NFPA program ensures documents are real deal

New authenticity stamp gives assurance digital copies of NFPA codes and standards have not been altered
 - 
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

QUINCY, Mass.—Installers putting in a fire alarm system know that lives and property—and their own business reputations—depend on their getting it right. But they can’t do that if the documents they rely on for codes and standards are wrong.

Ensuring the integrity of those documents is why the National Fire Protection Association, based here, recently launched the NFPA Authenticity Program. The program provides users with the assurance that digital copies of NFPA codes and standards have not been altered.

With the new program, whoever buys a document from the NFPA can be assured that “the document they're working off of is complete, accurate and up to date,” said Christian Dubay, NFPA vice president of codes and standards and chief engineer.

When installers are out in the field, he told Security Systems News, they now “can have confidence, if they followed the standard, that when they’re being reviewed, they did it right and there’s no surprise at the end.”

The NFPA announced the launch of the authenticity program on March 27 and said it was “developed in response to growing concerns about maliciously altered, counterfeit or unauthorized copies of NFPA digital documents. Now, with this program, users can assure themselves that they have authentic materials by downloading them only from NFPA.org or its authorized resellers and by always finding and clicking on the authenticity stamp on any NFPA document they plan to use.”

Dubay said the technical committees responsible for developing the standards do so to ensure public safety.

“They produce a packet of information that they believe is a complete set of requirements and so that’s our first concern,” Dubay told SSN. “We want to make sure that if a person is going to apply that standard to a situation to protect property, to protect life … that they have everything that the committee intends them to have in front of them.”

With unauthorized copies, an installer could be looking at documents that are incomplete, missing paragraphs or pages, Dubay said. “You could miss … a significant requirement or more that could impact safety,” he said.

The NFPA explained in a news release how the program works. The authenticity stamp “contains a customer’s identification number, and is a live link to a verification database that includes NFPA documents in this program. By clicking the link, a verification process will begin, redirecting the user to a website that displays customer and code information. If the document does not have the authenticity stamp, or if any of the information is incorrect, or there is no link to www.nfpa.org, the downloaded document is unauthorized and may be inaccurate. Use of that digital code or standard should be discontinued and NFPA’s customer service department should be contacted to report the problem and get help in obtaining genuine NFPA codes and standards.”

For more than 10 years, the NFPA has provided all of its standards online but in a read-only format, Dubay said. Copies must be purchased from the NFPA or authorized resellers.

However, Dubay said, “we were seeing more and more and more copies of our standards online that were not NFPA copies. That became a concern and we wanted to provide a mechanism to our customers and users of our standards so that they knew the document that they had in front of them was the complete and accurate standard the NFPA intended.”

For more information about the NFPA Authenticity Program, visit www.nfpa.org/authenticate