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Summer is a busy time at NFPA.  This year, the Building and Life Safety Systems Department has been preparing for and staffing NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, First Draft meetings in Minneapolis; I am off to another week of NFPA 101 meetings this Sunday.  In addition, the Fire Code Technical Committee will hold their First Draft meeting this September working towards the development of the 2021 edition. 


While I am preparing in the office, a lot of students are preparing to head back to college, maybe on their way for the first time and have lots of preparation to do themselves including the ever-important shopping for dorm room décor; posters, strings of lights, wall hangings, and new furniture.  It’s important to understand the fire safety requirements that colleges and universities must abide by and the various roles that students, building managers as well as fire inspectors play in enforcing these regulations and keeping students safe.


campus safety


Here I will discuss the requirements specific to dormitories, where it’s most common for violations to occur related to furnishings and decorations.  However, it is important to remember that college campuses contain a number of different occupancies such as business, assembly, and even industrial and the requirements for those occupancies may vary. Generally, the occupancies that do regulate furnishings and contents involve occupants who are non-ambulatory, who are otherwise restrained or detained, or who are asleep, such as dormitories.


      NFPA 1 regulates furnishings and contents in dormitories in Section 20.8.  The requirements are primarily extracted from NFPA 101 and are as follows: 

  • New curtains and other similar loosely hanging furnishings and decorations must meet the flame propagation performance criteria from Test Method 1 or Test Method 2 of NFPA 701.  Hanging thin tapestries is a common decoration in dormitories. The testing requirements of NFPA 701 measure the level of hazard posed by draperies and other loosely hanging fabrics and films.
  • Newly introduced upholstered furniture must be tested to ASTM E1537 and demonstrate limited heat release rates (a single furniture item cannot have a peak rate of heat release more than 80kW).  This is not applicable to furniture in a fully sprinklered dormitory!
  • Newly introduced mattresses must be tested to ASTM E1590 or ASTM F1085 and meet the applicable performance criteria.  This is not applicable to mattresses in a fully sprinklered dormitory!
  • Furnishings and decorations of a highly flammable material cannot be used.
  • Bulletin boards, posters, and paper attached directly to the wall cannot exceed 20 percent of the aggregate wall area to which they are applied.  This is applicable to inside dorm rooms as well as in the corridors and common areas.  Bulletin boards, posters, and paper attached directly to a wall can behave similarly to interior finish materials with the potential for spreading flame. The 20 percent criterion helps ensure that there are not sufficient expanses of such materials, for which classification is unfeasible and unenforceable, that could spread flame more quickly than would occur with wall finish materials complying with applicable interior finish requirements.


While not part of the Code sections on furnishings and decorations, other Code provisions should be considered when regulating and enforcing this issue in dormitories.  Decorations should never be placed on any fire protection equipment such as sprinklers or alarms as residents must not render any portable or fixed fire extinguishing system or device or any warning system or device inoperative or inaccessible.  Candles are another hazard, on their own, and when used carelessly around furnishings and decorations.  Section 10.10.2 of the Code gives the AHJ the authority to prohibit their use wherever such use is deemed to be hazardous.


Enforcers of the Code must be aware of the provisions relating to furnishings and contents when inspecting dormitories.  However, some Code issues, such as regulating decorations or other parts of a person’s residence, can be difficult to enforce regularly. Utilizing campus safety personnel and residential staff can assist with spreading the word about fire safety. Educating dorm residents about fire safety is a critical part of their overall safety while living in dorms.  Colleges should establish best practices for how students and residents in dormitories are educated on fire safety requirements and responsibilities including any limitations on furnishings and decorations, the presence of fire safety equipment and roles and responsibilities for emergency drills and evacuation procedures.


What Code enforcement issues related to furnishings and decorations have you faced while inspecting buildings at a college/university? 


Thank you for reading.  Stay safe!


