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Celebrating Larry’s NFPA Technical Committee Service Award for his 30+ Years of Outstanding Service!

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PLC Fire Safety Engineering (PLC) is delighted to recognize the accomplishments of Larry Keeping, our Senior Technical Engineer. Larry was honoured with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Committee Service Award for his outstanding participation in the NFPA Technical Committees.   The Standards Council recognized Larry’s 30-plus years of contributions to NFPA’s Codes and Standards by presenting him with the award at the June 2024 NFPA Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida.

Larry Keeping recognized with the Committee Service Award at the June 2024 NFPA Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida.

PLC is proud of Larry’s many achievements and his dedication to our industry. With over 50 years of experience, Larry has made significant contributions to the field of fire safety engineering. This award is a testament to his hard work and commitment, and his recognition by the NFPA underscores the high standards he upholds and the impact he has made. We are honoured to have Larry on our PLC team and look forward to his continued excellence and leadership in the industry.

Questions and Answers with Larry Keeping

In the following section, Larry Keeping, shares insights about his extensive 50+ years experience in fire protection engineering and his involvement with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Through his responses, Larry delves into his journey, challenges, and achievements within the field, offering a unique perspective on what it takes to excel in this industry.

1. How long have you been working in the fire protection industry?

I’ve been involved since June 1973, so last year was my 50th year in the fire protection industry.

2. What led you to specialize in Fire Protection Engineering – specifically Sprinkler systems?

I started in fire protection right after university. I answered a sprinkler contractor’s (Vipond) ad in the newspaper for a “sprinkler designer,” even though I wasn’t sure how a sprinkler worked or even what one looked like.

3. When did you join PLC, and how long have you been involved with the NFPA?

I joined PLC in April of 2012, I’ve been involved with the NFPA since the mid-1970s.

4. What inspired you to start working with the NFPA and contribute to the NFPA Standard?

I got involved with NFPA processes fairly early in my career. I was introduced to it by our chief engineer, who was the Task Group Chair of Chapter 4 of NFPA 13 for several years. He used to keep us informed of upcoming changes to the standard, etc. With his encouragement, I wrote my first Formal Interpretation to NFPA in the mid-1970s, following a discussion we had about in-rack sprinklers when we couldn’t agree on how to proceed.

5. What does receiving this award from the NFPA mean to you personally and professionally?

In the late 1980s, I was appointed to the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association (CASA) Technical Committee, and CASA nominated me to represent them on NFPA 25 shortly after the first (1992) edition of that standard came out. Later, CASA selected me to serve on the NFPA 13 Technical Committee in about 1997 +/-. At that time, the work was restructured to have five committees on the Sprinkler Project, so I was able to join two of them – the Installation Committee and the Discharge Committee. Following my exit from Vipond, when I was no longer a member of CASA, I reapplied and was accepted back on those committees as a Special Expert. Subsequently, I was also accepted to serve as an alternate on NFPA 24, and when my Principal Member retired, I moved up to take his place.

6. Can you describe some of the significant changes or updates you’ve helped implement in the NFPA Standard?

I believe I got the award because I have been active on NFPA Technical Committees for 30 years. I found the experience somewhat humbling, though, because some folks who received awards at the same time had participated in a lot more serious activities than I have.

I have participated in the development of the ‘95, ‘98, ’02,’08, ’11, ’14, ’17, ’20 & ’23 editions of NFPA 25, the Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. And currently, the ’26 edition is under development.

I have participated in the development of the ’99, ’02, ’07, ’10, ‘13, ‘16, ’19 and ’22 editions of NFPA 13, The Standard for the Installation of Automatic Sprinkler Systems. And the forthcoming ’25 edition was just voted on at the recent meeting.

I have participated in the development of the ’16, ’19; ’22 and ’25 editions of NFPA 24, Standard for the Installation of Private Fire Service Mains and Their Appurtenances and of NFPA 291, Recommended Practice for Fire Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants.

7. How do you stay current with the latest developments and innovations in fire protection to ensure the standards remain relevant?

I find that one of the greatest things about serving on NFPA committees is that I am informed early on of new technologies/advancements in the industry. It is fairly easy to stay current, following our discussions on those subjects.

8. What has been the most challenging aspect of working on the NFPA Standard, and how did you overcome it?

The greatest challenge to working on NFPA technical committees is finding the time to fully prepare for the meetings. The whole process is voluntary, so it usually gets done after regular work hours, after family obligations, etc.

9. Can you share a memorable experience or achievement from your time working on the NFPA Standard

The greatest satisfaction in working on the Technical Committees is knowing that my small contributions are leading to a more fire-safe world. Truthfully, that is the greatest satisfaction from my day-to-day work activities too. My most memorable experiences have been meeting so many of the legends in the industry who also serve on the same Technical Committees. Being recognized as a peer to those very special people is really gratifying.

10. How do you see the future of fire protection evolving, and what role will the NFPA Standards play in that future?

Currently, the NFPA standards are generally only followed in North America, but steps have been put in place recently to introduce them throughout the world, which can only be a positive fire prevention step.

11. What advice would you give to someone looking to get involved in writing or updating safety standards?

My advice for getting involved in the process is to volunteer, be invested, and participate to the best of your ability.

12. Can you discuss the collaborative process involved in updating the NFPA Standard and working with other experts and stakeholders?

The NFPA system is based on volunteerism and consensus. The committee members are selected based on a balance of industry representatives (i.e. owners, authorities having jurisdiction, contractors, fire protection agencies, special experts, etc.) who have diverse interests. While not everyone will agree on every motion, by achieving a consensus of opinions, the best possible documents can be prepared.

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