EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — January 11, 2006

The Next Edition
NFPA 1600 Standard on Emergency Management

Lloyd Bokman
Chair, NFPA 1600 Technical Committee
on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Our topic today is the next edition of the NFPA 1600 Standard on Emergency Management, which as you may know serves as the basis of the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) standard in the U.S., and will serve as the basis of a similar standard in Canada in the future.

Now it is my pleasure to once again welcome Lloyd W. Bokman, Chair of the Technical Committee on Disaster/ Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs and U.S. Dept. of Energy Liaison/Emergency Planner with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. Please see the background page for today's session at www.emforum.org/vforum/060111.htm for further biographical info, and please note that there are links to related documents and Websites available there.

Welcome Lloyd, and thank you for joining us today. I turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


Lloyd Bokman: Thank you, Amy, and I would also like to thank everyone for being here today.

The first edition of NFPA 1600 was published in 1995, the second in 2000, and the current edition was published in 2004. The development and evolution of the document continues and the next edition is scheduled for publication in April of 2007. The NFPA standards making process is a continuous one with a 3 to 5 year revision cycle and the NFPA 1600 Committee reviewed 148 proposals that were received for this current revision period.

Perhaps the most obvious revision in this draft is highlighting the concept of prevention by including it as a fifth phase of emergency management, along with mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. A special Prevention Task Group, chaired by Dr. Dean Larson of Purdue University, was formed to research the proposal and report back to the committee. After much discussion, the committee came to the consensus opinion that the concept of prevention needed to be emphasized and have a more prominent role in the field of emergency management and business continuity, especially as an all hazards concept. Since 9/11 the term "prevention" has almost become exclusively synonymous with identifying terrorists, taking them out of play through incarceration or elimination, and by doing this, prevent a potential terrorist attack from occurring.

However, the concept of prevention has historically applied to other types of hazards too. For example, a water treatment plant that identifies chlorine as a dangerous substance, eliminates the one ton cylinder of pure gaseous chlorine from the field of play (by switching to a less dangerous chemical, such as sodium hypochlorite or calcium hypochlorite), can prevent a potentially dangerous toxic chemical release from occurring. This concept is slightly different than having a chlorine release where the consequences are limited or mitigated because of the safety systems installed, such as water sprays that knock the chlorine plume out of the air, after it is released.

Traditionally, prevention has been under the mitigation phase and has always been a strategy for us to use, but the committee wanted to highlight the importance of it and put it up front. Not all hazards can be prevented, especially natural hazards. We can't control or stop the rain from falling, the wind from blowing or the earthquake from shaking. We can't eliminate these potential causes of disaster, not with today's technology. However, we can, in certain circumstances, lessen or mitigate the effects or the consequences of them through flood plain management, building codes and other techniques.

If it is possible and feasible to prevent a hazard by taking it "out of play", then we should attempt to do so. However, if we can't prevent the source of the hazard from occurring, then we should attempt to mitigate the effects of the hazard when it does present itself as an occurrence The 1600 Committee wanted to not only emphasize the importance of "Prevention" as a concept, but also its applicability to other types of hazards, in addition to terrorism.

The 1600 Committee did something similar in the current 2004 edition when it took the element of mutual aid, which had been under the element of resource management, and emphasized it by making it a separate element. Based on comments received at that time, the committee came to the consensus that mutual aid was important enough to be a related, but a separate element from resource management.

Several of the proposals made to the committee dealt with adding specific language in the body of the standard that would include U.S. specific systems or industry specific guidelines. For instance, it was proposed that NFPA 1600 adopt the U.S. National Incident Management System (NIMS) as the system to be used during incidents. While the committee agreed that it is the system to be used in the U.S. and referenced NIMS in the document's annex as a good example of an incident management system, the committee agreed that the NFPA 1600 document should remain focused on its applicability and relevance to all countries. There are over 79,000 members of the NFPA in over 100 countries that utilize NFPA documents.

Since NIMS is U.S. specific, the committee came to the consensus that "an" (not "the") incident management system or incident command system should be in place. This recognizes the existence of other country's systems, such as the systems in Canada, the U.K., Asia, and on the continent of Europe. However, the committee did state what the capabilities of such a system must be. This language still allows them to utilize the many elements of NFPA 1600 under their particular sovereign system. We have several international members on the 1600 Committee and their perspectives have been valuable. Our Canadian members have been most helpful and the NFPA and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) recently signed an agreement to work together to improve public safety.

Because of terrorism and the many natural disasters that the world has recently experienced, the international community has become very aware of the need for a worldwide discussion on the issue of emergency preparedness. To this end, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (based in Geneva, Switzerland), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and New York University (NYU) will be sponsoring a workshop in April of 2006, in Florence, Italy. The purpose of the workshop is to review existing standards and to reach a consensus with an ISO International Working Agreement (IWA) on how best to approach the question of emergency preparedness NFPA 1600 has been submitted for the workshop participants to review.

