Edited Version of June 21, 2000 Transcript
EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation

"What's Ahead for the New Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management?"

Lloyd Bokman
NFPA 1600 Technical Committee

Moderator Avagene Moore
EIIP Coordinator

The original unedited transcript of the June 21, 2000 online Virtual Library presentation is available in the EIIP Virtual Library Archives (http://www.emforum.org/vlibrary/livechat.htm). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each input were deleted but the content of questions and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers to participants’ questions are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum!

For the benefit of any first-timers, when you see a blue web address, you can click on it and the referenced Web page should appear in a browser window.

After the first one, the browser window may not automatically come to the top, so you may need to bring it forward by clicking on a button at the status bar at the bottom of your screen. For example, background information for today's session may be found at <http://www.emforum.org/vforum/000621.htm> . I encourage you to check out this page in detail after our session.

We will start with the presentation, and then follow with a Q&A session for your questions and comments. Right before we begin the Q&A portion we will review the procedure.

Please do NOT send direct messages to the speaker or moderator as it makes it difficult for us to follow the discussion.

We are here to learn more about the status of the NFPA 1600 Standard on Disaster / Emergency Management. For other opportunities to learn more and interact with leaders in the disaster community, please mark your calendars for September 11- 22, the Virtual Fire & Rescue Expo (VFRE).

The EIIP conduct an Emergency Management track during the VFRE. In addition to reading materials related to the Standard, Accreditation, and Certification, we will have a 1-hour interactive discussion at 1 PM Eastern Time each day, September 18-22. You need to be there for the live sessions.


And now, our speaker -- we are pleased to have Lloyd Bokman with us today; this is Lloyd's third presentation on the NFPA 1600 Standard. Lloyd is the U.S. Dept. of Energy Liaison/Hazardous Materials Planner with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and is also responsible for the State of Ohio's Hazardous Materials Emergency Management Plan. Lloyd has been a member of the NFPA 1600 Technical Committee on Disaster Management since 1993 and has served as its Chair since 1998.

Lloyd, welcome back to the Virtual Forum. We anticipate a very informative session today and now turn the floor to you. Ladies and gentlemen - Lloyd Bokman.


Lloyd Bokman: Thank you, Avagene.

Welcome everybody to today's session. I would like to thank Avagene and Amy for inviting me to "speak" to you today on NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs - 2000 Edition.

Also, I would like to thank them for the work they have done with the EIIP since its inception. Their efforts are helping us all to better understand the nature of emergency management and business continuity as it evolves into the future.

I would like to talk today about two questions that I get quite often concerning NFPA 1600. The first, "What exactly is a standard and what does it mean to us?" The second, "What's ahead for NFPA 1600?"

NFPA 1600 is a consensus standard that was written by a committee whose members are both professionals and stakeholders in the emergency management/business continuity field. By rules, it takes a minimum of 3 to 5 years to develop a standard. This time frame exists to ensure opportunities for public comment, committee meetings, and research. The implementation of these rules by the NFPA is regulated or overseen by the American National Standards Institute or ANSI.

NFPA 1600 did not come about quickly, or haphazardly. In fact, the first committee meeting was held in 1991 and in 1995 the first version of NFPA 1600 was published as a Recommended Practice, which used the terminology of "should" versus the word "shall".

The committee has used the time since then to solicit public comments and revise the document. The present 2000 version is a result of those deliberations. It has been 9 years since the committee first met and the work continues today, but what does it mean?

The document is 20 pages long if you include the introductory pages, the table of contents, the appendices and the index. The actual standard itself, or the body of the document, consists of pages 4, 5 and 6 - three pages. This is where you will find the term "shall" used. It is written this way so that if an entity or organization wants to adopt it, in whole or in part, it is ready to go.

