were woefully inadequate for one reason or another, resulting in tragedy. These include the Oakland Ghost Ship fire, which killed 36 people; the London Grenfell apartment fire, which took the lives of nearly 80 people; and a number of recent fires in buildings under construction.
“It takes a full fire prevention and protection system to reduce loss, and either intentionally or unintentionally that system has been broken. And the public, that believes this system exists and relies on it, has been let down,” said Pauley. “We can do better.”
Pauley said policymakers are key to reducing loss from fire and other hazards, and the purpose of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute is to help policymakers keep their communities safe by providing recommended practices, proposed solutions and other guidance to support and sustain strong fire prevention and protection systems.
The Policy Institute will be led by Meghan Housewright who served in NFPA’s government affairs office since March 2011.