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There is increasing concern in public safety and public health communities about the potential exposure of first responders to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug with health effects ranging from drowsiness to respiratory failure.   Fentanyl can be taken into the body through different routes, including inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption, depending on the situation and the form of drug.  Because of the hazards of fentanyl and its serious health concerns, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed recommendations for safe work practices and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment for activities in which fentanyl or its analogs may be present. 


In a recent blog, NIOSH provides more details on fentanyl and exposure risks for first responders and provides links to its interim recommendations for law enforcement when dealing with fentanyl. The NIOSH blog also encourages the first responder community to offer comments related to fentanyl. 


The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has also prepared a briefing guide for first responders.


NFPA has seen a flurry of activity from first responders regarding exposure to fentanyl and carfentanil, and posted a blog warning about the health and safety risks to first responders when the NIOSH recommendations first came out. While NFPA has no official guidance to offer at this time, several documents or standards may be useful for first responders in taking precautionary measures.  These include:


  • - Standard for Competence of Responders to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents
  • - Standard for Competencies for EMS Personnel Responding to Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Incidents
  • - Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program
  • - Standard on Breathing Air Quality for Emergency Services Respiratory Protection
  • - Standard on Protective Clothing and Ensembles for Emergency Medical Operations


Earlier this year, NFPA Journal® also reported on first responders grappling with the opioid crisis in their cover story "Chasing a Killer."


Less than two years ago, NFPA hired its first full time data scientist. Dr. Nathaniel Lin came armed with an impressive skill set, strong professional achievements, and a great deal of passion for data analytics.Since then, NFPA has invested in additional staff, infrastructure, and has spent much of the last two years cultivating collaborative relationships so that, together with our stakeholders and like-minded organizations, we can develop a data analytics framework that will benefit fire departments and enforcement communities.

It is refreshing to see the number of fire departments and associations around the world who share NFPA's commitment to capturing, sharing and applying data to reinforce collective wisdom.

The world's largest Data Analytics Club heard about NFPA's efforts to aggregate and apply data so that firefighters and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) can tackle challenges and develop solutions in their communities. NFPA's data lead Nathaniel Lin was invited to talk about the organization's work on the #FutureofData Podcast, a show geared toward senior executives responsible for data-driven products, services and companies.  Learn about Lin's background and NFPA's journey to improve fire safety with data analytics, by accessing the podcast here.

Grenfell Tower Fire in London

Getty Images


The Grenfell Tower fire in London has been a horrific fire tragedy.  With a loss of 79 lives thus far, it is one of the most tragic fires to occur in the UK in recent decades.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims as well to the first responders involved in the very difficult recovery operations.  We have reached out to the UK to offer NFPA’s support and assistance in any way needed.


News stories have talked about the flammability of exterior cladding, the lack of fire sprinklers and the notion of “shelter in place” amongst other subjects. On its own, it is a horrendous tragedy.  In combination with other recent events, some disturbing trends emerge which could set fire safety back for decades.


For example, in less than one year we saw 36 people perish in the Oakland Ghost Ship fire, a former warehouse being used as living and entertainment space. The fire raised questions about appropriate permitting for its use, code enforcement, lack of fire alarms and the role of occupants in understanding the impact of their surroundings on their own personal safety. We saw a fire at a packaging factory in Bangladesh that killed 23 in a building with woefully inadequate fire protection.  We saw a wildfire in Tennessee burn over 17,000 acres of land and kill 14 people, prompting questions about pre-planning, building in the urban interface to withstand wildfire, fire service ability to respond to an event of this magnitude and public awareness around this growing threat. Another raging wildfire in Portugal claimed the lives of 62 people, many burned in their cars as they attempted to flee, raising similar questions about planning and preparedness.  We saw a six-year-old girl die in Connecticut when a fire ripped through the recently constructed house that, if it had been built to meet the national codes, would have had a home fire sprinkler and likely a much different outcome.


