24 / 10 / 2022 / Standards

What are NFPA Standards and How are They Different to UNE or EN Standards?

NFPA standards are increasingly used in European fire protection frameworks. In this article, we will explain what the NFPA is, why it is being applied outside the USA and why, in some cases, it may be appropriate to apply its standards instead of European ones.

? What is the NFPA?

NFPA stands for National Fire Protection Association.

It is a global organization that was founded in 1896 and whose goal is to spread information and knowledge to protect people, property and the environment from fire.

To carry out its work, it has developed a series of codes and standards known as the NFPA Standards, which have become an international benchmark in fire protection.

Use of NFPA Standards in Europe and Latin America

Although Europe has its own fire protection standards, it is increasingly common for NFPA standards to be used in certain areas to make certain measures more feasible.

Similarly, many countries in Latin America are adopting NFPA standards due to the large number of fires that are occurring there, many of them involving deaths and the majority resulting in considerable damage to property.

? NFPA Codes and Standards

The NFPA has developed an extensive list of hundreds of standards related to fire safety, each of them applied to a different aspect.

For example, NFPA 30 concerns the storage, handling and use of flammable liquids and fuels; NFPA 130 is intended for fixed rail transit systems and passenger rail transportation systems, whether surface, underground, or elevated; and the NFPA 20 manual applies to stationary fire pumps and standpipe systems.

What is NFPA 704 and What do its Colors Mean?

NFPA 704 is a standard that classifies materials according to the danger they represent in different aspects. It consists of a diamond with four colors: blue, red, yellow and white.

  • The color blue indicates the health threat that a material may pose.
  • The color red indicates the danger of flammability.
  • The color yellow indicates the danger due to instability that a material may pose.
  • The color white indicates other hazards, depending on the symbol used. As examples of the type of warnings that the color white may indicate—each represented by a specific symbol—, we could mention oxidation, corrosiveness or radioactivity.

? Differences Between UNE-EN Standards and those of the NFPA

The differences between UNE-EN Standards and those of the NFPA depend on the area in which they are to be applied. Therefore, to determine which of the standards is better in each case, we must take into account their specific scope of application. For example, when applied to fire doors, the UNE-EN Standards are more demanding than those of the NFPA.

In some cases, the NFPA standards are more applicable and regulate a range of circumstances that have not been covered by the European standards.

Why Choose NFPA Standards for the Design of Fire Protection Systems?

The European regulations often do not consider some of the risks that are regulated in NFPA Standards.

When installing sprinklers, Fire Protection Technicians are regularly confronted with designs that would be highly impractical following the UNE EN 12845 Standard. However, given the diversity of risks included in NFPA 13, these designs become workable if they are implemented according to this Standard.

The experience and the number of tests that have been carried out to implement NFPA Standards mean they are often more complete and allow for more efficient design.