Headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts, The National Fire Protection Association is an organization charged with creating and maintaining minimum standards and requirements for fire prevention and suppression activities, training, and equipment, as well as other life-safety codes and standards, including everything from building codes to the personal protective equipment utilized by firefighters.
The NFPA oversees the development and maintenance of over 300 codes and standards. A cadre of over 6000 volunteers representing the fire service, insurance, business, industry, government, and consumers develops these documents. Many state, local, and national governments incorporate the standards and codes developed by the Association into their own law either verbatim, or with only minor modifications. Even when not written into law, the Association's standards and codes are typically accepted as a professional standard, and are recognized by many courts as such. This widespread acceptance is a testament to the broad representation and input received on all the NFPA's projects.
The NFPA was formed in 1896 by a group of insurance firm representatives with the stated purpose of standardizing the new and burgeoning market of fire sprinkler systems. The scope of the NFPA's influence grew from sprinklers to include building electrical systems, and then all aspects of building design and construction.
Its original membership consisted of, and was limited to, insurance underwriting firms. There was little representation from the industries the NFPA sought to regulate. This changed in 1904 to allow other industries and individuals to participate actively in the development of the standards promulgated by the NFPA. The first fire department to be represented in the NFPA was the New York City Fire Department in 1905. Today, the NFPA includes representatives from many fire departments, insurance companies, manufacturing associations, unions, individuals and trade organizations.