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On November 7th and 8th, NFPA and the Fire Protection Research Foundation will host a symposium on fire safety and sustainable building design in Chicago. We thought we would highlight some of the event speakers and their sessions to help you decide if you should attend. First up: Simon Lay, C.Eng, MiFireE,  Director of Fire Engineering at AECOM. 

Simon LaySimon's presentation is titled, "Natural Ventilation and Smoke Control: What conflicts can arise and how can they be overcome whilst ensuring that the sustainability objectives of natural ventilation are still met?"

The use of natural ventilation in buildings is no longer driven purely by sustainable aspirations. Increasingly, natural ventilation is necessary to meet the requirements of clients, to reduce running costs and in some locations to achieve sustainability standards set by Local or National Government.

Day to day climate control that uses ventilated facades and internal atria with natural ventilation are potential solutions to meet the sustainability goals. However, such solutions rely on generating a vertical distribution of air which goes against the need to prevent the movement of smoke and flames in a fire.

Simon will briefly review what conflicts can arise between natural ventilation in high rise buildings and smoke ventilation and then consider some of the options for solving these conflicts. The advantages and disadvantages of different solutions will be considered with the aim of demonstrating the importance of holistic, performance based design in achieving effective, sustainable solutions that be practicably delivered.

Simon Lay is a former chair of the CTBUH Working party on Fire Safety in High Rise Buildings and a member of the CTBUH Advisory Group. Simon has led the fire safety design on many tall building projects and is the author of many papers and articles on fire engineering and high-rise design. As a strong proponent of performance based design as the best way of ensuring safety through design, Simon is well known and respected for introducing innovation and fighting apathy building design.

Learn more about the symposium and register today! 

Grilling-fact-sheetRemember that propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors, and that grills should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Make sure to keep children and pets away from the grill area, and keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.

And never leave your grill unattended -- an unwanted fire can happen in an instant.

For more tips on grilling safety, download our free tip sheet.

Happy Labor Day!

On August 31, 1995, a fire occurred in a restaurant on the first floor of a five story building in Boston, Massachusetts.  The fire originated in the grill area of the restaurant, and according to investigators, it began when cleaners were attempting to remove the grease buildup on a stove’s cooking surface by placing aluminum foil over the burners and then turning the burners on “high”.  The fire eventually extended through the exhaust ductwork to a mechanical room on the fifth floor.  The roof then ignited, resulting in extensive damage to the roof. 

 There were several contributing factors that led to the extension of the fire through the building.

  • There was a flexible duct connector between the fan and the ductwork in the mechanical room on the fifth floor, which failed and allowed fire spread.
  • The mechanical room was not sprinklered, nor was the cockloft area underneath the roof structure
  • The wet chemical system did not discharge during the incident
  • When the system was discharged by the fire department, agent did not discharge out of several of the nozzles, indicating that they were plugged and inoperable

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

Because confined spaces are not designed for human occupancy they have hazards that are not typically found in locations that ARE designed for occupancy.  So what about the person who has to enter those spaces to perform work?   Confined spaces are usually not well ventilated and may have unguarded equipment that would not be expected to be found in occupied areas.   They may have inwardly converging walls or convoluted piping that could lead to entrapment.  Once you have identified your confined spaces, the first step prior to entry is to determine the potential hazards that may exist in those spaces.  Hazard Identification is one of the most critical components of a confined space safety program.  If a hazard is not identified, then it cannot be eliminated or controlled!  That omission could lead to a fatality.     

Confined space hazards can generally be placed in two categories-atmospheric and physical hazards. Atmospheric hazards fall into four general categories-toxic, oxygen deficient, oxygen enriched and flammable environments.  Atmospheric hazards are invisible. The air in confined spaces looks and often smells just like the outside air, so workers entering the space may not recognize that the atmosphere is dangerous. A well chosen, calibrated gas monitor used to properly monitor the air is the way to insure the atmosphere is safe and that there is sufficient oxygen for breathing. The atmosphere in a confined space may also lead to explosions or fires.  Gas monitors check for flammable atmospheres and for oxygen enriched atmospheres that can increase the risk for and intensity of a fire. 

