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The leaves are falling, there is a nip in the air, and for us folks up north, we’ve even had snow on the ground already. All of these things can mean only one thing, summer has packed her bags and left the building! However, as sad as I might be that my days of soaking up the sun and hanging out at the beach have come to an end, we are now blessed with my personal favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving!electrical safety

 

As we begin preparing our menus and our meals for the big event, I thought this would be the perfect time to talk about kitchens. Did you know that food events such as Thanksgiving significantly transformed the electrical systems in today’s kitchens? Yes! And to understand this relationship more fully, we first need to understand the purpose of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC), which is stated very clearly in section 90.1(A):  the practical safeguarding of persons and property from the hazards arising from the use of electricity. In other words, the NEC aims to install an electrical system in a building that is going to minimize that system’s potential to harm the building or the people in the building.

 

Commercial/Industrial Properties and Dwellings

Still wondering what that has to do with turkey, stuffing, and cranberries? Well, the NEC approaches receptacle outlet placement two different ways. First, in commercial or industrial type properties, it is generally known what will get plugged in and its placement. So, the NEC doesn’t see the need in those occupancies to specify where receptacle outlets must be placed. Sometimes however, it’s not clear what equipment will need connections or where that will/should be. Dwellings (such as homes) tend to fall into this second category. It means that if there isn’t a spot to plug in a given piece of equipment, an extension cord is most often used to bring the power to where it needs to be.

 

This has led the code making panels (CMP) over the years to tackle dwelling unit systems with more of a proactive approach. Simply put, receptacle outlets are now placed throughout the space such that the typical equipment used in that area is never out of reach of an outlet. This helps minimize the use of extension cords and reduces the risk of fire hazards due to these cords being used constantly as though they are a part of the permanent wiring system of the home.

 

Today’s Modern Kitchen and Receptacle Placement

That brings us back to the kitchen. Having sat in on discussions taking place at CMP meetings about where to place receptacle outlets in kitchens, I have the pleasure to report that these panels have absolutely considered just about every conceivable kitchen configuration possible. And in this consideration, they have also considered just about every possible use scenario as well. This is where we tie Thanksgiving to receptacle outlet placement in the NEC. When it comes to family gatherings, or at least my family’s gatherings, if there is open counter space, it’s probably going to get taken up by a slow cooker or other small kitchen appliance like warming trays and coffee percolators. Based on discussions at the code meetings, it seems everyone around the tables have had the same experience. So, CMP-2 has done their best to consider as many kitchen layouts as possible, and as many kitchen use scenarios as possible to ensure that no matter who buys the house and how they use the kitchen, they’ll be covered. This translates to a few different requirements in the NEC that we should be aware of.

 

Wall Space Behind Kitchen Countertops

First, let’s take a look at receptacle outlets along the wall space behind the kitchen countertops. Any countertop space that is 12 inches in width or more is most likely the place where Aunt Edna’s famous green bean casserole will go and therefore it needs at least one receptacle outlet. From there, the requirement is that no space along the countertop wall line should be more than two feet from a receptacle outlet. Anyone want to take a guess at the standard length of a kitchen small appliance cord? You guessed it, two feet! So, this is what has become known as the “2 & 4-foot” rule. Place the first receptacle outlet within the first two feet of countertop and then every four feet after that, making sure that there is one within the last two feet of countertop. That way, an appliance should never be sitting out of reach of a receptacle outlet. While this rule is great for countertops with walls behind them, what about peninsulas and islands? Well, the last few cycles have had discussions around these types of installations, as well, because what was once a kitchen feature that was rather rare, now has become a rather popular design tool in today’s age of open concepts and feng shui.

 

Island Countertops and Peninsula Space

In order to ensure that your island countertop or peninsula have enough receptacle outlets, they took the approach of basing the number of required outlets on how large the island or peninsula countertop space is. The requirement is to install one receptacle outlet for the first nine square feet and then one for each additional 18 square feet or fraction thereof. This means that the bigger the island or peninsula, the more receptacle outlets you are going to need. However, with the exception of one within the last two feet of a peninsula, the placement of these receptacles is up to the owner or designer. For an example, let’s say we build a kitchen where the only countertop space happens to be an island. The dimensions measure 24 feet long by 30 inches wide. We know we need one receptacle for the first nine square feet, but how many do we need after that? In total, this island is 60 square feet. This means after the first nine square feet, we still have 51 square feet to account for. Dividing 51 square feet by 18 square feet gives us 2.83, which means we need a total of three additional receptacles for a total of four receptacle outlets for this island. Previous editions of the NEC only required a single receptacle outlet to serve this island, which just wouldn’t be enough to fulfill the demand for today’s large family holiday events like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

 

So, the next time you find yourself at a holiday event, look around to see if there are enough outlets in your kitchen to serve demand, while still in alignment with the purpose of the NEC. If there are, you can give thanks to the members of Code Making Panel 2 who spent considerable time discussing how families will use their countertops and applying the needed, related code requirements to help keep everyone safe from electrical hazards.

 

For more information about this topic, check out one of our recent blog posts that highlights three key changes in the 2020 NEC that helps make kitchens safer.

 

Tips and resources about cooking fire safety can be found on NFPA’s Thanksgiving and holiday safety webpage.

We live in a world where flammable and combustible liquids are all around us. Gasoline, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, hand sanitizer, and cooking oils are just a few common examples. When storing large quantities of flammable liquids, it’s important to understand how to protect them properly because of their rapid rate of fire growth. This blog will dive into some of the requirements for the sprinkler protection of stored flammable and combustible liquids. Designers will often go to NFPA 13 Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems for all sprinkler system requirements, but many don’t know that flammable and combustible liquid storage is covered by NFPA 30 Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code.

 

What is a flammable or combustible liquid?

