Skip navigation
All Places > NFPA Today > Blog > 2011 > November

‘Tis the season for rosy cheeks, button-down coats, and cranking up the heat. However, it’s also the time of year when home fires peak, many of which are caused by heating equipment.

According to the most recent press release put out by NFPA, “Half of all home heating fires occur during December, January, and February, when we are fully utilizing our heating systems” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “The public can reduce their risk of getting left out in the cold by following NFPA’s safe heating behaviors.”


Watch our friend Dan Doofus in the video above as he learns about heating safety. Also, take a look at the full press release for safety tips on staying safe this winter

From left: Denise Beach, Maureen Brodoff, Gary Keith, Sue Marsh, Jim Shannon, Casey Grant, Bruce Mullen and Eileen Scafidi.


Jim ShannonThe NFPA Board of Directors has extended President Jim Shannon’s term for an additional two years. Jim will remain in the position through June 2014, two years beyond his previous contract which was set to end in June 2012.

“The Board is delighted that Jim agreed to extend his tenure as President until June 30, 2014,” said Tom Jaeger, NFPA Chairman of the Board. “NFPA is in the midst of implementing an aggressive strategic plan and we look forward to working with Jim and the leadership team as they continue to make NFPA an even greater organization.”

Jim was scheduled to complete his second five-year term in June 2012. Prior to becoming President, he served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel having begun his employment at NFPA in 1991.

“I have been honored to work at NFPA for the last twenty-one years and to serve as President for the last ten," said Jim. "While I had expected to retire from NFPA next June, I am excited at the prospect of working with the staff, the Board, our volunteers and members over the next two and a half years as we implement our new strategic plan and continue our work to improve fire and life safety across the globe.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced further action to assess the risk of fire in Chevy Volts that have been involved in serious crashes. The recent crash tests from NHTSA involving the Chevrolet Volt indicate that additional steps may be required to disable a damaged battery after a crash.

The focus of NFPA's Electric Vehicle Safety Training Project is to give first responders the information they need to address the immediate safety issues that can arise in crashes or other emergency situations involving electric vehicles. While the information gathered by NHTSA and GM as part of this investigation likely will be used primarily by second responders, NFPA will continue to stay up to date on any new developments and share information as part of our training as it becomes available.

Learn more on NFPA's Electric Vehicle Safety Training blog.

The Standards Council has an established program to recognize committee members for outstanding service to NFPA in the development of codes and standards. The Council’s Committee Service Award Selection Committee is now accepting nominations for the following awards:

  • Standards Medal.  The highest award given by the Standards Council for outstanding contribution to fire safety in the development of codes and standards prepared by NFPA technical committees.
  • Committee Service Award.  This award is given for continuous voluntary service as a technical committee member for a substantial period of time in recognition and appreciation of distinguished service to NFPA in the development of NFPA codes and standards.
  • Special Achievement Award.  This award is presented to recognize the significant contribution of a committee member to a single project that has enhanced the NFPA codes- and standards-making process.

Please forward nomination forms for these awards by the January 13, 2012 deadline to the NFPA Codes and Standards Administration Department.   

SafetySourceThe new issue of Safety Source, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter for public educators, includes a look at a project to update the Learn Not to Burn® Preschool Program. We also feature a new campaign - "Put a Freeze on Winter Fires" -- by NFPA and the U.S. Fire Administration to remind everyone that home fires are more prevelant in winter than in any other season.

We also look at a new NFPA report on smoke alarm effectiveness that examines the number of reported fires in U.S. households with and without working smoke alarms, as well as the effectiveness of smoke alarms in preventing fire-related deaths.

Subscribe today to automatically receive our Safety Source newsletter. It's free, informative, and will keep you up to date on happenings in NFPA's public education division, activities, fire statistics, trends, educational tips, life saves, and more. webThe National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Wildland Fire Operations Division is pleased to announce that Hylton Haynes has joined us as an Associate Project Manager in the Firewise Communities Program. He’ll be working with the Firewise team on an array of activities, including outreach to state and local governments and residents on wildfire safety issues.

As the Firewise program manager, being able to expand our Firewise team is wonderful, and Hylton’s skills and experience will help us greatly in furthering our wildfire safety mission.

For those who don’t know, Hylton comes to us from the New England Forestry Foundation, and prior to that from the Commonwealth of Virginia, where he served as an area forester, a forest engineer, and a forestry supervisor. He is originally from South Africa and holds degrees from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Stellenbosch University, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. Hylton also has extensive wildland firefighting experience and has succeeded in earning several national-level firefighting qualifications.

Please join our Division in welcoming Hylton to NFPA!

-Michele Steinberg

At its October meeting, the Standards Council considered the request of Dean Larson of Larson Performance Consulting, that NFPA consider the establishment of a new project on Emergency Mass Shelters. After review of all the material before it, the Council voted to publish a notice to solicit comments on the need for the project, information on resources on the subject matter, those interested in participating if established, and other organizations actively involved with the subject. 

Review an description of the emergency mass shelters project on NFPA's Fire Service Today blog. Comments are due by January 27, 2012.

On the night of November 28, 1942, fire swept through a popular nightclub in Boston, Massachusetts, the Cocoanut Grove.  In under 30 minutes, the fire left 492 people dead or dying.  According to NFPA’s initial investigation report, the tragedy was not caused by deficiencies in fire safety laws, but in proper enforcement of those laws.  The investigation into the fire revealed major code violations, including overcrowding, locked exit doors, inward swinging doors, and flammable decorations.  Many deaths would have been avoided had there been adequate exits. 

NFPA members can read the original investigation report, as well as several articles and investigations from later years.  All site visitors can read an NFPA Journal cover story about the tragedy.

Even now, the Cocoanut Grove fire symbolizes the need for strict enforcement of strong fire codes.