The standard is voluntary. The NFPA does not enforce standards. Enforcement can only be accomplished if a regulatory agency, a legislative body, or a corporation voluntarily and formally adopts it for its own organization or jurisdiction. In other words, it would have to be written into the law or regulations. Also, the appendix items are explanatory material for information purposes only and are not considered part of the body of the standard. These items were not written by the committee to be enforceable items. If there are no applicable laws or regulations to follow, a court may or may not look at existing standards. There is the question of the finding of negligence during a lawsuit if the document was not followed.

The misconception is that this can only be done with "standards" but any accepted practice or guidance document could potentially be used in court, including FEMA's SLG's and in the past, the Civil Preparedness Guides or CPG's. The potential for lawsuits has always been there. However, under the law much more must be done to prove negligence other than to just show a document wasn't adhered to. Several other things must be proven, the foremost is that it must be proven that harm or injury was a direct result of the document not being followed. In other words, it must be proven that the organization, by not following the accepted practice, directly caused the injury and not the tornado, hurricane, flood, or terrorist incident that it was responding to.

With the number of guidance documents available over the years, there has been ample opportunity for a lawyer to attempt to make such a case, but I am not aware of any successful attempts. I believe a case like this would really be such an extreme example, that any of us presently doing our job in good faith has nothing to worry about.

"What's ahead for NFPA 1600?" The answer to that question is ultimately up to the 1600 Committee and won't really be answered until the next revision is completed in 3 to 5 years. We have formed a Task Group to look at listing and prioritizing potential future alternative issues that the 1600 Committee may need to address.

As the document (i.e. those three pages) stands now, it is very generic. It addresses strategic plans, response plans, mitigation plans, recovery plans, continuity of operations plans, training, exercises, etc., but not in any detail.

The question is do we want to address some of these areas in more detail? If so, then which ones and in what priority? Also, do we put the details in the body of the existing document as enforceable items, do we put the detail in the appendix as information only items, or do we create a new document, either a standard or recommended practice, for a particular issue?

It has been suggested that the Committee address several of these issues. For instance, it has been suggested that the committee address the area of business continuity planning in more detail and in enforcement language. This could be done in the existing document or in a new standard in the 1600 series.

The Task Group is examining these alternatives. At any rate, the overall process will be a long one (3 to 5 years) and a deliberate one where public comments will be solicited and welcome.

In fact, the Task Group will be surveying stakeholders, in the near future, to get feedback on how the 2000 Edition is being used. If you would like to take part in the survey, please contact Martha Curtis, our NFPA Staff Liaison, at 617-984-7496 or <[email protected]>.

Amy has provided a link on the Introduction page for today where you may go if you wish to purchase a copy of NFPA 1600. All Committee members are volunteers and arrange their own transportation and funding. However, the NFPA provides a staff liaison, meeting room and clerical support. Therefore there is a minimal cost of approximately $20.00 for the document to help defray these costs. The NFPA is a non-profit organization.

If you would like to check on the latest information about NFPA 1600, you can go to the National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) web site at <http://www.nasttpo.org> where there is a link to the NFPA 1600 status page.

In closing, there are several benefits to having a standard such as this. Just as certification programs for individuals, such as IAEM's for emergency managers and DRI's for business continuity planners, can emphasize the professionalism of an individual, meeting standards can emphasize the professionalism of a program. Because standards are written using legal terminology, if one chooses to, they can be easily adopted, in whole or in part, into local laws, codes or organizational policies. This can save a lot of time and money that would otherwise be spent in writing and developing local laws or policies.

Also this standard was developed by emergency management/business continuity professionals and stakeholders using input from their own organizations and from the public. Along with the established rules of standards making, this helps to insure fair treatment and discussion of all issues. It also insures a knowledgeable and professional handling of the subject matter.

I would like to again thank Avagene and Amy for this opportunity and I'll turn it back over to them so that we can take questions.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Avagene Moore: Thank you for the update on the NFPA 1600 Standard, Lloyd. Excellent information! Audience please enter a question mark (?) to indicate you wish to be recognized, go ahead and compose your comment or question, but wait for recognition before hitting the Enter key or clicking on Send. We will take questions and comments in the order they are submitted to the screen. We now invite your questions/comments.