(To view the 2018 edition of NFPA 1 visit .  You can also view all past #FireCodefridays here. Follow along on twitter @KristinB_NFPA for further Fire Code news and fire safety stories)

The Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, California, following a deadly fire. (Getty Images)

Boston city officials announced this week that they recently ordered a number of occupants who were illegally living in a storage facility to vacate the area "given the unsafe living conditions and health conditions," according to The Boston Herald
The undocumented repurposing of buildings such as storage facilities and warehouses is one of the biggest challenges faced by the enforcement community. It's an issue that was thrust into the spotlight nearly two years ago, when 36 people were tragically killed in a fire in a warehouse-turned-living quarters in Oakland, California. The space was also being used as an arts and performance venue, and the fire ignited during a late-night concert there.  
I wrote about the incident in a story called "Under the Radar" in the January/February 2017 issue of NFPA Journal:
FROM THE OUTSIDE, the building looked like a run-of-the-mill disused warehouse. Sitting on a crowded block in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, adjacent to an auto body shop, the structure’s cracked concrete walls and wide windows were emblazoned with graffiti. Inside, however, the building told a different story.
The warehouse, known locally as the Ghost Ship, had been converted into an unpermitted residence and performance space for artists. Makeshift interior walls divided a warren of living, working, and performance areas; a staircase made partially of wooden pallets connected the two floors of the 10,000-square-foot space. Musical instruments, artwork, antique furniture, and other collectibles were amassed in hoarder-like fashion, creating a claustrophobic, mazelike atmosphere. In addition to the clutter and makeshift nature of the building’s interior, there were no sprinklers or smoke alarms and no proper exits or signage. In nearly every way, the Ghost Ship was primed for a disastrous fire.
Read the full story here. A year later, a follow-up article was published in NFPA Journal called "Ghost Effect," which examined the aftermath of the incident and how NFPA has worked to develop tools for cities to manage high-risk properties. 


The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (VCOS) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) released a comprehensive report providing key steps to reduce risk factors in the fire service. The Lavender Ribbon Report, named after the symbol for general cancer awareness, highlights best practices to ensure that the risk of occupational cancer is minimized for first responders.


The Firefighter Cancer Alliance reports that cancer is the second leading cause of deaths for firefighters in the U.S.; while NIOSH statistics show that firefighters have both a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population. To help reduce these numbers and stimulate cultural, behavioral shifts in the fire service, VCOS and NVFC have identified the following key actions.


  1. Full personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn throughout the entire incident, including a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) during salvage and overhaul. 
    Since 1973, NFPA has worked to ensure that  firefighter protective clothing and equipment is shielded from thermal, physical, and environmental hazards they may encounter via NFPA 1971 Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting  and NFPA 1977 Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting
  2. A second hood should be provide to all entry-certified personnel in the department. 
    Protective hoods are designed to protect a firefighter’s head and neck. Use this safety bulletin to drive the point home in your firehouse.
  3. Following exit from an immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) incident and while still on air, you should begin immediate gross decontamination of PPE using soapy water and a brush if weather conditions allow. PPE should then be placed into a sealed plastic bag and placed in an exterior compartment of the apparatus, or, if responding in personally owned vehicles, placed in a large storage tote, thus keeping the off-gassing PPE away from passengers and self.
  4. While still on scene, the exposed areas of the body (neck, face, arms and hands) should be wiped off immediately using wipes, removing as much soot as possible from exposed areas. 
    Wipes should not be used in lieu of a shower, but can prevent carcinogens from entering the skin immediately. 
  5. Change your clothes and wash them after exposure to products of combustion or other contaminants. 
    NFPA 1851 Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting offers great insight on PPE.  
  6. “Shower within the hour.” 
    Let’s hope this slogan catches on in fire departments around the globe.
  7. PPE, especially turnout pants, must be prohibited in areas outside the apparatus floor (i.e., kitchen, sleeping areas, etc.) and should never be in the living quarters.
  8. Wipes, or soap and water, should also be used to decontaminate and clean apparatus seats, SCBA and interior crew areas regularly, especially after incidents where personnel were exposed to products of combustion. 
    New vehicle enhancements including air filtration systems to remove contaminated particles from vehicles and non-SCBA seats to help prevent contamination from air packs entering the cab may also help minimize risk. 
  9. Get an annual physical, as early detection is key to survival. 
    The American Cancer Society also suggests regular physical activity, limiting alcohol intake, and knowing your family history and potential risks.
  10. Tobacco products of any variety, including dip and e-cigarettes, should never be used at any time, on or off duty. 
    It’s not surprising that the likelihood of getting cancer is significantly higher for firefighters using tobacco products.
  11. Fully document all fire or chemical exposures on incident reports and personal exposure reports.
    Documentation is essential to establish clear correlation between a firefighter’s work and his/her health. Record-keeping helps others to see the extent of exposure that a firefighter experiences in his/her career.