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) on NFPA 13D is being published for public review and comment:

Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by the January 13, 2012 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

- Debbie Baio

On Sunday, November 25, 1990, a fire occurred at a flammable liquid tank farm supporting Denver’s Stapleton International Airport.  Seven tanks were destroyed or damaged, and over 1.6 million gallons of jet fuel were consumed.  At approximately 9:22 a.m., the Stapleton control tower saw smoke in the area of the tank farm and called the fire department.  Upon arrival, airport firefighters found a large pool fire in a pit containing piping and valves.  In addition there was flaming fuel which was apparently under pressure, spewing high into the air.  Fire suppression efforts were hampered by the complexity of the initial fire scenario, the eventual magnitude of the fire, and adverse weather conditions.  By Tuesday morning, November 27, the majority of available fuel had been consumed, and a private company specializing in the suppression of petroleum fires extinguished the remaining fire.  Local investigators believe that a damaged pump in the valve pit near the storage tanks may have caused the initial leak and may have ignited the fuel.

According to NFPA’s investigation, several changes to the tank farm site could have favorably impacted the outcome of this incident, including:

  • Increased distance between tanks and the pumping/valve area
  • Increased tank shell to tank shell separation
  • Provisions for the removal of fuel in the event the storage tanks’ primary discharge means becomes inoperable

NFPA members can download the full report and all site visitors can read a summary in Spanish.

-Ben Evarts

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) on NFPA 80 is being published for public review and comment:

Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by the January 13, 2012 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

- Debbie Baio

The Report of the Motions Committee identifies Certified Amending Motions for documents in the Fall 2011 revision cycle that may be considered at the 2012 Association Technical Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 11-14, 2012.

The eight documents with Certified Amending Motions are as follows:

  • NFPA 59A, Standard for the Production, Storage, and Handling of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
  • NFPA 75, Standard for the Protection of Information Technology Equipment
  • NFPA 150, Standard on Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities
  • NFPA 275, Standard Method of Fire Tests for the Evaluation of Thermal Barriers Used Over Foam Plastic Insulation
  • NFPA 499, Recommended Practice for the Classification of Combustible Dusts and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas
  • NFPA 1951, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents
  • NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting
  • NFPA 1991, Standard on Vapor-Protective Ensembles for Hazardous Materials Emergencies

The Report also identifies a list of 28 Consent Documents receiving no NITMAMS and, therefore, will be forwarded directly to the NFPA Standards Council for issuance on December 13, 2011.

This Fall 2011 Report will be incorporated into a Final Motions Committee Report for the 2012 Association Technical Meeting which will be made available by May 4, 2012. In addition to Consent Documents and Certified Amending Motions on documents in the Fall 2011 revision cycle, the Final Report will include Consent Documents and Certified Amending Motions on documents in the Annual 2012 revision cycle.

Debbie Baio 


It’s not news that hybrid vehicles leave their conventional-fuel competitors in the dust when it comes to fuel economy. But according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, it looks like the batteries and electric motors make hybrid vehicles safer, too.

In a study of 25 vehicles that featured both typical and hybrid powertrains from 2003 to 2011, the Highway Loss Data Institute found that 27% of occupants are less likely to be injured in a car crash in the hybrid version of the vehicle. That’s a huge percentage. According to the study, there are multiple reasons why the hybrid version might have been safer, but the vehicle’s weight likely played the most critical role. Heavier vehicles have been proven safer to occupants than lighter vehicles, because the heavier vehicle will transfer force to the lighter vehicle due to the added mass. The heavy batteries and electric motors used in hybrid vehicles gives them a weight boost over conventional-fuel models.

This is not only good news for occupants of the vehicle, but for insurance companies as well: hybrids need 25% less personal injury protection than their typical counterparts.

The HLDI also found that hybrid vehicles could present a higher danger to pedestrians due to their lack of engine sound. However, President Obama signed a law in early 2011 requiring all new hybrid and electric vehicles to have some sort of noise system to alert pedestrians, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working on adjusting the law to require EVs to have pedestrian-alerting sounds on whenever the car is in motion.

Research Foundation FnewsletterThe November/December issue of our Fire Protection Research Foundation newsletter is now available. In this issue:

  • Symposium on Alternative Energy Technologies and Electrical Safety Standards, coming to Atlanta on December 6.
  • Supdet 2012, our annual conference on the latest developments in research, technology, and applications for the fire protection community, is moving to Phoenix in March.
  • New reports, including "Electrical Vehicle Charging and NFPA Electrical Safety Codes and Standards", "Lithium Ion Batteries Hazard and Use Assessment", and "Analysis of Ambulance Crash Data" 
  • Our 2012 “National Trends in Delivery of Health and Long Term Care: Implications for Safety Codes and Standards” summit will be held in Baltimore in March.

Subscribe today to automatically receive our bi-monthly Fire Protection Research Foundation newsletter. It's free, informative, and will keep you up to date on new projects and reports, planning developments, upcoming activities

JR MartinezThe Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors board member and burn survivor is a finalist on tonight’s season-finale of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Along with partner Karina Smirnoff, J.R.’s dancing moxie has earned him high praise among a national audience, but his courage and inspiring message has affected millions.

J.R. embodies the message of the Phoenix Society: helping burn survivors everywhere get back to living. He used his platform to share the Phoenix Society’s mission with fellow survivor Jenna Bullen, paying it forward in the hope that others might continue do the same. Tonight and Tuesday Jenna will again be in the DWTS audience representing the Phoenix Society and cheering him on for all us!

Check out Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors' blog for testimonials from those inspired by J.R.'s efforts on Dancing with the Stars, as well as information on how to vote

-Lauren Backstrom

A fire at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada, on November 21, 1980 resulted in the deaths of 85 guests and hotel employees.  About 600 other civilians were injured and approximately 35 firefighters sought medical attention during and after the fire.  The most probable cause of the fire was heat produced by an electrical ground-fault within a combustible concealed space in a waitresses’ serving station at a restaurant in the building.

