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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.

Many restaurants, schools, offices, and other businesses have been using outdoor spaces to run and stay open amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, with portable outdoor heaters increasingly being used to reduce the chill as temperatures drop. To help ensure that outdoor propane and electric heaters are used safely and in accordance with NFPA 1, Fire Code (2018 edition), NFPA has developed “Outdoor Heater Safety,” a new fact sheet that provides guidance and recommendations around safe use of these appliances.

 

Included in the fact sheet are guidelines and recommendations for proper use of propane patio heaters, including safe storage of propane cylinders, as well as electric patio heaters. General safety tips, such as keeping anything at least three feet away from heating equipment and turning off all portable heaters when the area is not carefully monitored or occupied, are highlighted as well.

 

By following these recommendations, communities can enhance safety while continuing to enjoy outdoor dining and other activities involving outdoor heaters later into the colder months.

 

As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.

 

NFPA and the Fire Protection Research Foundation have signed an updated MOU to collaborate with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) on activities related to emergency responder PPE, as well as the development of standards concerning first responder safety, deployment, operations, and the protection of emergency personnel.

 

NIOSH is currently involved in the NFPA standards development process for emergency responder PPE so that first responders are protected from physical, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, thermal, inhalation and dermal hazards. The new 10-year MOU continues NIOSH participation with NFPA Technical Committees that work on responder organization operations, deployment, training, and safety.

 

“This updated MOU provides benchmarks for our organizations to further cooperate and coordinate on activities, advocacy, and adoption of key documents and programs that are designed to keep responders safe and competent in their roles,” said Jim Pauley, NFPA president and CEO.

 

“The NFPA is a critical partner in NIOSH’s efforts to protect emergency responders from hazards encountered in the line of duty,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, MD. “Renewing the MOU affords us the opportunity for sustained collaboration over the next decade to improve responders’ safety and health.”

Highlights of the MOU include participating organizations:

 

  • working together on technical information and standards concerning performance, testing, validation, use, care and maintenance of responder PPE, as well as safety issues concerning deployment and operations
  • sharing relevant information concerning testing data, research studies, program findings, and standards development to enhance each organization’s efforts and overall responder effectiveness
  • providing insights related to firefighter exposure and acute and chronic injuries, illnesses, and diseases such as cancers, respiratory disease, heart disease and musculoskeletal injuries
  • exchanging recommendations and lessons learned from firefighter fatality investigations to advance the development, adoption, and revision of standards
  • developing death and injury prevention guidance and ways to promote best practices to responder organizations, and, when appropriate, incorporating the information into NIOSH regulations and compliance
  • working to ensure that NIOSH regulations and NFPA consensus standards are adopted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the InterAgency Board for Equipment Standardization and Interoperability (IAB)
  • incorporating NFPA technical expertise and guidance for long term technology deployment related to emergency responders and their organizations
  • supporting the NIOSH-National Firefighter Registry efforts to expand sources of data for individual firefighter exposure
  • participating in peer reviews for projects and resources related to the above topics

 

On average there are 67 on duty firefighter deaths per year. This MOU was established so that emergency response organizations and personnel have thorough research, testing, standards, operational strategies, and programming to ensure that personnel can safely and competently perform the all-hazards role that they play in society.

Crowd management has been a long-standing life safety challenge for both fire-related and non-fire emergencies in assembly occupancies. The lack of data-informed situational awareness to identify rapid changes in crowd density, movement, and other behaviors presents challenges to crowd managers. Although tramplings, crowd crushes, and other disasters lead to civilian deaths every year, modern technologies can enhance existing crowd management strategies.

This webinar will present a proof-of-concept tool for data-informed crowd management and decision support, highlighting the collection, analysis, visualization, and reporting of crowd movement to inform near real-time crowd management strategies. This research project is led by the Fire Protection Research Foundation and NFPA. Funding for this project is through a U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology Fire Grant.

