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FirewiseWe recently distributed some tips to the residents of Massachusetts, given the wildland fire activity they were seeing. Now, fires on New York’s Long Island, in upstate New York, as well as Staten Island and nearby Connecticut and New Jersey, have raised concerns for community safety. With experts predicting these conditions will occur through Spring, communities can’t help but feel that they are at high risk from wildfires.

“The unusually dry and w weather at this time of year means that wildfires pose a greater threat to individual properties and neighborhoods across New York,” said Michele Steinberg, NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program Manager. “It’s simply easier in these conditions for fires to start and burn out of control. But residents can do their part and take simple steps today to lessen the risk of damage if a wildfire occurs.”

The Firewise program wants to remind communities that wildfire doesn’t always have to burn everything in its path. Below are a few actions you can take to reduce the risk of your home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire:

  • Clear leaves and other debris from gutters, eaves, porches and decks. This prevents embers from igniting your home.
  • Create a “fire free” area within five feet of the home, using non-flammable landscaping materials such as rocks, pavers and/or high-moisture content annuals and perennials.
  • Remove dead vegetation from under your deck and within 10 feet from the house.
  • Remove flammable materials (firewood stacks, small propane canisters, dry vegetation, etc.) within 30 feet of your home’s foundation and outbuildings, including garages and sheds. If it can catch fire, don’t let it tough your house, deck or porch.

For more easy safety tips, please take a look at the full press release

Learn more about how to keep your family safe and reduce your home’s risk for wildfire damage at Many resources are free and complementary brochures, booklets, pamphlets, and videos can be found on the “information and resources” page of the website and ordered online through the Firewise catalog.

Innovation at NFPAAt every turn you see advertising for a new smartphone. 2012 is the year of the tablet. Skype, FaceTime, Instagram, and Hipstamatic are rapidly becoming verbs. We live in a technology-oriented society, and it is no surprise that technology companies are household names.

What’s been different over the last decade is how influential technology reaches our hands. Traditionally, we got access to technology at work first, and eventually in the home. Today, that dynamic is reversed. Businesses are scrambling to meet employee demands to connect their shiny new smartphones and tablets to the company network.

Part of the reason why there is such a scramble is that most organizations assumed they had plenty of time to implement new mobile solutions. The generally held belief was that this new technology was really only valued by the young, emerging employee population. The reality was quite different. Some industry analysts have discovered that the average age of the technology advocate is over 50.

What does this trend mean for the NFPA member or customer?

First: we hear you! You want to use our content in more mobile-friendly ways. We’re burning the midnight oil to develop and deliver content in new formats, how and when you need it.

We’ve already begun to feel the real impact of this trend. Everywhere you turn, you hear customers’ stories about how their jobs are changing:

  • Installation and maintenance crews don’t rally up at the office first thing in the morning anymore – they can get their maps, job orders, and contact information via email or text message.
  • Sales teams can bring video demos of project work right to the customer.
  • Team leaders can send video of a repair right to the home office, streamlining repair reporting.
  • Inspectors can tag video to a violation report with voice commentary.

Add it all together and you get a mobile workforce that can save a lot of time, energy, and money by getting connected while out of the office. 

-Sam Driver

Image by Jeff Bundy via Flikr. CC attribution license.

The following new proposed standard is seeking public input on its Preliminary Draft (formerly pre-ROP):

  • NFPA 4, Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing

This preliminary draft is being circulated to allow the public to view and submit public input (formerly proposals) prior to the publication as a First Draft Report (formerly Report on Proposals).  The public input closing date for this proposed new standard is June 22, 2012.

On April 11, 1996, a fire in an occupied passenger terminal at the airport in Düsseldorf, Germany, killed 17 people and injured 62.  The fire began when a welder working on expansion plates in a roadway above the terminal building ignited the insulation used in the void above the ceiling on the first level.  The smoke and flames spread throughout the first level, then the second level through unprotected open stairwells and escalator openings.  Seven of the victims died in elevators, eight more died in a VIP lounge on the third level, one in a lavatory, and one in an unknown location.  Factors determined to have contributed to the loss of life and property damage in this incident include:

  • Failure of workmen to take adequate precautions during welding operations
  • The presence of combustible insulation in the ceiling void above the lower level of the terminal
  • A lack of automatic suppression systems in the void and in the occupied area of the terminal
  • Unprotected vertical openings that allowed the fire and smoke to spread to the upper levels
  • The transmission of erroneous information over the voice annunciation system during the first 10 minutes of alarm activation
  • The ability to shut down the public address system in the lounges.  (This system was also used to transmit the emergency voice announcements.)
  • Inadequate means of egress capabilities from the VIP lounge
  • Two occupied elevators that opened directly into the fire area

NFPA members can read the full investigation report, and all site visitors can read a summary of the investigation in English, Spanish, French, or German

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