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“Do we really need another standard on confined spaces?” That’s the question I get asked most often in response to NFPA 350, Guide for Confined Space Entry and Work. My answer is a definitive “yes,” and here’s why: Fatalities continue to occur in confined spaces each year, despite regulations.  Virtually all of the fatalities could have been prevented by following the regulations and using the “how-to” provisions provided in NFPA 350.
I recently wrote the article, "Why Use NFPA 350," for the August 2017 issue of Occupational Health and Safety magazine (see image above), which provides a substantive overview of what’s covered in the guide.  The article explains gaps in existing regulations and how NFPA 350 fills in those gaps with information needed to safely enter and work in confined spaces.  If you have any comments or questions about the article, feel free to share them here.
Also, here's an NFPA 350 fact sheet, which defines what confined spaces are, along with the associated hazards and how to maximize safety for people working in them.
This photograph was taken in the Summer of 1933.
From Volunteer Firemen, vol. 1, no. 3, 1933:
"The trailer of this tank truck overturned and took fire when the truck skidded on the wet pavement of a Los Angeles suburb. Tank and trailer together contained 6,205 gallons of gasoline. The potential hazard to any property near the burning wreck of a tank truck is shown by this picture."
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Library.
The NFPA 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.
In a #101Wednesdays post this past January, I discussed the Life Safety Code requirements for inspection of egress doors for life safety, and I touched on a bit of confusion created by the language in the 2012 edition and its adoption by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for health care occupancies with regard to inspection of fire and smoke doors. In short, the language was formatted in such a way as to be easily misconstrued. While the language was clarified for the 2015 edition of NFPA 101, that didn’t do much to help the thousands of health care facilities (e.g., hospitals and nursing homes) mandated to comply with the 2012 edition via the CMS adoption. Staff from NFPA’s technical services division reached out to CMS and, through a series of meetings and conversations, was able relay the Code’s intent, resulting in a July 28, 2017 memorandum from CMS to the state survey agency directors clarifying the requirements for fire and smoke door annual testing. The memorandum (17-38-LSC) is summarized by CMS as follows:
· In health care occupancies, fire door assemblies are required to be annually inspected and tested in accordance with the 2010 edition of NFPA 80, Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives.
· In health care occupancies, non-rated doors assemblies including corridor doors to patient care rooms and smoke barrier doors are not subject to the annual inspection and testing requirements of either NFPA 80 or NFPA 105, Smoke Door Assemblies and Other Opening Protectives.
· Non-rated doors should be routinely inspected as part of the facility maintenance program.
· Full compliance with the annual fire door assembly inspection and testing in accordance with 2010 NFPA 80 is required by January 1, 2018.
· Life Safety Code deficiencies associated with the annual inspection and testing of fire doors should be cited under K211–Means of Egress-General.
It was great to see this cooperative effort between NFPA and CMS lead to the relatively speedy issuance of this memorandum. Many facilities subject to CMS regulation and the public will benefit from this consistent, well-defined door inspection requirements. Kudos to all who worked hard to get this done! Thanks for reading, and as always, stay safe.
Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to and click on “Free access to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101.”
Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

wildfire community project, campus fire safety, wildfire safety, wildfire community preparedness day, takeaction


There is so much good going on at the college and university level now-a-days, and community service projects top that list. Projects are wide and varied ranging from helping homeless people with a meal, helping young readers learn to read, cleaning up trash along a river front, and working at the local food pantry. It’s speculator to see young adults contributing to local community life.


When it comes to this same community spirit, NFPA has a couple of campaigns that university staff, fraternities, sororities, clubs, classes, or teams can easily get involved in. The projects focus on wildfire safety and with a little tweaking, young people can easily fit these programs into community life projects. Adopting a service project such as these creates a positive influence in the community and stretches both staff and student goals, interests and abilities while at the same time making the community safer.


If your college or university lies in or near a high-risk wildfire area, do your part by helping prepare the campus and its surrounding community before the fire threatens your school and surrounding neighborhoods.