 In addition to gas monitoring, it is critical that a visual inspection is conducted to look for potential residues and other hazards in the confined space that may not be detected on the gas monitor.  It is important to review the list of chemicals that may have been stored or used in the space previously.  Furthermore, there must be a determination of potential atmospheric hazards that will be brought INTO the space or may be created by the work being done in the space.  Atmospheric testing may show a safe environment prior to entry, but fumes and combustion by-products will be of concern if welding is to be performed in the space. Cleanup of debris in the bottom of the tank could stir up toxins and hazards that may not show up on the gas monitor when the debris is untouched prior to entry. The evaluation of hazards must include what exists before entry as well as what hazards may occur while the worker is inside the space.   

Safety hazards in confined spaces include entrapment and engulfment as well as physical hazards caused by mechanical or electrical equipment.  The configuration of a tank with inwardly converging walls could lead to entrapment of a worker.  Solid materials such as grains or sand can lead to engulfment.  Liquids inside a space could lead to drowning.  It is critical that the hazard assessment determine if there are process related lines that enter the space.  These will need to be isolated from the space prior to entry.   A determination must be made to see if there are rotating parts, exposed electrical, hydraulics or other energy sources that will need to be eliminated or controlled prior to entry.   A Lockout/Tagout program typically goes hand in hand with a confined space entry program. See OSHA 1910.147 

There are numerous other health and safety hazards that are also common for confined spaces including noise and heat, cold extremes, slips and falls that should also be included in assessment.

One could argue that hazard assessment is the NUMBER ONE priority for preventing confined space entry fatalities.  A hazard that is not identified cannot be eliminated or controlled. 


NFPA is developing a best practices document for confined space entry.  Hazard assessment will be an important part of this document. How do you insure that all hazards are identified in your confined spaces?  Do you use a checklist/permit?   How competent is the person who is evaluating your confined spaces?   Do you include a list of hazards that will be brought into the space as a result of work being performed?What about adjacent spaces (see previous blog)?

If you have suggestions for what should be included in the hazard assessment or in the new document in general, please let us know!

NFPA is now accepting proposals for educational presentations at its 2013 NFPA Conference & Expo in Chicago, June 10-13, 2013. We invite you to share your knowledge with your peers as a presenter. Please complete our online application and submit by Wednesday, September 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm EDT.

Submissions emphasizing a specific product, process or manufacturer will not be considered. NFPA will review all presentation proposals. Selections will be made based on quality, relevance, focus, practical application, and on the presenter’s experience and credentials.

If your proposal is accepted, you will be required to submit a handout. Continuing education credits (CEUs) will be awarded for all education sessions. More details.

One of the best parts of my position at NFPA is working with fire department fire safety educators. Most of them have dual responsibilities in their departments, serving as firefighters, inspectors, or public information officers, along with their duties as fire safety educators. Many go beyond their assigned duties, working extra hours and weekends so they can ensure that an open house, a smoke alarm installation program, or children in a burn unit get their attention.
This year, NFPA launched the “Sparky’s Wish List” campaign, an online registry that brings together fire departments and community member to support life-saving fire safety education programs by giving fire departments the NFPA public education materials they need to reach the people in their communities. The fire departments list their needs, and local businesses and citizens can sign up to buy the materials the departments have chosen.
In the early weeks of the campaign, I knew I wanted to support some fire departments. I know the struggles that fire departments have to go through to get money for their public education programs, and I wanted to step up to the plate. I reviewed the list of fire departments that had registered, and I chose three for different reasons. I picked the West Bend, Wisconsin, Fire department because West Bend was the home of my younger brother who passed away, and I wanted to do something in his memory. When I did, I found out that many West Bend firefighters had been patients of my brother, who was a chiropractor. I chose the Durant, Mississippi, Fire Department because I worked with an NFPA smoke alarm installation program in Holmes County, where Durant is located, and I am aware that high-risk groups there are in great need of educational materials. And I chose the Posen, Illinois, Fire Department because the community of Posen had participated in an educational slide show I helped develop when I worked at the National Safety Council in Chicago.
You may have a variety of reasons, both objective and emotional, to help provide materials for a fire department or community, but please chose one or two to support. You will provide a boost for the fire safety education staff and enable them to reach children and adults with life-saving information. Go to this link today to show your support.