 

Before discussing sprinkler protection requirements for these liquids, the first step is figuring out what exactly we’re talking about when we say flammable or combustible liquids. When defining these liquids, we often refer to their flash point, which is the temperature at which a liquid gives off enough vapor to form an ignitable mixture with the air. With that in mind we define flammable and combustible liquids as follows:

Flammable liquid – flash point below 100°F (37.8°C)

Combustible liquid – flash point at or above 100°F (37.8°C)

NFPA 30 then further divides flammable and combustible liquids into classifications.  These will be used to determine the correct design criteria to your storage. Classifications of flammable and combustible liquids are as follows:

Flammable Class IA = Flash Point <73°F (22.8°C) & Boiling Point < 100°F (37.8°C)

Flammable Class IB = Flash Point < 73°F (22.8°C) & Boiling Point > 100°F (37.8°C)

Flammable Class IC = Flash Point between 73°F (22.8°C) and 100°F (37.8°C)

Combustible Class II = Flash Point between 100°F (37.8°C) and 140°F (60°C)

Combustible Class IIIA = Flash Point between 140°F (60° C) and 200°F (93°C)

Combustible Class IIIB = Flash Point above 200°F (93°C)

 

Gathering information

 

When determining when and how to protect the storage of flammable and combustible liquids it is important to gather information to make the correct design decisions. First it is important to know which standards to follow. For the storage of flammable and combustible liquids we should start in NFPA 30. There are certain requirements in NFPA 30 that will instruct users to follow the requirements for various commodities in NFPA 13 when necessary.

 

To determine design criteria, you will first need to know the quantity of flammable or combustible liquids being stored. As well as how the liquid is being stored (whether it is rack storage, shelf storage palletized, or stacked.)

Next, you need to be aware of what containers the liquid is stored in. The type of containers for flammable and combustible liquids can be stored in varies greatly; some examples of acceptable container material include metal, plastic, or glass. The material the container is made of will also dictate the volume of the container that the liquid can be stored in. A complete list of acceptable containers is located in section 9.4.1 in NFPA 30.

 

How to protect it

 

Fire protection system design criteria for protecting the storage of containers of flammable and combustible liquids are provided in Chapter 16 of NFPA 30. The design criteria are contained in 12 tables that address different storage situations and configurations and include both sprinkler and foam-water sprinkler systems. Three decision trees assist the user in identifying the appropriate table to be used. In these tables you will find maximum storage height, maximum ceiling height, required aisle width, required sprinkler arrangement as well as if in-rack sprinklers are required.

It is important to understand that sprinkler systems are designed to protect against certain hazards and increasing those hazards can cause your fire protection system to be overwhelmed. This issue can be addressed by developing a change management plan that triggers safety and compliance reviews when certain changes occur.

Although NFPA 13 usually contains all of the requirements for the installation of sprinkler systems for the storage of flammable and combustible liquids NFPA 13 and NFPA 30 work in harmony to help ensure sprinkler systems are designed in a way that can help save people and property.

 

Check out the November/December 2020 issue of the NFPA Journal where the ‘In Compliance’ column talks specifically about how to properly store and protect alcohol base hand rub.

 

Have you recently worked on a project that included flammable or combustible liquids? Let us know in the comments below what you think the biggest or most common challenge is.

 

If you found this article helpful, subscribe to the NFPA Network Newsletter for monthly, personalized content related to the world of fire, electrical, and building & life safety

Soon after the launch of NFPA LiNK, the Association’s newest digital platform for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners, we introduced a new video blog series that offers a quick look inside the key functions and features of the tool. This week’s video addresses the “share” functionality.

 

When referencing code requirements, users may need to share specific code text with peers. For example, let’s say you are inspecting a job site and you find some violations. To assist with enforcement, you need to be able to reference specific code sections and share them with the responsible parties so they understand what was done incorrectly. NFPA LiNK allows you to share code sections via email to both subscribers and non-subscribers, along with your personal comments. By doing so, you will be able to maintain the integrity of the NFPA code and know you’re referencing material from the source. Learn more about this “share” feature in the video below:

 


Don’t miss out on all that NFPA LiNK provides. The blog series can be a helpful start. Check out the first two videos that explain the Dashboard and “publications” features. The second installment showcases “bookmarks” and the MyLiNK functionalities. The third blog in the series highlighted the NFPA DiRECT situational navigation and DiRECT Content features, and most recently last week’s video blog gives us a glimpse into the “search” feature.

 

Learn more about how NFPA LiNK can help you in your work. Try NFPA LiNK today by visiting the website. Find more information about the platform, a timeline of additional codes and standards that will be coming to NFPA LiNK, and a product introduction video at nfpa.org/LiNK

Unlike the state’s rough wildfire season, the end of California’s 2020 legislative session is clearly in sight. This year, lawmakers considered a number of bills on the state’s wildfire challenge. Among these were two measures aimed at strengthening California’s defensible space requirements and helping Cal Fire assess properties and educate homeowners. One passed; the other did not.  

 

Resurrected after a veto last year by the Governor, AB 3074 successfully passed to bring the concept of the home ignition zone to the state’s current 100-foot defensible space requirements. The measure directs the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection to promulgate regulations to require “more intense” fuel reduction efforts within 30-feet of a structure and an “ember-resistant zone” within 5-feet of a structure. Wind-driven embers are major culprits in home destruction during wildfire events. Reducing the risk of ignition by removing fuel sources from around the home will lower the risk of home loss during wildfires.wildfire safety

 

While AB 3074 has been signed into law, there are still some bureaucratic hoops remaining. Most notably, the legislature needs to make sure all of it, the rulemaking, providing notice to property owners, and enforcement efforts, are funded in the annual budget process. However, strengthening these requirements for homes in at-risk areas is a big step in the right direction.