J. P. DeMeritt: You mentioned setting up a task force to help the Committee examine alternative possibilities. Does your task force include a futurist, and how do you expect to identify those possibilities?

Lloyd Bokman: I'm not sure what a futurist is other than one who tries to see what developments may arise for the future. As such that is the purpose of the Task Group to try to determine the best course for the future of the document.


Amy Sebring: Lloyd, I was somewhat disappointed in the final title. I feel that this implies that continuity of operations applies only to the private sector, and that crisis management to protect the local community applies only to the public sector. Has this been discussed in the committee?

Lloyd Bokman: This has indeed been discussed in a detail. The consensus is that business continuity and emergency management are part of the same spectrum of activity and that what each does relies on the same basic principles and techniques.


Rick Tobin: Local government has expressed concerns that the NFPA Standard may be used by FEMA to restrict Stafford Act funding for recovery, if communities do not adopt and implement 1600. Have you considered this possibility?

Lloyd Bokman: Personally, I have thought of it and discussed it with others. The ultimate decision though is up to FEMA and at the present I have heard of no plans by FEMA to go that route.


Nicholas Macyshen: With NFPA 1600 have you looked at trying to bring the youth into the disaster planning, because I see that where I am from that they have interests in their well-being during disasters.

Lloyd Bokman: As a committee we haven't tried to involve young people as such, though a couple members are very young. It may be that I am just getting old and everybody looks younger. However, several agencies are bringing them in more to do work. The Ohio Emergency Management Agency has had several student interns over the past year or so that have been interested in our field.


Avagene Moore: Lloyd, how often does the Task Force meet? Are all meetings face-to-face? Is any work done electronically? By email, etc?

Lloyd Bokman: Right now the Task Force meets by conference call about once a month. There are eight of them, while the 1600 Committee has about 30 members. The Task Force is scheduled to report back to the full Committee in June of 2001.


Cam King: Lloyd, have you talked to any Canadians on this Standard? Do you want such involvement in the survey?

Lloyd Bokman: Yes, in fact, Edgar Ladoucer of Transport Canada, which is equivalent to the USDOT is a member of both the Committee and the Task Group. Also, our past chair of the committee was the Safety Manager for Alcan Aluminum International out of Montreal.


Rick Tobin: Will the NFPA 1600 be incorporated into other best practices standards in the US and internationally through the UN -- like the ASTM standards?

Lloyd Bokman: NFPA 1600 is available to anyone who wishes to use it or incorporate it. We encourage its use internationally as well as locally. The NFPA has an international contingent but that works with international standards making organizations. But at this time it is not being actively pursued, it is still rather new.


Helen Norris: This is the most information that I have had related to the standard. As such I would like to say that I am amazed that the committee could keep the ‘shalls’ down to only three pages. Was that a conscious effort on the part of the committee? Did it cause any major struggles in defining what would be included as a "shall" item? Do you feel that any necessary items were not included as a result? Oh, I guess that is more than one question. Sorry.

Lloyd Bokman: No problem. And yes to all of the above. The ‘shalls’ were discussed of three years of meetings and public comments and everybody had to compromise and of course you are right there were many "interesting" discussions.


Kevin Denver: What significant changes have been made since the '99 standard? Specifically, have the concerns of Mr. Langendoerfer & Mr. Musson been addressed? Which were, among other things, for the standard to more rigorously address Business Continuity?

Lloyd Bokman: That is one of the issues the Task Group is looking at. That is how and where do we include more rigorous discussion of certain issues. Business continuity is one of those issues and there are others. The task group will, I'm sure, cover needs of the business community. In fact, Mel Musson is a member of the Task Group, so he will have input into the process.


David Burns: NFPA 1600 recommends committee - is a committee always a good thing, I have avoided use of committees because there is tendency to dilute issues or become political and the focus may become blurred. I like to have a focused committee, with goals and objectives, with a solid agenda. EM is so global in nature it's hard to bring all the players into the mix. Thoughts/suggestions?