McMurdo Station
The McMurdo Station, a research outpost located in the southern part of Antarctica, made headlines this month after a U.S. expedition member suffered a medical emergency and was evacuted by a New Zealand medical team.

According to ABC News, the patient's condition was such that the medical team at McMurdo needed additional help, and the New Zealand team braved the harrowing flight to the bottom of the world, which is in the middle of a six-month winter season.

The story brings to mind a feature in NFPA Journal, which describes how fire safety concerns are taken very seriously at the facility. A number of NFPA codes and standards are used to safeguard the station, which includes (rather surprisingly) three bars, a barbarshop, a chapel, a fitness center, and a library.

Here's a snippet of the story, authored by Carol Fey:

Fire safety is a constant concern. Some of McMurdo’s  buildings date from the 1950s and are constructed of wood — they were  intended as temporary buildings, but have been modified to be permanent —  and are situated close together, creating the risk of fire spreading,  whipped by the relentless wind. All employees receive ongoing safety  training. At the station, all employees  are required to attend weekly safety meetings, where fire prevention and  extinguisher operation are often on the agenda. No open flame is permitted in any building, including  the chapel. Collection boxes are available at the beginning of each  season so that personnel can turn in any fire-related contraband.  Smoking is permitted only in designated, ventilated metal buildings. A  special permit is required for work such as welding.

Discover other interesting aspects of the McMurdo Station by reading the feature in NFPA Journal.


!|src=|alt=Hurricane|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Hurricane|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef0176177c73e4970c!With hurricane season in full swing, and Hurricane Isaac making landfall today, It's important to know what to do before, during, and after a hurricane to keep safe:


Have a hurricane disaster plan: Locate local shelters. Map the route to a nearby shelter; this will cut down on the travel time. 

If you are not ordered to evacuate, find shelter in your home. The safest place during a hurricane is an interior room without windows. Get your home and yard ready for a hurricane by installing hurricane shutters; remove dead and diseased trees and branches; identify items in the yard that should be brought inside; clean rain gutters, outside stairwells, window wells, drain lines, and downspouts.


Listen to the news and the weather updates and make sure you leave if an official evacuation is ordered. Cover your windows with hurricane shutters or plywood. Taping windows offer little or no protection against the winds. 

    1. Remain inside, away from windows and doors.

    2. During power outages try to avoid carrying a lit candle. Use flashlights instead. Don't use a lit candle when searching for items in a confined space. Never use a candle for a light when checking pilot lights or fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern. The flame may ignite the fumes. Read NFPA's [candle safety fact sheet. |]

    3. Do not be fooled by the calm when the eye of the hurricane is above your area; the worst of the storm is probably yet to come.

    4. Be prepared for tornadoes caused by hurricanes; remain inside and at the center of your home or in a closet or basement.

If you are evacuated, take your [family disaster supplies kit |] and leave immediately to a nearby shelter.

Continue to listen to the news and weather updates. Often when the storm is over, damage still exists from floods, downed power lines, and electrically charged water.

SeminarSeminars on several codes & standards that have new 2013 editions are now available for registration. These seminars will begin being taught as early as September. 

NFPA 13: Standard for Installation of Sprinkler Systems will be taught through one, three and four day seminars, and a two-day 'Water Supply Analysis and Hydraulic Calculations' course will also be offered. Check the online catalog for dates and locations. 

NFPA 20: Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection is being offered as a one day seminar, or a two-day course that includes an exam and a certificate. Dates and locations can also be found through the catalog

Lastly, a NFPA 654: Combustible Dust Hazards assessment webinar, NFPA 654 two-day seminar as well as an NFPA 72 Designing Mass Notification Systems two-day seminar are now available. 

