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NFPA handbooks are helpful resources which aid the user in understanding the intent behind the code or standard’s requirements, along with colorful diagrams and photos, case studies, calculation tables, and much more.

Ever wonder what the difference is between an NFPA® handbook and a code or standard? We’re glad you asked.

NFPA codes and standards both provide requirements for achieving outcomes. Handbooks take a deeper dive, providing the full text of a code or standard as well as expert commentary and features such as graphics, decision trees, testing procedures, case studies, sample forms and checklists, and other helpful aids to give a better understanding of the reasoning behind the requirements and how to apply them.


  • A code or standard is a framework—a set of rules to follow with a goal to achieve a certain result
  • A handbook is a connector—linking requirements to application by helping you understand the reasoning behind a code or standard

The simplest way to think about it is that codes and standards list the technical requirements while handbooks explain those requirements to clarify how to apply them.




Hear from Kristin Bigda, P.E., NFPA’s Principal Engineer, and Co-Editor of the NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code® Handbook, about the benefits and features of the 2018 edition.