Following full involvement of the restaurant, a flame front moved through the Casino (neither the main casino nor the deli were sprinklered), and smoke spread to the high-rise tower through stairways, seismic joints, elevator hoistways and air handling systems.  The high-rise tower evacuation alarm apparently did not sound and most guests in the high-rise were alerted to the fire when they heard or saw fire apparatus, saw or smelled smoke, or heard people yelling or knocking on doors.  Of the 85 fatalities, 61 were located in the high-rise tower.

Based on NFPA’s investigation, the following factors contributed to the loss of life in this fire:

  • Rapid fire and smoke development on the Casino level due to available fuels, building arrangement, and the lack of adequate fire barriers
  • Lack of fire extinguishment in the incipient stage of fire.
  • Unprotected vertical openings contributed to smoke spread to the high-rise tower.
  • Substandard enclosure of interior stairs, smokeproof towers and exit passageways contributed to heat and smoke spread and impaired the means of egress from the high-rise tower
  • Distribution of smoke throughout the high-rise tower through the heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment.
  • Smoke spread through elevator hoistways to the high-rise tower.

NFPA members can download a full investigation report as well as several fire journal articles about this incident.

On Sunday, November 20, 1994, a series of explosions occurred at a furniture manufacturing facility in Lenoir, North Carolina.  The incident killed two, injured four, and destroyed most of the facility.  Based on NFPA’s analysis, three potential sources of ignition were identified:

  • A stray piece of metal in a grinding machine that sparked
  • A leak in an overhead oil line that atomized and subsequently ignited
  • A natural gas leak in the vicinity of the thermal transfer unit

Following the initial event, four explosions occurred throughout the facility.  These explosions were caused by dust in the facility that was placed into suspension in the air by each prior explosion.  It was observed that there were large amounts of dust throughout the facility and there were minimal efforts to control electrical ignition sources.

NFPA members can read the full investigation report for free, and all site visitors can download a summary in Spanish.  Additionally, NFPA 664: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities is a valuable resource for anyone interested in keeping these types of facilities safe.

-Ben Evarts

66154558[1]Los Angeles Mayor Anotonio Villaraigosa with the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas which has been named 2012 Green Car of the Year at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show. (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times / November 7, 2011)

Premiering this week, the LA Auto Show, the first North American auto show of the season, will set the tone for the rest of the year. And while green cars often make an appearance at the LA show, catering to California’s eco-friendly drivers, this year there are more than 70 alternative fuel and high-efficiency vehicles on display.

Of those vehicles, five are in the running for the Green Car of the Year award. Nominated by Green Car Journal editors, the finalists included the Ford Focus Electric, the Honda Civic Natural Gas, the Mitsubishi I, the Toyota Prius V, and the Volkswagon Passat TDI. On Thursday morning, the Civic took home the prize, joining last year’s winner, the Chevrolet Volt.

The five finalists represent multiple types of alternative fuels: electricity, natural gas, gas-electric hybrids, and diesel fuel. “This year’s Green Car of the Year finalists underscore that there is no single solution to our transportation challenges,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and editor of, in a written statement. 

This myriad of choices represents a lot of options for consumers. But that isn’t a bad thing. According to Medill Reports, “It all comes back to fuel efficiency. The survey showed that 83 percent of its respondents said they would be willing to pay more for a more fuel efficient vehicle and listed cost savings as the No. 1 motivator with environmental friendliness coming in at No. 2.”

With the growing availability of different types and capabilities of alternative-fuel vehicles—and the subsequent increases of the numbers of those vehicles on the road—it’s becoming more and more important to have first responders who are well-trained in addressing all types of vehicles. That’s why EV Safety Training is committed to educating every first responder in the country: to keep  you driving green, and driving safe.

NFPA's Get ahead of the winter freezeNFPA says it's not too early to begin preparing for the heating season. Check these 10 tips off your list and get ahead of the winter freeze.

Download these tips! You can also download a free, one-page checklist that contains all of these tips, perfect for handing out at your local schools, community centers, fire stations, and other places where you want to help spread the word about heating safety.

  1. Our furnace has been inspected and serviced by a qualified professional during the last 12 months. (A furnace should be serviced at least once a year.)
  2. Our chimneys and vents have been cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional. I have checked for creosote build-up. (Not cleaning your chimney is the leading cause of chimney fires from built up creosote. This service needs to be done at least once a year.)
  3. Our wood for our fireplace or wood stove is dry, seasoned wood.
  4. Our fireplace screen is metal or heat-tempered glass, in good condition and secure in its position in front of the fireplace.
  5. We have a covered metal container ready to use to dispose cooled ashes. (The ash container should be kept at least 10 feet from the home and any nearby buildings.)
  6. NFPA says Give space heaters spaceOur children know to stay at least 3 feet away from the fireplace, wood/pellet stove, oil stove or other space heaters.
  7. Our portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off.
  8. Our portable space heaters will be plugged directly into an outlet (not an extension cord) and placed at least three feet from anything that can burn; like bedding, paper, walls, and even people. (Place notes throughout your home to remind you to turn-off portable heaters when you leave a room or go to bed.)
  9. We have tested our smoke alarms and made sure they are working. (You need a smoke alarm on every level of the home, inside each bedroom and outside each sleeping area. For the best protection, the smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.)
  10. We have tested our carbon monoxide alarms and made sure they are working. (Carbon monoxide alarms should be located outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.)

What heating safety tips would you add to this list?


This week, EV Safety Training Instructor Jason Emery spoke with the Detroit Free Press about the importance of EV Safety Training in the wake of recent news stories about a fire involving a Chevy Volt after a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash test.
From the launch of the EV Safety Training project, our training curriculum has been designed to give first responders the information they need to address the immediate safety issues that can arise in crashes or other emergency situations involving electric vehicles. With that in mind, we will continue to work with safety experts and auto manufacturers to understand more about the circumstances that led to the NHTSA test results and the potential need for additions to our training curriculum.

