When it comes to Business Preparedness and Business Continuity, especially in the United States, I fully support the NFPA 1600 National Preparedness Standard. The reasons for this are numerous, but let me list a few.
1. It is the oldest, most updated, and thoroughly thought out planning standard you can find.
The first planning committee was formed in 1991 by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Standards Council as a “Disaster Management” Committee. The purpose was to develop preparedness, response and recovery guidelines for disasters. Several years later in 1995, the NFPA 1600 was issued as “Recommended Practice for Disaster Management.” At the time it was originally a formal statement and not a standard.
In preparation for the release of the 2000 edition of the NFPA 1600 the committee took a on a broader approach and incorporated the elements of three related fields: Disaster Management, Emergency Management, and Business Continuity. Activities are included to incorporate planning (or pre-planning) before and after a disaster and include mitigation activities in an effort to protect life and property.
In 1996 both the BCI (Business Continuity Institute) and DRII (Disaster Recovery Institute International) were asked to participate in the standards creation process. Adding business continuity professionals from both organizations resulted in the inclusion of elements from the professional practices of both groups and consistent with DRII’s Business Continuity Planning Model.
2. Incorporating the elements of disaster management, emergency management and business continuity, as well as other NFPA standards it is the most comprehensive standard.
The NFPA 1600 covers more than just business continuity and includes disaster management and emergency management.
Though the original focus might have been to establish a standard for emergency managers, the standard naturally expanded to include other elements of business continuity and is an excellent source not just for emergency managers and planners but business continuity professionals as well.
Also, as a release from the NFPA, the standard also conforms to other NFPA standards such as the NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code, and the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code, as well as other pertinent codes.
3. The NFPA is truly an international body and the codes and standards are internationally recognized and are not just for the United States, Firefighters and Emergency Managers.
Though the NFPA is called the National Fire Protection Association, it is really an international body (nonprofit) that develops codes and standards that are internationally recognized. The membership consists of 60,000 plus members worldwide and less than a quarter of those members are from fire departments.
The mission of the NFPA is to “reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.”
They have developed through a consensus standards development process approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The NFPA develops standards that are routinely adopted by state and local lawmakers for building, life safety, and electrical standards.
4. The Standard was formally recognized by the 9/11 Commission.
The 9/11 Commission Report recommends and endorses the implementation the ANSI recommendation on implementing the American National Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs (NFPA 1600).
5. DHS, FEMA, PSPrep, and Ready Support the NFPA 1600.
Though several standards are listed and recognized by PSPrep publically the literature that FEMA and Ready.gov provide to the public openly mention conformity to NFPA 1600.
6. Supporting documentation for the NFPA 1600 is strong and as comprehensive as the standard itself.
The NFPA 1600 standard is supported with a publication called Implementing NFPA 1600 National Disaster Preparedness Standard. This book is available through the NFPA and includes comprehensive analysis and documentation, including supporting templates conforming to the implementation of the standard.
7. Since the NFPA 1600 Standard is more comprehensive, implementing another standard such as ISO 22301 falls far short in compliance within the United States.
Here is just a brief list of what is covered by the NFPA 1600 that is not included in ISO 22301:
- 4.3 Program Committee – there is no such requirement in ISO 22301
- 5.2 Risk Assessment – The requirements are much more precise than in ISO 22301
- 18.104.22.168 Emergency Operations Centers (EOC’s) – Does not exist in ISO 22301
In addition NFPA covers in much more detail and provide more comprehensive structure for the following:
- 4.6 Finance and Administration
- 5.4.2 Resource needs assessment
- 6.7.7 Resource management
- 6.7.8 Incident management
- 6.10 Employee Assistance and Support
- 8.3 Design of Exercises and Tests
Overall it should be clear why you should implement NFPA 1600 if you are a business with operations in the United States. If you have questions about this or on what standard you should implement feel free to ask us via the comment section or call 877-565-8324
 9/11 Commission Report – Private Sector Preparedness – Recommendation – pages 397 – 398.