For this month’s Code Corner, Jack answered some questions about his experience as an NFPA Standards committee member.
Q: Jack, can you tell us about your connection with the NFPA and what it means to you?
Jack Coffelt: My journey began after transitioning from the Navy into the civilian sector, working in fire life safety. I still vividly remember my first Fire Marshal inspection and the nervousness I felt. Fast forward, and now I’m sitting on the same NFPA committee as the Fire Marshal who inspected my work that day.
Q: Can you explain your role in these committees and the kind of work you do?
Jack: Absolutely. I sit on committees like NFPA 3 and NFPA 4, which focus on holistic fire life safety standards for new installations and ongoing inspections. We strive for a balance between rigorous safety standards and practical implementation. These committees bring together a diverse group of experts, from users to manufacturers, to discuss and decide on various aspects of fire safety. It’s important to have these diverse perspectives so that everyone is represented.
Q: What’s the process for becoming a member of an NFPA committee?
Jack: Joining a committee is a selective process. It involves openings in specific categories like users, manufacturers, or AHJs. Applicants are reviewed by the committee chair and NFPA staff, considering their expertise and representation. I’m currently working towards joining NFPA 915, which deals with remote testing and inspection – a rapidly evolving area in fire life safety.
Q: Are there personal benefits to being on these committees?
Jack: One of the greatest benefits is building relationships with other committee members, many of whom are among the best in the industry. These connections are invaluable for gaining insights and advice. I’m also able to bring the expert knowledge back to ServiceTrade to help our customers and our product team.
Q: Can anyone attend a committee meeting?
Jack: NFPA technical committee meetings are open to the public, which I highly recommend attending. It’s a great way to understand the process and possibly get involved. Though there are strict rules against recording and representing NFPA views without authorization, there’s still a high level of transparency in how standards are developed and revised.