Read the complete article on our Electric Vehicle Safety Training project blog.

Cigarettebandingwords030906Illustration: John Roman

Joining the United States, Canada, Australia and Finland, the European Commission is requiring that all cigarettes sold in the European Union will have to meet a specific fire safety standard effective November 17, 2011. According to the press release, the new standards have been drawn up under the General Product Safety Directive and require producers to place only safe products on the market.

In 2008 the European Commission defined the safety requirements, following discussion with Member States, the tobacco and paper industries and NGOs, and then asked the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) to develop the relevant standards, which national authorities will use to measure compliance with fire safety rules. The EU estimates that this move will reduce the number of fire fatalities in Europe by about 40 percent.

The press release cited the success of the requirement in Finland where they have seen the number of victims of cigarette-ignited fires fall by 43 percent.

NFPA established the Fire-Safe Cigarette Coalition  2006 to get passage of consistent fire-safe cigarette legislation in all 50 states. When the coalition began, there were only two states with such legislation. By July of 2011, all 50 state laws were in effect. New York, which was the first state to pass legislation, has seen a reduction in fires and fire deaths related to cigarettes.

Cigarettes are the leading cause of home fire fatalities in the United States.

Lorraine Carli

Jay and rocco

Photo courtesy of Scott Dalrymple, EFD

As head of communications for the National Fire Protection Association, I spend a considerable amount of time scanning the news, both traditional media outlets as well as the social media channels. This is one way to keep up with daily events and trends and enhance NFPA's ability to put out information that hopefully is of value to the many people interested in fire safety.

The other night, while quickly scrolling through facebook, I was struck by this photo -- the yellow tape, the smokey haze, the intensity on both men's faces. It wasn't on one of the many facebook pages devoted to some aspect of the fire service, it was on the page of one of my best friends from high school. The picture is of her father and brother at the scene of a three alarm fire in Everett Monday that left six families homeless.Thankfully no one was injured in the blaze. It is a poignant portrayal of the rich tradition that you often see in the fire service -- generation after generation choosing a career where they put their lives on the line every day for those in their community.

Prv. Joseph A. Andreotti joined the Everett Fire Department on in December of 1960 and retired in January of 1996 with just over 35 years with the department. Prv. Rocco Andreotti joined the EFD on in March of 1986, 25 years and counting!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I agree but I wonder what the words were between the two.

Lorraine Carli

Jeff HudsonJeff Hudson of Shawnee, KS, has joined the staff at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to promote the adoption of fire sprinkler legislation across the United States.

Jeff comes to NFPA with 36 years of experience in the fire service. Starting his career as a volunteer firefighter for the city of Shawnee, KS, he worked his way up the ranks to Fire Chief, a position he held for the past ten years.

He attended the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, MD, and holds an associate’s degree in fire science, a bachelor’s in management and a master’s in public administration. He has served in high-ranking leadership roles for a number of reputable fire associations and committees including the Kansas Association of Fire Chiefs, the Johnson County (KS) Fire Chief’s Association, the Fire Marshal’s Association of Kansas and the Eastern Kansas Multi-County Task Force.

Recently, Jeff was featured in NFPA's "Faces of Fire" campaign, an effort designed to put a face on the life-saving impact of home sprinklers. While Fire Chief in Shawnee, KS, one of his firefighters was the first in the community to die in the line of duty.

Boston Business JournalLisa van der Pool chatted recently with NFPA's Lorraine Carli about NFPA's use of social media to help spread the organizations messages. Lisa praises NFPA's great success on social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedInYou Tube and various blogs

Lorraine explained, “People who are engaged with the NFPA are ... are very passionate about this issue,” said Carli. “And we’re committed to giving them the kind of material they need.”

Surprised by one video with soaring view numbers, Lisa highlights NFPA’s top YouTube video, with nearly 200,000 hits, showing how fast a dry Christmas tree burns, compared to one that’s been watered. Watch it below.


Lisa also commented that NFPA’s social media success is not all that surprising. A new report from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, who examined which nonprofit issues were the most talked about on social media sites, discovered that disaster relief is one of the most-talked about subjects on social media.

Thanks to Lisa for her encouragement and support! Check out her complete article here

Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletterThe new issue of Fire Sprinkler Initiative News, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter, features a campaign by Massachusetts fire officials and NFPA to protest the state's new building code which omits the provision to require home fire sprinklers in new construction.

We also look at a new report that focuses on fire fatalities and property loss in Pennsylvania homes, welcome sprinkler advocate Jeff Hudson to the NFPA staff, and dispel common myths about home fire sprinklers.

Subscribe today to automatically receive our monthly Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter. It's free, informative, and will keep you up to date on anti-sprinkler legislation, our advocacy efforts, and other sprinkler-related news.


Home fire sprinkler advocates are used to those against them twisting and turning facts to make the argument that sprinklers should not be required in new homes. They say they cost too much, they don't. A report by the Fire Protection Research Foundation found that the average cost of home fire sprinklers in a  communities with a requirement was $1.61 per sprinklered square foot. They say that sprinklers will stunt  home building. They don't. A comparison of housing starts in comparable communities saw no difference in the number of homes being built in communities that require sprinklers and communities that do not. They say they cause water damage. They do, but far less than the water damage caused by a fire hose!

So it was not surprise when Keith Grant of Keith and David Grant Homes touted as one of his priorities as the new president of the Tennessee Homebuilders Association to prevent fire sprinklers from being required. But what was surprising was his quote in the Memphis Daily News that said, "What’s been found across the country is the fire sprinklers don’t save lives..." He is wrong.

One of the most important arguments for fire sprinklers is simple -- sprinklers save lives. Here are some key facts and research reports that emphatically make that point.Additional information can be found through the Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

If you have a reported fire in your home, the risk of dying decreases by about 80 percent when sprinklers are present.