It’s time to reverse occupational exposure in the fire service, and The Lavender Report offers career and volunteer departments bite size safety morsels that could vastly improve health and wellness in the fire service.

The issue of temperature usually comes up in any discussion of sprinklers and sprinkler systems, and NFPA receives a great deal of questions related to the required temperature rating for sprinklers. This is important because any sprinkler that is located too close to a source of heat can result in an unintended activation. For many years sprinkler designers have known that a sprinkler located next to a unit heater, for example, must be either a high temperature rated sprinkler if located within a 7ft (2.1 m) radius around the unit heater, or an intermediate temperature sprinkler if located in the discharge pattern of the unit heater out to a distance of 20ft (6.1 m) (see Figure There are many other examples of where a higher temperature rating is needed for sprinklers, such as in unventilated attic spaces, under skylights, or in unventilated show windows, etc.

Up until recently, all sprinklers within a building were required to be of the ordinary temperature rating unless located near one of the above mentioned heat sources, so it is not uncommon to have a variety of temperature ratings for sprinklers within the same building or sprinkler system. However, beginning with the 2010 edition of NFPA 13, ordinary and intermediate temperature sprinklers are now permitted for use throughout a building. Why the change? Many buildings are designed without the traditional dropped ceiling, leaving an unfinished space which incorporates a large number of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) diffusers. The diffusers drive the need for a significant number of intermediate temperature sprinklers in addition to ordinary temperature sprinklers within a system. To accommodate such installations, the sprinkler committee decided to allow ordinary or intermediate temperature sprinklers throughout a building. Now that quick response sprinklers are required and with the knowledge that the activation time between the two temperature ratings is not significant, either temperature rating is allowed. Can we mix temperature ratings within the same building? Absolutely, although it is best to use the same temperature rating throughout if at all possible. Doing so makes the replacement of sprinklers at some point in the future a simple effort.


Another factor to consider is how sprinklers are stored and treated before and during installation. If a sprinkler system is being installed or roughed-in in a building under construction, the sprinklers can be exposed to an untreated space inside the building. If the temperature during construction is above 100°F (38°C), ordinary temperature sprinklers will be exposed to a temperature for which they are not rated (see Table This situation can stress the glass bulb and cause unintended operation at a later time. This has already occurred in some parts of the country and is an on-going concern whenever an area experiences a heat wave.

Suppose the temperature where you live and work does not exceed 95°F (35°C); consider where the sprinklers might be stored in such situations. A box of sprinklers is usually labeled “Store in a cool dry place” by the manufacturer. Placing a box of sprinklers in a Conex box (a large metal storage container frequently used on construction sites) on a job site in the sun in 95°F (35°C) temperatures will expose the sprinklers to temperatures of 120°F (49°C) or more. This temperature is much too high for ordinary temperature sprinklers and is approaching the threshold for intermediate temperature sprinklers.

Sprinkler temperature ratings are designed for very specific uses. Treating sprinklers properly before and during construction is important to ensure that they operate only when needed. Baby, it’s hot outside, so avoiding heat stress is important for you and sprinklers!