Each of these incidents is an individual tragedy. Taken together, they depict a larger global problem warranting action. Looked at in their entirety, they are a collective example of how, either intentionally or accidentally, the fire prevention and protection system has been broken. A system that the public believes exists and counts on for their safety.  A system that, through complacency, bad policy and placing economics of construction over safety, has let the public down.


Where have we gone astray? In each of these scenarios as well as many more not mentioned we can point to one or more factors:


•    the use of outdated codes and standards
•    acceptance of reduced safety requirements to save money
•    ignoring referenced standards within a code
•    lack of education around the application of the codes and standards
•    reduced enforcement
•    a public unaware of the dangers of fire


When government and other entities don’t adopt or designers don’t use the latest versions of codes and standards, they lose the benefit of the latest technology, research and collective wisdom related to fire, electrical and life safety.  


When policy makers decide to remove life safety and property protection provisions from codes, they have substituted politics for technical requirements that were determined after extensive input from across the spectrum of knowledgeable people.


When users fail to review and follow standards that are referenced in the codes, they aren’t ensuring the right practices and products are used in the right situations, increasing vulnerability to disaster.  


When the professionals involved in design, installation, enforcement and maintenance have not kept up to date on the latest requirements they can end up applying products improperly leading to catastrophic results.  


When jurisdictions, under fiscal pressures or lack of understanding of the importance, reduce enforcement efforts, they place their communities at risk as buildings deteriorate, change ownership or type of use.  


And when the public takes safety for granted and is uneducated about fire risks, their improper or uneducated actions can place them in peril.


The system the public relies on for managing fire safety is broken and a single solution isn’t the answer.  It will take a systems approach to fix it.  At NFPA, we are focused on looking at the entire system and working with everyone involved to fill the gaps.


We may not be able to prevent every tragedy from occurring, but by recommitting to and promoting a full system of fire prevention, protection and education, we can help save lives and reduce loss. That is the story that should consume the news of the day.


Jim Pauley

President and CEO


automatic sprinkler plans review, NFPA 13

Are you a project manager responsible for reviewing and approving plans, or an engineer or designer who needs to ensure sprinkler system plans are ready for submission to AHJs? If so, then you know there’s a lot riding on the accuracy and timeliness of these plans. So how can you best tackle these day-to-day challenges and put your best foot forward with every project?

NFPA’s latest two-day class and workshop can help you build upon your on-the-job expertise with additional training that shows you how to avoid the pitfalls of poor planning and provides you with the necessary tools to help you save time and avoid costly and potentially dangerous errors and omissions.

The training, "Automatic Sprinkler Systems Plans Review Two-Day Training and Workshop," goes beyond the usual “lecture” style format and instead focuses on practical, hands-on learning where participants will be able to review plans and calculations, identify deficiencies and document findings. Based on NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, the workshop covers such topics as:

• Regulatory requirements for plans and calculations submittals
• Blueprint reading skills
• Sprinkler specifications
• An 8-step process for hydraulic calculations review
• An 8-step process for sprinkler plans review

We invite you to join us July 13 – 14 in Cranston, Rhode Island for this unique training experience. At NFPA, we’re devoted to helping you do your job better throughout your entire career. Find out more, and register on NFPA’s training page.

Reports from two literature review studies published from the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF). Both these reports focused on compiling information from the currently available literature on the respective topics.  

Click here for more research report from FPRF. 

Hello – Happy Friday!  Today’s post comes to you from Tracy Vecchiarelli, Senior Fire Protection Engineer in the Building Fire Protection and Life Safety Department, at NFPA.  Special thanks to Tracy for her contribution to this blog while I am out on maternity leave, and discussing one of the many subjects addressed in the Fire Code.


NFPA 1 isn’t a document I work with a lot, so when Kristin asked me to write a guest post for her Fire Code Fridays blog, I was a little intimidated. Luckily, NFPA 1 includes literally HUNDREDS of referenced standards, a few of which I know pretty well- like NFPA 220, Standard on Types of Building Construction.


