PIP Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you using PIP!  We hope that the below questions and answers help you understand a little more about PIP.  If you have any additional concerns or just want to say hi, please send us an email at datasolutions@nfpa.org

What is PIP?
PIP is an interactive tool designed to help AHJs evaluate and compare the risk level associated with various properties.  PIP—in its current format—asks AHJs to identify the occupancy of a property and then rank that property across six different risk factors.  PIP then uses some basic data science techniques to come up with a risk score for each property, and the website allows a user to sort their properties based on this score. 

How does PIP do what it does?
PIP, in essence, tries to replicate the inspection priorities of an experienced AHJ.  We created a training set of data based on a few thousand properties and asked a set of AHJs to assess which of those properties were most “at risk” based on the risk factors.  From that set of data, we created a data science model that tries to predict whether an AHJ would predict a property as being “at risk.” Those predictions then determine the decide “Priority Level”  for each property. A higher priority level means that our model predicted that an AHJ would be more likely to say a property is “at risk.” It’s important to note that PIP is not actually predicting whether a property will have a fire, violate a code, or face some situation. Rather, PIP tries to predict whether an AHJ would judge a property of being “at risk” of some negative event. So far, we are pretty pleased with the accuracy of the model but have numerous ideas on how it can be improved.  We can really geek out on this question, so if you want to know more please ask!

How do I use the PIP webpage?
I’m glad you asked.   Here’s a short description of the steps involved.

Registering and Logging In

  • The first thing you need to do is open up the PIP testing page at https://www.nfpapip.net is a modern web browser. It’s best suited for Google Chrome.
  • If this your first time using the tool, you have to create an account under the log in section using your www.nfpa.org profile information. If you don’t have a profile, please go to nfpa.org and create one.

Load a single property

  • Once you’ve signed in for the first time, you will be taken to “Add a Property” page that allows you to add a (you guessed it) a single property.  You’ll need the address if you want to map a property and then answer questions about the occupancy and risk factors of the building.  In the PIP world, “1” is the most risky, and “5” the least risky.
  • After filling out that property, you can either hit “Save & Add Another Property” to upload a new property or just “Save & Finish” to take you to the results “My Properties” page showing your property and its risk score.
  • If you just want to look at one property, stop here and you’re done.  You can now look around the My Properties page to see some of the functionality of PIP tool, which will be kind of boring with just one property.

Load many properties

  • You can also import multiple properties at once using the “Import (CSV)” link at the top.  That will take you to a page where you can download a preformatted excel sheet to add in the appropriate values for (right now) up to 50 properties (although that limit may change in the future).
  • Once you complete the Excel sheet, save it as a CSV file, and import it using the blue button at the bottom of the page.  Attached to the email is an example CSV file that has a few local properties already preloaded with notional data for your use.
  • Please do not close the tab while the import is in progress. It might take a while as it is scoring and mapping the property onto Google Maps.  There should be a progress bar showing how things are going if it takes a long time.
  • Once complete, you can click on the “My Properties” link at the top, where the map will show all your properties along with a table of those properties and their risk scores.  You can sort through them using the icons on the table.  You can also select and deselect different types of properties, locations, etc, using the panels at the left of the page.  You can also export the properties which in the same basic template as the import file and print the filtered results with the button below the map. (Presently print just gives you the table, but we are working on the Google Map part).

Isn’t this asking a lot from AHJ’s?
Yes, it is.  PIP in its current form requires AJHs to manually enter properties.  This implicitly assumes that an AHJ knows what properties to inspect and have some idea about their risk factors.  Those assumptions may work in some situations in the real world, but we suspect that many AHJs may not even know all of the properties there are to inspect or even have a basic understanding of the required risk factors for the buildings that they do know about.   Even if they did know all these data points, they still have to manually enter data which is kind of unrealistic for most AHJs to do across even moderately sized communities.  We hope to address some or even all of these shortcoming in the future…but we have to start somewhere!

So why use PIP now?
As it currently stands, PIP can best be used by an AHJ to help them think through the risk factors and overall risks of a small set of properties.  One way that you can think of the current version of PIP is as a decision assistance tool to help an AHJ get some more “eyes on” some properties that they already know about.

So what’s the future vision for PIP?
We want something that is scalable, easy to use, and flexible enough to fit the needs of AHJs in different communities.  What we want to do is first expand PIP to be able to automatically evaluate risks for a large number of properties by integrating it with third-party databases that contain dozens of variables of commercial (or even residential) properties in a community.  We can map these variables to PIP’s risk factors and then automatically calculate an initial (nearly) all the buildings in a AHJ’s jurisdiction. This will allow an AHJ to “triage” the risks in their community and even discover new properties.  If an AHJ wants to look into more detail at the risk of a specific building, she can manually enter more detailed information about the risk factors for that property to get a better sense of its specific risk.  Our dream is to develop different PIP tools to apply to different built environments so we can better delineate the risks in, say, an urban environment than in the WUI.