Stay tuned for addtional 2013 edition seminars as well as future dates and locations. 

FSI August 2012 newsletter"I fear that what we're experiencing in the fire sprinkler battle is what marathon runners refer to as 'The Wall '– a numb mind, zero energy and not enough muscle power to pull us through to the finish line." In the August issue of Fire Sprinkler Initiative News, we feature a rallying cry issued by Fire Rescue Magazine's Timothy Sendelbach, who provides an excellent overview of the mighty influence of our nation's fire service, and why we need to rally to overcome the politics and other roadblocks that threaten our fire sprinkler efforts.

Our monthly e-newsletter also reminds us that your family - and your precious pets - are all safer with home fire sprinklers, and congratulates Maryland Fire Marshal Bill Barnard for receiving the "Bringing Safety Home" award from NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition.

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.

FW ToolkitNFPA’s Firewise® Communities Program is proud to announce its new Firewise Toolkit is now available online! The Toolkit is a collection of Firewise resources in one easy-to-find place, designed for homeowners, fire service professionals, community leaders, members of the media and others seeking information about the Program.

The entire Toolkit or the individual documents can be downloaded and printed for meetings, presentations and for individual use, and serves as a valuable resource anytime you need important, easily accessible information. The Toolkit consists of the following:

  • Facts about NFPA’s Firewise Communities Program
  • A Guide to Firewise Principles
  • Firewise Tips Checklist for Homeowners
  • Firewise Communities/USA® Recognition Program Checklist
  • Guidelines for Spelling/Usage of Firewise
  • Guidelines for Using the Firewise/NFPA Logo

Find it on the “information and resources” page of the Firewise website, and start using your toolkit today!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the 2013 Honda Fit EV the best fuel efficiency rating ever issued the Agency – 118 miles per gallon equivalent, MPGe. MPGe is an efficiency measure based on how far a car can travel on the amount of electricity with energy equivalent to that of one gallon of gasoline.

Honda Fit
The rating for the new 2013 Honda Fit is higher than the previous record-holder, the 2012 Mitsubishi MiEV, which has a rating of 112 It is also higher than the Nissan Leaf (99 MPGe), the Ford Focus Electric (105 MPGe), or the Coda (73 MPGe).

When connected to a 240-volt circuit, the Fit's 20 kWh lithium-ion battery can be recharged in less than three hours from a low charge indicator. The Fit EV produces zero emissions and no petrol is used to propel the car. Honda debuted the 2013 Fit EV at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show and began leasing the battery-electric commuter vehicle to customers in select California and Oregon markets this summer, followed by an East Coast rollout in 2013.

The NFPA Standards Council acted on the issuance of the Annual 2012 documents along with considering several appeals at its August 7-9, 2012 meeting.

Some of the NFPA Standards Council decisions have been issued and include the following:

Final Decisions:

  • NFPA 61, Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Plants
  • NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
  • NFPA 150, Standard on Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities
  • NFPA 499, Recommended Practice for the Classification of Combustible Dusts and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas
  • NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments

Short Decisions

  • TIAs on NFPA 13 (2013 edition), NFPA 13D, (2010 and 2013 edition), NFPA 13R (2013 edition), and NFPA 25 (2011 edition)
  • NFPA 1124, Code for the Manufacture, Transportation, Storage, and Retail Sales of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles

The NFPA Standards Council is a 13-person committee appointed by the NFPA Board of Directors that oversees the Association's codes and standards development activities, administers the rules and regulations, and acts as an appeals body. The Council administers about 250 NFPA Technical Committees and their work on nearly 300 documents addressing topics of importance to the built environment.


The existing OSHA 1910.146 Permit Required Confined Space

Standard for general industry does not address hazards immediately outside and

adjacent to confined spaces.   Atmospheric

hazards adjacent to a confined space create both health and safety

hazards.   Fatalities have occurred when

workers were overcome by toxins present in the vicinity of the confined space. Flammable

atmospheres have been the source of numerous fatalities that have occurred when

a worker was performing hot work immediately outside a confined space.  Two employees at Valero Refinery died when

they were overcome by nitrogen as they performed maintenance work near a confined

space opening on the top of a reactor.  A worker at DuPont was killed when he was

welding immediately outside a tank containing flammable vapors.