The first is NFPA’s TakeAction campaign, which provides resources and projects that benefit young adults, their families and neighbors. Project ideas include:


The second is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day, a campaign that provides an opportunity for community residents to come together to participate in risk reduction and wildfire preparedness activities that help make their communities safer from brush, grass and forest fires. Typically this day is the first weekend in May but communities have been known to work on projects at other times of the year, like during the fall months or at the start of the new year. Grant funding is available to those organizations or communities that meet the criteria, and students and campus staff can promote their project and get recognition for all of their hard work, too. Many tools and resources are available to make outreach fast and easy. These include:


  • The Wildfire Community Preparedness Day logo, which, along with your organization’s name can be applied to t-shirts, on posters, and more.
  • The hashtag #WildfirePrepDay, which can highlight your project on Twitter. You can also post your project and photos on Facebook.
  • The Wildfire Community Preparedness web banner can be added to your website or event’s landing page; you can also order a large banner to hang outside at your event.


And this is just the beginning. NFPA has a number of great resources and project ideas for students and staff that can help reduce a wildland fire’s enormous disruption. For more information please visit the TakeAction and Wildfire Community Preparedness Day websites and find your inspiration!

The hierarchy of risk controls is required to be implemented, in descending order, whenever it is necessary to protect an employee from the risk of injury associated with the use of electricity. Elimination, the most effective control, was discussed in the prior blog. The next control that must be implemented is substitution followed by engineering controls. These two controls are more effective than the remaining three since they are less affected by human interaction. The hierarchy of risk controls is:
(1) Elimination
(2) Substitution
(3) Engineering controls
(4) Awareness
(5) Administrative controls
(6) Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Substitution is often more applicable in the design stage. This does not mean that substitution cannot be employed at a later date. For example, installing a remote racking system is a substitution method that could be employed during equipment installation or may be installed subsequently. In this context, the remote racking system may lower the risk of injury to the employee rather than have an effect on the hazard that the employee will be subjected to. Substitution could also be utilizing a faster acting overcurrent device or opting for components that limit the available fault current. Arc-rated equipment could be employed to lower the risk of injury to an employee.
This control method could fail for the same reasons as those used for elimination. Equipment could be constructed incorrectly or the equipment procurement process could deviate from the specified equipment. Incorrect or insufficient maintenance could defeat this control method. Substandard or counterfeit equipment must be avoided. However, removing the reliance on the actions of an employee for the creation of a safe work environment increases the probability of success.
Engineering controls often take the form of guards and barriers to reduce the probability of an injury. Zone-selective interlocking or differential relaying can reduce the incident energy. These methods are also not infallible. Guards may be removed to make performance of tasks or equipment operation easier. Barriers may be moved to provide greater access. Defeating this control often takes conscious human effort. Still, preventing access to a potential hazard greatly decreases the likelihood that an injury will occur.
Next time: Awareness and administrative controls. 


Please note that the live stream of the NFPA Standards Council hearings has experienced unforeseen issues. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your interest.  

View the preliminary Hearings/Appeals schedule and agenda



Have you ever wondered what goes on during Appeals heard by the Standards Council?  Curious about what is being challenged in a standard that you work with daily?  Want to learn more about how a standard continues through the development process after the Technical Meeting?  Well, here is your chance!


In an effort to better serve and engage our stakeholders in the NFPA standards development process, we are pleased to announce that the Standards Council will be video streaming all hearings of Appeals LIVE on Tuesday, August 15th.   This insider’s look at the fourth stage of the NFPA process will be available at beginning at 8:30 a.m. on August 15th.  Hearings are scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m.  View the preliminary Hearings/Appeals schedule


So, whether you’re just curious about the Appeals process or want to hear the debated issues, tune in.

It's time for a flashback Friday! I am out of the office for a couple more Fridays, returning from maternity leave at the end of August.  In the past months, at least two major fires have occurred in the greater Boston area in buildings under construction.  In light of these fires in the news over the past months involving buildings under construction, I have copied below some information on a topic that I highlighted in a blog last July about provisions in NFPA 1 related to safeguarding construction, alteration, and demolition operations and the reference to NFPA 241. For additional information on recent fires in apartment buildings under construction check out this blog.


