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Perspectives Paul Dunphy 
From the September/October 2011 issue of NFPA Journal®

By Paul Dunphy

Harvard University has been very busy over the last 10 years building and renovating research facilities, classrooms, dormitories, parking garages, and central utility plants. Some of the projects are complex and large, and include high-rise buildings with several levels below grade. In my role as an electrical inspector and compliance coordinator for the university, I’ve been engaged from beginning to end (and beyond) with each project. It’s from this perspective that I’ve become a staunch advocate for integrated testing of the fire and life safety systems on all of the university’s new building projects and for most of the more involved renovation projects. These are the kinds of processes covered by the new NFPA 3, Recommended Practice on Commissioning and Integrated Testing of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems.

Read Paul's entire article in the new issue of NFPA Journal.

On September 28, 1992, Denver firefighters responded to a fire in a two-story printing office.  During the fire suppression operations, one firefighter died.  When firefighters entered the building, they found fires in several areas (fire investigators considered the fire to be arson), and attempted to suppress the fires as they found them.  One firefighter was temporarily working by himself when a section of floor collapsed and the fire intensity suddenly increased.  The firefighter eventually reached a second-story window and alerted other firefighters who were outside.  Over a period of approximately 55 minutes, an estimated 15 rescuers attempted to remove the victim through a window; however, they were unsuccessful due to the confinement of the space in which they were working.  NFPA’s investigation and analysis established these lessons:

  • Operating in pairs while in hazardous areas can reduce the risk to individual fire department members while on the fireground.
  • In addition to entrapping firefighters, a floor collapse can prevent rescuers from reaching firefighters in need of assistance.
  • Rescue personnel operating in a small space can be subject to impediments created by physical conditions that can prevent rescue or lengthen the time required for rescue.

NFPA members can read the full investigation report, and NFPA’s report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States 2010 is available to all site visitors.

-Ben Evarts

From the September/October 2011 issue of NFPA Journal®

By Jeffrey Sargent

70E When we talk about personal protective equipment, we typically picture arc-rated clothing, face shields, insulated gloves, and balaclavas. Insulated tools, non-conductive ladders, rubber insulating mats, and protective temporary grounding equipment also fit into the broader category of equipment designed to protect employees against electrical hazards.

The use of such equipment is determined through a shock hazard and/or arc flash hazard analysis. But how many workers conduct a shock hazard analysis before plugging in a portable electric tool or some other piece of equipment?

Unfortunately, the answer suggests that the awareness of the shock hazard for this type of work environment does not match that for a task such as working on an energized piece of electrical equipment. Many workers who will never be exposed to a shock hazard while working on energized electrical equipment will, in fact, be exposed to a shock hazard by using a faulty portable tool, appliance, cord, or other item in a wet, damp, or similarly conductive environment.

Read Jeffrey's entire article in the new issue of NFPA Journal.

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