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Today’s blog was written by Val Ziavras, a Fire Protection Engineer at NFPA. Special thanks to Val for her contribution to this blog and discussing one of the many subjects addressed in the Fire Code!


Fire-resistance-rated assemblies play a vital role in fire safety. However, an assembly is only as good as its weakest point - the openings. How do you know if an opening in a fire-resistance-rated assembly is protected appropriately, or if the opening is even permitted?

 

Not all openings are created equal. Door openings, for example, usually can’t be avoided as they are needed for the movement of people and equipment throughout the building, and for security and privacy. Windows or transom openings, on the other hand, are not necessary for the building to function; they tend to be installed for aesthetics, environmental reasons, or other architectural purposes. To understand the requirements for opening protectives, it is required for one to first understand the difference between a fire-protection-rating and a fire-resistance-rating. Although often used interchangeably, they are different.

 

Most opening protectives (assemblies protecting openings in a fire-rated assembly) have a fire-protection-rating whereas the wall/floor/ceiling assembly has a fire-resistance-rating. There are some exceptions where an opening protective may also be fire-resistance rated, but it is not the majority. There are a number of tests that will result in a fire-protection-rating, such as NFPA 252 and NFPA 257. When a product has a fire-resistance-rating it has been tested to ASTM E119 or ANSI/UL 263. If the opening protective is being tested as a wall; it will be subject to the same fire test as the wall itself. NFPA 252, NFPA 257, and ASTM E119 all expose the test specimen to a fire-based on the standard time- temperature curve.

 

A big difference between the tests is the performance criteria. For products undergoing a test resulting in a fire-protection-rating, some amount of openings, specifically around the glazing, are permitted and there are no limitations on the amount of heat transferred from one side to the other. Products tested to ASTM E119 are held to different test criteria based on their performance needs. There can be no passage of flame or gases hot enough to ignite cotton waste on the unexposed side and the temperature on the unexposed side of the wall cannot increase more than 250OF above the original temperature.

 

To properly protect an opening in a fire-resistance-rated assembly, the proper fire-protection-rating is required. Section 12.7.6 of NFPA 1 addresses opening protectives in fire-rated assemblies. It should be carefully noted that this table DOES NOT require the fire-resistance-ratings. The fire-resistance-rating will be mandated somewhere else in the Code and Section 12.7.6 will provide the required fire-protection-rating of the opening based on that mandated fire-resistance-rating. Wherever the Code refers to a fire-protection-rated door assembly or fire door assembly, it is referring to the entire assembly. If any single component is not properly provided, installed, and functioning, the assembly is not a fire-protection-rated assembly. For example, if a listed fire door leaf and frame are installed with positive latch and hinges but the required self-closing device is omitted, the assembly cannot be considered a fire door assembly and is not considered to have any fire-protection-rating.

 

For example, a new exit stair enclosure that connects 2 stories would require a 1-hour fire-resistance-rating based on how the Code requires exits be protected. Table 12.7.6.2.2 provides the minimum fire-protection-rating of the openings in “Vertical shafts, including stairways, exits, and refuse chutes”. Based on the Code requirement for a 1-hour fire-resistance-rating, the table tells us that opening protectives must have a minimum 1 hour fire-protection-rating.

 

How does this impact a fire inspector? AHJs are responsible for confirming that openings have been properly inspected, tested, and maintained and met the provisions as referenced in NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives (also extracted into NFPA 1, Section 12.4). An inspection of an opening protective will determine if the proper opening has been installed; the proper fire-protection-rating being one of the first pieces of information that an inspector will look at on the label on the opening protective. The inspections themselves, required annually, may be done by a person also serving as a fire inspector, by a facility manager/facility staff, or by someone who is in a role specific to the inspection, testing and maintenance of openings.

 

NFPA offers a plethora of resources related to protecting and inspecting fire-rated opening protectives including training and online learning. A recent article in NFPA Journal highlights the importance of clearances and gaps around fire door installations, particularly in health care occupancies. It also addresses the connection between the maximum gaps permitted by NFPA 80 versus the criteria tested for by NFPA 252 and how proposed research and testing can further the knowledge on the performance of opening protectives and their impact on building and life safety. NFPA offers annotated handbooks on the 2010, 2013, and 2016 editions of NFPA 80 if you are in a role where you require  expanded knowledge of the standard, in addition to the application for fire-rated openings in NFPA 1.

 

Thanks for reading, stay safe!

 

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

The February 2019 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.