electrical safety
When you think of summer, many things immediately come to mind: warm days filled with outdoor activities, delicious barbecues, and evenings spent with family and friends or at your favorite baseball team’s game. But what many people are not thinking about this time of year is whether their home’s electrical system is adequately protected against the effects of something else that summer brings…thunderstorms. Depending upon where you live (and it seems like they’re popping up all across the country these days), thunderstorms are more often than not a regular or semi-regular occurrence. Many people don’t realize that the real enemy of our electrical system is not the thunder, but the lightning that precedes it; dozens of fires that happen around the country every year are attributed to lightning.
The power of lightning strikes
Lightning that strikes directly and in the vicinity of power lines or a structure can introduce high voltage impulses, known as transients, into the electrical system of a building or home and can cause equipment damage or failures. These damages cost property owners millions of dollars every year. The damage may be the cumulative result of transients on the electrical system that have occurred over an extended period of time, or in the case of a severe lightning strike during a rain storm or other surge causing event, it can be immediate. And while lightning is the most common cause of these voltage surges in homes, other events such as trees blown down on power lines or an automobile accident that takes out a utility pole, can result in an equipment damaging surge, too.
Investing in electrical safety
While the effects of transients due to lightning strikes do not make the headlines like a major hurricane, tornado, wildfire or flood, the impact can be significant. As a homeowner you know how much your family relies on electronic equipment in your home and the investment you’ve made in such equipment, which is often worth thousands of dollars. But while computers, printers, televisions and other home entertainment devices, as well as many appliances, are all built with electronic circuitry that is powered by the home electrical system, they are often sensitive to a sudden increase or spike in the voltage on the supply line. 
Other home safety devices such as smoke alarms, ground-fault circuit-interrupters and arc-fault circuit interrupters also have sensitive electronics that can be damaged by transients. It’s true that electrical systems of homes have devices such as circuit breakers and fuses that protect against overcurrent conditions, but there are no mandatory requirements in the current NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® - the code that helps keep homes and buildings safe from electrical hazards - that mandate overvoltage protection in homes. That means that while electronic circuitry has been around for decades, the amount of electronic equipment in today’s home has necessitated that the electrical industry become more proactive about protecting a family’s valuable property. 
Surge protection options
So how does a homeowner in today's electronics-filled world reduce the risk for electrical equipment fires, damage or failures? From whole-house type equipment to localized protection such as receptacles (commonly referred to as outlets or plugs), there are many different forms of surge protection available. Some options include:
  • Relocatable power taps (plug strips) that have a surge protective component built into them 
  • Surge protective devices (SPDs) to protect large-scale electrical equipment (large HD flat screen televisions, high-end appliances, etc.) in the home
  • Surge protective devices located at the service panel that protect life safety devices such as smoke alarms, ground-fault circuit-interrupters, and arc-fault circuit interrupters 
Best practices dictate that before embarking on any electrical project you should first consult a qualified electrical contractor who can help you determine what you need and the best course of action. And always make sure that any device used to provide surge protection has been evaluated and carries the mark of a recognized third-party electrical testing organization. Lastly, you may want to consider checking with your insurer to see if you are covered for lightning-induced overvoltage damage to electronic equipment in your home since not all policies are the same. 
So what are you waiting for? Protect your home and electronic equipment against the impact of surges and the damage they can cause. By preparing ahead you'll feel better knowing you're keeping you, your family and your home, safer from fire and other electrical hazards.   
For additional information about electrical safety including tip sheets and checklists please visit NFPA’s webpage. 

With Fire Prevention Week right around the corner (October 7-13), we thought this would be a great time to show off some of the pictures in our archives from the 1932 Indiana State Fair. 

The first day of the fair that year was September 3, 1932 and the Indianapolis Fire Department provided a fire prevention booth. 
From the NFPA Quarterly vol.26, no.2, 1932:
“In the front of the tent thirty-one major hazards found in the home were displayed, including home dry cleaning, electrical hazards,  flues, stoves and stovepipes, open bonfires, rubbish, careless handling of ashes, kerosene for lighting fires, wooden shingle roofs, matches-smoking, etc. All of these hazards were displayed in such a manner that even the smallest child could understand. Approved methods for preventing such hazards were similarly displayed. Twelve reels of fire prevention film were shown continually from 9AM to 10PM, and lectures were given at intervals on home inspection and the proper way of calling the fire department. During the period of the fair 48,666 people viewed the exhibit. The display was arranged by the firemen, using exhibits loaned by Indianapolis merchants.”




For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.
The NFPA Research Library & Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.


New cooking and smoke alarms technologies, as well as other smart home technologies, can all play a significant role in strengthening home fire prevention and safety. NFPA has partnered with the Vision 20/20 Project and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to host a webinar that will address these new developments and their potential impact.


Presenters include Casey Grant (NFPA), Tom Cleary (NIST) and Anthony Hamins (NIST), who will focus on:


  • changes to new national standards that will require all coil-top stoves manufactured after June 2018 to incorporate technology designed to prevent stove-top fires;
  • new technologies that may prove effective at preventing fires for gas stove cook tops; and
  • new requirements for smoke alarms designed to help minimize the likelihood of nuisance alarms.