These fatal accidents may have been prevented if the
atmosphere outside these two confined spaces had been tested.   How do we address those hazards that are not
necessarily inside the confined space but are very much associated with the
confined space hazard?  


In the marine industry, both the OSHA Shipyard standards

(1915.14) and NFPA 306 Standard for the Control of Gas Hazards on Vessels

recognize the hazards of adjacent spaces. 

 Both standards require that a Marine

Chemist evaluate not only the confined space but also the area adjacent to those spaces whenever hot

work such as welding will take place.  

NFPA is developing a best practices document for confined
space entry.  The new document is designed to address gaps in existing confined space standards and will
likely include the evaluation of hazards in the area adjacent to the confined

If you have suggestions for what should be included in this
soon to be developed new confined space best practices document we would love
to hear from you.    Should the document
address hazards immediately adjacent to confined spaces?  Is there a gap in the current OSHA general
industry standard that should address these hazards? We want to hear from you!

A video on the Valero incident

Last weekend I had the pleasure of working with Bill Guindon from the Maine Fire Service PhotoInstitute to deliver the NPFA’s 34th Electric Vehicle Safety Training Train-the-Trainer program.  We got a chance to break in their new facility in Brunswick as one of the first formal classes held there.  Additionally, local dealers provided us with a Toyota Prius and a brand new 2013 Chevrolet Volt for the students to interact with.  Fire Service Institute Instructors and local firefighters had an opportunity apply the information learned in the classroom to these vehicles as we discussed specific shutdown procedures and other features critical to emergency scene operations.


If you are interested in taking the EV safety training program contact your state’s fire training agency to find out if there are any upcoming classes in your area.

Stay Safe,

Jason Emery


One of the big concerns consumers have about purchasing an electric vehicle is the time it takes to fully charge the battery. Internal combustion engine cars can take around five minutes to fully fuel the gas tank as opposed to electric cars taking 8 hours on average to complete its charge. To consumers looking to purchase an electric vehicle this difference may sway them more to internal combustion vehicles. However, due to an innovative new procedure in the works, this may soon change.

Better Place is releasing an innovative procedure of swapping out depleted car batteries and replacing it with a fully charged identical battery. The battery that is removed can then be charged and given to the next person in need of a charged battery. This process from start to finish takes roughly five minutes equal to that of its counterpart in internal combustion vehicles.

The process is quite straightforward, cars simply drive up to the conveyor belt and the depleted battery is removed followed by a fully charged battery to replace it. This swap is done very quickly and without even the need to exit your vehicle.

By removing the charge times for electric vehicles Better Place allows consumers to drive their cars similarly to gas cars if the infrastructure of swapping stations is developed.

A recent article in Security Week online titled "Home Wifi could be used for Emergency Responders" suggests that the rapidly increasing numbers of public access home Wifi hotspots might serve as a backup communications network during an emergency. Researchers found that network access and bandwidth are available in the modern urban environment. They suggest that a secondary communication layer can be developed for emergencies that provides location tracking and communication without compromizing privacy.

As we've experienced here in the US, a major event can overwhelm traditional communications channels or disrupt them entirely. NFPA customers are already rapidly adopting digital codes and standards, and our pipeline is full of moile applications to make the job easier. 

Good that they are making a solution to a growing problem....

The latest Fire Protection Research Foundation is now available. The "Literature Review of Emergency and Non-Emergency Events" was authored by Minkyu Lee, of the Fire Protection Research Foundation.

NFPA 101NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, contains information that is useful not only in fire related emergencies but also in non-fire emergencies and non-emergency situations. To better clarify the application of NFPA 101 to non-fire emergency and non-emergency situations, multiple applicable scenarios have been identified and summarized in this document. These incidents and documents were gathered to provide background information for the Technical Committees for NFPA 101 (and other documents), for the evaluation of the potential for non-fire-emergencies and non-emergency scenarios which include some form of individual and crowd dynamics.

