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Monday, May 2, 2016

Why Your Code Change Proposal Was Disapproved




I am just returning home and getting back into the swing of things.  I spent last week in Louisville, Kentucky serving on the International Fire Code (IFC) Development Committee. One of the main benefits of committee involvement is the opportunity to understand why code changes are being proposed, the history behind these code changes, and the potential impacts that the current and proposed changes may have.

It is the committee's responsibility to hear each proposal and decide to approve the proposal as submitted, approve the proposal with a modification, or disapprove the proposed code change. This cycle the committee heard more than 400 proposals. Of these, nearly 200 were moved for disapproval.  Proposals can be disapproved for a variety of reasons. However, examining my notes from the hearings, there are 6 primary reasons that a code change proposals was disapproved.

1.  Proponent is not available to speak on the proposal.

A code change proposal submitter or proponent is not required to be present.  The purpose of the code change proposal should be clear and evident based on the proponents required 'reason statement'. However, if their are questions regarding the proposal, or something is not understood, it is helpful if there is someone available to answer the committee's questions or concerns.  Statements and responses made by the proponents (or opponents) are instrumental in influencing the committees decision on these proposed code changes.

2.  Poor code language.

The specific wording of code change proposals plays a critical role in its approval or disapproval.  Proposals that are disapproved for 'poor code language' includes wording that falls into one of these categories:
  • Open to misinterpretation
  • Not able to be enforced
  • Uses terminology that is not in the code, not clearly defined, or that conflicts with other terms in the code or referenced standards
  • The wording is confusing to read, hard to understand, or illogical
  • The wrong code or standard is referenced
  • The intent is not understood
  • The proposed code change is being added to the wrong section of the code.

3.  Lack of reliable data and/or facts to substantiate reasoning.

A good code change proposal will be accompanied by hard facts and historical evidence as to its need.  The facts and data should also show how the code change proposal, if approved, will result in the improvements intended.  Those code change proposals that are arbitrarily submitted, and lack sufficient data, are most likely to be disapproved.

4.  Effects of the code change would be too broad.

The proposal, though creating a fix in one area, may create a problem in several other areas.  Those proposals that apply to a large variety of occupancies, industries, processes, or materials may be disapproved, as the effects are so far reaching that the negative or positive consequences cannot be readily distinguished. Successful proposals are structured to effect only the intended concern.  If the proposal is intended to be broad, multiple proposals targeted at each concern should be submitted.

5.  Violates requirements and provisions outlined in CP #28-05.

This is the ICC Council Policy on code development. Of importance to those submitting code change proposals are the sections that outline specific requirements regarding how code change proposals are to be submitted, and the section that describes what types of codes and standards can be referenced.  As a submitter, be sure that you understand these council policies, and that your proposal does not violate these requirements.

6.  New technology that has not been vetted.

With the rapidity of change and technology development that is currently happening in our world, it is impossible to be fully knowledgeable on all things. New technologies, techniques, and processes, may require and benefit from specific code inclusions.  Committee members may not be aware of, or may be seeing, the technology for the first time in your proposal.  If the technology is not understood, the effects of the code change proposal cannot be realized. Education should be critical component of the submitter's reason statement and testimony. A strategy that involves educational outreach in advance of the committee hearings should be considered.


When submitting code changes, or recovering from a 'disapproval', review your written proposal, and presentation strategy for these 6 items.  Use this as a checklist to help you write a winning code change proposal!




Monday, April 25, 2016

The Art of ARFF (part 4) - Tactical Dispositions, Energy, and Strong Points


Read others in the series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.




"He wins battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated...Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won." -Sun Tzu

I do not fully subscribe to the age-old idea that "there is always somebody better" out there. Somebody has to be the best.  The best talent. The most knowledgeable. The top performer.

To win battles you have to make no mistakes. The way to make no mistakes is to be the best at what you do. There is a plethora of personal development resources that provide guidance on being the best.  A synthesis of this information has shown that the top performers in any industry minimally possess four characteristics.

Focus. Top performers are laser focused on their goal of becoming the best. They partake only in the activities that will support and contribute to their goals.  This often means having to say, "no", to other opportunities (even seemingly good ones).

