Friday, August 19, 2011

NFPA Announces New Editions of Codes and Standards

Theatres are complex buildings, and they don't usually don't come with an Instruction Manual. You need to know what you can do, and what you can't do. And it usually helps if you can quote the authorities 'Chapter and Verse'.  This way people understand that it's not you that's being a pain in the butt, but that there really is a law, rule, or standard that defines the proper way to handle situations around the venue.

The 2012 NFPA 101 Life Safety Code has been made available for purchase on the NFPA web site:

This edition has changes that relate to egress paths, so they have used that theme on the cover design.

The 2012 NFPA 204 Standard for Smoke an Heat Venting (that smoke hatches / vents over the stage for the theatre folks) has also been updated and information can be found here:

This describes the means of operations, quantity required, and recommended inspection procedures and scheduling.

If you have a Fire Curtain (many theatres) or Fire Doors (almost all buildings), then you need to fully understand the requirements for inspecting and testing these critical devices.  The 2010 NFPA 80 Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives is the key to this part of your facility management.

This talks about door props, latches, crash bars, automatic closers, painting doors, and identifying Fire Doors.

Also of interest to many is the 2011 NFPA 70 National Electric Code which is everything you need to know, and them some, about electrical issues.  There are sections about the wire and cable we are permitted to use in the theatre environment, special requirements for dressing room lights and power receptacles, and many important items.  Product information can be found here:

The companion book for those working on electrical equipment (almost all of us, whether we should or not) is the 2012 NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.  This addresses Lock-Out-Tag-Out (LOTO) procedures, ArcFlash, working 'HOT', and many other life-threatening activities when working with electricity.

Many of the NFPA publications have companion Handbooks that are available that break-down the codes and standards into manageable concepts with great graphics and explanations describing both proper and improper conditions.

Put these books in your budget.  Each one usually has a 3 to 5 year update cycle, so setting aside the funding for each of these should be a simple task.  If you need justification for the expenditures, then ask the powers that be how you are supposed to do your job without the actual books that define the Laws you must obey and the Standards to which you should adhere.

Warning:  Reading these books may induce drowsiness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while reading them.


  1. No need to budget for NFPA standards and codes! They are FREE to view in complete unabridged digital form online at To get signed up for free viewing of standards and codes, just look up a specific code and complete a registration process. Once registered with your email address and a password, you can sign in online anytime to look at any of the NFPA standards and codes.

    Directions on how to sign up:

    *Go to
    *Click on CODES AND STANDARDS tab at top left
    *Click on "List of NFPA Codes and Standards (Document Information pages)" in left side drop-down menu.
    *Click on the Standard or Code you wish to read. (I suggest you scroll down to "NFPA 701" which applies to the flame resistance of fabrics, such as those in theatre drapes.)
    *You will then be asked to sign in to view. This is your opportunity to sign up. Fill in the requested information and you will be issued a password for your email address. You're in.

    Steve Nelson
    3dx Scenic Studio
    3dx FlameCoat
    Educational Theatre Association

  2. Steve does make a good point, you don't have to buy the code just to look at it. However, you quickly find-out that the viewable pages are well secured so you cannot copy or print them. This makes it hard to search for text. Additionally, the speed at which the pages load can be a bit slow, so it makes it difficult to flip through and use like a book.