An interesting article caught my attention last week in the American Association of Airport Executives’ (AAAE) Airport magazine: A Clear Future for Passenger Boarding Bridges, by James Doctorman and Randy Pope. They went into details about the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) rather recent change on the usage of glass for boarding bridges.
There was a great deal of information in it that may never have been even thought about by we travelers as we busily jet through the boarding bridges and other areas of the airport. What I found most interesting was not actually the bridges themselves, but rather the NFPA’s revisionary process at work.
You may be wondering why in the world would that catch my attention. Why was I not more in awe of how this change will impact travelers who may or may not take notice of the additional natural light they have and openness they feel walking through these bridges? Or that the beauty of nature will allow me to feel less like cattle being herded into a pen? Well, it was because I have been studying the revisionary process specifically within the ARFF standards.
I am, after all a complete geek…er, academic is the politically correct term.
While you have no doubt read about and seen countless presentations outlining the NFPA standards’ revisionary process, this was a great example of how change comes about. Below is the process outlined in a slide that I alone have seen published and presented more than two dozen times in less than two years. Every time I see it, though, I am reminded of how much goes into this process and how very time consuming it is for the members of the committees.
National Fire Protection Association’s Standard Development Process. More information regarding this process can be found at the Standards Development Process website.
We all know that there are experts representing portions of the industry (manufactures, users, labor, etc.) that sit on these committees, but what exactly do they do and how does that actually impact those within and outside of the industry?
These experts literally examine their specified standards and public inputs in order to clarify, correct and update the standards assigned to them. Initial public comments are taken at the beginning of the update and the suggested alterations are scrutinized. While my research indicates the majority of these comments are generated from members of the committee, there are some within the industry who are also submitting suggestions – albeit a very small percentage. The term “public comment” literally means the document is open to the whole public for suggestions. So, those within the fire and emergency industry or an average citizen with no background in fire/emergency services can make suggestions to the document; however, the numbers of actual non-fire/emergency service individuals commenting is minuscule. The whole process of reviewing inputs, first drafts, second drafts, and notices of intent to make a motion (NITMAM) goes on for months.
I digress and so back to the change on passenger bridges…
The above mentioned article discusses how one committee found an outdated recommendation in their standard and conducted research on the topic in order to address and update. International standards and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards were examined and a report was created by the task group, assigned with this project that exists within the NFPA standard committee. Their data compelled the NFPA to authorize a third party to examine the use and safety of glass bridges.
This is an excellent example of how the NFPA revisionary process advances standards without jeopardizing safety. This change will impact all of those working in and traveling through airports in the United States. I applaud the committee as both a researcher and a frequent flyer. Your comprehensive data collection will brighten my journeys literally and figuratively.
You can read Doctormann and Pope’s article here: A Clear Future for Passenger Boarding Bridges I highly suggest you take a few moments to learn about the change to the bridges, but also to see how updates impact the traveling public AND how the NFPA revisionary process is successful in achieving an update to a standard.