Bucks County PA -- There were 90 fire deaths in unsprinklered one- and two-family homes in Bucks County from1988-2010 (88%of all County fire deaths during that time frame), with no fire deaths occurring in sprinklered homes. Five fire incidents in sprinklered homes have been documented as saving at least five lives.

Prince Georges County MD -- From1992-2007, there were 101 fire deaths and 328 civilian injuries in single-family or townhouse fires that were not protected with fire sprinkler systems. No fire deaths occurred in sprinklered structure fires during the period studied, and there were six civilian injuries.

Scottsdale AZ --In the 15 years of the mandate, there were 598 home fires. Of the 598 home fires, 49 were in single-family homes with fire sprinkler systems. There were no deaths in sprinklered homes;13 people died in homes without sprinklers. The lives of 13 people who would have likely died without sprinklers, were saved.

Lorraine Carli

Firebreak November 2011 issueThe November issue of Fire Break, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter about wildland fires, is now available. Some of our great wildland fire news features include:

  • Highlights and a recap of the Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference in Denver
  • Information for landscape architects, designers and planners on growing a Firewise yard and garden
  • A link to the recent Firewise webinar presentation
  • The sobering news on the damage embers cause to homes during a wildfire
  • A call for members for three wildland fire technical committees

Sign up today! It's free, informative and will keep you up to date on the latest news and information on mitigating your wildfire risk to take back to your communities, organization or fire house.

Fourmile Canyon fire truck drives past a home destroyed by the Fourmile Canyon Fire west of Boulder, Colorado, on September 11, 2010. For a description of the burn patterns and building construction on the Fourmile Canyon Fire, see "Tour of the Fourmile Canyon Fire: Questions Raised, Answers Pending," a blog posting from June 27, 2011 on NFPA's Firewise website, 

The new issue of NFPA Journal features an article by Stephen G. Badger on the "Large-Loss Fires in the United States in 2010." The Fourmile Canyon Fire was the largest of the 17 large-loss fires that occurred in the United States last year. Large-loss fires and explosions are defined as incidents that cause at least $10 million in direct property loss.

Each year, NFPA reports on the previous year’s large-loss fires, tracking and verifying loss information reported in the media or by other sources. The 17 large-loss fires of 2010 are only those fires for which we obtained an official dollar loss. 

According to “Fire Loss in the United States During 2010” [September/October], U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 1,331,500 fires in 2010 that caused an estimated loss of $11.6 billion. Many of these fires were small or resulted in little or no reported property damage. However, the 17 that resulted in losses greater than $10 million each, caused a total of roughly $950 million in direct property losses. Although these fires accounted for only 0.001% of the estimated number of fires in 2010, they accounted for 5.6% of the total estimated dollar loss.

Read the NFPA Journal article detailing the report, more information on the 17 large-loss fires and their associated property damage

The number of home cooking fires on Thanksgiving Day was three times the national average of fires per day in 2009, according to NFPA. 

“Thanksgiving can be a whirlwind of cooking and entertaining guests,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “With so much multitasking taking place, fire hazards around the oven or stovetop can easily be overlooked. Cooks should be conscious of fire safety this Thanksgiving whether the menu is meant to serve two or 20.”

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and related injuries. Learn more.

To reduce the risk of cooking fires this holiday, NFPA recommends the following safety tips: 

  • Keep anything that can catch fire such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains away from the stovetop.
  • Always stay in the kitchen while frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • When simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Stay alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire… 

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear path (to your way out of the home and someone has called the fire department).
  • Keep a lid nearby when cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop.  Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.



Dan Doofus shows how to stay safe when cooking.


With more than 50 presentations over 5 subject tracks, participants at NFPA's Backyards & Beyond conference last month in Denver had a lot to choose from. presenters were able to share their slides with us, and you can now find them on the Firewise website.

Sessions covered a wide range of topics, from floods following fires in Arizona, to challenges for rural communities in British Columbia, to a technical overview of ignition resistant building materials.

NFPA has also pulled together all the coverage from the conference on the Firewise website, including session blog posts, photos and video testimonials from participants. Check it out to see what you might have missed!

 --Michele Steinberg

Background: Information‐technology and telecommunications (IT/telecom) facilities provide critical services in today’s world. From a risk standpoint, the indirect impact of fire loss due to business interruption and loss of critical operations, sometimes geographically very distant from the IT/telecom facility itself, can far outweigh the direct property loss.

In the past few years, there have been dramatic changes in the equipment housed in these facilities, which have placed increased demands on HVAC systems. As a result, airflow containment solutions are being introduced to increase energy efficiency. From a fire safety design perspective, the use of airflow containment creates a high airflow environment that dilutes the smoke, which poses challenges for providing adequate detection, and affects the dispersion of suppression agents.

Annex Section B.4.5 of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, states, “There currently are no quantitative methods for estimating either smoke dilution or airflow effects on locating smoke detectors.” Although tools exist to model fire development, detection time, and suppression agent dispersion, they have not been validated for this application.

Research Goal: The goal of this project is to develop a validated set of modeling tools that can be used for providing reliable analysis of detection performance in IT/telecom facilities. The first phase of the project is currently underway.  For more information, contact Amanda Kimball, Foundation Research Project Manager,

At approximately 6:00 a.m. on November 13, 1997, a fire occurred in an occupied, four-story apartment complex in Bremerton, Washington, which caused the deaths of four residents (all aged between 75 and 91 years) and injured 12 others.  Even though this was not a designated “elderly housing” facility, this fire is indicative of the high risk bracket that this age group occupies.  The cause of the fire was determined to be either an electrical baseboard heater or an electrical outlet in one of the apartments.  The apartment was normally occupied, but the occupant was not in the apartment at the time of the fire.  The apartment complex manager was delivering newspapers to various units when he heard the smoke detector.  He entered the unit and reported that smoke had filled the unit to within a foot of the floor; he then exited the apartment, leaving the door open.