 

The bill that did not make it over the legislative finish line was  SB 1348. Among other things, this measure would have established a program to recruit qualified entities to assist Cal Fire in its assessment and education efforts around home hardening and defensible space. According to an article last year from the San Diego Union-Tribune, annually, Cal Fire only has the capacity to inspect about 10 to 20 percent of the parcels within its jurisdiction for conformance with the state’s defensible space rules. And, even where it finds violations, the agency prefers education over fines. Given that, training third parties to provide non-regulatory support through assessments and education has the potential to be an effective force-multiplier for the agency.

 

This bill should be a priority item for the 2021 legislative session. In addition, lawmakers might also consider developing training and certification programs to create the trusted workforce needed to help property owners in implementing home-hardening measures, as well as meeting defensible space requirements.

 

AB 3074—and hopefully soon the provisions of SB 1348—are modest steps toward addressing the state’s massive wildfire challenge. Small steps can add up though, especially if they become part of a comprehensive plan. While COVID-fueled budget crises muted state legislative efforts to fund desperately needed mitigation efforts this year, with over four million acres burned in a single season, the urgency is growing for California. In 2021, lawmakers will need to be bold in their actions.  

 

More information about the home ignition zone, defensible space, and related resources can be found on NFPA's wildfire webpage.

NFPA has released NFPA 1700 Guide for Structural Fire Fighting, the first NFPA document connecting fire dynamics research to response strategy, tactics, and best practices for firefighters controlling fires within a structure. 

 

In 2014, NFPA received a new standards project request from a retired Kansas City fire chief asking for the development of a guide that filled the gap between the fire science community and the fire service. The request, which was eventually endorsed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH), UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) and others, sought to ensure that the methods utilized by the fire service for fire control were based on science and not past fire service traditions or practices.

 

The 13-chapter guide provides standard operating procedure (SOP) recommendations for responding to a structure fire based on recent large scale testing and line of duty death findings. Recognized research efforts complement fundamental occupancy, building construction, and building service references within NFPA 1700, while addressing the health and safety of firefighters by reinforcing the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and methodologies for contamination control. The Technical Committee on Fundamentals of Fire Control Within a Structure Utilizing Fire Dynamics looked at basic fire science, fire dynamics, PPE, equipment, extinguishment, staffing needs, and ways to adopt these strategies into practice and train the fire service – all in the interest of public and first responder safety.

 

The 27-member Technical Committee is made up of representatives from the fire service and insurance industry, as well as subject matter textbook publishers, special experts, and stakeholders actively engaged in fire dynamics research; they hail from the United States, Canada, Germany and Belgium.

 

NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations served as a model for how to translate fire dynamics findings in practicable, applicable ways.

As I (allegedly) approach a half century on this earth, reflection on life lessons learned are in abundance. Looking back there is no question that the most impactful lessons I learned, that I still use every day, were on days that started in the blazing heat of summer and ended in the brisk chill of autumn spent between painted white lines on lush blades of green grass.  The football field is where I learned, along with young men who would eventually become my brothers, about courage, perseverance, accountability, sacrifice, and teamwork.  We learned how to play for something more than ourselves, we learned how to play for one another.  We were accountable to one another and came to understand that we were only as powerful as our weakest player, therefore, we had to push each other to be better.  When toe met leather on those Friday nights under the lights, as Kenny Chesney’s song, The Boys of Fall says, you mess with one man, you got us all.    electrical safety

 

In more recent years, I have had the privilege of being the one to wear the whistle and begin to instill life lessons in my own son and his teammates who he will no doubt one day consider as brothers. From this side of the white lines, I have started to understand more about the framework of success.  Coaches must create a game plan that, when executed by both players and coaches, achieves the desired outcome - victory!  Transferring this to our day jobs, what does a victory look like?  To me, working safely throughout the day, which in turn allows me to return home safely to my family each night, is like winning the Super Bowl!  This isn’t going to happen without a proper game plan in place that is executed precisely as intended by both coaches and players.  Business owners, acting as coaches, must put together a clear plan for safety and ensure that the players have the proper resources needed to execute the plan.  Communication of the plan, proper training, and safety equipment for the players, or employees, are critical to the plan being executed and success being attained.  Owners and employees are equally accountable in that a safety plan is not only established but also followed as designed.  Shortcuts by anyone could result in failure of the plan.  Which in this case, is not signified by a lesser score than our opponent on the scoreboard, but potentially by whether we live or die.  This is not a game we can take a chance on losing.

 

On the job, there are many electrical opponents such as shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast that are all nipping at our heels trying to ensure we don’t reach the end zone at all, let alone achieve victory.  NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, is a critical resource when it comes to putting together a game plan for electrical safety success.  When established by owners and followed by employees, the safety policies, procedures, and process controls that are within NFPA 70E needed to help ensure safety for all involved.  Like any good plan, the processes and procedures within NFPA 70E are able to be evaluated and revised between editions through the standards development process.  Although the 2021 edition of NFPA 70E was just released in September, public input for modifications to the 2024 edition is already being submitted and will continue to be accepted through June 1st, 2021.

 

Between the 2018 and 2021 editions of NFPA 70E, there was a public input received that significantly impacted the general requirements for electrical safety-related work practices as listed within Article 110.   Chapter 1 within NFPA 70E, which contains Article 110, is really where the details of our safety game plan are laid out including specifying both the employer and employee responsibility in Article 105.  Section 110.5 is specific to the Electrical Safety Program which requires the employer to both implement and document an electrical safety program that directs activity appropriate to the risk associated with electrical hazards.   Through public input, section 110.5(K) was added which states “An electrical safety program shall include an electrically safe work condition policy that complies with 110.3.”  Within section 110.3, it states that conductors and circuit parts operating at 50 volts or more are required to be put into an electrical safe work condition if any of these conditions exist:

 

  1. The employee is within the limited approach boundary, and;
  2. The employee interacts with equipment where conductors or circuit parts are not exposed but an increased likelihood of injury from an exposure to an arc flash hazard exists.

