How NFPA changes its codes and standards

NFPA updates codes and standards on a regular basis, typically every three years

By Jarron Gass May 27, 2022
Courtesy: CDM Smith

In 2018, NFPA published “An Introduction to the NFPA Standards Development Process.” Updates are made on a three-to-five-year timeline through well-established bylaws like the Technical Meeting Convention Rules, the Guide for the Conduct of Participants in the NFPA Standards Development Process and Regulations Governing Petitions to the board of directors from Decisions of the Standards Council.

Additionally, change is affected under the general direction of the board of directors and the Standards Council along with nearly 9,000 volunteers on various technical committees for all of the codes and standards under the NFPA umbrella.

Almost immediately after an edition of an NFPA standard is published, the development process starts anew. The process starts with a public input stage that includes a first draft meeting. This meeting considers public input and provides a response through a voting of committee members followed by a posting of the initial draft.

The next step is the public comment stage, which includes a second draft meeting where there is additional discussion and voting by committee members followed by a posting of the second draft. After the second draft, the document moves to a debate stage that occurs at the NFPA Technical Meeting, which is then followed by an additional opportunity for the public to make proposed changes with further debate.

The final step in the process is for the Standards Council to hear any appeals and then finally issue the standard. Standards become effective 20 days after issuance by the Standards Council. NFPA codes and standards can be accessed for free and are also available for purchase in either paper format or in an interactive online viewing format.


Jarron Gass
Author Bio: Jarron Gass is fire protection discipline leader at CDM Smith. He focuses on fire suppression and alarm design and analysis and water supply analysis.