New fire safety standard faces opposition
The May 16 vote on NFPA 1710, a new standard for fire service protection, has created a rift between the National Fire Protection Association and a number of organizations that represent local government. The 2,200–500 vote, to recommend that 1710 be adopted, would create a hardship for cities and counties, noted local government spokespeople. (The NFPA’s Standards Council, which meets July 10–13, will decide officially whether 1710 becomes a standard.)
The International City/County Managers Association, which has worked closely with NFPA on the standard, has announced its intention to appeal the vote. ICMA Regional Vice President Mark Watson, who also serves as city manager for Temple, Texas, had urged the NFPA to reject 1710 in its entirety. Watson argued that the standard, which mandates minimum staffing and response times, would undermine local democratic decision-making through a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
“ disregards the substantial variation in geography, topography, fiscal capacity, service burdens, population density, diversities in structures, diversities in fire-prevention efforts, and citizen preferences that exist across these United States,” Watson told the gathering. He also posited that NFPA was overstepping its bounds with the standard by leaping from the realm of the purely technical crafting of public safety standards to the realm of creating public policy.
The National League of Cities and U.S. Conference of Mayors also voiced their opposition to 1710.
If approved in July, 1710 would require that fire companies be staffed by a minimum of four people (five or six for high hazard situations. It also would set minimum response times for career departments (four minutes for initial response and eight minutes for full-alarm response, 90 percent of the time.)