Chapter 16 of NFPA 1, Fire Code, requires structures undergoing construction, alteration, or demolition operations to comply with NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations. NFPA 241 provides measures for preventing or minimizing fire damage during construction, alteration, and demolition operations. (The fire department and other fire protection authorities also should be consulted for guidance.)


The requirements of NFPA 241 cover issues such as the location and use of temporary construction for offices, storage, and equipment enclosures; control of processes and hazards such as hot work; temporary heating and fuel storage; and waste disposal. The general requirements also cover temporary wiring and lighting, site security, access for fire fighting, and on-site provision of first aid fire-fighting equipment.


Extensive details from NFPA 241 are included, as extracts, in Chapter 16 of NFPA 1.  NFPA 1, 2015 edition, extracts from NFPA 241, 2013 edition.


In addition to compliance with NFPA 241, Chapter 16 contains some additional, NFPA 1 specific, provisions:

  • A fire protection plan must be establishes where required by the AHJ. (A fire safety program helps control fires and emergencies that may occur during construction or demolition operations by early planning and implementation of safety measures.)
  • Fire department access roads in accordance with Section 18.2.3 of NFPA 1 must be provided at the start of a project and maintained throughout construction. This ensures adequate access for the fire department should a fire or emergency occur.


Construction and demolition operations can be dangerous, and history has shown us that major fires and property damage can occur, if the proper safety measures are not followed.  NFPA 1, through NFPA 241, offer the provisions necessary to ensure safe construction and building demolitions.


For additional information, check out this article from the Jan/Feb 2015 NFPA Journal about the recent uptick in huge fires at residential complexes under construction, and how NFPA 241 can protect these buildings from loss.


Happy Friday! Thanks for reading, stay safe!

Road Tunnel
Road tunnels are common place across North America and the world, providing the necessary path through mountains and under water. NFPA 502, Standard for Road Tunnels, Bridge, and Other Limited Access Highways, provides fire protection and life safety requirements for these structures which can cause unique challenges for safety because of constraints on ventilation and egress. Many tunnels in North America utilize passive protection methods for resistance to the effects of fire, typically provided by thicker layers of concrete. An alternate to this passive protection is a reactive system including fixed fire fighting (suppression) and ventilation components.
The Research Foundation has published a report by researchers at the University of Carolina at Charlotte that reviewed the impact of fixed fire fighting systems in road tunnels. Information was gathered on technical research from around the world and synthesized with an economic analysis of fire protection and life safety in road tunnels. The work from this project was basis for Anurag Jha’s Master of Science in Fire Protection & Administration thesis.

The NFPA Conference & Expo is a one-of-kind event focusing on fire, electrical, and life safety, bringing together thousands of professionals, experts, and vendors. Here’s what you’ll find at the 2018 Conference & Expo:

• 5,000+ attendees, from building managers and contractors to public fire service and enforcement agencies
• Over 350+ vendors
• More than 100 Education Sessions


If you’re passionate about fire, electrical, and life safety and are interested in delivering a dynamic and engaging presentation at the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo, we want to hear from you!  We’re particularly interested in sessions that address the following topic areas:

• Community Risk Reduction
• Electrical Installation and Safety
• Emerging Issues
• Fire Fighter Health and Safety
• Chemical and Industrial Hazards
• Advances in Technology
• Insurance Industry Concerns
• Suppression Systems and Methods
• Energy Storage Systems/Photovoltaics
• Hospitality Industry Concerns
• Fire Alarm and Signaling Systems


Join us June 11-14 in Las Vegas, NV, and share your knowledge, experiences, and expertise!

Submit your proposal by September 25th!

Brown-Camp Hardware Company store in Des Moines, Iowa

On the night of August 11, 1918 at 8:40 PM, the night-watchman and sales manager of the Brown-Camp Hardware Company store in Des Moines, Iowa heard something that sounded like an explosion at the rear of the building. Upon inspection, they discovered that the rear portion of the building (outside the office) was filled with smoke which seemed to be coming from through one of the upper floors. The fire was under control and confined to the building within seven hours of the first alarm.