NFPA 220 is referenced in Chapter 12 of the Code. In addition, scattered through NFPA 1 are requirements related to construction type. Many of these are special exemptions depending on the construction type. For example in Chapter 28 (Marinas and Boatyards), if you have Type I or Type II construction (and no combustible contents) you are not required to provide an automatic fire-extinguishing system. NFPA 1 can also point out required construction types, for example in Chapter 21 (Airports and Heliports), airport terminals are required to be Type I, Type II or Type IV.


NFPA 220 is the document that defines these types of construction. NFPA has 5 construction “Types” and 10 variations of those types, depending on the rating of specific construction elements. See below for an explanation and an example of NFPA’s construction types.



There is also a helpful table within NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code (Annex A. that compares the construction type labels used by NFPA, UBC, B/NBC, SBC and the IBC (See below).



Thanks for reading.  Happy Friday, stay safe!


(you can follow both Tracy (@TracyNFPA) and I (@KristinB_NFPA) for additional fire safety information.)

Do you work in healthcare, education or in an industrial facility? If your job requires to manage and / or maintain square footage of a facility, the NFPA would like the opportunity to learn more from you. The NFPA is committed to learning and understanding from stakeholders, like facility maintenance personnel, building owners, safety managers and the like. If you are interested in working more closely with the NFPA, please reach out to Lauren D’Angelo, Segment Director for Facility Managers, at


   Your employee trusts that you are committed to ensuring their safety. They do not expect to be injured while they are at work. Your roll in meeting this expectation should not be taken lightly. Your commitment to electrical safety will go a long way to getting every one of them home each day. Let’s look at some things that could affect your employees trust based on what NFPA 70E® is trying to accomplish.


   Beyond the expectation that you will properly train and qualify employees for any assigned task, NFPA 70E requires a lot of you. Go under the assumption that there is justification for energized work to be conducted. What do you do? Most of the requirements apply if there is shock or arc-flash hazard. Someone must determine this fact. Your own company may do this or it may hire one out of the vast number of companies that claim to be able to do this. You must be competent in being able to determine who is capable of doing a proper risk assessment. You could go with the lowest bidder, most local company, best presentation, longest history, or any other criterion. Your employee will trust that whomever you selected to perform the assessment was competent.


   You may have jumped the starting gun by going right into that first step. What happens if your company has never conducted equipment maintenance? Without maintenance even normal operation of the equipment may be putting your employees at risk of an injury. A risk assessment is not done correctly if equipment maintenance has not been addressed. Your employee expects that their interaction with electrical equipment will not harm them. Your employee will trust that the protection techniques that they rely upon to minimize their injury in an incident are not based on the clearing time of a circuit breaker not operated in many years and never maintained.


   Your employee will trust that the risk assessment was not a one-time-and-done evaluation but that you have properly used the hierarchy of risk controls to minimize the electrical hazard and the risk of injury as much as possible. Your employee will trust that you have not automatically defaulted to the lowest level of risk control. Personal protective equipment should never be the first or only protection scheme that you utilize. Your employee will trust that you have done everything possible to protect them.


   Your employee will trust that you have kept all pertinent information on the equipment label updated. They will expect that the information provided is correct when they are assigned an energized task on that equipment a few years later. They will trust that you made sure that a transformer was not swapped out for a more efficient one or that the upstream breaker was not replaced with something different. Your employee will trust that the label information is correct since they will be the one to suffer a greater injury if it is not.


   Your employee will trust that you will provide them with the appropriate protective equipment. They will trust that you have verified that the protective equipment indeed complies with the applicable standard. They will trust that they have not been given knock-off, counterfeit, or sub-standard equipment because it was less expensive than conforming equipment. Your employee will trust that when it comes to their protection that money is no object.