Passion. Top performers are passionate about what they are doing. Their passion for the field, craft, or industry is what drives them to be the best.  Passion is what makes a vocation and career more than just a job. Passion is what enables top performers to put in the longer hours, and make the bigger investments into their development and the enhancement of their industries.

Work Ethic. Top performers have a strong work ethic.  Those with less natural knowledge, skills, or abilities, can quickly become a top performer by simply working harder than everyone else. Top performers are the best in their field because they are willing to do the hard work.

Giving. Top performers are givers.  They routinely give to those around them, and to their industries at large. They freely share of their knowledge and resources.  They continuously contribute to the betterment of all around them. They know that by helping others achieve, and become their best, they will achieve their goals as well.

No matter what your aspirations in the ARFF industry may be, these four characteristics can be applied to ensure that you are the best in your field, and mistakes are not made when it matters most. 

For example, if you are one of those individuals that loves being a ARFF apparatus operator, then you should focus on being the best at that skill. Take courses and classes, read, be in the company of others who are passionate about ARFF operations.  You should drive, operate, study, and know the vehicle more than everyone else. Share your knowledge, experiences, and opportunities with those around you.  Teach the next generation of ARFF operator everything that you know, so they are prepared to take the wheel.  Transfer your passion to someone else! 


"The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence his ability to pick out the right men and utilize combined energy...Thus the energy developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain thousands of feet in height." -Sun Tzu

The wise warrior understands that victory cannot be obtained by only one person or type of personality.  Victory can come only through the combined energy and talents of the whole team. If more responsibility is placed on one person that all the others, that individual will quickly tire and 'burn-out'.  His effectiveness will become severely diminished.  Likewise, if the wrong responsibility is assigned to an unsuited team member, the same results will occur. 

Victory comes when the company officer knows his personnel.  He knows their strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, experiences, limits, and personal factors.  By intimately knowing all personnel, the proper tasks and work loads can be assigned. This utilization of "combined energy" will lead to victory.  A good tool to utilize for this is a profile assessment such as the DISC profile or others.

Tu Mu, a Sun Tzu commentator, says, "He first of all considers the power of his army in the bulk; afterwards he takes individual talent into account, and uses each man according to his capabilities. He does not demand perfection from the untalented."  

Notice how he states that perfection cannot be demanded from the untalented.  The inverse of this would be that perfection is to be expected from the talented, the top performers.

"Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient." -Sun Tzu

Special operations forces utilizes a peer review assessment tool.  This tool is an evaluation of by personnel of their peers.  With this tool each individuals contributions and skill level can be seen.  Areas for improvement can be customized for each individual as their part pertains to the team.

Evaluate your team on a regular basis.  An evaluation can be used to understand the level that your personnel are at, where their strengths lie, and what deficiencies need to be worked on. If you find that certain fire or medical skills are lacking you can train on those.  If specific aircraft or facility familiarity is missing, then you can arrange for hands-on or walk-throughs to improve these areas.  Any area of deficiency (knowledge, skills, or abilities) is the area where failure should be expected. Ensuring that there are no deficient areas can make your success sure.



Monday, April 18, 2016

Fire Pumps for Aviation Facilities


Aviation facilities are unique structures, with unique fire protection requirements.  Most often, large aircraft hangars will require fire pumps to provide the required pressures.  NFPA 409, Standard on Aircraft Hangars provides the guidance and requirements for fire pumps in aircraft hangars.


  • All pump installations are to meet the requirements of NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection.
  • A minimum of 2 fire pumps is required.
  • Pumps are required to auto-start.  This can be via pressure drop, or signal from detection control panel.
  • If the pressure drop method for pump starts is used, a jockey pump is required to be installed.
  • Fire pumps must be stopped manually. They cannot be set to 'auto-stop'.
  • An audible 'pump running' alarm is required.  This alarm is to be transmitted to a constantly attended location.




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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fire Prevention Organization [PODCAST]



recent survey has shown that the biggest challenges faced by fire prevention organizations is budget and personnel retention. More specifically, the lack of money to hire, train, and retain personnel needed to carry out fire prevention functions.  NFPA 1730, provides a 5 step system to determine minimum staffing levels needed for these functions and fire prevention services.


Click to listen -->  Fire Prevention Organization and Staffing by The Code Coach |

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