This webinar will take place on Thursday, August 23 at 2:00pm EST. Register today!

Not many years ago, buildings 10 stories or higher made primarily of wood would have been unthinkable. Today, hundreds of these tall wooden structures are being built in the United Kingdom alone, and many more are planned around the globe, including some truly massive structures with heights in excess of 50 stories. 

While architects and environmentalists tout wood’s strength, versatility, and sustainability, some fire safety officials worry how these structures withstand fire. 

“We are building combustible structures to greater heights, and anytime we go to greater heights it introduces more challenges for the fire service,” said Sean DeCrane, a 26-year veteran of the Cleveland Fire Department, and now the manager of industry relations for building life safety, security, and technologies at UL. DeCrane spoke at the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas last June during an education session titled, “Regulating Timber in Tall Buildings,” a panel discussion involving engineers, wood industry representatives, researchers, and others. 

Watch NFPA's interview with Sean DeCrane
While several of his co-presenters were very bullish on the virtues and future of tall wood buildings and mostly downplayed any fire and safety concern, DeCrane’s view was cautiously optimistic. 
“We know there is growing interest (in these structures), and this requires growing research,” he said in an interview with NFPA after the presentation. “We are building that knowledge base, and I think we are headed in the right direction.”
DeCrane, an NFPA member, has played a role in the research now being done to better understand how these tall wooden structures burn. This year, the Fire Protection Research Foundation released a report, “Fire Safety Challenges of Tall Wooden Buildings,” consisting of six, full-scale burns to assess how exposed timber might impact fire growth in a compartment or room made of 175-mm thick five-ply cross-laminated timber panels (CLT) panels. CLT, perhaps the most popular material used in mass timber construction, generally consists of three to seven layers of timber boards crisscrossed and bonded together with glue for maximum strength. DeCrane, who sat on the technical panel of advisors for the project, said that the study revealed how “critically important it is to ensure consistency of product and installation,” noting that the fire conditions changed dramatically during one test when the workers missed sealing a top wall joint.
After burning six simulated apartment rooms made of CLT panels—each 30 feet long, 15 feet wide, and nine feet tall, and filled with modern furnishings—researchers concluded that the exposed timber did influence the way the fire behaved. “In all tests with exposed CLT surface(s), flashover occurred approximately three to five minutes earlier than the two baseline tests (i.e., ≈ 15 min),” the report concludes
More work like this is critical “to ensure the performance of these buildings under fire conditions, and that the systems designed into these structure will perform well when under duress,” DeCrane said. “From the fire service perspective, we still have some questions and some consistency issues we’d like to see addressed, but we going down that road and I am confident we are doing our due diligence,” he said. 
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to all the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions here. If you're not currently an NFPA member, join today!
OSHA addresses Toxic and Hazardous Substances in the “Z” tables (29 CFR 1910 Subpart Z-Toxic and Hazardous Substances). When questions arise related to hazardous materials, NFPA 400-Hazardous Materials Code can provide some additional technical information.  
One of the most frequent questions we are asked about hazardous materials is what quantity can be used or stored. NFPA 400, the Hazardous Materials Code, breaks this down by hazard, by occupancy type, as well as whether it is in storage or in use. 
There are several tables in NFPA 400 that provide Maximum Allowable Quantities (MAQs) of hazardous materials per control area. The MAQs are a threshold quantity, and if the quantities used or stored are under the MAQ, then no special construction features are required. 
Certain hazardous material categories are not regulated by NFPA 400 but are incorporated by reference for informational purposes. For example, MAQs for flammable liquids from NFPA 30 and MAQs for gases and cryogenic fluids from NFPA 55 are included in the NFPA 400 MAQ tables.
The MAQs are not an absolute maximum. Once the MAQ is exceeded, additional controls will need to be put in place to make the facility safe and code compliant. Either the materials need to be separated into multiple control areas, or provisions for protection levels need to be applied (like automatic sprinklers, spill control, secondary containment, and separation from other occupancies).
Ready to check that you are within the MAQ or have the necessary controls put in place? Access the latest edition of NFPA 400 for free at
Staff Liaison: Laura Moreno
The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIA) for NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, and NFPA 260, Standard Methods of Tests and Classification System for Cigarette Ignition Resistance of Components of Upholstered Furniture, are being published for public review and comments:
  • NFPA 110, proposed TIA No. 1388, referencing 2.3.2(new), 8.3.7, C.1.2.2 and C.1.2.3(new), of the proposed 2019 edition, closing date: September 20, 2018
  • NFPA 260, proposed TIA No. 1386, referencing 5.5.1 and 6.1.1, of the proposed 2019 edition, closing date: September 13, 2018
Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the closing dates listed above. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council.

