Science and technology standards have a huge impact on our lives. Technical standards keep us safe, enable technology to advance, and help businesses succeed. They quietly make the modern world tick and prevent technological problems. Inside these pages and in our registry, you will find information about standards and measurements that can enrich your educational experiences. You can also find out more about the educational opportunities we provide for students, teachers and lifelong learners. Happy exploring.
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Why do standards matter? Take fire hydrants. If you ever have had to call 911 to report a fire, you don’t have to worry about the hoses that firefighters bring when they arrive.
But that wasn’t the case in the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, which burned for more than a day and destroyed 1,500 buildings. Starting on a quiet Sunday morning, the fire spread quickly and overwhelmed the city’s ability to fight it alone. Fire companies from New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Harrisburg and elsewhere swiftly rushed in to help. They had more than enough water and people to fight the fire, but there was a problem: Most of their fire hoses wouldn’t fit the hydrants, prolonging the fire to 30 hours and damaging an area the size of 70 blocks in the city’s business district.
A NIST study found more than 600 variations in firehose fittings across the U.S. NIST worked with the National Fire Protection Association to usher in a national standard for fire hydrant connections. Thanks to this standard, firefighters from different companies could work together more easily to extinguish large fires and prevent another disaster like the 1904 Baltimore blaze.