NASA’s Fire Protection Working Group has been around for years, but it recently held its first formal meeting. From June 25-27, representatives from all 10 NASA centers met at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to discuss fire protection requirements.
“We’ve been meeting informally for a long time and it’s always been effective, but the formality of this year’s meeting really elevated it,” commented Jerry Piasecki, acting director of the Technical Excellence Office (TEO) at the NASA Safety Center (NSC) and active member of the group. “A lot of members have been commenting on how valuable our latest meeting was.”
At this year’s meeting, the group discussed common fire protection issues seen at the centers as well as changes to NASA Standard 8719.11, Safety Standard for Fire Protection. The group examined the standard section by section and took formal votes on all recommended changes. One major goal of the review was to condense the standard by removing all redundancies; this included removing requirements covered in other standards, such as those by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Members Attending Daily Sessions
Members paid special attention to the section on Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) qualifications. Previously, the language was vague and failed to outline any specific requirements for people holding this position. The group decided that it would be beneficial to update the standard to incorporate a minimum set of qualifications for AHJs.
In order to determine the qualifications, members identified all the competencies needed to do the job. Then, they looked at existing certifications and considered years of on-the-job experience. The result was a tiered set of minimum requirements, with each level combining experience, certifications and other qualifications. Currently, the group is advocating for funding to support continued education for AHJs that will not only help them meet the requirements, but also keep each member up-to-date on the latest available information.
The group continues to meet virtually to hammer out the details of the proposed changes, which it plans to submit to NODIS this October.
The Fire Protection Coordinators Group, the working group’s informal predecessor, was formed more than 15 years ago to foster community building and collaboration. NASA's new Fire Protection Working Group — chaired by Gerry Schumann, institutional safety program manager at NASA Headquarters’ Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) — works with Institutional, Facility and Operational (IFO) safety auditors to evaluate and address common audit findings, and to consult on their causes and potential solutions.
NASA's Fire Protection Working Group