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) approved a resolution, submitted by the IAFF Executive Board, to support and promote NFPA 3000™ (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program during their 2018 convention in Seattle last week.

The new policy requires fire/EMS departments sending rescue task forces (RTF) to ASHER incidents to ensure that both fire/EMS, and law enforcement members are trained on Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC); and emphasizes that they should train together initially and on an on-going basis so that response is unified and effective. The resolution states that fire/EMS departments must have PPE to protect personnel from the risks associated with hostile events; and to further safeguard the health and well-being of members by providing post-response behavioral health programs including the IAFF’s Peer Support Program.

The IAFF’s endorsement of NFPA 3000 is not limited to its 313,000 full-time professional firefighters and paramedics. Resolution No. 13 calls for union members to advocate for the guidance referenced in the new standard, especially during integrated ASHER planning efforts in their communities; and to inform the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and police labor and management organizations about the best practices outlined in NFPA 3000.


Released in May, NFPA 3000 helps entire communities organize, manage, communicate, and sustain an active shooter/hostile event preparedness, response, and recovery program. The Technical Committee responsible for the standard is made up of representatives from law enforcement, the fire service, EMS, hospitals, emergency management, private security, facility management, education, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice, and others. NFPA 3000 takes into consideration job-specific insight from mass killings at Mandalay Bay Resort, Pulse Nightclub, Sandy Hook Elementary, the Sikh Temple, the Boston Marathon, and other less publicized events.


NFPA 3000 is the first standard of its kind, but a clear example of the importance of coming together to reduce risk in our communities. The days of working in silos are over – and this endorsement reinforces that truth. NFPA applauds the IAFF’s Executive Board’s endorsement; greatly appreciates membership’s acceptance of this motion; and welcomes additional advocacy for proactive, integrated ASHER protocol from other top fire organizations, EMS authorities, and law enforcement leaders.


The new and VASTLY improved NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities Code is now available! The total rewrite took about 3 years to complete, with task groups, committee meetings, and input from industry experts. The new edition is easier to navigate, adopt, and enforce.

NEW ANIMAL CATEGORIES: The document has evolved quite a bit since it’s development in 1979, when it was titled “Standard on Firesafety in Racetrack Stables”. Previous editions classified animals in only two categories: (1) animals that posed a risk or were difficult to move and (2) all other animals. The new document includes 7 different animal categories and 14 sub categories based on the animal occupancy. The 7 categories include Health Care, Horse Facilities, Research, Exhibition/Public Viewing, General Board and Care, Agriculture, and Emergency. Check out Chapter 6 for a description of each category.

NEW LAYOUT: The TC recognized an opportunity to improve fire safety in animal housing facilities if we could organize and present the requirements in an easy to use way. The document was re-formatted to mirror the layout of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, with specific chapters assigned to each animal occupancy. To make it even easier, we summarized all of the fire protection requirements in an easy to use table in Annex C.

UPDATED REQUIREMENTS: Seven task groups worked in preparation for the new edition-one on each of the animal categories. They addressed new concepts and hazards tailored to each occupancy. NFPA 150 now addresses disaster/emergency management programs, hazardous area protection, and hay storage.


The committee spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the requirements for agricultural animal facilities. NFPA 150 had not appropriately addressed the agricultural industry in the past. The number of animal lives lost during those fires is much more significant than any other animal facility. Due to the unique conditions within these facilities (limited access to water, dust, exposure to the outside) traditional methods of fire protection are not often feasible. The TC focused on more of a risk management approach, limiting the amount of combustibles, fuel, and other hazards that the facility might be exposed to.