 

By definition, an electrically safe work condition is a state in which an electrical conductor or circuit part has been disconnected from energized parts, locked/tagged in accordance with established standards, tested to verify the absence of voltage, and, if necessary, temporarily grounded for personnel protection.  The informational note that follows the definition goes a step further to state that an electrically safe work condition is not a procedure, it is a state wherein all hazardous electrical conductors or circuit parts to which a worker might be exposed are maintained in a de-energized state for the purpose of temporarily eliminating electrical hazards for the period of time for which the state is maintained.  While the thought of many is that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as arc-flash suits, should be the means we utilized to keep ourselves safe, PPE should actually be the last resort.  Turning power off and establishing an electrically safe work condition where there is no potential for exposure should always be the primary goal.  The Hierarchy of Risk Controls is listed in section 110.5(H)(3) as:

 

  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Engineering Controls
  • Awareness
  • Administrative Controls
  • PPE

 

Informational Note 1 that follows goes on to state “Elimination, substitution, and engineering controls are the most effective methods to reduce risk as they are usually applied at the source of possible injury or damage to health and they are less likely to be affected by human error. Awareness, administrative controls, and PPE are the least effective methods to reduce risk as they are not applied at the source and they are more likely to be affected by human error.”

  

The reality of what this public input to the 2021 edition of the NFPA 70E did, is that it evaluated and changed our game plan for the better.  While employers are already required to implement and document an electrical safety program, the addition of 110.5(K) now requires that we have an electrical safe work condition policy within that program.  And if going home safely to our family every night is our ultimate measure of success, this change just put us at first and goal.  It’s now up to both employers and employees to fully execute the plan to put the ball into the end zone.

 

For more information, visit NFPA's electrical solutions webpage.

A few weeks ago, NFPA introduced a new blog series that explains some of the features and functionalities of NFPA LiNK, the Association’s newest digital platform that will deliver NFPA codes and standards, expert commentary, and supporting content for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners. We’ve received a great response to the series so far and this week we’re pleased to offer the latest video in our series that addresses the “search” functionality.

 

The ability to search for content within a digital application is commonplace in today’s world. When you’re on the job, you expect to get to the information you need quickly and with a simple search. With NFPA LiNK, it’s easy. Users will find that they can simply search by keyword, phrase, or section number within specific codes or even across publications. Results will appear as applicable codes and standards sections, in addition to information related to situations and solutions within the NFPA DiRECT feature. Want to know what else NFPA codes and standards have to say related to your search? With NFPA LiNK, you can expand your search across all current publications and find out what else may apply. Learn more about this “search” feature in the video below:

 


 

There’s so much about NFPA LiNK you don’t want to miss. The blog series is a great place to start. Begin with our first two videos that explain the Dashboard and publications features. The second installment showcases bookmarks and the “MyLiNK functionalities. Last week’s blog highlighted the NFPA DiRECT situational navigation and DiRECT Content features. Stay tuned for next week’s video blog where we point to the “share” feature.

 

Learn more about how NFPA LiNK can help you in your work. Purchase or try NFPA LiNK today by visiting the website. 

 

Find more information about the platform, a timeline of additional codes and standards that will be coming to NFPA LiNK, and a product introduction video at nfpa.org/LiNK

Portable fire extinguishers are often times our first line of defense against small fires and chances are you aren’t too far from one right now. Like any lifesaving equipment you want to ensure that it is operable at all times so it will work when you need it most. With proper inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) protocols fire extinguishers can be long lasting, reliable options for combating a small fire early on. This blog will address the NFPA 10, Standard on the Installation or Portable Fire Extinguishers requirements that help ensure your extinguisher is ready.

 

The requirements are broken down into three different sections on inspection, maintenance and testing. In each section there is information on what needs to be done (Procedures), who is allowed to perform the work (Qualifications), how often each step needs to be done (Frequency) and how to document the work (Recordkeeping).

 

Inspection

Procedures

Performing an inspection is the easiest thing you can do to ensure your extinguisher can be used reliably and effectively in an emergency. At a minimum, inspection needs to consist of the following steps:

  • Make sure it is located in its designated place
  • Make sure the extinguisher is visible or that there is signage indicating where the extinguisher is located
  • Make sure you can easily access the extinguisher
  • Ensure the pressure gauge is in the operable range or position
  • Make sure it is full, this can be done by just lifting the extinguisher or you can weigh it
  • For wheeled extinguishers, make sure the condition of tires, wheels, carriage, hose, and nozzle are acceptable
  • For nonrechargeable extinguishers, operate the push-to-test pressure indicators

Qualifications

You are not required to be certified in order to perform an inspection; any knowledgeable, competent person should be able to do it.

Frequency

NFPA 10 requires extinguishers be inspected when they are initially installed and once a month after that. You should inspect extinguishers more frequently if they are installed in locations where they are more prone to rust, impact or tampering.

Recordkeeping

Records of the monthly inspections need to be maintained by either putting a tag or label on the extinguisher or by having it recorded on paper or electronic files. The following items need to be recorded:

  • The month and year of the inspection
  • The person conducting the inspection

         These records need to be maintained for at least 12 months.

 

Maintenance

         Procedures

         Maintenance procedures must include the procedures detailed in the manufacturer’s service manual and a          thorough examination of the basic elements of the fire extinguisher, including the following:

  • Mechanical parts of all fire extinguishers
  • Extinguishing agent
  • Expelling means
  • Physical condition

         This is completed by doing an external examination. An internal examination can also be required as part of your          maintenance. Details on how to do an internal examination are located in your fire extinguisher service manual.

         Qualifications

         Maintenance needs to be performed by a certified person. Certification requires that a person take a test          acceptable to the AHJ . A certified person needs to, at the very least, be familiar with the requirements in          NFPA 10.

