February 5, 2020
The National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Board of Directors recently appointed UL’s Principal Engineer of Energy Power Technologies John Kovacik to its NFPA Standards Council. Before Kovacik’s nomination, UL’s Kerry Bell, principal engineer with UL’s Building and Life Safety Technologies, served on the council for 15 years, including six years as chair.
According to Kovacik, UL has maintained continuous participation on the council for as long as he can remember. “It’s an honor that the NFPA considers UL to be a very important participant in the committee,” he said. “I’m thrilled to continue the tradition of having someone from UL participate in the NFPA Standards Council.”
Council members work closely with the NFPA to help foster electric and fire safety. Members typically come from manufacturing, insurance companies, governmental bodies and inspection bodies, i.e., code authorities.
Serving as the gatekeeper for NFPA standards and codes, council members are responsible for publishing all the codes and standards developed by the various committees working under the authority of the council. An important part of the council’s job is to make sure its codes and standards are written fairly, and that they are not unduly influenced by any one organization or individual.
“NFPA codes and standards are voluntary,” Kovacik said. “In order to be used by industry, the organization has to make sure the documents are a fair representation of the NFPA, meaning reasonable, relevant and equitable.”
The council also adjudicates appeals and challenges to any NFPA standards or codes that are in the process of being developed.
“There are always challenges by organizations with different parts of the documents up for adoption,” Kovacik said. “For example, a provision might create an economic hardship for an industry. The council is very aware of those situations and does its best to avoid them.”
The council meets face-to-face three times a year with council sessions, Kovacik said, and typically lasts two to three days. The next meeting will be held around April 1. Meanwhile, Kovacik, a member of the William Henry Merrill Society and the NEC Correlating Committee, will be undergoing NFPA Council training.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what challenges I’ll be faced with,” Kovacik said. “It’s an exciting time for me because I’ll be able to contribute at the highest level of NFPA’s codes and standards development process. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a representative from UL and to continue the good work of UL representatives before me.”
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