All Fire Protection Research Foundation reports can be downloaded for free - download this report now. 

Fire Prevention Week 2012 is fast approaching.

Want more support for your Sparky Wish List? Check out Sparky’s interview with Lt. Robert Hendrigan of the Brockton Fire Department and see how he got his community to increase their support the department’s outreach programs. 

If you want to follow Lt. Hendrigan's lead, use the tools provided to customize a flyer that you can distribute or create a news release to send to your local newspaper, radio or TV station to let them know how your community can support your public education needs.

If you have been successful in promoting your wish list and would like to share tips for other fire departments, please email us.

Visit Sparky’s web page to find more tips on getting donations from your local community.

Fire BreakThe August issue of Fire Break, NFPA’s wildland fire newsletter, is now available for viewing. In this issue, you’ll find:

  • An article that highlights how the growing number of homes being built in the WUI is contributing to an increased wildfire risk
  • A link to the new Firewise toolkit
  • Information about the 2013 Backyards & Beyond conference “call for presentations”
  • An article about the effects drought has had on the 2012 fire season
  • An update on the long-term vision of the Fire Adapted Communities initiative

… And lots more!

Sign up today to receive Fire Break each month via e-mail. It's free 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.

On August, 20, 1984, a fire onboard a cruise ship docking at the port of Miami, Florida resulted in two fatalities and fifty-seven injuries among passengers, crew, and City of Miami firefighters.  The fire was discovered just after the ship had completing docking, and originated in an engine room.  It was caused by the ignition of lubricating oil leaking from an engine which drove one of the ship’s generators.  The fire extended six decks above the machine room through a ladder access way and open doors. 

The fire forced many of the passengers, who were in the process of disembarking, to remain onboard until the fire was extinguished.  The fatalities (one passenger and one crew member) were found in their cabins during a search of the ship.  Major factors contributing to the loss of life in this fire included:

  • Failure to extinguish the fire in its incipient stage
  • Rapid and intense flash fire resulting from the ignition of the lubricating oil
  • Rapid horizontal and vertical spread of fire, mainly via open doors
  • Presence of combustible interior finish materials in passageways and in the stairtower

NFPA members can download the full investigation report for free.

On August 19, 1989, an early morning fire occurred in Carteret, New Jersey.  The fire began in the vicinity of a plastics company, located in a larger complex of buildings, which included a plastics recycling company, a machine shop, a steel fabrication shop, and a towing company, among others.  Preliminary investigation by fire officials concluded that the likely source of ignition was a pile of improperly placed debris, and that the fire was suspicious in nature.

The fire spread rapidly from the exterior of the building through windows, and once inside, progressed along the entire length of the building.  Although the fire resulted in the destruction of two manufacturing companies, the involvement of flammable liquids in another business was avoided by firefighters and a company employee who used a partially completed sprinkler system. 

NFPA members can download the full investigation report for free.

On August 18, 1995, a fire at a chemical manufacturing facility in Tonawanga, NY, resulted in the death of one employee, as well as injuries to five other employees, two firefighters, and one bystander.  The fire destroyed the entire warehouse and another 1,500 square feet of office space in the same building, totaling an estimated $3 million in damage ($4.5 million today).

Fire investigators determined that the fire was accidental and probably caused by decomposing ammonium persulfate.  The material had been manufactured about 14 hours before the fire, and a production problem apparently caused it to chemically decompose; and the reaction generated sufficient heat to ignite nearby wooden pallets.  Once ignited, the fire grew rapidly and became large enough to ignite the warehouse’s combustible roof, causing it to collapse before firefighters arrived.

NFPA members can read the full investigation report for free.