         Frequency

         Fire extinguishers need to have an external maintenance examination conducted on a yearly basis, at the          time of hydrostatic test, or when specifically indicated by an inspection discrepancy. Extinguishers need to          have an internal examination conducted at anywhere from 1-6 year intervals depending on the type of          extinguisher. For example, a dry chemical, stored pressure fire extinguisher must have an internal          examination every 6 years, see NFPA 10 Table 7.3.3.1 for more details on other types of fire extinguishers.

         Recordkeeping

         Each fire extinguisher shall have a tag or label securely attached that indicates that maintenance was          performed. The tag or label needs to identify the following:

  • Month and year maintenance was performed
  • Person performing the work
  • Name of the agency performing the work

Extinguishers also need a verification-of-service collar located around the neck of the container if an internal examination was conducted. That collar needs to have:

  • Month and year the work was performed
  • Name of the agency performing the work

 

Hydrostatic Testing

         Procedures

         A hydrostatic test always begins with an internal and external examination of the extinguisher as described in the          maintenance section. The extinguisher then has many of its components removed so it is stripped down to pretty          much just the shell and hose and is filled with water at a certain pressure for a certain time. The extinguisher must          then be completely dried to get rid of all of the water and is then reassembled and recharged. If there is any          leakage, distortion or permanent moving of couplings the cylinder fails the hydrostatic test and it must be          condemned.

         Qualifications

         People who do hydrostatic testing need to know what they are doing because it can be dangerous if performed               incorrectly. They need to be trained, certified, and have the correct equipment and facility to perform the testing.

         Frequency

         Like internal maintenance, hydrostatic testing is done at different intervals based on the type of extinguisher you             have. These are done either every 5 or 12 years. See Table 8.3.1 in NFPA 10 to see which applies to your type of           extinguisher.

         Recordkeeping

         For low pressure cylinders a label is required to be attached to the extinguisher. It needs to contain:

  • The name of the person conducting the test
  • The date of the test
  • The pressure at which the test was performed

         For high pressure cylinders the testers identification number and the date must be stamped onto the shoulder,                 top, head, neck or foot ring.

 

This was intended to be a helpful guide to extinguisher ITM but it doesn’t contain all the details that the requirements in NFPA 10 contain. Since there are many different types of extinguishers, there are slightly different requirements based on the extinguisher’s characteristics. Electronic monitoring, which is a viable option as a replacement for your monthly inspections was also not addressed here. 

 

If you’re interested in more information about portable fire extinguishers check out these resources:

 

 

Use the comments below to share your experience with fire extinguishers. What challenges have you faces when conducting inspections? What have you found to be the most common violation?


If you found this article helpful, subscribe to the NFPA Network Newsletter for monthly, personalized content related to the world of fire, electrical, and building & life safety.

NFPA has announced the 2021 edition of NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace as the latest addition to  NFPA LiNK, the Association’s new information delivery platform that will include codes and standards, supplementary content, and visual aids for building, electrical, and life safety professionals and practitioners.electrical safety

Originally developed at OSHA’s request, NFPA 70E helps companies and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast. With the addition of NFPA 70E to NFPA LiNK, users have instant access to requirements for safe work practices that reduce a worker’s exposure to major electrical hazards.

In September, NFPA introduced the platform with the four most recent editions of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC), the most widely used code in the United States and referenced around the globe.

One of the great aspects of NFPA LiNK is that it can be accessed via mobile devices, tablets, laptops, or other preferred device. It will become a “living library” for users that offers:

  •  The ability to work alongside the NEC and NFPA 70E by adding personal notes, assigning colors, and saving to custom collections for quick and easy reference
  • A broader understanding of code requirements through access to expert commentary, visual aids, and helpful resources
  • Collaboration features to share code sections, work across teams, and ensure everyone knows what is required
  • Navigation tools that enable users to quickly locate the information they need based on the situations they encounter

 

LiNKThere’s so much more about NFPA LiNK you don’t want to miss! Check out the NFPA LiNK weekly “video blog series” where we break down and discuss some of the key features and functionalities of the platform. Our first video in the series highlights the Dashboard and publications functions. In the second installation, we discuss Bookmarks and the MyLiNK features. The latest video features situational navigation.

 

As an NFPA LiNK subscriber, you will get access to continuous updates, features and functions, and new editions of NFPA codes and standards as they are released. NFPA will soon expand the collection of codes and standards within the application to include the more than 300 that NFPA offers.

Learn more about how NFPA LiNK can help you in your work. Find more information about the platform, a timeline of additional codes and standards that will be coming to NFPA LiNK, and a product introduction video all at nfpa.org/LiNK. Purchase or try NFPA LiNK by visiting the website.

 

 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has received an award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help communities prepare for electric vehicle (EV) growth in the U.S. NFPA will oversee the three-year project in partnership with the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Vehicle Technologies Office’s Clean Cities Coalitions (CCC) network. The goal of the collaboration is to assist cities and towns with evaluation of their EV infrastructure, training programs, incentives, and code compliance readiness because, according to reports, there are more than one million electrified vehicles currently on U.S. roadways and that number is expected to reach more than 18 million by 2030.

 

Few communities have been able to properly assess their EV preparedness and develop plans to integrate, educate, and incentivize this emerging technology so NFPA will develop state-of-the-art online training modules and associated materials such as videos, presentations, a toolkit, and guidebooks. The Association will also update and expand its existing law enforcement and tow and salvage operator alternative fuel vehicles safety training programs to reflect the latest knowledge and response tactics. Additionally, NFPA will also expand its EV web-based training programs to include modules for EV stakeholders that may not have taken the training in the past (charging station installers, code officials, utilities, manufacturers/dealerships, fleet owners, garages/maintenance facilities, insurance companies, and vehicle owners).