Register for the webinar today

                             When:              Thursday, November 12, 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time

                             Presenters:     Victoria Hutchison, Fire Protection Research Foundation

                                                      Joseph Gochal, NFPA

                                                      Frederick MacDonald, NFPA

 

Visit www.nfpa.org/webinars for more upcoming NFPA webinars and archives. 

 

Research Foundation Webinar Series 2020 is supported by: American Wood Council; Edwards Fire & Life Safety; Johnson Controls; Telgian Engineering and Consulting and the Zurich Services Corporation.


This blog was updated on 10/27

 

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) will host a Considerations for Warehouse Fire Safety webinar on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. (EDT) for contractors, installers, engineers, facility managers and code officials.

 

In recent months, we have seen large scale warehouse fires including one at a Redlands, California distribution center being used as an Amazon facility. NFPA research shows that, on average, there are 1,410 warehouse fires annually which result in two deaths, 20 injuries and $159.4 million in direct property damage.

 

A trio of industry experts will cover some of the key considerations for warehouse fire safety during a roundtable panel discussion moderated by Matt Klaus, NFPA Director of Technical Services, and a highly regarded subject matter expert in his own right. They include:

 

  • James Golinveaux – President & CEO of Viking Group will provide insights on testing, storage and warehousing history
  • Tracey Bellamy – Chief Engineering Officer at Telgian will offer engineering and design perspective, as well as ITM information for large enterprises
  • Dave Lowrey - Fire Marshal for the City of Boulder will weigh in from an AHJ point of view

 

At a minimum, the following topics will be addressed during the webinar with plenty of time allotted for questions and answers:

  • How warehouses are typically specified and built
  • Importance of commodity classification
  • ESFR sprinklers – design and limitations
  • Management of change
  • Importance of ITM

Join us on the 4th for a worthwhile exchange - there will be plenty of time for questions and answers. Register for the Considerations for Warehouse Fire Safety webinar today or tell a colleague. NFPA also offers great resources that pertain to warehouses including incident statistics, reports, and suppression related research. Earlier this year, new information on Early Suppression Fast Response (ESFR) sprinklers was posted on the NFPA website because ESFRs are often installed in warehouses to avoid installation of in-rack sprinklers.

In late September, NFPA and the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors announced the rollout of the first two videos of a new campaign series entitled, Faces of Fire/Electrical, which features personal stories of people impacted by electrical incidents and demonstrates the need for continued education and awareness about electrical hazards in the workplace and at home.

 

electrical safetyThe latest video in the series introduces Amy Acton, Chief Executive Officer of the Phoenix Society, who, at the age of 18, suffered an electrical burn injury while working a summer job at a marina. When the mast of the sailboat she and her colleagues were moving struck an overhead powerline, Amy, who was at the rear of the boat, fell against the metal rudder as the electrical current passed through it. She suffered extensive burn injuries to her neck and hands.

 

Research tells us that electrical hazards come in a variety of forms, from overhead powerlines to defective wiring or damaged equipment, and workers may be exposed to these hazards in a wide array of work environments. According to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), powerlines remain a leading cause of electrical fatalities. Between 2011 – 2018, 38 percent of all electrically related workplace fatalities were caused by overhead powerlines. It’s important to remember that safety training is not only vital for electrical professionals, but necessary and essential for the many others who may be exposed to electrical hazards in their daily work activities.

 

While many electrical injuries prove fatal, those that are not can be particularly debilitating, oftentimes involving complicated recoveries and lasting emotional and physical impact. The Faces of Fire/Electrical campaign is working to help build a safer world by teaching others and supporting the burn survivor community in advancing lifelong healing, optimal recovery, and burn and injury prevention. electrical safety

 

Since her injury, Amy has dedicated her career to advocating for the expansion of burn recovery services and resources of burn survivors and their loved ones. Starting her career as a burn nurse and later a nurse manager at the burn center where she was treated, Amy later joined the Phoenix Society and along with dedicated staff and volunteers has developed and expanded several national programs that have greatly increased accessibility to long-term recovery resources for those in the burn community. We are grateful to Amy for her willingness to share her story with us.