   Your employee will trust that you have proper documentation of the risk assessment, complete and current work procedures, and a work permit that defines the hazards, risks and assigned task. Without clear direction, an employee will be improvising their actions in the field. Human error is a major cause of electrical incidents and your employee will trust that you minimize the possibility of an error through a proper electrical safety program and training.


   When your employee is schedule for the task, they will trust that you are concerned for their safety. If the task cannot be conducted safely, if the work permit or job briefing are lacking, if the employee feels that they are unqualified or fatigued, or if they express any safety concern, your employee will trust that you will consider these issues above all else. They will trust that they are the most important asset within your company.


   When it comes to performing justified energized electrical work your employee needs to trust you. If an employee is injured because they were compelled to work, they were not properly equipped or qualified, or finance took priority over their safety, employee trust will quickly fade. The work environment has taken a bad turn if the next employee goes into a task expecting to be harmed. It is the employee’s life that is at stake when they put their trust in you during justified energized electrical work. You must earn and keep that trust.


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


Next time: Who needs to read the words that are included in a standard?

NFPA has released a free 1st Responder Connection App for firefighters, EMS, command staff, wildland fire personnel, public educators and AHJs that offers in-the-palm-of-your-hand access to best practices, safety tips, and relevant emergency response content.


Conversations with fire leaders and first responders over the past year consistently pointed to the need for easy digital access, via smartphone devices, to NFPA resources, interactive tools, and training that will help stakeholders stay current in their roles. The NFPA 1st Responder Connection App covers topics including: 


• Emerging issues – energy storage, alternative fuel vehicles and civil unrest
• Public and worker safety – new fire hazards and confined space 
• Firefighter occupational health and wellness – contamination, cancer and cardiac issues
• Firefighting technology and data – unmanned aerial systems, smart cities, biometrics and fire department tools
• Educational tools – safety bulletins, tip sheets, training and at-risk audience engagement
• Wildfire prevention and response – community mitigation, home ignition zone and trends
• Standards and research – code enforcement, guidelines and reports

The NFPA 1st Responder Connection App puts prevention, education and response tools in the hands of emergency responders so that they can continue to perform at a high level and meet the changing needs of society. Much like the industry it serves, the NFPA 1st Responder Connection App will continue to evolve and address new fire problems, hazards and solutions.


Free download of the 1st Responder Connection App is available via Apple or Android today.

On this day, ninety-five years ago, the Arverne Conflagration was started by a carelessly thrown cigarette or match -- razing 13.5 acres of the Roackaways summer resort during a period of less than five hours. 


Arverne Conflagration June 15, 1922

Pictured: Ruins of the Israel Orphan Asylum, which was in the path of the flames on June 15, 1922.

All of the children were safely removed.


An investigation by the city fire marshal indicated that on June 15, 1922, men working on the Hotel Nautilus had been smoking and that a small fire started on the roof of the one-story section directly below the area the men were smoking. Hotel employees and others were unsuccessful in their attempts to extinguish the flames and the fire department was called. By the time the first company arrived the large frame building was burning on all three floors. There were two hydrants located opposite the hotel, however they were unable to be used due to the heat. The fire started at 5:15 PM and by 6:00 PM, it had reached such a size that it was impossible for arriving apparatus to pass along the Boulevard at the extreme leeward side of the fire.


From the NFPA Quarterly v.16, no. 1, 1922:


"The fire burnt itself out, as beyond the Rockaway Beach Boulevard and the Long Island Railroad tracks there were only a few buildings, most of which were destroyed. The flying brands even ignited a barge in the Bay more than half a mile away. A total of 141 boarding houses, hotels, private homes and bungalows were destroyed with an estimated loss of approximately $2,000,000.