 

In this issue:

 

  • New project on Fire Service Analysts and Informational Technical Specialists Professional Qualifications
  • New projects seeking members for Spaceports and Remote Inspections
  • Proposed Tentative Interim Amendments seeking comments on NFPA 285, NFPA 701, and NFPA 1994
  • Errata issued on NFPA 13 and NFPA 400
  • Committees seeking members
  • Committees seeking public input and public comment
  • Committee meetings calendar

 

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

Smoke alarm and signaling systems are a proven strategy for reduction of fire fatalities in the general population. However, studies have shown that at risk populations such as the elderly, school age children, alcohol impaired, and those that are hard of hearing do not fully benefit from conventional smoke alarm systems, particularly during sleeping hours.   Research has been conducted to develop performance requirements to optimize the waking effectiveness for alarm and signaling systems to meet the needs of these at risk groups.  This includes previous research from the Research Foundation on the waking effectiveness of alarms as well as other research.  One of the main findings of the Research Foundation work is that the 520 Hz T-3 sound was the most effective signal to awaken hard of hearing participants. Other studies have shown the same results for children and other at risk populations.

 

Performance requirements for a sound pressure level of 85 dBA at 10 feet from the device for single and multiple-station smoke alarms appear in multiple codes and standards, including UL 217, Standard for Smoke Alarms.  This is in contrast to the requirement for UL 268, Smoke Detectors for Fire Alarm Systems, listed smoke detectors, which is to emit 75 dBA at the pillow.   The 85 dBA specification requires significantly more power, which makes the 520 Hz a particular challenge for alarms operating on a battery/battery backup.

 

There is a need to review all existing data on this topic to clarify the sound pressure level(s) used in previous research and the background and technical basis for the required sound pressure levels in the codes and standards to determine if a lower sound pressure level could provide equivalent alerting when using a 520 Hz frequency.  

 

This research program will be conducted under the auspices of the Research Foundation in accordance with Foundation Policies and will be guided by a Project Technical Panel who will provide input to the project, review periodic reports of progress and research results, and review the final project report. The Research Foundation will engage a contractor with appropriate technical expertise to conduct the project.

You can find the Request for Proposals (RFP) on the Foundation website. The deadline for proposals is March 8, 2019 at 5pm EST.

NFPA 35, Standard for the Manufacture of Organic Coatings, and NFPA 36, Standard for Solvent Extraction Plants, are currently seeking committee members. We are in need of new professionals to step forward to help staff the following technical committees:

 

Manufacture of Organic Coatings (MAC-AAA): Applicants are being sought with expertise in organic coatings manufacturing. Stakeholders in all interest categories such as special experts, manufacturers, insurance, users, and applied research/testing laboratory are encouraged to submit an online application. Submit an online application*

 

  • Committee Scope: This Committee shall have primary responsibility for documents on the fire and explosion hazards associated with the design, construction, and operation of organic coating manufacturing processes and facilities (NFPA 35).

 

Solvent Extraction Plants (SOL-AAA): Applicants are being sought with expertise in oilseed extraction using solvent methods. Stakeholders in all interest categories such as special experts, manufacturers, insurance, users, and applied research/testing laboratory are encouraged to submit an online application. Submit an online application*

 

  • Committee Scope: This Committee shall have primary responsibility for documents on safeguarding against the fire and explosion hazards associated with the design, construction, and operation of solvent extraction plants (NFPA 36).

 

Please note: You will be asked to sign-in or create a free online account with NFPA before using the online application system.

Jennifer Taylor, left, working with San Diego firefighter Ben Vernon, who was stabbed by a patient in 2015.

 

As detailed in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal, violence against first responders has become a serious issue in many countries across the Western world. Unfortunately, with no adequate system in place to track these incidents, and with many responders feeling pressure not to report patient violence against them, we have very little understanding about the scope or cause of the problem.

 

Jennifer Taylor, a researcher and founding director of the Center for Firefighter Injury Research & Safety Trends (FIRST) at Drexel University, is trying to change that. With a $1.5 million Assistance to Firefighters grant—the first given for a project addressing the EMS side of the fire service—Taylor and her researchers are working with fire departments in four pilot cities to better understand  how often violence happens on the job, and to test procedures the Drexel team has developed to cutback the number of attacks.    

 

“If the organizations make these changes, we should see the needles move on lower burnout, higher engagement with work, better morale, and less anxiety and depression—those are our expectations for what we’re doing,” Taylor said in an interview.

 

To learn much more on the project, and how Taylor and her team aim to achieve their ambitious aims, read “Responder Advocate,” which accompanies the recent cover story, “The Toll of Violence,” in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal.

