A Quick Introduction to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
The NFPA is a global organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. The association delivers information and knowledge through more than 300 consensus codes and standards.
There are two NFPA documents which may apply to your application – NFPA 5000: Building Construction and Safety Code and NFPA 101: Life Safety Code. NFPA 5000 was published in 2000 as an alternative to the I Codes. For the most part, it has not been adopted. However, provisions relating to handrail clearance that are different from other codes and standards have been incorporated into NFPA 101.
NFPA 101: Life Safety Code provides requirements that limit the effects of fire and related hazards. It is most likely to apply to handrail along a fire exit or fire stairs but is not applied in all instances (e.g. California does not use NFPA 101).
The NFPA is overseen and enforced by local fire marshals – not the building inspector. An installation may be approved by an inspector but rejected by the fire inspector. Always confirm requirements prior to installation. All NFPA codes may be viewed on-line for free.