  • Animal housing fires happen frequently and often result in dozens if not thousands of animal deaths. In June, 28 racehorses died in New York. A few days later 25,000 chickens died in a fire in Washington.
  • Contrary to what I believed, sprinklers and fire alarms are not always the answer in animal housing facilities. Some animals, like exotic fish, are so sensitive to changes in water temperature and quality, they would die if a sprinkler discharged into their tanks. Some primates are so sensitive to loud noises and lights, they could injure themselves if a fire alarm were to go off. Alternative protection methods should be used to address specific animal needs.
  • The Technical Committee was given the unique opportunity to tour the Smithsonian Zoo a few years ago. We learned that sprinkler piping and elephants don’t mix. A special enclosure was needed so the elephants wouldn’t pull the sprinkle piping off the ceiling.
  • Check out NFPA’s Barn Fire Safety Checklist for some great general safety tips.

You can review the new 2019 edition of NFPA 150 for free  at

The August 2018 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.


In this issue:


  • New project being explored on fire service personnel professional qualifications
  • Proposed TIAs seeking comments on NFPA 13, NFPA 20, NFPA 260
  • TIA issued on NFPA 1982
  • Errata issued on NFPA 13, NFPA 14, NFPA 70, and NFPA 85
  • Committees seeking members
  • Committees seeking public input and public comment
  • Committee meetings calendar


Subscribe today! NFPA News is a free, monthly codes and standards newsletter that includes special announcements, notification of public input and comment closing dates, requests for comments, notices on the availability of Standards Council minutes, and other important news about NFPA’s standards development process. 

Hot work operations and confined space entry and work onboard marine vessels and in shipyards is done daily throughout the United States. Regulations such as the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Shipyard Employment Standard (29 CFR 1915); and Standards such as the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 306, Standard for the Control of Gas Hazards on Vessels, and NFPA 312, Standard for Fire Protection of Vessels During Construction, Conversion, Repair, and Lay-Up, are developed to eliminate or reduce the hazards associated with work in shipyards and related employment. But regulations and safety standards are only effective if they are followed.
In July 2018 the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued safety and health citations to shipyards and vessel repair contractors in Oregon and Kentucky. A shipyard in Portland, OR received 16 citations (more than $370,000 in fines) for ‘serious and willful’ safety violations following OSHA’s investigation of worker complaints related to workplace hazards during hot work in the engine room of a passenger ferry. Inspectors found that the company allowed employees to work on energized circuit boxes; failed to conduct fit-testing and medical evaluations before providing respirators and implement an effective hearing conservation program. According to media reports State workplace safety and health agencies in Alaska and Oregon have also cited the shipyard with similar violations. “This employer’s failure to monitor work areas for the presence of hazards, and implement effective controls is putting their employees at risk for serious injuries,” said OSHA Seattle Area Office Director Cecil Tipton. 
Also in July 2018, unrelated to the above action, OSHA cited five contractors for safety and health violations after three employees were fatally injured and two others critically injured following an explosion onboard a towboat on 19 January 2018. The five companies collectively received 55 of violations with proposed penalties totaling $795,254.
OSHA's investigation determined that the explosion occurred when employees were cutting and welding in an atmosphere that contained flammable gases. OSHA issued citations for failing to test confined spaces before entry; training employees on confined space entry and work operations; exposing workers to asphyxiation, fire, explosion, and chemical hazards; and allowing hot work/welding to be performed without testing for an explosive atmosphere – in addition to other violations.
One of the employers involved in this incident has been placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. "This tragedy could have been prevented if the employers had followed proper confined space procedures and implemented appropriate safety measures," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt A. Petermeyer.
Confined space entry and work safe practices and hot work safety are the primary focus of the NFPA Marine Field Service which administers the NFPA Certificated Marine Chemist Program. The Marine Chemists were created in 1922 at the request of insurance underwriters, marine transportation and shipbuilding industries. NFPA Certificated Marine Chemists are responsible for verifying that hot work and confined space entry can be done safely on ships, barges and in shipyards. The United States Coast Guard and OSHA require a Marine Chemist’s Certificate is posted on a vessel in the vicinity of the work before certain hot work or confined space entry can occur. The United States Navy also requires a Marine Chemist to authorize entry and hot work on its vessels when work is being done by private contractors. Those contractors must also have their employees trained to work safely in confined spaces. In accordance with Navy Standard Items, this training must be presented by the National Fire Protection Association or an NFPA Certificated Marine Chemist.
The NFPA has published fact sheets that address hot work and confined space entry and work in shipyards and on marine vessels. 
There is no shortcut to safe hot work operations and confined space entry and work. All personnel involved with the work need to be familiar with applicable safety regulations, standards and procedures. They must also follow those administrative controls – every time. Accidents like the one which occurred in Kentucky earlier this year are preventable. 
Shipyard personnel and vessel repair contractors need knowledge to recognize the hazards associated with hot work and confined space entry. They need to understand and use effective control measures to eliminate or minimize those hazards. NFPA provides information and training that can be used to make shipyards and similar locations safe places to work. For more information, please contact the NFPA Marine Field Service or call +1- 617- 984 - 7418.
Staff Liaison: Lawrence Russell 