 

On a similar note, NFPA Journal “First Responder” columnist John Montes wrote this month about the efforts underway to get first responders the mental health support they need. As on-the-job-violence increases, responders of all stripes have growing rates of depression, substance abuse, suicide, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Newer methods, such as peer-to-peer support groups and working with therapists with responder backgrounds, are increasingly popular and effective ways of helping firefighters, police, and EMS workers deal with the stresses of their work.

 

Learn much more about this issue and some specific examples of successful programs in Montes’s latest “First Responder” column in the January/February NFPA Journal.

From Volunteer Firemen v.6, no.3 (1939):
“Ignitze” is an ingenious public education device designed by F.L. McCament of the U.S. Forest Service and used at the New Mexico State Fair with the help of the Albuquerque Fire Department. Operated by firemen inside the “fire-proofed” skin, “Ignitze” has matches for horns, moves his eyes, jaws and legs, smokes viciously at a monster pipe and cigarette.
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.
The NFPA 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.

Earlier this week, NFPA was contacted by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS/ASPR) Division, as the agency has made a change in the system platform they use to monitor the location of electricity dependent DME (ventilators, oxygen concentrators, powered suction pumps) populations that reside independently in their communities. The HHS/ASPR program is known as emPOWER; a main part of its function is to give first responders - fire, EMS, law enforcement, and USAR - awareness of where individuals who rely on electricity dependent DME are located.  This can help prioritize resources during natural disasters such as wildfire, floods and wind events, where electrical power may be lost for hours or days, thereby endangering those individuals.

 

Effective February 12, 2019, the first responder and private sector partners who have been using the HHS emPOWER Program’s Representational State Transfer (REST) Service now need to switch over and register on the new platform, HHS emPOWER REST Service_Public.

 

The new system will continue to allow the DME information to be overlaid on a community’s own GIS platform.  The data layer displays the total number of at-risk Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare beneficiaries that rely upon life-maintaining and saving electricity-dependent medical equipment and cardiac devices in a geographic area, down to the zip code.  In doing so, partners will be able to continue to gain population-level situational awareness of electricity-dependent populations in their own GIS applications.

 

Please send any questions you may have to EMPOWER@HHS.GOV and GeoHEALTH@hhs.gov.

 

 

Background Information

Over 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment, such as ventilators, to live independently in their homes. Severe weather and other emergencies, especially those with long power outages, can be life-threatening for these individuals.

 

The HHS emPOWER Map is updated monthly and displays the total number of at-risk electricity-dependent Medicare beneficiaries in a geographic area, down to the zip code.

 

The HHS emPOWER Map gives every public health official, emergency manager, hospital, first responder, electric company, and community member the power to discover the electricity-dependent Medicare population in their state, territory, county, and ZIP Code. When combined with real-time severe weather and hazard maps, communities can easily anticipate and plan for the needs of this population during an emergency.

 

Learn more about the challenges of independent living and home health care, including the role of ASPR, from the FPRF/NFPA 2015 Summit on Safe, Independent Living: Home Health Care, Aging Populations and the Residential Environment 

ctuttle

Celebrating Engineers Week!

Posted by ctuttle Employee Feb 11, 2019

Ever wonder what engineers actually do? There are so many disciplines within engineering today that it can be difficult to keep up! Since NFPA employs many engineers, the Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) group at NFPA will be celebrating Engineers Week from February 17th to 23rd to raise awareness of engineers' positive contributions to our quality of life.

 

The Women in STEM group is sharing some of the cool things engineers do with our NFPA community! We curated a calendar of activities and content, with each day having its own focus (Learn, Visit, Build, Look & Listen, Read, Compete, and Think). There are ideas for all ages. Whether you're looking for something to do with your kids during school vacation or you've been itching to find a new podcast for your nightly commute home, we hope that you'll learn something new while having fun. Make sure to download the attached calendar, browse the links, and share with your friends! 


Getty Images

 

 

The findings of a nine-month investigation by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS) Public Safety Commission into the MSDHS shooting, which left 14 students and three staff members dead in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, were officially presented to Florida state officials last month. This Thursday is the one-year anniversary of the incident, which was the deadliest shooting in the United States in 2018 and one of the nation’s deadliest in modern history.