Lloyd Bokman: It is hard to bring them into the mix but I think the alternative is more difficult. And that is an emergency program without buy-in from the appropriate stakeholders to make it work. The stakeholders may not run the program on a day to day basis, but their input needs to be there to address their concerns.


Amy Sebring: Follow up to Nicholas' earlier question. One aspect that I do not find is management of "emergent" or spontaneous volunteers unless I have overlooked it. It could also be considered as a part of resource management. However, I feel it would benefit from being specifically mentioned. Do we need to wait for the next call for public comments to submit items such as these, or can we submit them for consideration informally? If so, how?

Lloyd Bokman: You can submit ideas that you think the Task Group so they can determine how and what priority the committee should address them. But the best way is to directly submit them through the formal public comment period because through the rules of standards making they can then be tracked and formally addressed, The Task Group is a more informal process.


Gary McGinnis: You talk about continuity, is there any part of 1600 that addresses mitigation through prevention and planning?

Lloyd Bokman: Yes, there is but as I said it is very generic in the body of the document itself.

Gary McGinnis: So there will be no standards addressing that?

Lloyd Bokman: There is more explanatory material in the appendix but it is not part of the body or "shall" part of the document.


Fred Baehl: How was participation solicited and what criteria was used in selecting members?

Lloyd Bokman: Well, I found out about it back in 1992 through the Natural Hazards Observer publication. The NFPA had put several announcements in various newsletters.

Anyone can apply, and you do not have to be an NFPA member to be a member of the committee. The number of committee members is limited to 30, which we have now. But I would encourage anyone who wants to - to apply, because there is a limited amount of turnover. You can contact the NFPA at their web site for more info. If you represent an organization there is a better chance of being selected but there are many individual members on the committee who are simply professionals in the field.


Maricopa County EM: What is the difference between Task Force / Group and Committee?

Lloyd Bokman: The Task Group is a subset of the Committee formed to accomplish a certain task and then report back to the Committee as a whole. In this case the task group is made up of 8 members from the 30-member committee and is chaired by Don Schmidt, who is a VP with Marsh Inc. out of Boston.


Peter Picanso: Was the question of multiple languages/translators addressed? Here we have 85 languages spoken, including ASL and it is always a problem to find translators. Or is that too specific an item?

Lloyd Bokman: For the document as it is now configured, it is too specific, future documents may go into more detail or not. That has to be determined by the committee.


Claire Rubin: Where can you get the full text version of 1600 in order to consider making comments?

Lloyd Bokman: You can order the document from the NFPA...

Amy Sebring: Please see link on background page, please.

Claire Rubin: You have to pay for the draft?

Lloyd Bokman: And Amy has put a link - Oh, thanks, Amy.

Amy Sebring: It's in final form, Claire, was issued in April. Please note, NFPA does provide either a hard copy or a PDF version you can get immediately, if you buy online.

Final Question:

Avagene Moore: Our time is up for today, folks. Any closing comment, Lloyd?

Lloyd Bokman: Thank you all for being here, today. And please take advantage of the public comment periods in the future because the committee welcomes your input.


Avagene Moore: Thank you very much for being with us today, Lloyd. I, for one, certainly have a better appreciation of the amount of work and effort that went into the Standard. Audience, we greatly appreciate your presence and participation as well. Please stand by a moment while we take care of some announcements.

Upcoming Event:

Next week, we will be featuring a session in the Tech Arena on Wednesday June 28, 12 Noon EDT. The topic is "Technology for Crisis Management in Schools" and Eric Strohl, Strohl Systems, Inc., will be our special guest. This session is timely and should be of interest to all since we have had so much in the news over the past year or so about crisis in our nation's schools. Make your plans to be present, please.

Again, Lloyd, we appreciate you! Thanks to all our participants today. We will adjourn the session for now, but you are invited to remain for open discussion. You no longer need to use question marks.