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NFPA's Michele Steinberg, Project Manager for the Firewise Communities program, talks about lessons learned from the devastating wildland fire seaso, including new research on how homes are burning down, and better ways to communicate safety messages to homeowners who live in the wildland urban interface.


NFPA JournalA special issue of NFPA Journal® is devoted to the wildland fire problem. Read about NFPA’s role in teaching homeowners, builders, firefighters, and community leaders how to prepare homes to resist ignition from wildland fire, new international initiatives, the environmental impact of wildland fires, and a look at the NFPA codes and standards that deal with the wildland urban interface.


In September, NFPA Fire Service Specialist Ryan Depew traveled to central Texas, where he participated in structure fire investigations related to the Bastrop County Complex Fire, which had destroyed more than 1,500 homes.

NFPA's Michele Steinberg, manager of the Firewise Communities Program, talks about the recent wildland fire season, and resources available to help homeowners and community leaders best prepare for fire.

NFPA’s Firewise Communities program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters, and others in the effort to protect people and property from wildfire risks.

NFPA along with the U.S. Forest Service and a coalition of wildland fire safety agencies, are collaborating to develop a new Fire Adapted Communities program. The effort members will help communities understand and accept their wildfire risk and take pro-active steps to improve the safety and resilience of their homes, landscapes, infrastructure and community assets.

NFPA’s Matt Klaus, Senior Fire Protection Engineer, spoke at the Fire & Life Safety Conference in Orlando about the full range of NFPA documents that deal with automatic fire sprinklers. Matt explained the reason that NFPA 13R, the document that deals with the installation of automatic fire sprinklers in residential occupancies, will soon have a new title. He also provides an update on requirements on the use of antifreeze in sprinkler systems and the latest research that’s being done and how it is contributing to changes in NFPA’s sprinkler standards.

Fire Sprinkler InitiativeLearn more about NFPA's work to require sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes.  

What lessons about high rise building safety – from sprinkler protection to exit stairways, and everything in between – did we learn in the 90 years between the 1911 Triangle Waist Company fire in New York City and the World Trade Center tragedy in 2001?

During today’s luncheon at the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Conference in Orlando, Robert Solomon, P.E., Division Manager of NFPA’s Building Fire Protection Division, shed new light on the Triangle fire, “one of history’s earliest episodes of a fire in a high-rise building,” he said. “The fear it struck into the hearts of citizens was profound and significant.”

One-hundred-forty-six people died that day, approximately 60 perished by jumping from the 9th floor of the building. “We see numerous fire hazards and other problems that proved deadly once the fire broke out,” said Robert. “These included flammable and combustible fuel load, lack of adequate exits, locked doors, crowded and cramped conditions, and lack of built-in fire protection measures like sprinklers.”

Change did occur in the aftermath of the Triangle fire. In the following video, produced by NFPA for the 100th anniversary of the tragedy in 2011, NFPA President Jim Shannon talks about the driving force of Frances Perkins, a social worker who witnessed the Triangle fire with her own eyes.

Read “What’s changed — and what hasn’t — in the 100 years since the Triangle Waist Co. fire” from the March/April 2011 issue of NFPA Journal®.

Robert then discussed the politics and planning that led to the construction of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, a project that took seven years to complete. WTC 1 and 2 featured “framed tube” construction and were the first buildings in the world to utilize the concept of an express elevator system.

In 1993, a bombing at the World Trade Center forced the evacuation of both towers. An NFPA investigation focused on fire department response, building system performance, evacuation. Robert said that many lessons learned after that bombing had a direct positive impact on the events that would unfold at the site eight years later.

September_october_cover_110x145Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, NFPA launched a widespread effort to strengthen codes and standards for first responder safety, the built environment, emergency preparedness, and more.  Ten years later, those efforts continue — and they’re making America safer.

Read details in NFPA Journal’s special 10th anniversary report on 9/11, including a report on first responder safety and an interview with an NFPA investigator who recalls his work at Ground Zero. 

Thomas Suehr, CPCU, a Senior Specialist in the Engineering Technical Unit at Liberty Mutual Commercial Markets, spoke at NFPA's Fire & Life Safety Conference in Orlando about the insurance industry perspective on dust hazard protection. Mr. Suehr, a member of several NFPA technical committees, also spoke about the role of codes and standards in helping the insurance industry work with clients to prevent or mitigate combustible dust explosions.

Guy Colonna, P.E., NFPA Industrial and Chemical Engineering Division, describes the concept behind eight NFPA documents that deal with dust forming a "basis of safety". He also details some of the significant changes to NFPA's dust standards.

Imperial_sugarRead a 2010 NFPA Journal® article that features Ron Allen, senior director for environmental health, safety, and quality at Imperial Sugar Company and a member of NFPA, who helped devise and implement safety features in all of its facilities. In this article, Alan R. Earls details the February 7, 2008, explosion at an Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, GA, that destroyed much of the facility and killed 14 employees.

This time of year our thoughts turn to decorations, lights and Christmas trees, and not so much about brush, grass and forest fires. But this year’s extensive fire season and the latest predictions for 2012 remind us that wildfire can happen almost anytime, almost anywhere.

Download our “12 Days of Firewise” wildfire safety tip sheet and view the videos on the Firewise blog (look for a new one each day). Our goal is to provide easy steps you can follow as you string up the lights and deck the halls this holiday season and throughout the year.

Day 1: Firewise Northwest Regional Advisor Gary Marshall reminds homeowners to make sure your house number is still visible after you decorate outside.


During her session at NFPA's Fire & Life Safety Conference in Orlando in December 2011, Sandra Stanek, CFPS, SET, Senior Fire Protection Specialist at NFPA, talked about the basics of residential sprinkler systems. She discussed common sprinkler myths, water sources, and the benefits of installing residential sprinklers to local jurisdictions. For more information about residential sprinklers, visit

MA sprinkler rally at State HouseRELATED
Against the backdrop of the firefighters memorial at the Massachusetts State House, NFPA President Jim Shannon and representatives of every major fire service organization in the state came together on December 13, 2011 to protest against the new building code in Massachusetts. 

All national model building codes include the requirement for fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes. The Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) promulgated a building code for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in August and omitted the provision to require home fire sprinklers in new construction.

“Your risk of dying in a home fire decreases by more than 80 percent with sprinklers and property damage is reduced by 74 percent” said Shannon. “By allowing substandard housing to be built in Massachusetts, the BBRS puts firefighters and citizens at unnecessary risk. Their action should be reversed.” 

Read more, see video and photos.

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