The National Fire Protection Association
NFPA-780 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems
is the de facto lightning protection document in the USA. Special interest groups seeking to force scientifically unsubstantiated air terminals into NFPA-780 have coerced under threat of litigation the NFPA Standards Council to withhold the Version 2000 Upgrade of NFPA-780. This present state of paralysis exists despite membership approval of the Version 2000 Upgrade in accord with all the NFPA by-laws. More recently the Standards Council publicized its intent to (perhaps) withdraw NFPA-780 entirely.
As a consensus document NFPA-780 represents minimum protection standards and contains some errors and omissions. The purpose of this paper is to discuss some of the NFPA-780 (1997) shortcomings and to summarize other lightning protection documents already peer-reviewed and in the literature. These alternative lightning protection guidelines may assist the specifying architect and engineer.