Few features of prominence were brought out in this conflagration other than the known conflagration hazard of wooden shingle roofs. That it was not of more serious consequence was due to the general character of summer resort places, which extend along the seashore and are of narrow width, which, with the prevailing direction of the wind from the ocean usually limits the fire to a swath across the occupied area instead of lengthwise. A shifting wind to a direction parallel to the ocean front would have involved the entire area and, due to the fact that all this section is surrounded by water, there would have been considerable loss of life. It is evident from this and other fires in frame summer resort sections that the wooden shingle roofs must be eliminated before such districts can be considered as reasonable safe as places for congregation of large crowds. The magnitude of the original fire is an argument against the present practice in seasdhore resorts of constructing extensive hotels of frame, as even without the shingle roofs, a number of buildings directly exposed by the hotel would have become involved."



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 reference questions from members and the general public.

Early this morning, as members of Congress practiced for an upcoming charity baseball game at a ballfield in Alexandria, Virginia, an active shooter fired between 50 and 100 rounds from a semi-automatic weapon, according to ABC News. Anthony Scalise (R-Louisiana), a congressional staffer and two Capitol Hill police officers were injured in the incident.


News reports say the attack sent people scrambling for cover. Scalise, who was shot in the hip, according an National Public Radio (NPR) report earlier this morning, is in stable condition. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul told CNN "it would have been a massacre" without police protection. "Nobody would have survived without the Capitol Hill police," Paul said.

Coincidentally, a team of experts is gathering at NFPA headquarters today to develop NFPA 3000, Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events. The Technical Committee is chaired by Richard Serino, recently retired COO of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), former Chief of Boston EMS, and current faculty member at Harvard University. He is joined by representatives from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), International Association of Police Chiefs (IACP), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), National Association of EMTs (NAEMT), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), EMS Labor Alliance, hospital officials, facility managers, private security authorities, university personnel, and others.


“We have seen far too many of these hate crimes in recent years in places like London, Paris, San Bernardino, Boston, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech and Charleston. These tragedies highlight a need for first responders, emergency personnel, facility managers, hospital officials, and community members to have information when terror attacks occur,” said NFPA President Jim Pauley in a press release sent out yesterday about the new active shooter Standard. Today, Pauley added Virginia to the list of hostile events prompting the need for the Standard.


NFPA 3000 will give authorities a resource to reference in the event of a terror or active shooter incident, and is expected to be completed by early 2018. The public then will have the opportunity to offer Public Inputs through NFPA’s technical process. You can follow the development of NFPA 3000 by requesting email updates.

Photo courtesy of CNN


According to an NBC News report, 12 people have died and 78 people were injured at Grenfell Tower, a high-rise residential building in West London, England, after a fire broke out at the 24-story apartment “block” early Wednesday morning. The cause of the fire, which reportedly spread quite rapidly, has not yet been determined; additional fatalities are expected.

More than 250 firefighters and 40 fire trucks were on-scene, battling the fire through the night, and it has yet to be fully extinguished. NBC reports that Grenfell Tower has approximately 130 units; a BBC News article noted that the tower houses between 400 and 600 people.

“In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never, ever seen anything of this scale,” said London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton. “This is a major fire that’s affected all floors of the 24-story structure from the second floor upwards.”

A New York Times article reports that Grenfell Tower was constructed in 1974, and underwent a $12.8 million renovation that was completed last year, which included the installation of insulated exterior cladding and replacement windows. Whether those features contributed to the fire's quick spread has yet to be determined. Exterior cladding has been a contributing factor to high-rise fires in Dubai, including The Address Hotel fire that occurred on New Year's Eve in 2015.


NFPA offers a wealth of resources on high-rise building fires, including statistical reports, investigation reports, emergency evacuation planning guides and more.

70E, worker safety

In preparation for the release of the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace we’re hosting a free webinar on Wednesday, July 12 from 10:00 – 10:30 AM EDT that will help explain the proposed changes and provide an opportunity for participants to ask question about the revised code.

Whether you’re an electrician, electrical engineer, contractor, facility manager, property owner, building manager or a safety engineer responsible for electrical safety in your workplace, this is a chance to get a first-hand look at the proposed changes that could impact the industry as a whole, as well as the work you do every day.