 

To see Amy’s video and to read more about her work, visit our website at nfpa.org/facesoffire.

 

Over the course of the campaign we will highlight a new video interview every few weeks. You can view all of the videos, including the first two videos of our series featuring Dave Schury and Sam Matagi, on our dedicated webpage. There you will also find free resources to download and share, including fact sheets, tip sheets, infographics and more, in addition to information about electrical safety in both the home and in the workplace.

 

Burn survivors and their loved ones, first responders, burn support professionals, and community members are invited to join the Phoenix Society for its 2020 World Burn Congress on October 23. Learn more by visiting the Phoenix Society webpage.  

Recently, NFPA launched NFPA LiNK, a new digital platform that provides code information and supplementary content for professionals and practitioners who need to better understand problems and make decisions in real time while on the job. In September, the platform introduced the four most recent editions of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC).

 

To help with navigating the platform, NFPA has created a new weekly video series that explains some of the features and functionalities users need like dashboards, sharing, bookmarks, and more. In this week's video series we address Bookmarks and MyLiNK.

 

I’ll start by saying that while the NEC is over 900 pages long, not every piece of it is going to apply to the electrical installation at hand. This is where bookmarking and collections can be really helpful. Users can take sections of code and save only what is relevant to their needs. For instance, say you install, design, or inspect PV systems, with NFPA LiNK, you can bookmark the relevant NEC sections in Articles 690, 705, etc. and organize them into custom collections, creating your own spot to reference anything solar. Or if you often highlight or tab your code book with certain colors to designate topics such as grounding or label requirements, with NFPA LiNK you can assign colors to your bookmarks and then sort them by its color. As other codes and standards are added to the application, users will be able to bookmark and save across publications to provide a more holistic view of the relevant requirements.

 

Bookmarking also allows users to add their own personal notes, and with a team or enterprise subscription, users can share notes by creating "team collections." For example, if you and your team are working on a common project, you can create a team collection and give it a relevant title such as, "125 State Street," and when you add your bookmarks, they will be shared with your team both in MyLiNK and with the respective codes in "book view." It's a great way to collaborate with your coworkers as you strive to better understand code requirements. The video below gives a good overview of this Bookmark function:

 


 

All of the user’s bookmarks will be stored in the “MyLiNK” section of the application. This is where users can organize their bookmarks into collections, and quickly pull up what is relevant to their needs at the time of use. Instead of having to scroll through the code text to find specific notes, users can now search, sort, and organize within MyLiNK. Learn more about the MyLiNK feature in the video below:

 


 

There’s so much about NFPA LiNK you don’t want to miss. Learn more about how NFPA LiNK can help you in your work. Purchase or try NFPA LiNK today by visiting the website. 

electrical safety

The concept of an authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) has been in safety standards for a very long time. It is important that the persons using a standard understand what is required in order to determine compliance with the standard. NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace  and all other NFPA standards define an AHJ as an organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or a procedure. An AHJ need not be a government employee. I have written about the AHJ for NFPA 70E in previous blogs, presentations and in the NFPA 70E handbook. Based on the questions I receive; it seems as if many do not understand how to enforce the requirements of a standard. Any standard that contains requirements must be applied by someone and someone must verify that the requirements have been correctly applied. The person verifying that the requirements have been correctly applied is the AHJ.

Standards can be required by a governmental body often through legislation. The National Electrical Code (NEC) is an example of such a standard. Many states, counties, cities and towns require that all electrical installations comply with the NEC. Typically, the government requires a permit before installation and an inspection by a government electrical inspector to verify compliance with the NEC. This government inspector is the AHJ for these initial electrical installations.

