NFPA 160

Since it’s inception, NAFAA has tried to bring some kind of respectability to the fire arts and favorable legal attention. Part of the problem was always that few places had even heard of fire arts, let alone had any kind of regulations for them. There are no national regulations, though the closest to them would be the NFPA codes, specifically the 160 codes.

The unfortunate part of the 160s is that the bulk of them are focused at Propane flame effect installations in amusement parks and carnivals. There’s a tiny section on “handheld torches” that has had to suffice for regulating fire performers. Naturally It left a lot up to the unfortunately ignorant Fire Marshalls on duty.

NAFAA tried to patch this problem by developing it’s regs. Well, to be fair, we started by trying to build one big super-regs by gathering all the regs we could find then have one set of codes people could follow to be legal everywhere. That didn’t work. The very first two sets of codes we gathered had directly conflicting lines.

So we switched to making a set of codes that addressed the concerns fire marshals had, but in ways that were cost efficient for travelling buskers. That worked. And over the years we tapped more departments, more officials, more performers, more venues and started really zeroing in on their concerns. We thought our version 3 codes were pretty much the end of it.

Then about a year ago, NAFAA councilman Tedward got offered a position on the NFPA Flame Effects Technical committee, the folks that write the 160 and 1126 codes. Unfortunately, his sponsor died a week later, so contact with the group mostly ended. …Until mid October of 2018.

Tedward got a mass notice to join in the first draft revision of the rules. This meeting was well organized and allowed for remote attendance. To avoid a lot of dry meeting notes, the Tech committee decided to add an entire chapter in the 160 codes, specifically for fire performers.

This is where the membership will come in. We’d like to hear you opinion on our next step. We have basically 3 choices:
1) Get out of it. Back out and don’t help with the chapter. This will mean we’d have to leave things up to TC members that admittedly don’t know much about the fire arts. While this might keep things from getting “over regulated”, it may also allow them to impose a lot of unnecessary rules. For the record the council has voted against this.
2) Insert a link. We can keep the Nafaa 3 codes as they are and just have them insert a link to the latest set of our codes. This gives us great speed to change them when new topics, tools and trades pop up. It could also, however, lead to them ignoring the link and going back to #1
3) Finally, embedding the codes, wholecloth, into the 160s. This would mean, at the very least, renumbering and rewording to meet the NFPA style guidelines. It puts our long fought codes into the hands of the NFPA, and any changes we want to make to them would have to be on their 4 year schedule. However, there would be no question about fire performance being separate from propane devices and no question about the authority of the regs.

We have done the required changes to the regs to submit them for draft approval.  These include a complet renumbering and some minor grammatical changes.  Sections that conflict with standing NFPA code have been removed and annotated for the standing code.  At the second draft meeting in Feb 2019, there may be changes to them for implementation to the final draft.  We will be sending these changes to the membership for comment and voting.

The submitted draft has been posted to the regs page for review.

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