From the NFPA Quarterly v.11, no.3, 1918:


“The cause of the fire is not known. It is thought to have started on the second or third floor, at the east side. The stock carried at this point consisted of cases of loaded shells and of mixed paints in sealed cans. It is thought that the fire was of incendiary origin though there is no tangible evidence obtainable at this time to support this theory. The only employee in the building during the afternoon of Saturday, the day of the fire, resigned his position on the following Monday.


The complete destruction of all floors above the grade makes any investigation impossible.”


For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Library.
The NFPA 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.


Jim Pauley and other NFPA representatives are meeting with key stakeholders in Costa Rica this week, as the country looks to update the National Electrical Code® (NEC®).


On Sunday, Pauley met with Costa Rica’s President Luis Guillermo Solis and members of the fire service. Today, Pauley spoke with members of the engineering, electrical and enforcement communities during the 4th edition of VIED, a life and property protection congress hosted by CIEMI, The College of Electrical, Mechanical and Industrial Engineers that regulates the professional practices of engineers. The NFPA president was part of a distinguished panel with Olga Caledonia, Division Manager for NFPA’s International Operations, Marco Calvo, President of CIEMI, Carolina Vasquez with the Ministry of Science and Technology, Carlos Mora from the Ministry of Economy, Architect Abel Castro from CFIA,  Olman Vargas from CFIA, and Hector Chavez, General Director Costa Rica Fire Department.  


Pauley applauded local authorities’ commitment to building a safe infrastructure saying, "As safety-conscious practitioners, we can’t approach code awareness slowly or simply stick to what we know. If we do, technology and progress will outpace us." 


NFPA has been working with Latin America-based stakeholders for decades. Unlike the US where codes have been taking shape for more than 120 years, Latin America has had to absorb and adopt critical benchmarks at a much faster pace. The first edition of the NEC was published in Spanish in 1927 – thirty years after the NEC debuted in 1897. Costa Rica is looking to adopt the 2014 version of the NEC now, and Mexico will do the same later this year. Going forward, NFPA is looking to close the gap between code cycles so that translated versions of the NEC are simultaneously available in English and Spanish.


Prior to taking the helm at NFPA three years ago, Pauley worked in the electrical engineering industry for thirty years. During his remarks, he spoke about increased connectivity these days and the new challenges associated with emerging technologies. He emphasized the importance of staying up-to-date on codes, standards and training as the world embraces new energy sources and becomes reliant on electrical connectivity. "Like you, I’ve rolled up my sleeves to fix components, managed contractors, met with code enforcers, and responded to new professional requirements and industry changes. I understand where you are coming from. What’s more, I understand where the industry is going," Pauley said.


Some topics being explored this week weren’t even on the code radar ten years ago, including photovoltaics, electric vehicles, and energy storage. These green solutions provide new opportunities and new hazards for the electrical, engineering, enforcement and fire communities. Staying up to date on safety practices associated with solar energy, hydro fuel, wind turbines, and energy storage as Costa Rica works toward being the first country in the world using 100% renewable energies is critical.


"The beauty of the NEC is that it represents the most current collective wisdom of many so that people and property can be safe from fire and electrical hazards," Pauley said. "As our world continues to change, there is one thing that remains the same - residents and the business community rely on us to champion safety."