 

After completing the updated coursework, NFPA will also advise and assist selected CCCs as they conduct 30 Community Preparedness Assessment Workshops for local EV stakeholders around the country. The workshops, which will take place over the course of two years, will encourage the development of cooperative plans and provide education so that communities are more accepting and accommodating of electric vehicles.

 

Recognized by U.S. emergency responders as the EV safety training authority, NFPA has worked with several major safety organizations and numerous national laboratories on EV safety issues. The Association has been awarded two separate DOE awards to develop and enhance its Electric Vehicle Safety Programs for first- and second-responders. That training content covered passenger vehicles, electrified trucks, buses, commercial fleets, and their charging infrastructures. NFPA currently offers multiple world-class EV safety training programs and provides resources such as an Emergency Field Guide and associated reference materials.

 

The new DOE project begins this month with final deliverables expected in October 2023. In the meantime, check out NFPA’s electric and alternative fuel vehicles safety training program.

 

As National Cybersecurity Awareness Monthwinds down, it's a great time to look at the ways that NFPA codes and standards are addressing digital transformation and the byproduct of these solutions – the data that is being captured and generated.

 

Conveniently enough, NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley recently delivered a virtual keynote address for the Siemens Fire & Life Safety Summit that touched on both innovation and cybersecurity. Here’s what the head of NFPA had to say.

 

         Standards have a role and that role is rapidly changing because of the digital transformation that is occurring          around us. Understanding and integrating digital solutions and smart technologies into building management          systems is important - and increasingly being addressed in NFPA codes and standards.

 

For example, the 2022 edition of NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems will likely contain language about the use of electronically activated sprinklers for the first time. These days, some sprinklers are designed to address fires in higher hazard storage protection, including exposed expanded plastics. Local heat detectors are “wired” to the sprinkler actuator and constantly sample the air temperature to identify a fire event early on. When a fire event occurs, the system will electronically activate sprinklers in a specific pattern around the fire based on the algorithms programmed into the releasing panel. The new technology ensures that only sprinklers that will be effective in suppressing the fire will activate to limit both fire and water damage.

 

NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code also comes into play here as well since there are electronic components and heat detectors in sprinklers. These systems are connected to a releasing panel that looks a lot like a releasing panel for a pre-action system. It looks like a fire alarm control panel or sub-panel, but it fits into NFPA 13 in the same way that specialty releasing panels do.

 

On the water-based side, automated testing is heavy in NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems but installation system standards such as NFPA 13, NFPA 14, NFPA 15, and NFPA 16 are catching up and adding allowances for the installation of automated testing systems and components.

 

Both NFPA 25 and NFPA 20: Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection now recognize smart technology by featuring language in their most recent editions about remote automated testing of systems or components. Remote testing eliminates the need for a person to be physically present in a facility and is attractive for building owners who are trying to reduce their operating budget or limit the number of outside service-providers accessing their buildings.

 

Then there’s automated flow switch arrangement and other automated testing equipment which include motorized valves capable of opening and closing, cameras for observation, and auxiliary pumps for circulating water to ensure that automated testing equipment or components do not compromise the integrity of the system. This equipment may cost more upfront, but in just a few short years, operations savings are realized and the investment in capital improvements is validated.  

 

Remote testing is also addressed in NFPA 72. During this development cycle, the technical committee for NFPA 72 added provisions for remote access to fire alarm and signaling systems. Remote access is permitted for testing and maintenance activities, including resetting, silencing, or operation of emergency control functions. NFPA 72 will also permit remote access for the purposes of performing remote diagnostics and updating software.

 

Task groups working on the 2023 National Electrical Code (NEC) are also looking hard at digital solutions. Packet Energy Transfer – the system that converts the typical 60 cycle power circuit into a digital signal and reconverts at utilization - is being deployed, but it does not fit well into existing NEC rules, so the standard needs to evolve. Why is this important? Because this technology is being used to power up the 5G equipment that is going to revolutionize how we communicate with digital devices.

 

NEC task groups are also looking at Emergency Lighting Using Power over Ethernet and Limited Energy Circuits. LED lighting technology has become such a mainstay in the commercial lighting segment, that the use of low-voltage circuits for power and control is becoming increasingly popular.  In commercial buildings, luminaires that provide normal lighting can be used as part of the emergency lighting system, rather than use conduit, tubing and metal-clad cables. Low-voltage (CAT 5 and CAT 6) cables are now used to control and power emergency lighting so the NEC task group has provided recommendations to employ this new technology.

 

The NEC technical committee is vetting new requirements surrounding localized power microgrid too. Smart buildings want to have localized microgrids that allow for safe interconnection of multiple distributed energy resources with or without a connection to an electric utility system. Digital technology provides the pathway for the interoperability of these systems. The analytics from these systems will also go a long way in making businesses more efficient and to reduce risk.  These analytics become important information for our technical committees so that they can better understand what other changes need to be made to the standard.

 

More and more fire protection systems are networked to Building Control Systems, it’s the Internet of Things. These and many other platforms are, by design or sometimes by oversight, being exposed to the Internet. This connectivity can lead to cyber vulnerabilities and attacks on fire protection systems.

 

To date, a thorough understanding of fire protection cybersecurity issues has been lacking. So, our research arm, the Fire Protection Research Foundation is working to better understand vulnerabilities, the severity of consequences, and the awareness issues that exist within the fire protection community. When the Foundation research is released in the beginning of the year, it will inform the standards development process.

 

In the meantime, at least 16 NFPA standards have cybersecurity references including NFPA 72 which features guidance and requirements to address cybersecurity for equipment, software, firmware, tools, and installation methods, as well as the physical security and access to equipment, data pathways, testing, and maintenance. In fact, NFPA 72 includes an entirely new annex called Guidelines for Cybersecurity.