Don Bliss, a member of NFPA’s Standards Council, past fire marshal for the state of New Hampshire, recently served as the interim fire chief in Somersworth, New Hampshire. More than 1,000 Indonesian immigrants live in Somersworth, and Bliss got involved with the Indonesian community through a Health and Safety Council of Strafford County emergency preparedness grant project for the Indonesians of Somersworth and Stratford County. According to Samantha Brann, Community Programming coordinator for the Health and Safety Council of Strafford County, the grant focused training responders on cultural competency in the Indonesian community, teaching preparedness and fire safety to members of the community in Indonesian.
Chief Bliss contacted NFPA and asked if we could help with fire safety information for the Indonesian community. We responded enthusiastically by adapting our easy-to-read materials on escape planning, cooking safety, electrical safety, and heating safety. I had materials translated, and artist Linda Pierce created illustrations depicting Indonesian people demonstrating the safety messages.
The illustrations and translations were reviewed by people from the community, through the leadership of Pastor Joppy Warren of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Rochester, New Hampshire.
All materials are now available on NFPA’s website. You can get these and materials in other languages to use in your Fire Prevention Week programs or ongoing public education activities. NFPA also shared the materials through the Interfaith Council of Indonesian People and the Regional Planning Network of Strafford County.



Senior Fire Protection Engineer Kristin Bigda PE, will be teaching in the Fire & Life Safety track all three days at NFPA EuroCon. This NEW conference, a joint venture between NFPA and Marsh Risk Consulting is being held November 12-14 at Passenger Terminal in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

We thought you might like to see a little preview of some of the things she will have to say at EuroCon - here she answers questions about changes and updates in the 2013 NFPA 80: Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to meet and to learn from Kristin Bigda and twelve other experts in Amsterdam! Learn more about EuroCon at:

LEGO NFPANFPA seeks firefighters who live in (or will be visiting) Florida to volunteer to promote fire safety and reinforce the fire safety messages in “The Big Test” during the months of September and October 2012.

NFPA is the official sponsor of "The Big Test", an acrobatic, comedy show in which a cast of real characters goes through a series of hysterical antics as they try to become firefighters. While their approach is slapstick and audience members may find themselves on the wrong end of a stream of water, there are important fire safety messages imparted along the way. The key fire safety messages in the show are to make sure you have working smoke alarms and develop and practice your escape plan.

The show runs four times a day at the LEGO® City Stage. Firefighter volunteers will be asked to be on hand at the LEGO City Stage at the beginning and end of each showing of The Big Test to hand out safety material and interact with the guests.

In return for volunteering, NFPA will give each firefighter three tickets to LEGOLAND FL for use either that day or another day good thru the end of 2012.

Please email with the Fridays that you would be willing to help out!

In addition to the traditional sprinkler seminars that NFPA offers year round, there is a new one day seminar that will be offered starting in September to address the changes to the 2013 editions of NFPA 13, 13R, 13D and NFPA 20. This seminar is great for designers, installers, AHJs and insurance Representatives who have a grasp on the concepts and structure of the NFPA sprinkler standards and are looking for the latest and greatest info from the technical committees.    NFPA13-13 Code Cover Front

The NFPA sprinkler standards saw the reorganization of several chapters, including the two rack storage chapters in NFPA 13 and a complete reorganization of NFPA 13D, where 4 new chapters were added. Major concepts that were modified during the latest code development cycle include freeze protection options, material compatibility requirements, permissible sprinklers omissions and new design options for specific storage arrangements. In addition to all of the updated sprinkler information for the 2013 editions, a bonus supplement on changes to NFPAs fire pump standard, NFPA 20. This seminar will be taught by technical committee members and NFPA staff that were directly involved with the development of these new editions.

Register now for this new seminar and other NFPA training opportunities at the NFPA Training website.


Most media outlets today are recognizing legendary chef Julia Child  on what would have been her 100th birthday for the impact she had on  cooking. While we too have great memories of her decades of teaching the  world to make some fabulous dishes and we remember the classic Saturday  Night Live skit where Dan Akroyd played her deboning a chicken, we dug  out our brush with Julia Child from the mid-90's.