This week I was in Nashville, TN attending the SES Annual Conference. I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended this conference and network with other professionals who use and develop standards like those developed by NFPA. And I had the opportunity to go to the Grand Ole Opry! (When in Rome.)

Also this week, a fire occurred in Atlanta, GA that is directly related to a unique issue addressed by the Fire Code. The fire began in a large pile of old tires located adjacent to a vacant apartment building and eventually spread to the building as well. It was reported that the vacant building had been serving as an, “illegal dumping ground for hundreds of tires”. Reports also suggest that the fire was intentionally set.

NFPA 1, Chapter 33, addresses the outside storage of tires including new and existing outside storage piles of tires and altered tire material, as well as emergency response planning, fire control measures, site access, and signs and security for these areas; it is applicable to facilities with outdoor tire pile storage of more than 500 tires. At this threshold there becomes the potential for large-scale events, such as the 1999 Westley tire fire in California where a lightning strike ignited a tire pile, which contained an estimated 7 million scrap tires. The fire burned for 30 days and significantly impacted the environment due to the runoff of pyrolitic oil and contaminated fire-fighting water. The cost of the fire to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was $3.5 million. If a fire were to occur at outdoor storage of tire piles not more than 500 tires, such as those at a typical retail store, standard fire-fighting guidelines should effectively extinguish the fire in most cases.

The tire fire in Atlanta, while on a much smaller scale (even perhaps below the 500 tire threshold), is still representative of the hazardous conditions that non-compliant tire storage can create. Chapter 33 of the Code addresses these hazards by containing the following requirements:

• Layout of fire department access roads to allow for effective fire-fighting operations and site access. The minimum exposure separation distance for tire storage is based on both the exposed face dimension and the pile height of the tires. It ensures adequate fire department access as well as fuel breaks between the tire piles to prevent fire spread.
• Separation of yard storage facilities from hazardous exposures and structures.
• Prohibition of ignition sources within the tire area. This includes smoking, cutting and welding, heating devices, open fires and/or proximity to power lines.
• Measures to provide for surface water drainage and protection of pyrolitic oil runoff. (Pyrolitic oil in the tires is burned off when the stored tire pile is allowed to burn. But one the pile begins to smolder or suppressed, the tires melt and release pyrolitic oil).
• Limitations on the location of storage piles (no wetlands, flood plains, canyons, etc.)
• Pile storage arrangement
o New tire storage – limited in volume to 125,000 ft2 and no greater than 10 ft in height, 50 ft in width and 250 ft in length.
o Existing piles – must meet the criteria for new piles within 5 years of adoption of the Code but until then they are limited to 250,000 ft2 and must not exceed 20 ft in height, 50 ft in width and 250 ft in length.
• Development, maintenance and use of an Emergency Response Plan.
• Presence of manual fire-fighting equipment.


This fire occurred at a vacant building, which has been accumulating old tires on the property. Section 10.12 of NFPA 1 also requires every person owning or having charge or control of any vacant building or premises to remove all combustible storage, waste, refuse and vegetation and secure the building or premises to prohibit entry by unauthorized persons. Compliance with this section could have prevented the accumulation of old tires on the property. The tire fire in Atlanta shows the important role that both the fire inspectors and building owners play in ensuring compliance with the Code.


Have you had to enforce tire storage facilities in your jurisdiction? What challenges have you faced?


Thanks for reading, stay safe!


Please visit to view the free access version of NFPA 1 2018 edition. Follow along on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA. Looking for an older #FireCodefriday blog? You can view past posts here.

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