I am optimistic about this new international effort. I have always found it interesting and gratifying that the few times in the history of our planet, where it was evident that governments, religions, and societies have willingly put aside their differences for a greater good, have been times of disaster and emergencies, unfortunate as they may be. The goal of helping ordinary people in distress took precedence.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami, the South-East Asia Earthquake and Katrina are examples of international efforts where political, religious and social boundaries became less important. Barriers were lowered and put to the side. After Katrina, personnel and/or supplies traveled to the U.S. from around the world including Canada, Europe and Mexico (the Mexican army had a convoy of trucks with supplies cross the border) to help ordinary people. As the world "shrinks" or is "flattened" through increased means of communication and ease of travel, this workshop may be an opportunity to use that common goal, as a historical touchstone, to guide us on where we go from here.

From the beginning, the approach of the NFPA 1600 Committee has been a total program, holistic approach. NFPA 1600 is meant to apply, as the information technology folks like to say, "Enterprise wide". It was meant to be a macro-level, umbrella document for all related activities within any enterprise or organization, public and private. Perhaps this approach will be a contribution that we can make as part of the ISO’s emergency preparedness workshop in April.

The past two years have been very busy for the NFPA 1600 Committee, especially since the 9/11 Commission recommended the document as the emergency preparedness standard for the private sector and it was included in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. We appreciate all the proposals that we have received and we look forward to your comments concerning the current draft document.

I invite you to submit comments by going to www.nfpa.org and in the menu, at the top under "Codes and Standards", go to the "Code Development Process" and click on "Proposals (ROP) and Comments (ROC)". Directions on how to formally submit comments, by the March 3, 2006 deadline, can be found there.

If you would like to see more general information on NFPA 1600, please go to the NFPA 1600 status page, hosted by the National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) at www.nasttpo.org/NFPA1600.htm.

Thank you for your attention and I'll now turn the session back over to our moderator, Amy.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Lloyd. Now, to proceed to your questions.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Battle Brown: Lloyd, can you comment on how 1600 will affect interoperability and communications issues we've seen lacking recently?

Lloyd Bokman: Hi Battle. In the current 2004 Edition we put a statement in the document concerning the importance of interoperability. This included not only the idea of interoperability of communications but also command and control and other systems. It is important to remember that NFPA 1600 is a voluntary standard and local agencies and companies must adopt it in order to make it work for them.

Battle Brown: A voluntary standard that is likely to create legal liability for those who don't follow along, at least in litigious USA

Lloyd Bokman: Battle, you are correct, and that is even true of guidance documents, at least in the U.S.

Rick Tobin: Lloyd, do you have any opinion on how the international standards conference might change the contents of NFPA 1600 in regards to its use for the Emergency Management Assessment Program in the U.S.?

Lloyd Bokman: Rick, in the short term I see no changes in NFPA 1600 because the discussions with the ISO stakeholders are just beginning. However, the NFPA solicits comments from all over the world as part of the standards making process and if some good additional insights come out of these discussions, I can see the committee possibly adding them to the document in the future; but we have to wait to see how it evolves.

Guy Corriveau: Prevention as a pillar of Disaster Management is of concern to me. I understand that prevention as a concept is well known in other fields such as law enforcement and health where certain events may in fact be prevented -- but in our discipline of Disaster Management, the majority of events we deal with (Natural, Technological, Human) are non-preventable.

If disaster events were preventable then disaster management itself becomes moot. Mitigation becomes redundant, preparation for a preventable event is wasteful, and no response or recovery is necessary. For the few instances where prevention is in order, I would argue that this would be an extension of our mitigation responsibilities. The ultimate mitigation is prevention is it not?

Lloyd Bokman: Guy, you are right that many events are not preventable but some are, as the example of chemicals that I gave, and the Committee wanted to look at all hazards.

Terry Bruns: Both the U.S and Canadian Federal Governments have recognized ICS as the standard by which emergency response will be managed. While there is considerable information in the appendices concerning ICS, ICS is never mentioned in the main body of the NFPA-1600 standard. The closest mention is reference to an Incident Management System, which is not defined anywhere. ICS is well understood and easy to adopt at the private sector level. Was this omission an oversight or was it deliberately excluded from the main body? If the latter, what was the motivation?

Lloyd Bokman: Though ICS is used in Canada and well known, NIMS is not. The committee decided to go with a generic incident management system because this standard can be used in other countries in addition to the US and Canada. [See also NFPA 1561: Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System.]

Bob Robinson: Lloyd, where are we on having NFPA 1600 set as the standard on emergency preparedness in the USA? Is that something that DHS would do, or is there another mechanism for that?

Lloyd Bokman: Actually, Bob, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 stated that NFPA 1600 should be the (again) voluntary standard for preparedness in the private sector, and it charged DHS with promoting it as the voluntary standard.