CAL FIRE, wildfire hazards, C&E2017, embers
As most of us know, states across the U.S. can no longer rely on a defined fire season. This sobering truth is especially evident in California where the fire season is 70 days longer than it was 40 years ago, and fire ignitions in the state have greatly increased in the last few years (in 2016, fire ignitions were greater than the 5-year average).
And while these stats are staggering, in California there has been a dramatic increase in prevention activities over recent years, including defensible space inspections, public education efforts and vegetation treatment projects funded by grants. So why are an alarming number of structures still being destroyed by wildfires?
That’s the question Dave Shew, Staff Chief for CAL FIRE, Planning and Risk Analysis Department, Office of the State Fire Marshall, posed to a packed room for his session: “Structure Loss in the WUI: Why do Losses Continue to Rise Despite Increased Prevention Efforts?” at NFPA’s 2017 Conference & Expo in June. It's also the subject of a recent NFPA Journal article, "Structure Survival," where Shew is interviewed.
While Shew made it clear in his session that the answer doesn’t consist of one "silver bullet,” the keys to resolving the challenge, he says, are tied to embers and communities working more closely together on solutions. Here, Shew explains that there is more than one way to tackle the wildfire problem.
To this end, Shew says that wildfire safety advocates still have a lot of work to do when it comes to educating the public about the dangers of embers and the impact they have on the survivability of a home during a fire. "We have to get better at talking to the public," he says.
One way to do that is for communities to collaborate with their local fire departments. Shew believes the next paradigm shift in the fire service will see firefighters taking a more active role in talking to homeowners about wildfire risk. Shew told the audience he knows this concept doesn’t make him a popular guy in the office. “My colleagues in the fire service get mad at me every time I mention it,” he says. Still, Shew explains his reasoning behind why firefighters need to get more involved with the public when it comes to wildfire education.
In all honesty, you can’t help but get caught up in Shew’s passion and determination when it comes to wildfire safety. From the positive reaction of the audience (many stayed long after the presentation was over to ask questions) it was clear they did, too. We don't want you to miss this presentation, so we've included the full audio version of his talk for you to listen to. And if you find inspiration or have thoughts to share after you’ve tuned in, we’d love to hear from you.
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to all the 2017 NFPA C&E education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions to find the attached audio/video you'd like to view.
The NFPA Standards Council considered the issuance of a proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) on the 2017 edition of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code. This TIA was issued by the Council on July 18, 2017:
  • NFPA 70, TIA 17-5, referencing 220.12, Exception No. 2
Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) are amendments to an NFPA Standard processed in accordance with Section 5 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. They have not gone through the entire standards development process of being published in a First Draft Report and Second Draft Report for review and comment. TIAs are effective only between editions of the Standard. A TIA automatically becomes a public input for the next edition of the Standard, as such is then subject to all of the procedures of the standards development process. TIAs are published in NFPA News, NFCSS, and any further distribution of the Standard after being issued by the Standards Council.

Chief Hector Chavez, General Director of the Costa Rica Fire Department, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis and NFPA President Jim Pauley


NFPA President Jim Pauley joined with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis yesterday to accept the delivery of 16 fire trucks, 4 motorcycles and 4 ATVs as the fire department celebrates 152 years of providing emergency response to the people of Costa Rica. It was a grand gesture for an international fire services organization that is dedicated to top notch prevention and response.


Pauley was in Costa Rica to meet with members of the Confederation of Central American Fire Departments, and unveil a new fire services manual that will help command staff, firefighters, and the enforcement community reduce death and destruction due to fire and related hazards. NFPA collaborated with Costa Rican fire leaders on the development of the best practices document.


During his remarks, Pauley thanked the attendees for all that they do to keep people and property safe; and emphasized the importance of keeping up on emerging technology since Costa Rica is particularly interested in green energy.


"The information provided in this new fire manual is only good if you put it into practice," Pauley said. "Take the time to read it, update department protocol, share it with your colleagues, and hold others accountable for following these guidelines."


Later this week, Pauley and members of NFPA's staff will meet with members of the electrical, engineering and enforcement communities in Costa Rica.

The National photo


Here we go again. Once more a Middle East skyscraper has erupted into flames. The BBC reports that, for the second time in a little more than two years, the Torch Towers in Dubai caught fire. According to Dubai Civil Defence, there were no casualties and 475 people were safely evacuated from the 86-story hi-rise.  

Since early 2015, NFPA has reported on several fires in Middle East hi-rise buildings and provided input to media outlets looking for code information and best practices.  


Each of these fires remind us of the importance of codes, standards, safety guidelines and enforcement.  NFPA is working with authorities in the Middle East to ensure optimal safety in the Persian Gulf, and earlier this year formed a Middle East Advisory Committee to reduce loss of life and property.

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