Factors contributing to the loss of life and property in this incident include:

  • Lack of automatic fire sprinklers
  • The door to the apartment of fire origin being left open after the fire was discovered
  • Inadequately protected means of egress
  • Lack of a complex wide fire alarm system incorporating automatic detection

NFPA members can download the entire investigation report, and a summary is available to all site visitors in English or Spanish.

-Ben Evarts

On November 12, 1992 a fire destroyed most of a food processing plant in Yuma, Arizona, causing an estimated $16 million in property damage ($25 million in today’s dollars).  Investigators believe that welders who were installing process equipment may have accidentally ignited combustible materials inside a wall assembly.  The fire spread in a combustible concealed space between the wood-framed interior walls and the metal exterior walls.  Sprinklers had not been installed in the combustible concealed space.   Based on NFPA’s investigation, the following were significant factors contributing to the loss of property in this incident.

  • The presence of concealed combustible spaces in which the fire could readily spread
  • The ignition of combustible materials within a concealed space
  • The lack of sprinkler protection in the concealed combustible spaces
  • Sprinkler systems that were not operational due to ongoing construction activities

NFPA members can download the full investigation report for free and all site visitors can download a summary of the investigation in Spanish.

-Ben Evarts

The cover story
in the November/December NFPA Journal takes a close look at the creation of NFPA 56 (PS), Fire and Explosion Prevention During Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems. A new fast-track development process allowed NFPA to create the consensus standard in less than six months.

Among the practices addressed by the standard are gas blows, whereby large volumes of natural gas are moved through piping systems under high pressure as a way to clean debris from the pipes. The standard was developed in response to the deadly Kleen Energy disaster in Middletown, Connecticut, in 2010, where a gas blow resulted in a catastrophic explosion that killed six workers and injured dozens.

- Scott Sutherland

From the November/December issue of NFPA Journal 

November_december_2011_cover_200The explosion at the Kleen Energy power plant in Middletown, Connecticut in February 2010 was one of the worst workplace accidents to occur in the United States in recent years. A gas-blowing operation to clean debris from pipes led to an explosion and fire that killed six people and injured about 50 others.

In the aftermath, investigators, including the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), determined that there was no safety standard governing the operation that caused this catastrophe. In its report, the CSB recommended the development of a standard to prevent such explosions from happening again.

NFPA was the only organization that stepped up to close this dangerous gap in standards dealing with natural gas. Because it was believed that the gas-blow procedure was used in many other plants around the country, NFPA and safety officials at the federal, state, and local levels felt that time was of the essence in the development of the standard. Our regulations permit the development of standards through an expedited process if there is an urgent need to do so. We worked with CSB to get its views on what should be covered in the standard. The Standards Council quickly authorized the project and appointed the Technical Committee, which got to work in the spring of 2011.

Read NFPA President Jim Shannon's entire column in the new issue of NFPA Journal.

Bucks County sprinkler reportBetween 1988 and 2010, there were 90 home fire fatalities in non-sprinklered one- and two-family homes in Bucks County, PA. During that same time span, there were zero fire fatalities in county homes protected by fire sprinkler systems. The report, just published by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, also details the vast difference in average property loss in sprinklered ($14,000) and non-sprinklered homes ($179,896) that experience fires. 

Details, download the report on the home fire sprinkler experience in Bucks County, PA.

The public has spoken, and three college students have nabbed the top prizes in a fire safety video contest. The challenge, issued by NFPA  and The Center for Campus Fire Safety, was for college students to created 30- or 60-second video public service announcements (PSAs) showcasing the importance of fire safety.

  • Winning college fire safety videoDan Nguyen of Columbia University and Tampa, FL, won first prize for his video “College Fire Safety Tips”.
  • Katelyn Watkinson of Vancouver Island University and Nanaimo, British Columbia, was awarded second prize with her entry “Adults Need Fire Safety Too”.
  • Anthony Gentles of Northeastern University and Lowell, MA, placed third with his entry, “Fire Prevention Video.”

Watch the winning videos.

The three winners will receive Amazon gift cards and their video PSAs will be offered for use by television stations located in markets where the students’ universities are located as well as the their hometowns.

Read NFPA's fact sheet on campus fire safety.

- Mike Hazell

Bil KeaneBil Keane, a cartoonist who for more than 50 years entertained readers of the funny pages with his "Family Circus" comic strip, died on November 8 at his Arizona home. He was 89.

According to Mr. Keane’s obituary in the LA Times, "Family Circus" appears in nearly 1,500 papers around the world, making it the most widely read syndicated panel. His cast of instantly-recognizable characters –mom, dad, their four children (Billy, Dolly, Jeffy, PJ), and their dog, Barfy - used gentle humor to show the lighter side of modern family life. 

In 1998, NFPA invited Mr. Keane to draw the official artwork for posters, brochures, and other fire safety material for its annual Fire Prevention Week campaign.

“Mr. Keane was really very nice and a pleasure to work with,” says NFPA project manager Steve Dornbusch. “He sincerely liked helping people. However, at one point when it came to drawing Sparky the Fire Dog® (NFPA’s official mascot), he had problems getting him right, and I had to give him some art direction. By the third time he very nicely, but firmly, said to me – ‘I'm a cartoonist - not an illustrator, this is what I do.’  It looked great to me after that!” 

Some examples of Mr. Keane’s work on NFPA’s 1998 Fire Prevention Week campaign:

Bil Keane FPW artwork

Bil Keane FPW artwork

Bil Keane FPW artwork

Following is a note Mr. Keane sent to NFPA's Steve Dornbusch after he had completed the art for NFPA's Fire Prevention Week campaign in 1998: 

Bil Keane note to NFPA

- Mike Hazell

Children under age five are 1.21 times as likely as the general population to die in a fire. They are nearly eight times as likely to die in a fire started by playing with a heat source as the general population.

