A conversation with Jonathan Hart, NFPA Technical Lead
Wondering about the process behind Codes and Standards development at the NFPA and how you might be able to get involved? Wonder no longer.
In the second episode of High Reliability for 2022, we welcome Jonathan Hart, Technical Lead, Fire Protection Engineering, at the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). Jon is the technical expert for the NFPA in fire protection systems and health care facilities. For several years Jon was the staff engineer responsible for NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code. Jon’s NFPA 99 oversight extended to 8 technical committees with over 225 members.
In a far-ranging conversation, Jon touches on many topics, including but not limited to the excerpts below. You will need to listen to the full episode to hear Jon’s complete answers.
What is a challenge in your role?
Prioritizing what we (NFPA) will focus on. There is so much we can (potentially) do, and we get invitations to speak all the time. We love to do that, but we have limited capacity. We want to be everywhere, and we want to assist everyone who asks us, but we need to narrow that down to what we can do within budget, time, and people.
Tell us a bit about the codes and standards process:
The codes and standards process has been ongoing for 125 years. We make sure that all sides are heard. We have an appreciation for that. Any of our 50,000 NFPA members can have their voice heard during the process. Public input can vary year to year and issue to issue.
(Jon encourages HCFM professionals to make their voices heard and participate in the codes and standards process. All committees need people on the end-user side.)
Tell us something about the role that people may not realize:
A point of clarification: We don’t write the codes, and that may be something that is not all that clear to people. I represent the NFPA, but we don’t write the codes.
Sitting on technical committees and facilitating codes and standards, we are neutral. It is very important to our role that we remain impartial, even as we understand that there can be grey areas.
On managing the process and documentation:
Don’t let it become too intimidating. These are big documents, chop away at the information and simplify what you need to worry about. It is easier than it seems.
We try to deliver that information in the NFPA 99 Handbook. We have done survey preparedness, where we illustrate what a surveyor will be looking for and, as a facility management professional, what you can do to prepare for that. When we went through NPFA 99, there were about 30 instances where that comes up. (Editorial Note: Those instances are listed in the NFPA 99 Handbook.)
It is not an overwhelming book, though it can seem that way.
On his career beginnings:
Early on in our conversation, Jon talks about the Worcester (MA) Cold Storage fire of 1999 and how that fire, and his dad’s job as a firefighter, played a role in Jon choosing his career path.
Here is a link to that tragic fire that led to the loss of 6 firefighters – the Worcester Cold Storage Fire.
Rest in peace Lt. Thomas Spencer, Lt. Timothy Jackson Sr., Lt. James Lyons III, and Firefighters Jeremiah Lucey, Paul Brotherton, and Joseph McGuirk.
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