The Metropolitan District of Quito, Ecuador, officially incorporated National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®) standards into their fire safety ordinance in 2009. That same year, the Quito Fire Department began training its approximately 90 technical fire safety personnel. Shortly after, the department realized that hiring qualified personnel trained in these unique areas was necessary for success, and in 2012 restructured its personnel and training programs. NFPA, specifically its comprehensive training programs, became instrumental in the department’s growth. These programs enable specialization within unique sectors of the industry, which empowers the Quito Fire Department and its team members to thrive. Over the past 10+ years, it stands as one of the most trusted fire departments in Ecuador, using its knowledge to train fire departments around the country.

“Our partnership with NFPA is longstanding," stated Lieutenant Colonel Esteban Cardenas Varela, Chief of the Quito Metropolitan District Fire Department. “For the 26 years I’ve been in the institution, firefighters and operations have relied on NFPA [standards] for the acquisition of equipment and personal protective clothing.” 


The technical fire safety regulations developed and instituted in 2009 established an enhanced regulatory and safety framework in three major areas: business licensing, construction, and gas systems—effectively changing how businesses and new construction would function in the city. 

To accurately implement these regulations, the Quito Fire Department began training all technical personnel on fire safety standards produced by NFPA. As an institutional policy, every two years the fire department refreshes its knowledge of the standards to ensure personnel stay up to date. 

“If someone was trained on NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection, in 2021, they will have taken NFPA 20 training again in 2023, regardless of whether the standard has been updated or not,” noted Lieutenant Colonel Varela.

When incorporating NFPA standards, the Quito Fire Department applies a preventative approach. This includes NFPA standards directly focused on fire prevention and safety, including NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems; NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®; NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®; and more. 


In recent decades, the greater Quito area experienced unprecedented growth in infrastructure, with new, taller buildings, larger shopping malls, and various service stations popping up across the community. During the initial implementation of NFPA trainings in 2009, firefighters, corporals, sergeants, and other firefighting personnel who were previously focused on firefighting shifted roles to code implementation and enforcement. The department learned quickly this was a mistake; at the time, those who were responsible for overseeing compliance did not have the appropriate technical background to adequately implement the fire safety standards. In response, in 2012 the fire prevention and safety technicians were restructured within the Quito Fire Department. 

“If you want employees to do something well, you have to specialize them in it,” Lieutenant Colonel Varela recollected—which is exactly what the department did. In 2012, the department returned firefighting personnel to their fire duties, and hired technicians from diverse backgrounds—engineers, architects, risk managers, and industrial safety professionals. According to Varela, “It’s easier for us to hire professionals and then make them firefighters at a specialist level, rather than send firefighters to study mechanical engineering in a polytechnic school, which takes more time and doesn’t guarantee good results.” 

The Quito Fire Department leveraged NFPA trainings to onboard this massive influx of technicians, bolstering the existing capabilities of each. For example, mechanical technicians would complete training (and biannual refreshers) on NFPA 20, focusing on stationary pumps. Over time, this provided the organization with effective implementation of the standard with highly trained individuals. This process allows for consistency across buildings as well. 


After over a decade, the Quito Fire Department also uses the knowledge from in-person NFPA trainings to train departments all over the country in fire prevention. Since the implementation of NFPA standards and trainings, there has been a considerable decrease in structural fires across the city of Quito. In a city of nearly 3 million inhabitants, there is an average of no more than two to three incidents per day.

“The Quito Fire Department is one of, if not the most, trusted departments—not only at the city level but at the national level,” stated Lieutenant Colonel Varela. “That trust has been gained due to the level of professionalism and knowledge of our fire prevention technicians.”

Elevating its standard practice to incorporate NFPA codes and standards has helped the Quito Fire Department maintain fire safety and prevention throughout the city. From the recognition of NFPA standards in 2009 and the reorganization of personnel in 2012, the Quito Fire Department as an institution has used NFPA trainings to further develop its understanding of codes and standards, helping it provide safety and fire prevention for its community. 

To learn more about how NFPA can help your organization transform its life safety practices, visit our NFPA Group Training page.