 

These Internet of Things (IoT) electrical technologies and smart equipment allow for the collection of real-time data, which can then be used to preempt failures, schedule maintenance, and provide safety for workers – the latter benefit is of interest to NFPA 70B – electrical equipment maintenance and 70E – electrical safety in the workplace committees.

 

These are just some of the ways that NFPA standards are morphing in digital times and looking to safeguard data. NFPA staff and volunteers from 42 countries who fill more than 9000 technical committee seats will continue considering the innovations and potential challenges that often come with progress because it is critical that safety and progress move in lockstep. 

As you may know, NFPA launched NFPA LiNK last month. It’s an exciting new digital platform that provides code information and supplementary content for professionals and practitioners like you who need to better understand problems and make decisions in real time while on the job.

 

To help with navigating the platform, we created a new weekly video series that explains some of the features and functionalities users need like dashboards, sharing, bookmarks, and more. Here in this latest blog in the videos series we address the NFPA DiRECT feature.

 

Have you ever looked at a codebook and just felt overwhelmed? Are there times when you’re not sure where to start, how to find what you’re looking for, or even know what applies in a given situation?

 

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you’ll appreciate the NFPA DiRECT feature that can help you navigate the codebook in a more real-world manner. While you may not always know where to look in the book, you do know the specifics of your particular task. Simply knowing what you’re doing, where you are doing it, and what you’re working on is enough to get you started with NFPA DiRECT. With a little bit of context, you can start applying filters based on some high-level categories such as occupancy, space, system, or equipment. As the filters are applied, results will continue to narrow down until you find the content that matches your needs. For example, say you are new inspector and have been tasked with performing an inspection in an office building. More specifically you have to look at a roof- mounted HVAC system that you have never inspected before and you’re not sure where to look for all of the requirements. With NFPA DiRECT you can start with what you know: the occupancy is a business and the equipment is HVAC. Then, applying these filters will produce results that contain the relevant code information. Learn more about this key DiRECT navigation feature in the video below:

 


The results shown after applying filters consists of relevant situations and solutions. Let’s take the HVAC example, again. That situation page features an image of a rooftop unit with numbered hotspots pointing to different parts. From there you can select among various solutions related to different aspects of the situation to get more information. That’s where you will find additional explanatory commentary or imagery along with any relevant code requirements with direct access to the code section. You can see what I’m talking about regarding the DiRECT content feature in the video below:

 

 

NFPA is continually building out these situations and solutions within NFPA LiNK, and every week new ones are being created. With a subscription you will continue to see new content and updates to existing content to better support your needs.

 

There’s so much about NFPA LiNK you don’t want to miss. This video blog series is a great way to visualize the tool and how much it can help you in your work. If you missed our earlier video demonstrations, check out the first two in the series that showcases the Dashboard and publications features.  The second blog in the series points to the Bookmarks and MyLiNK features. Take some time to review them all; we think you’ll find the quick tutorials very helpful.

 

Find more information about the platform, a timeline of additional codes and standards that will be coming to NFPA LiNK, and a product introduction video at nfpa.org/LiNK. Purchase or try NFPA LiNK today by visiting the website. 

 

We rely on a fire alarm system to constantly monitor for hazardous conditions (such as fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, and even combustible and toxic vapors) within a building, and notify the occupants so they can exit the building safely, notify first responders, and even activate systems to mitigate the hazard such as fire suppression or ventilation. The fire alarm system needs to be able to operate continuously during the life of a building, this includes times in which primary power to the building is lost.

Secondary Power Supply

Fire alarm systems are provided with a secondary source of power in order to remain operational after loss of primary power. The most common forms of secondary power supplies are batteries or an emergency generator. Secondary power supplies are designed to provide enough capacity to power the entire system for 24 hours on standby and then operate the system for at least 5 minutes under emergency conditions (15 minutes for mass notification systems). If a generator is used for secondary power, batteries are still required, but only need to provide capacity for 4 hours, this gives time to get the generator operational if there is an issue.

In order to ensure that the secondary power supply is always available, the fire alarm system itself is able to monitor for the presence of voltage and monitor the battery charging system, and will then annunciate a trouble signal if there is an issue with the power supply or charging system.

Battery Inspection Testing and Maintenance

Although the system can monitor some aspects of the secondary power supply, there is some inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) that needs to be completed to ensure that the secondary power supply is reliable. For ITM specific to the generator, refer to the blog that I wrote on Maintaining your Emergency Power Supply.

Batteries need to be inspected semiannually to confirm that the connections are tight and there is no corrosion on the connections. When inspecting, the batteries need to be checked for damage such as cracks in the case, bulges, or leaking. The batteries need to be marked with the month and year of manufacture (not the date of installation), this information is important for tracking the batteries age. If the battery’s age exceeds the manufacturer’s replacement date, the battery needs to be replaced.

The batteries and charger need to be tested semiannually; these tests include:

  • Measuring the temperature to ensure that the battery is not 18F (10 C) above ambient temperature
  • Measure the voltage to ensure that the battery and charger are still operational
  • Measure the voltage at each cell of the battery to confirm each cell is greater than 13.26 volts
  • Measure the internal ohmic value of each battery and compare to previous tests to ensure that the battery does not have 30% or more conductance or 40% or more resistance or impedance than previous tests or is outside the manufacturer’s acceptable ranges.

Every three years the batteries need to either be replaced or a load test needs to be conducted. Load tests are conducted by putting a known load on the battery for a given time (found from the battery manufacturer). The battery is discharged until it reaches its end voltage. Based on the known load and the time taken to discharge you can then calculate the capacity of the battery and apply any adjustments for temperature. The battery must be replaced if the capacity is less than 80% of its rated capacity.