Guy Corriveau: I am the Director of Disaster Management in a moderately large Health Authority in Canada (approximately 27,000 health care workers) including hospitals, nursing homes, and community health centres across a region. The Disaster Management Program here is based on NFPA 1600 and it has been a challenge to introduce new terminology in the medical world. An interesting discussion usually surrounds the use of mitigation vs. prevention. I was just making inroads in helping them understand the difference.

Lloyd Bokman: Several committee members used the medical field as a good example of prevention such as the gathering up of birds to prevent a pandemic. They're taking the bad actors off the field of play, similar to arresting terrorists, but this is different than trying to lessen the effects of a pandemic once it has broken loose and is doing wide scale damage.

Guy Corriveau: All I am arguing is that disasters find a way. When all the birds are culled the virus will be break loose in pigs. Culling is mitigation. I don't think there's a way of preventing bad things from happening, ergo "Disaster Management."

Amy Sebring: Lloyd, can you briefly outline the NFPA process after the comment closing date?

Lloyd Bokman: After the closing date for comments, the 1600 Committee is scheduled to meet in Vancouver at the end of March to review the comments. After review of the comments, a final draft document will be produced. This will go to the annual meeting of the NFPA for a vote of the membership. It is also at this time that anybody, including non-members, can address the membership either to support or not support the draft. We're still not done because there is an appeals process. One can appeal to the NFPA Standards Council, who has the final say. That is how we come up with the scheduled publishing date of April 2007, after this process is completed.

Don Sherwood: Thanks Amy and Lloyd. Lloyd, could you please expand further on the difference between Prevention and Mitigation?

Lloyd Bokman: The committee felt that it was a fine line, but one that should be brought out and highlighted. Again I would use my previous example. Most people immediately see arresting terrorists as a form of prevention. This effectively takes them off the "field of play" so to speak. The same can be said of other hazards, though not all. You can take a toxic chemical, such as chlorine, off the "field of play" by substituting it with a less dangerous chemical that does the same thing. You have effectively eliminated the hazard by not introducing it into the equation, thus preventing an incident from occurring.

Edwina Juillet: My interest is preparedness by/for people with disabilities.

Amy Sebring: Edwina, that will be the precise topic of our next Forum session, an update post-Katrina. Stay tuned. But Lloyd is there anything in the NFPA Standard relating?

Lloyd Bokman: Not specifically because we try to remain generic or macro level as possible. However, the need for adequate warning systems for all and the need for adequate planning, including the use of proper shelters and transportation for all certainly includes the disabled.

Avagene Moore: Lloyd, do you envision a time when the standard will be mandatory since it is being utilized by EMAP and the interest is high with the ISO and others around the world? Or -- in your opinion, is the voluntary approach more effective?

Lloyd Bokman: Personally, I like the voluntary approach because, I may be optimistic, but I think most people are professional enough in their work to see the need for it. If it does become mandatory, the criteria in such a program may be based on 1600 but may not be 1600 verbatim. For example EMAP, a very worthwhile program, has added more detailed criteria under each of the elements of 1600 so what may be mandatory could be up to the adopting authority.

Debbie Miller: So if I am reading this correctly, NFPA 1600 is supposed to encompass disaster management for the Global community. However it doesn't spell out the Incident Command System, which is already tried and true. Since we are establishing disaster preparedness in other countries, wouldn't it be best to spell out the Incident Command System? I'm not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling that this will be easy to modify once the standard has been voted upon and approved. Encouraging other countries to use generic systems might well become another fiasco like the California Oakland Storm Fires of the early 1990's when the San Francisco and Oakland fire departments couldn't talk to each other on radios nor even hook up the hoses to the fire hydrants. Why not start the newcomers on a tried and true path first?

Lloyd Bokman: Hi Debbie. The ICS is a very good system and I highly recommend it however, we are not recommending a generic system, we are saying that other command systems used in other parts of the world are equally valid and many of them are not based on the US system, though I think they share many of the same functions since the functions at emergencies can't vary that much. These are also tried and true systems that have been used for years. I understand the Britain has a very good one as well as some others too.

Amy Sebring: Lloyd, Edwina's question reminded me that there was another NFPA Technical Committee that was working on a standard for nursing homes. Have you heard anything about any current efforts of that committee?

Lloyd Bokman: There is the NFPA 99 Committee, which has a standard for healthcare facilities. They are working on updating their standard in the area of emergency preparedness and looking at more detailed criteria that is more specific to those facilities.


Amy Sebring: That's all we have time for today. Thank you very much Lloyd for an excellent job as usual. Please stand by a moment while we make a couple of quick announcements.

Again, the formatted transcript will be available later today. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to get notices of future sessions and availability of transcripts, just go to our home page and click on Subscribe.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We stand adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Lloyd for a fine job.