In a commercial or industrial facility, subsequent installation of electrical equipment or modification of the distribution system is often not done under a government permit nor is this inspected by the government AHJ. In residences, it is not uncommon for the permitted and inspected initial electricalsystem to be modified or additional equipment added without the government inspection. The NEC assigns the responsibility for making interpretations of the rules, for deciding on the approval of equipment and materials, and for granting the special permission contemplated in several rules to an AHJ regardless of when an electrical installation takes place.

Does your management invite a government AHJ to inspect and approve the installation of a new subpanel, the move of a production line, the retrofit for a breakroom, the extension of a circuit, or the addition of a backup generator in your facility? Frequently, that is not the case. If a government electrical inspector is not invited, is it still necessary to verify compliance with the NEC requirements? It would be unexpected to find someone who believes the NEC requirements could be ignored. If the requirements can’t be ignored, someone must determine compliance with the NEC. Right or wrong, a non-government person at your company becomes the AHJ for electrical installations and is responsible for determining the NEC compliance and safety of the installation. It is usually a disadvantage for an installer to inspect their own work.

Even with a government AHJ responsible for the initial installation and an assigned facility AHJ for subsequent facility installations, there is an obligation for an employer to verify that maintenance, repair, or modification of the initial equipment does not create an unsafe electrical condition. It is not surprising that an employee may use what is available rather than what is required for a safe installation. A smaller wire gauge for a short circuit extension, a conduit coupling intended for another type of conduit, a missing cover bolt not replaced, or a lug not properly torqued are things that have occurred during repair. Who does management appoint as the AHJ to inspect such things?

Electrical inspections are not to assign blame but to confirm that electrical equipment is installed and maintained in a manner that safeguards persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity. Without verifying compliance, employees are at risk during the performance of their assigned work tasks and associated interaction with electrical equipment. Without an AHJ performing this important step regarding electrical safety, there is a risk of exposure to electrical hazard whether flipping a light switch, operating production line equipment, riding an elevator, or plugging in a coffee pot. It is also not possible to comply with the requirements of NFPA 70E without verification that the installation and maintenance conforms to safety standards and manufacturer’s specifications. Who has your management documented and assigned the responsibility for being the AHJ for the safety of the electrical installations?

Next time: There are authorities having jurisdiction for a standard that is not adopted into law.

For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange.

Want to keep track of what is happening with the National Electrical Code (NEC)? Subscribe to the NFPA Networkto stay informed of new content. The newsletter also includes NFPA 70E information such as my blogs.

 

An outdated and stained floor covering requires update and replacement, a new office tenant requests a reconfigured office space, a new commercial stove and oven is needed for a cafeteria, or a hotel guest room is converted into extra storage space.  Buildings are always undergoing work to maintain their systems and features in good working conditions, and to reconfigure and upgrade their space.   

 

So, when work is being done to a building, how does the Life Safety Code apply?  

Prior to 2006, editions of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, required all modernizations, renovations, additions, and changes of occupancy, to the extent practicable, to comply with the requirements for new construction. Often, however, building rehabilitation is not undertaken because of the perception that unwanted or unwarranted upgrades will be forced on the building owner. Chapter 43, added in 2006, was written to encourage the adaptive reuse of compliant, existing structures. The former philosophy of “that which you do must meet new” is relaxed. Now, with the detailed provisions contained in Chapter 43, only those requirements necessary to achieve the intended level of life safety are mandated in lieu of requiring strict compliance with the requirements applicable to new buildings.  

 

Chapter 43 presents provisions based on a set of concepts including the following:

  1. During a rehabilitation project, a building must meet the base level of life safety required by the Code chapter applicable to the existing occupancy.
  2. The rehabilitation work must maintain or increase the level of Code compliance.
  3. Rehabilitation work in existing construction elements or building features is held to a lower standard than rehabilitation work in new elements or features.
  4. Upgrades are typically required only in the rehabilitation work areas, not throughout the entire occupancy or building.