Secondary Power Operation

All the requirements for ITM above focused on the batteries themselves, but there are some tests that need to be completed in order to make sure that the entire system will operate under secondary power. First, if the system is supplied by an emergency generator, power will need to be transferred to the generator monthly to ensure that the transfer switch and generator will be able to supply the fire alarm. Additionally, all primary power to the system needs to be disconnected annually so the required standby and alarm current to the system can be measured and compared to the available battery capacity. Remember, these batteries need to be able to provide the 24 hour standby and 5 (or 15) minutes of alarm or 4 hours of standby if there is also an emergency generator. Finally, the system needs to be operated under secondary power in alarm for at least 5, or 15 minutes depending on the system type.

Do you have any instances in which you needed to replace the fire alarm batteries because they failed testing? Was there a time in which you relied on the secondary power during an outage? Let me know in the comments below.

If you found this article helpful, subscribe to the NFPA Network Newsletterfor monthly, personalized content related to the world of fire, electrical, and building & life safety

                       

 

NFPA has released a new fact sheet in English and Spanish to help clear up misconceptions about ammonium nitrate dangers. The resource for code officials, business owners, and facility managers was developed following the catastrophic explosion in Beirut, Lebanon that reportedly killed 190 people, injured 6,500 more, left an estimated 300,000 residents homeless, and resulted in $10–15 billion(US) in property damage.

 

Ammonium nitrate is a chemical compound produced in both solid and liquid form that is commonly used in fertilizers. Pure ammonium nitrate is stable, and when stored properly, it poses few safety hazards. Destabilization, however, can occur when flames or fire heats the ammonium nitrate causing it to become self-reactive and give off gases that are flammable and can ignite.

 

The new guidance looks at conditions that might destabilize ammonium nitrate and offers safety steps that can protect buildings before an enforcement issue or incident occurs. The document covers the following:

 

  • How and Why Ammonium Nitrate Turns Dangerous
  • Dangerous Conditions
  • Highly Dangerous Conditions
  • How to Increase Facility Protection
  • Safety Requirements
  • New Construction
  • Existing Facilities
  • Detection and Notification Systems
  • Emergency Response Issues

 

NFPA has generated related content about ammonium nitrate including a video blog, an NFPA Journal article, a podcast, a Learn Something New video, and a blog about hot work. An Arabic version of the new fact sheet will be posted later this fall. All these resources point to the guidance that is available in NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code.

jimpauley

Ruminating About Research

Posted by jimpauley Employee Oct 22, 2020

This infographic is also available in Spanish at www.nfpa.org/foundation

 

I recently sat in on an information-sharing session called Coffee Time at NFPA. Coffee Times are conducted (internally, but virtually these days) by staff looking to apprise colleagues about projects underway, efforts completed, or issues bubbling up for NFPA audiences.

 

This particular day, a trio of young researchers (engineers by trade) from the Fire Protection Research Foundation, NFPA’s research affiliate, spoke about the role of the Research Foundation and some of the projects currently underway. True to both the NFPA and Research Foundation missions, the laundry list of projects touched on every corner of life safety. Newer employees were impressed to hear that more than 50-plus efforts are being managed right now by a small team of five, but for those of us who have worked with or watched the Research Foundation take on challenge after challenge, we were not surprised by the work they quietly do in the interest of safety.

 

Since 1982, the Research Foundation has been bringing people from diverse backgrounds to the table in much the same spirit as the NFPA standards development consensus process. They delve into issues, incidents, and insights that not only inform the standards development process, but more importantly - inform stakeholders like you.

 

Our Association is largely known around the world for our standards development work, but there is also a similarly important contribution we make through the work we collaboratively do to produce meaningful research that is used across the globe. The Research Foundation investigates emerging fire safety hazards, and works closely with our equally impressive Data and Analytics and Applied Research departments which are focused on generating information, metrics, tools, and analytics related to the fire problem, building and life safety, fire protection, electrical, responder safety, wildland fires and hazardous materials.  The research arms of NFPA add tremendous value in a world that is never short on threats or hazards.

 

When I speak with groups, I always point to the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem as the framework to facilitate important safety conversations today – to connect the dots on safety. Chances are you have heard me speak about the eight-component system that must work together to minimize risk and help prevent loss. One of those components is an investment in safety, which I often describe along two lines. We invest in safety by prioritizing the decisions being made. Choosing to protect people and property, and refusing to pander to politics, budgets or aesthetics is essential. The second way that we invest in safety is with research that addresses the new problems we are facing. While progress can be exhilarating and is certainly needed in our world, we must make sure innovation works alongside safety. We need research, testing, and benchmarks to fully understand issues and opportunities.

 

Prior to being the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong flew X-15 rocket planes. He was once asked to honor his test pilot colleagues that were among those who flew nearly 200 radical missions in the 50s and 60s. “In much of society, research means to investigate something you do not know about or do not understand,” Armstrong said. “Research is exploration and discovery. It’s investigating (something that) no one knows or understands. Research is creating new knowledge.”

 

The dozens of projects being juggled right now by the Research Foundation will create new knowledge for the built environment, detection and signaling, suppression, emerging technologies, wildfire, first responders, and so many other topics. It will provide you with information you may not even know you need yet. This is the “exploration and discovery” that Armstrong spoke of; that has become synonymous with NFPA. The Research Foundation exists to discover – just last week they received two new grants for research, bringing the total number of grants or subawards to 40 since 2005.

 

Now, I realize I may be biased about the fantastic research being done by the Research Foundation and our Data and Analytics and Applied Research teams but if you need further proof about the value of research, consider the words of wisdom from a man famously known for taking “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". Or better yet, visit www.nfpa.org/foundation or www.nfpa.org/research so you can be well on your way to the understanding that Armstrong spoke about.

 

This blog originally appeared in the NFPA Network Newsletter. If you find this content insightful, subscribe to the newsletter for monthly personalized content related to the world of fire, electrical, building, and life safety.

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