Shanna Groves wrote a very thorough article on NFPA 232 that gave a
good representation of what had happened over the 1999 - 2002 time
period of Standard, Revision and Revised Standard. It left off with
compartmentation being in question.
But as Paul Harvey likes to say "Now you know the rest of the story."
Here is what the article does not let you know.
In a consensus Standard a Technical Committee works over a period of
meetings, days and years to develop a consensus of its membership. NFPA
232's TC also worked to do this. In a series of six meeting
compromises were made to try to arrive at a compromise.
In the majority of NFPA's committees (not all) they reach consensus,
and the Letter Ballot follows along those lines and then NFPA at the
annual meeting vote to confirm the work of the committee. But in the
NFPA 232 ballot, many last minute add ons to the Committee all sided
with one side. A stacking of the Committee that caused the Chair and
several members of the Committee to complain to NFPA.
In fact, the 11-7 vote which was common on each vote in the committee
room turned out to be 12-12 on the letter Ballot. Truly an amazing
development and a shock for many on the Committee and for NFPA no
doubt. Compartmentation would be out of the Standard if NFPA approved
the last minute change in voting action.
But in a surprise to the forces organized against "compartmentation of
records" NFPA accepted a motion to reinstate compartmentation at the
levels the committee designed. The quote that stunned the floor was
when Diane Carlisle rose to the microphone and told the 150 or so fire
protection engineers that ARMA with 10,000 organizations with records
managers support this improved Standard with compartmentation of
250,000 in the requirements. At 11:35 AM on November 20th in Atlanta,
Georgia ARMA was center stage and you would have been proud to be
there. You would have been proud to be a records manager. This Standard
which recognizes you as "The Responsible Party" now recognized your
right to demand the level of security your records should be provided.
Another key factor is that some independent records storage vendors,
many of them members of ARMA, spoke out to NFPA stating that complying
with the Standard was not difficult for many of the records storage
companies, that they market their business as being a records
protection function and as such should offer the clients choices.
Some continually harp on the issue that 250,000 cubic feet of records
volume in one bay is arbitrary and capricious but when pressed to state
what size would be acceptable no compromise could be reached because
those against compartmentation would accept no compromise. In all their
arguments have you heard one counter proposal on size?? What about
350,000 or 400,000?
Also the Standards Committee tried several times to opt commercial
records centers out by allowing them to be protected under NFPA 230 but
they did not want even meet bulk storage standard.
At the last meeting we offered another new compromise and it was voted
in. A records center could opt out by merely claiming to be an
"Uncompartmented records center." All we asked for was "Truth in
Advertising" but this too was voted out on their stacked ballot.
Since 2000 some independent records storage vendors have taken the step
to meet the Standard so that they can capitalize on this. More will
follow this year. Risk will be reduced. In an uncertain world, a good
thing has happened. Records are being treated with more respect and
protection. Andersen and Enron have taught Wall Street a lesson. Do you
hear any wailing from Wall Street about this increased level of
protection and the minimal cost increases? Protecting records is a good
thing in Corporate America now!
Fire walls are a inherent competitive advantage for smaller, local
records centers. The number of new entrants is continually increasing
and they bring with them the new compartmentation and they bring
competition. Where are all the huge increases in rates that were
forecast in 2000?? Rates are more competitive than ever. The small
companies offer great rates and protection to offset the fact that they
cannot be in 200 cities. Large corporate clients presented with
continual new competition use this to negotiate better rates for their
Everything about offsite records storage is getting better. Lower risk!
Heightened security procedures! And best of all, management is now
finally aware of records management and that protecting records is
important if they want to stay out of handcuffs. NFPA 232 is a Standard
for Protecting Records and has records managers and CRM's at the core
of the Committee. They have done an excellent job on creating this new
level of security. So in addition to the Presidential Records access,
we now have ARMA as a headliner on records protection. You should make
legal, audit and your CEO know what is going on here. ARMA members
take a bow!!
But if you really want to make your voice heard send some of these
people at NFPA 232 an email telling them which way you feel about NFPA
232 and ask that they refer your sentiments to the NFPA Board of
Trustees. These people below are really all about fire protection and
they need to hear applause as they fight this fight every day.
"Hague, David" <[log in to unmask]>, "Bielen, Rich" <[log in to unmask]>,
"Grant, Casey" <[log in to unmask]>, "Nisbet, Leona" <[log in to unmask]>
If you really care, ask to be included in the committee. We need a few
more well respected records managers and records consultants on this
committee to balance the voice NFPA hears. Diane, Larry Medina and Bill
Benedon can't keep on without some fresh troops.
All opinions on this issue are mine alone.
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