To address the needs of young children, NFPA is currently revising the Learn Not to Burn Preschool Program lessons plans to be taught by preschool and kindergarten teachers and the home link activities that go to parents and caregivers. The Learn Not to Burn Preschool songs and recordings by Jim Post have also been updated, and musician Dante Ware joins Jim in singing and performing many of the songs. The recordings will be free to download from our website along with the lesson plans.

The new “Stay Away from Hot Things That Hurt You” lessons plans have just been posted on NFPA’s website. Included are four lesson plans to teach the behavior, flash cards that show hot things and things that are not hot, photos of hot and not hot things in an 8 ½ by 11 format for group discussion, a Circle the Hot Things activity sheet, the “Don’t Touch Hot Things” song, and a letter to parents and guardians.

- Sharon Gamache

llustration of musicians Jim Post and Dante Ware performing with children.FmJim_Dante_LoRez

Firefighters suffered 71,875 injuries in the line of duty last year, an eight percent decrease from 2009 and a two-decade low, according to the new NFPA report “U.S. Firefighter Injuries”. The report takes a look at the number of 2010 firefighter injuries, injuries by type of duty, exposures to infectious diseases, and how a community’s size affects the number of injuries within a fire department.

Key findings from the report:

  • An estimated 15,000 injuries, or 20.8 percent of all firefighter injuries, resulted in lost time from work in 2010.
  • In addition to injuries, there were 11,200 exposures to infectious diseases and 25,700 exposures to hazardous conditions.
  • The Northeast reported a higher number of fire ground injuries per 100 fires (sustained from structure fires, vehicle fires, and brush fires) than other regions of the country.
  • Almost half (45 percent) of all firefighter injuries occurred during fire ground operations. An estimated 13,355 occurred at non-fire emergencies, 4,380 while responding to or returning from an incident, 7,275 during training activities, and 14,190 during other on-duty activities.

Read more, download NFPA's "U.S. Firefighter Injuries" report.

Hal BrunoHal Bruno, a longtime political director for ABC News, and former director of the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation, died in Maryland on Tuesday, November 8.

“For more than 60 years, Hal Bruno served as an active member of the fire service community, giving selflessly as a dedicated volunteer firefighter, advocate, commentator and leader,” according to a statement from the National Firefighter’s Association. “He is renowned for his commitment to fire safety initiatives and his compassion for the members of the fire service and their families.” 

According to an ABC News blog, Mr. Bruno’s interest in firefighting began after riding as a kid on fire trucks in his hometown of Chicago. Mr. Bruno later became a volunteer firefighter and was involved in the fire service for more than 60 years.

“He was one of the first journalists on the scene of the tragic Our Lady of the Angels elementary school fire in Chicago on December 1, 1958 in which 92 students and 3 nuns died,” says the statement from the National Firefighter’s Association. “His report that the fire spread so quickly because of the open stairwell lead to significant changes in fire safety and building standards and codes.”

Read NFPA Journal's "When the Angels Came Calling" written for the 50th anniversary of the Our Lady of Angels fire, one of the most tragic school fires to ever take place in the United States.

Mr. Bruno served as director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Chevy Chase Fire Department until 2008 and was Chairman Emeritus after that.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, November 11 in Chevy Chase, MD. Details.

Failing to manage the challenges of budget cuts, rising call volume, personnel and equipment shortages, security issues and the overall expectation to do more with less, can leave individuals, fire departments and communities vulnerable to undesirable events.

The report was released by the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, whose members are the fire chiefs of jurisdictions with minimum staffing of 400 fully paid career fire fighters. The Association is a Section of both the NFPA and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC).

The new report, "Fire Service Deployment: Assessing Community Vulnerability" warns that, ”in many communities, the sustained economic recession is forcing decisions to cut fire department resources faster than fire service leaders can evaluate their impact.”

Statements from the report

  • Expectations placed on the fire service, including Emergency Medical Services (EMS), response to natural disasters, hazardous materials incidents, technical rescue and acts of terrorism, have steadily increased. However, fire chiefs are often faced with policies created by municipal officials who are challenged to balance community service expectations with finite budgetary resources and who do so without a solid technical foundation for evaluating the impact of staffing and deployment decisions on the safety of the public and firefighters.
  • This is often a situation of planning fire department resources to budgets rather than budgeting to the proper plan. These whirlwind cuts can leave a community without sufficient resources to respond to emergency calls safely and effectively.
  • If fire department resources are deployed to match the risk levels inherent to hazards in the community, it has been scientifically demonstrated that the community will be far less vulnerable to negative outcomes.

Read more, download the Fire Service Deployment: Assessing Community Vulnerability report.


Leaf alert!

Posted by andrewklock Employee Nov 7, 2011


On Friday, the EV Safety Training team headed into Cambridge for a showing of Revenge of the Electric Car, which you might remember hearing about here at our blog. On our way out, we caught sight of a Nissan Leaf, just hanging out in the parking lot!

Revenge of the Electric Car is currently showing in select theaters around the country. It’s an excellent film, and we at EV Safety really recommend it.

Have you spotted a new EV in your area? Tell us about it in the comments! 

At its October 2011 meeting, the NFPA Standards Council reviewed a request to consider the establishment of a new project on Emergency Mass Shelters

After review of the material, the Council voted to publish a notice to solicit comments on the need for the project, information on resources on the subject matter, those interested in participating if established, and other organizations actively involved with the subject.

Anyone may submit a comment by the January 27, 2012 deadline.

- Debbie Baio

NFPA News The November issue of NFPA News, our codes and standards newsletter, is now available.