 

What if my building requires corrective actions as a result of a Code deficiency?  

Let’s say you are planning to renovate an entire tenant space to in your existing office building. However, it is determined that your existing office building exceeds the maximum allowable travel distance.  The provisions of Chapter 43 are to be used once the existing building is brought into compliance with the appropriate occupancy chapter requirements applicable to that existing occupancy.  Work done to correct a deficiency is not subject to the provisions of Chapter 43.  Once your existing office building is compliant the additional planned work to the tenant space will use Chapter 43 to determine the provisions that apply to that work. Your existing office building undergoing the renovation is held, as a starting point, to the same requirements that apply to any other existing business occupancy building.  

 

Some of the occupancy chapters have requirements that supplement those of Chapter 43 and impose the requirements for new construction on existing buildings that are being rehabilitated, including those situations in which the use is changed to increase the occupant load. For example, mercantile occupancies are further subclassified as a Class A, Class B, or Class C mercantile occupancy, based on the floor area used for sales purposes.

 

After determining that Chapter 43 applies to the work in my building, what determines compliance with new or existing requirements?  

Establishing a level of Code compliance uses a stepped approach to mandate requirements. Minor levels of rehabilitation must meet minimal requirements; major rehabilitation projects must meet more significant requirements.

 

Chapter 43 defines seven categories of rehabilitation work: repair, renovation, modification, reconstruction, change of use, change of occupancy and addition. Understanding and properly defining these seven categories are a key concept of this chapter for achieving the objective of proportionality of work. That is, the more work that is proposed for the rehabilitation project, the more work that might be required by the Code in terms of upgrading existing conditions.  Incorrectly defining the category/categories of work on a rehabilitation project can result in over- or under-applying critical fire and life safety requirements from the Code to your building.

 

Identifying the category of work being performed will then determine the extent to which the Code is applied to that work.  Any building undergoing rehabilitation will comply with the requirements of the applicable existing occupancy chapter plus any additional requirements for the applicable new occupancy as called out specifically in Chapter 43.   

 

For example, a simple repair, such as replacing a few ceiling tiles in an office that were damaged due to a water leak, would be required to use like materials and result in an installation no less conforming than it was prior to the repair (existing).  Reconstruction work, such as gutting an entire floor in an existing hotel building to create hotel guest suites from individual guest rooms individual guest rooms, requires a more extensive and detailed application of Code requirements for the work being performed. Among other requirements, newly constructed elements, components, and systems are required to comply with the requirements of other Code sections applicable to new construction.

 

What are some other considerations when applying Chapter 43 to a rehabilitation project? 

  • Chapter 43, with the exception of the provisions for reconstruction, does not mandate improvements or set minimum acceptable standards for spaces that are not undergoing rehabilitation.  Incidental work in other areas of the building may be required depending on the extent of the work (for example, extending a fire alarm system may require upgrades to the fire alarm panel that are outside the original rehabilitation work area but are necessary as part of the project.)
  • A single work project may have more than one rehabilitation work category (for example, a reconstruction may also result in a change of occupancy) 
  • The provisions of Chapter 43 should not prevent the use of equivalent designs, systems or approaches if deemed acceptable by the AHJ. 
  • Work mandated by any accessibility, property, housing, or fire code; mandated by the existing building requirements of this Code; or mandated by any licensing rule or ordinance, are not required to conform to Chapter 43.
  • Construction, alteration and demolition operations that may accompany rehabilitation projects must comply with the provisions for NFPA 241.  Both new and existing occupancy chapters now contain pointers back to NFPA 241 for this work. 

 

Interested in learning more about the specifics of rehabilitation work categories and compliance options for applying the building rehabilitation requirements in NFPA 101 to real world examples?  This December we will be offering a 2-hour virtual, live training on this topic!  Be on the lookout in the NFPA catalog at www.nfpa.org/catalog soon for more details and registration information. 

 

And finally, 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.

 

Thanks for reading, stay safe!

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