 

Outlined in a 439-page report, the findings of the MSDHS Public Safety Commission—a group formed by the MSDHS Public Safety Act about a month after the shooting and made up of law enforcement officials, education leaders, parents of victims, and more—include recommendations on how communities can best prepare for future mass shootings and other hostile events. While the recommendations partly draw on the guidance found in NFPA 3000™ (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program, some experts say they lack the “whole community” approach of the standard, which was released about two and a half months after the Parkland shooting.

 

The May/June 2018 NFPA Journal cover story, “Writing History,” chronicles the process that went into releasing NFPA 3000 and explains the concept of the “whole community” approach, as well as the three other main themes of the standard: unified command, integrated response, and planned recovery.

 

“The report highlights some critical recommendations that are featured in NFPA 3000,” said John Montes, the NFPA staff liaison to NFPA 3000. “Specifically, it highlights two of the four main themes of the standard, unified command and integrated response.” The problem, Montes continued, is that the report recommendations focus primarily on law enforcement. “Everything is viewed from that lens,” he said, missing the perspective of other responders, citizens, health care professionals, and victims. “There isn’t any mention of what tactics to teach students and teachers, such as bleeding control.”

 

Perhaps the biggest shortfall of the report, Montes said, is its lack of information related to the recovery aspect of mass shootings and other hostile events. “While the report itself is part of the recovery phase of the incident for the Parkland area, it says nothing about recovery,” Montes said. “Recovery is the longest-lasting phase, but the one that is most frequently ignored.” There are no recommendations related to reunification, notifying loved ones, or providing mental health services to the community, he said.

 

Still, other portions of the report reflect more fully on the guidance in NFPA 3000. For example, the information included in Chapter 16 of the report, which explains a new Florida law requiring school districts to develop and frequently practice plans for active shooter and hostage situations with public safety agencies, “captures much of the messages in 3000,” Montes said. The standard requires annual trainings at a minimum.

 

Read more in-depth analysis of the Parkland shooting report in the upcoming issue of NFPA Journal, available online in early March. And explore NFPA’s extensive resources on NFPA 3000, including online learning, fact sheets, and more, at nfpa.org/3000news.

In honor of Black History Month, NFPA is highlighting notable African-Americans who have made contributions to the cause of fire and life safety.

Molly Williams is recognized as the first black female firefighter in the United States. Williams was a slave, and was owned by a Manhattan businessman with an interest in firefighting. In 1818, a blizzard hit the city and an influenza outbreak took many male volunteer firefighters out of work. Williams took the place of the sick men, working at a firehouse in Lower Manhattan, and other firefighters credited her for being as tough as the male firefighters.

Garrett Morgan owned a sewing machine and shoe repair shop in Cincinnati in 1907. In 1911, after hearing about the tragic deaths in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he invented a safety hood and smoke protector for firefighters. The hood, which contained a wet sponge to filter out smoke and cool the air, became the precursor to the gas mask. To sell his safety hood, Morgan had to hire a white actor to pretend to be the inventor.

To learn more about African-Americans and the fire service, visit the website for the African American Firefighter Museum. Located in Los Angeles, the museum contains vintage fire apparatus, stories, and pictures of pioneering African-American members of the fire service, as well as a tribute to the firefighters who perished during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

This week we bring you a poster from 1945 than warns of the dangers involved with hot work. According to NFPA, “Hot work is any activity or process that involves open flames or that generates sparks or heat and includes: Welding and allied processes; heat treating; grinding; thawing pipes; powder-driven fasteners; hot riveting; torch-applied roofing; and any similar applications producing or using sparks, flame or heat.”
In March of 2014, a fire in Boston, MA, took the lives of firefighter Michael Kennedy and Lieutenant Edward Walsh. The cause of the fire was determined to be unpermitted welding, where the workers did not take factors such as high winds and nearby combustible material into account. (NFPA - Hot Work Safety Fact Sheet, Sept. 2018)
For more information regarding NFPA’s Hot Work Safety Certificate Programand for further facts and infographics, please visit NFPA.org.
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.

Personal accounts of bullying, hazing, and even sexual abuse in the fire service dominated the discussion at last year’s NFPA Responder Forum in Birmingham, Alabama, in October. While the stories were at times hard to listen to, it was a necessary discussion not only for educating responders on the need for wider acceptance in the fire service, but also for driving research into responder behavioral health.

 

Casey Grant, executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation, made the case for discussions like this to advance such research in his latest column for NFPA Journal, “Speak Up.”

 

“While it’s too early to know what specific projects might directly come out of the conversations at the Responder Forum, I can assure you that these give-and-take discussions contain invaluable insights for researchers—knowledge that would be difficult to gain any other way,” Grant writes. “It’s this type of process that allows the seeds for important projects to begin to take root, which is exactly what is starting to happen around the issues of responder behavioral health, PTSD, and suicide prevention. Not long ago, these issues were not studied extensively, and obtaining funding for projects was difficult.”