In this issue:

  • New process for Annual 2014 documents
  • TIAs issued on NFPA 20, NFPA 70, and NFPA 407
  • Soliciting comments on proposed new project on Emergency Mass Shelters
  • Development of NFPA 56(PS)
  • Committee scopes approved
  • NFPA releases fire service needs assessment
  • Call for members
  • Committee meetings calendar
  • Committees soliciting proposals

NFPA News is a free newsletter, and includes special announcements, notification of proposal and comment closing dates, requests for comments, notices on the availability of Standards Council minutes, and other important news about NFPA’s code and standards making process.

Free subscription
Sign-in on NFPA’s web site and then select “NFPA News” from your e-mail options.

- Debbie Baio

State Chiefs
Last week, NFPA headquarters in Quincy, MA hosted the 2011 State Fire Chief President's Forum. 37 states sent representatives from their respective fire chief associations. The Forum kicked off on Thursday, October 27th with a reception and dinner, including opening remarks from Gary Keith, NFPA Vice President of Field Operations and Education, Ken Willette, NFPA Division Manager of Public Fire Protection, and Chief Al Gillespie, IAFC President and Chairman of the Board. 

Over the next two days, the Chiefs listened to many NFPA presentations on various projects and documents. One of these was from John Hall, Division Manager of NFPA's Fire Analysis and Research, who reviewed the Third Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, including state by state reports. Additional topics included overviews on NFPA's Electric Vehicle project, Public Education, Fire Protection Research Foundation, and breakout sessions with NFPA Regional Directors. 

NFPA President Jim Shannon
NFPA President James M. Shannon and representatives of every major fire service organization in the state came together on November 3, 2011, to protest the new building code in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which omits the provision to require home fire sprinklers in new construction.

Saying that the state building regulations board is playing with fire, NFPA President Jim Shannon and every major fire service organization in Massachusetts joined forces at a rallly on November 3 to protest the state’s new building code. The Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) recently removed the provision for fire sprinklers in new homes from the state’s building code.

"The BBRS should reverse their action," said Mr. Shannon. "They should not allow substandard homes to be built in Massachusetts."

During the rally, a dramatic side-by-side demonstration confirmed the value of home fire sprinklers.

Burn demonstration

A fire totally destroys an unsprinklered room during a live, side-by-side demonstration at NFPA headquarters in Quincy, MA. In the room outfitted with a single sprinkler head, the sprinkler activated after 20 seconds and quickly brought down the flames.

NFPA's Gary Keith talks to Boston TV reporter

NFPA's Gary Keith talks to a Boston television reporter following the dramatic side-by-side home fire sprinkler demonstration.

- Mike Hazell

Mexico Fire Expo
NFPA is looking for speakers to present at the 2012 NFPA Mexico Fire Expo, April 24-26, 2012 in Mexico City. This event will provide a forum for attendees to learn industry best practices and:

  • identify key issues facing fire and life safety professionals
  • expand their knowledge and professional skills
  • prepare for challenges in the fire and life safety fields

NFPA has issued a call for papers for this conference. Topics that are relevant to professionals interested in fire protection and life safety, including engineers, building owners, fire protection system designers, facility managers, fire service professionals and inspectors will be considered. Presenters will receive a complimentary conference registration (valued up to $300)

Submit a presentation proposal. Deadline: December 31, 2011

On-line presentation features Firewise principles, information and resources for people in the wildland-urban interface

With the 2011 wildfire season on its way to becoming one of the worst on record, the Firewise staff knows how important it is for residents living and working in wildfire high-risk areas to get the information they need to mitigate their wildfire risk and reduce losses.

Michele_steinberg_50x60x2Please join Michele Steinberg, program manager of NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program, at 1:00 pm (EST) Tuesday, November 8, for an online wildfire safety presentation featuring the Firewise program. Learn how wildfires behave and homes ignite. She will also review Firewise resources and materials available to help homeowners and neighbors work together to design a safe community.

Have questions for Michele? This is the perfect way to share your thoughts with others who face the same challenges in their own communities. Submit your questions through November 7. And don’t forget to register for the free wildfire safety webinar!

NFPA’s recent report U.S. Unintentional Fire Death Rates by State analyzes which states have higher and lower death rates per million population relative to each other, and some of the factors that correlate with states having a high death rate. The report found that Hawaii has the lowest risk per population and that Mississippi has the highest risk. NFPA members can download the full report, and anyone can find out more about any of the states by using the interactive map below. You can zoom in and out, and if you click on one of the colored pinpoints, information about that state will pop up.


View Unintentional Fire Death Rates by State 2003-2007 in a full screen map

EV newsletterThe November issue of NFPA's "EV News Update" is now available. In this issue:

  • New report focuses on electric vehicle charging stations and how they relate to NFPA's National Electrical Code®.
  • Our EV "train-the-trainer" sessions will be held in several more states in November. See what attendees are saying about their experience.
  • The "Codes and Standards" track of an upcoming NFPA conference in Orlando will focus on important updates for emergency responders and fire service professionals.
  • The five things you need to know about electric vehicles.

Sign up today to receive our free monthly e-newsletter! It will keep you up to date on the latest information on NFPA’s project to help firefighters and other first responders prepare for the growing number of electric vehicles on the road in the United States.

NFPA has released a fire service needs assessment for each state based on findings from the Third Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service. The study looks at the current needs of America’s fire departments as compared to those identified in assessments done in 2001 and 2005.

The goal of the project was to identify major gaps in the needs of the U.S. fire service and to determine if the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (DHS/FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) programs are continuing to reduce the needs of fire departments

“The progress that has been made nationally by well-targeted grants is encouraging, but there is more work to be done to ensure fire departments across the country are sufficiently prepared to protect their communities,” says NFPA President Jim Shannon.

The reports look at personnel and their capabilities including:

  • staffing, training, certification, and wellness/fitness
  • facilities and apparatus
  • personal protective equipment, fire prevention and code enforcement
  • the ability to handle unusually challenging incidents
  • communications and new technologies

Read more; see the 2011 Needs Assessment and the state-by-state reports.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: