Business continuity is an offshoot of premises security guidelines. Here an AT&T employee dons a hazmat suit, as the company hosted exercises at its corporate headquarters to test and evaluate how well the company can respond to natural or man-made disasters. Photo courtesy: PRNewsFoto
After years of deliberations, sometimes difficult, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issued NFPA 730 “Guide for Premises Security” and NFPA 731 “Standard for the Installation of Electronic Premises Security Systems” at its June meeting. As an indication of the controversies, Premises Security Committee members changed the original NFPA 730 “Standard on Premises Security” to a Guide to reduce criticism from the security industry and to facilitate consensus.

After a tragedy such as the 2003 fire at the Cook County Building in Chicago, government officials revisit fire code exceptions made in the past. New building standards and code are published and as usual property owners are given exceptions and extended deadlines to comply with new code. However, the bottom line is that guidelines and standards adopted by government and the insurance industry are good for property owners and the public in the long run.

Argument for NFPA 730

We have to start somewhere. No current standard setting organization has provided an overall guide or standard encompassing all of the recommendations from such standards and industry organizations as ANSI, ASHRE, ASIS, CDC, DOJ, NIOSH, OSHA, etc. NFPA guidelines and standards are living documents subject to change as improvements in technology and procedures are refined.

The NFPA standards adoption process allows for interested persons to comment on the standard/guideline by submitting proposals for consideration. The NFPA method of standard/guideline development allows for disparate interests to voice concerns and impact the final document. Further NFPA reviews standard/guideline on a regular basis to keep the guideline or code current.

Argument against NFPA 730

The NFPA 730 Guide is loosely based on DOJ, OSHA and military publications, and may not be applicable to the private sector. Premises Security Committee members have a vested interest in the adoption of security standards.

A minority of committee members represented end users and the security industry.

Security plans can include traditional and new technology. For example, emergency exit lighting from two Connecticut companies, SARGENT and E-Lite Technologies, illuminates a path to safety with a green-blue light highly visible even in a dark, smoke filled room, hallway or stairwell. Photo courtesy: PRNewsFoto

Assessment of NFPA 730 Guide

Much of the guide is dedicated to physical security. One chapter on security vulnerability assessment is very limited, listing seven steps of a vulnerability assessment. Another chapter on security planning is limited to an outline of what a plan should include. A number of chapters describe security guideline needs at twelve different facility types.

NFPA 730 Guide for Premises Security does a good job covering physical security and policy from the 10,000 foot level. However it does not address specific issues in detail such as vulnerability assessments and security planning. As NFPA 730 is updated and expanded, it will become the standard that security, facility and enforcement authorities can use to improve security operations. The insurance industry now has a guide to use when assessing existing or planned protective measures to mitigate loss at a facility.

Ten facilities are in 730, ranging from hotels and industrial to healthcare and retail. Also covered: parking and special events. Chapters for each facility cover a security plan, vulnerability assessment, polices/procedures, physical security, access control, key control and employment practices. Complete details of NFPA 730 and 731 are at or at

Over time, it is this author’s belief that the security industry will accept NFPA 730 because it leaves security planning and vulnerability assessments to the security profession to address. Qualified security practitioners will continue to conduct security assessments and develop security plans based on a specific industry or company profile. It is only a matter of time until NFPA 730 becomes a standard either officially or by default as the security industry adopts the guide as accepted practices.