 

Read Grant’s full column here.

 

NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® has been processed through the First Draft stage and will soon be open for public comment. The first draft will be posted on or before February 27, 2019 allowing you to review what occurred during the First Draft. When the first draft is posted it will be available at https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards/detail?code=70E&tab=nextedition.

 

The 332 submitted public inputs resulted in 86 revisions being made to the standard. A majority of revisions added informational notes to help explain requirements that many were having trouble understanding or to provide additional guidance on where to find pertinent information.

 

If your submitted input received a reply of Reject But See from the technical committee it means that your idea or concept was included but it was not possible to use the wording as you had submitted. Also, the information from all public inputs on a single requirement are addressed as one revision. This often requires combining the concepts proposed by several inputs to develop a single requirement. This also results in a Reject But See response to all affected public inputs since each may have had different changes. The first revisions created by such inputs should be reviewed to make sure the concept of your input was incorporated in a way to resolve your concern with the standard or the requirement.

 

Remember that the first draft only contains the changes made to the standard. There were 332 proposed changes submitted for consideration. You should review the public inputs, including those from others, to see if there was something submitted that did not result in a change. Sometimes a submitted comment provides necessary information or further clarifies a concern or requirement. It is not unusual for a comment on a rejected public input to lead to a second revision due to this additional information. Note that without a submitted comment on a particular public input, this second draft stage will be your last chance to have that public input reconsidered.

 

As a final note, essentially new information or a new requirement cannot be added during the Second Draft stage. However, this does not mean that changes cannot be made. Anything added in the second draft process must be based on something that occurred during the first draft. Changes may also be made if a first revision made another subsequent change necessary during the second draft.

 

You and your colleagues have ideas on how to better protect yourself or your employees from the electrical hazards faced during a work day. You are the ones who need to understand how to apply the requirements. Everyone wants to make it home safely today. As previously stated in my blogs before - it is your standard. Be a part of it.

 

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

 

Next time: Verification of manufacturer’s PPE ratings.

 

Please Note: Any comments, suggested text changes, or technical issues related to NFPA Standards posted or raised in this communication are not submissions to the NFPA standards development process and therefore will not be considered by the technical committee(s) responsible for NFPA Standards development. To learn how to participate in the NFPA standards development process and submit proposed text for consideration by the responsible technical committee(s), please go to www.nfpa.org/submitpi for instructions.

Concern for the health of the natural environment is growing as human population grows and as new levels of contamination of scarce resources are revealed. Current efforts to improve the sustainability of buildings focus on increasing energy efficiency and reducing the embodied carbon. This overlooks the fact that a fire event could reduce the overall sustainability of a building through the release of pollutants and the subsequent re-build.
Most fires occurring in the built environment contribute to air contamination from the fire plume (whose deposition is likely to subsequently include land and water contamination), contamination from water runoff containing toxic products, and other environmental discharges or releases from burned materials. The environmental impact also has economic consequences for communities and regions and while the direct and indirect costs of fire on a community can be devastating, they are not usually reported at a local scale beyond an account of the human deaths and injuries and the amount of property destroyed or damaged.
To calculate the true cost of fire to society we need to be able to quantify the impact fire has not only on the people or structures involved but also to the environment.  Studies have been done to examine the environmental impact of fire but we cannot yet fully quantify this impact and its consequences to the local economy. 
Therefore, the Fire Protection Research Foundation has initiated a project with the goal to develop a research road map identifying needed research to be able to quantify the environmental impact of fire from the built environment and its economic consequences. This project will focus on structure fires and exclude wildland and wildland urban interface (WUI) fires.  
This research program will be conducted under the auspices of the Research Foundation in accordance with Foundation Policies and will be guided by a Project Technical Panel who will provide input to the project, review periodic reports of progress and research results, and review the final project report. The Research Foundation will engage a contractor with appropriate technical expertise to conduct the project.
You can find the Request for Proposals (RFP) on the Foundation website. The deadline for proposals is 28 February 2019 at 5pm Eastern time.
NFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems:
  • NFPA 13, Errata 13-19-2, referencing various sections in Chapters 9, 10, 16, and 20 of the 2019 edition, issued on January 22, 2019
An errata is a correction issued to an NFPA Standard, published in NFPA News, NFCSS, and included in any further distribution of the Standard.

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