As you may have seen in last week's HFM Insider, the 2020 NFPA Technical Meeting is underway (with virtual debate available now on motions made to NFPA 101 and NFPA 99, and voting to open the week of June 22). Fortunately, there aren’t any major issues up for a vote that would negatively affect health care facilities. This is great news for our field, but it doesn’t mean that we should skip voting this year. It is still critical to cast your ballot to demonstrate that the health care community is actively engaged in the code development process.

First, a brief background about why you won’t be seeing a lot of controversial items up for a vote next week. ASHE’s advocacy team – which includes ASHE staff members as well as dozens of volunteers who work with ASHE to represent health care on various code development committees – works hard to shape code proposals as they are drafted. As proposals move through the code development process, ASHE’s advocacy team identifies those that would harm health care facilities or add unnecessarily to the regulatory burden hospitals face.

When these issues arise, the team works within technical committees to explain how health care operates, change proposals and resolve issues. It’s tough, sometimes tedious work to sort through hundreds of proposals and analyze their effects on health care, but it’s an important part of ASHE’s mission to optimize the health care physical environment. While an NFPA ballot without any hot-button issues might seem a bit boring to some, it’s a great win  for the dedicated men and women working throughout the process to help create appropriate regulations for our field.

This year, there are just a few motions up for a vote that will affect health care, although these are not major issues. The ASHE advocacy team has identified three motions that you should vote on.

But why bother voting if there isn’t much at stake this year? Participating in these votes is similar to our civic duty to vote in political elections, even if we don’t find a candidate we are particularly passionate about. Consider voting on the codes to be your duty to the health care community. The code development process incorporates the opinions of many to reach consensus on regulations, but the process doesn’t work well if people don’t share their opinions by voting. As members of the health care community, we have an obligation to make our voices heard. The codes passed today will be governing our facilities for years into the future.

ASHE has provided a recap of the three changes affecting health care that will be up for vote the week of June 22. For more information on the motions or how to vote online, visit the ASHE website. And once you’ve voted at this year’s Technical Meeting, be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s NFPA Technical Meeting in June 24 and 25 in Las Vegas.