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Standards & Codes: Home

Why standards are needed

Standards make life safer!

On Feb., 7, 1904 a major fire erupted in Baltimore.  A number of fire departments were called in from Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, and other, smaller cities. 

"... Likewise, the lack of standard couplings for fire hoses contributed to much of the damage from a fire that destroyed 140 acres of downtown Baltimore in 1904. When fire fighters from more than a dozen other cities arrived to help fight the conflagration, some units found that they could not attach their hoses to the Baltimore hydrant"  (p 321 "Standards-Making Organizations and the Rationalization of American Life" The Sociological Quarterly Vol. 34, No. 2, May, 1993)

Twenty seven years later a similiar situation occured in Fall River, Massachusetts and because there had been standardization of fire-fight equipment, the 20 neighboring towns that helped to save Fall River, all the equipment worked interchangeably and the city was saved. - (p. 60, Speaking of Standards edited by Rowen Glie)

Standards make life easier!

Railroad tracks are a good example.  At one time, each rail system had their own width of track.  By standardizing track width, cars can move from one system to another.

Identifying a color is an example of how a standard can work. How do you describe a color and what do you mean by, say, sea foam?  There are several systems.  The Pantone system is designed to identify, match and communicate colors to solve the problems associated with producing accurate color matches in the graphic arts community. It is the definitive international reference for selecting, specifying, matching and controlling colors.  By using a standard system, people will know exactly what color you are referring to.


Code - official set of laws or regulations (Dictionary of Law, 3rd ed., Peter Collin Publishing)

Law - body of rules, whether proceeding from formal enactment or from custom, which a particular state or community recognizes as binding on its members or subjects ("law, n.1". OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. (accessed August 30, 2011).

Regulation - a rule or order issued by an executive authority or regulatory agency of a government and having the force of law (Merriam's Webster's Dictionary (accessed Sept. 8, 2011)

Rule - regulation or bylaw governing procedure or controlling conduct (Merriam Webster's Dictionary Sept. 8, 2011)

Standard - Simply put, a standard is a documented agreement, established by a consensus of subject matter experts and approved by a recognized body, that provides rules, guidelines or characteristics to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. (ANSI definition)

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