The webinar, “Proposed Changes to the 2018 Edition of the NFPA 70E,” will feature NFPA’s Chris Coache, senior electrical engineer, and Derek Vigstol, electrical technical lead, who will discuss some of these important proposed changes in the 2018 revision. They include:

• Risk assessment procedure; the hierarchy of risk controls and human error
• Establishing an electrically-safe work condition that includes Lockout/Tagout principles and procedures
• Estimate of the likelihood of occurrence of an arc flash incident for AC and DC systems
• Selection of arc-rated clothing and other personal protective equipment (PPE) using the incident energy analysis method


This event will fill up quickly and we don't want you to be left out. Be among the first to learn more about the 2018 edition of NFPA 70E and register for the webinar today!

During the 2017 Conference & Expo in Boston, the Standards Quest took participants through a journey of the Standards Development Process.  Participants answered questions on the Public Input, Public Comment, Technical Meeting (NITMAM), and Standards Council Issuance stages of the process and collected a prize once the Quest was conquered.


We would like to thank everyone who participated to make this journey an absolute success!  A special thank you, as well, to those of you who conquered the Quest and joined us for the finale at the Standards Showcase!  Your patience as we drew the raffle for the four Standards Quest conquerors as winners of Kindle Fires was much appreciated.


Congratulations to the final two winners randomly drawn:

  • Tony O'Brien, Cisco
  • Eddie Alday, HQA Field Operations SC&SB


Again, thank you to everyone who participated in Standards Quest!  We hope to see you all next year in Las Vegas as the Quest continues...

Today marks the one year anniversary of the attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.  At the NFPA, we honor the 49 innocent individuals that were taken that day by marking this week as the beginning of the development of NFPA 3000: Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events


The Pulse incident, along with several others throughout the past year, highlight a need for first responders, emergency managers, facilities, hospitals, and communities as a whole to be on the same page when these incidents occur.  The resilience displayed in places like Orlando, Boston, London, Connecticut, and many others show that we as a community can and must work together to ensure that we never allow terror or evil to win.  NFPA 3000 will give communities a resource to be prepared in the event that the unthinkable happens.


The process of developing NFPA 3000 began with a request by Fire Chief Otto Drozd III from Orange County Florida in October of 2016.  Since then, we have sought public comment and committee applications to form a Technical Committee to develop the Standard.  In just four short months we received over 100 positive comments and committee applications.  In April of 2017, the NFPA Standards Council unanimously approved the new Standard and Technical Committee.


The Technical Committee is chaired by Richard Serino, recently retired COO of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, former Chief of Boston EMS, and current faculty member at Harvard University.  The Committee has representatives from the DHS, DOJ, FBI, International Association of Police Chiefs, International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Association of EMTs, IAFF, EMS Labor Alliance, Hospitals, Facility Managers, Private Security, Universities, and more.  This broad group collectively brings over 200 years of experience to the table, many of which include experience responding to active shooter/hostile incidents.


On June 9, 2017 Chief Drozd authored an editorial in the Orlando Sentinel highlighting his reasons for requesting that the Standard be developed.  One important issue that he points out is that there are numerous guidance documents from individual organizations, but currently no consensus standard.  He also speaks to the inspiration he felt in the aftermath of the Pulse attack and his motivation for wanting a tool for others to use so that more lives can be saved in the future.  We honor those that were lost at the Pulse with this work and hope that others may live on thanks to the lessons learned and their memories.  As Chief Drozd says, “So that Others May Live.” 


The NFPA and the Technical Committee need the help of the public to make this the best standard it can be.  Anyone can come to a meeting or make inputs and comments to the draft once it is posted.  If you would like to know more and follow along with the development of NFPA 3000, please go to and then click "receive email alerts" to receive updates on the development process as they are posted.  Its a big world, let's protect it together!

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