During that  time, NFPA produced a series of public service announcements called  Safety Spots that featured celebrities and our very own Sparky the Fire  Dog. Julia took on the leading cause of home fires -- cooking -- and  reminded viewers to never walk away from the stove. Afterall, unattended  cooking is the number one reason we see so many cooking fires each  year. Despite the fact the PSA is a little old, the message is still the  same.

Thanks Julia. Signing off as you would -- Bon Appetit.

Ever since we were kids, it’s been drilled into us that water and electricity don’t mix.  When we get to the fire academy we are once again reminded to never use water on energized electrical fires.  It all makes perfectly good sense until you sit down and review the dozens of Emergency Response Guides (ERGs) for hybrid and electric vehicle which indicate the best way to put out an HEV or EV fire is with “copious amounts of water”.  So you think to yourself….it doesn’t get more energized than a vehicle with a drive system that operates of 650v right?  Well there is a perfectly logical answer to that question as it’s all about the circuit.

Car fire

In our typical responses to energized electrical fires we are dealing with electrical circuits that are grounded to earth.  Simply put, if you place your body in the path between the electrical source and the earth or ground you may complete the circuit, and electricity can flow through your body.  Electrical circuits in HEVs and EVs are designed differently as they are isolated from the vehicle chassis with no direct connection to the earth or ground.  In this case, a circuit would not be completed by a fire stream, through the firefighter, and into the ground.

You should, however, still avoid coming in direct contact with high voltage wiring during the firefighting operation as touching both sides of a high voltage conductor does present a risk of a potentially dangerous electrical shock.

Hopefully this clears up the question of why it’s “OK” to put water on an HEV/EV fire without risking an electrical current traveling up the fire stream….just remember….electrical flow is all about a having a path or circuit.  If the path isn’t there, the electricity doesn’t flow.


Stay Safe,

Jason Emery

Fuondation Graphic
The Fire Protection Research Foundation report, "Operating Rooms as Wet/Dry Locations Risk Assessment” authored by Brenton Cox, Exponent, Inc. has just been published. 

The recent movement toward using risk based approaches in assessing safety risks around the world has caused the NFPA Technical Committee on Health Care Facilities (responsible for NFPA 99) to incorporate requirements related to risk analysis in NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code. As the result of the Foundation project Evaluation of Health Care Operating Rooms as Wet/Dry Locations, NFPA 99 Section states, “Operating rooms shall be considered to be a wet procedure location, unless a risk assessment conducted by the health care governing body determines otherwise.” This means that operating rooms shall be provided with special protection against electric shock unless a risk assessment proves otherwise.

The previously mentioned Foundation study includes a methodology framework for this type of quantitative risk assessment. However, the current version of NFPA 99 does not incorporate any guidance on performing a risk analysis. This supplemental report provides user guidance including worked examples.

Download the full report

NFPA and SAE International invite you to the Motor City for the 3rd Annual Electric Vehicle Safety Standards Summit! The program, to be held at the COBO Center in Detroit on Oct. 18, 2012, will cater to the growing number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the road and their safety issues as it pertains to codes and standards.

Co-hosts NFPA and SAE International encourage vehicle manufacturers, government agencies and representatives, standards-developing organizations and first responders and anyone else with interest to attend this summit.

The program focuses on safety codes and standards and other key areas aimed at improving awareness and knowledge of electric vehicles and supporting their successful integration into society.

For more information, read the full NFPA release here.

NFPA and LEGOLAND® Florida are asking members of the public to submit a video that highlights their friends and families to video record their best rendition of the theme song, “Put the Wet Stuff on the Hot Stuff” from The Big Test show at LEGOLAND Florida.

Read more about how to enter your video submission. 

Videos can be submitted between August 13, 2012 and September 12, 2012. NFPA and LEGOLAND Florida will choose finalists among all videos submitted, and the public will be permitted to vote for one finalist video per day from September 17 – September 28, 2012. The contest winner will be announced on October 4, 2012 in advance of Fire Prevention Week.

The person who submits the video that receives the most votes will receive LEGOLAND Florida two-day multi-park tickets for four people, two nights of hotel accommodations for four people, and $2,000 towards travel expenses.

Watch a performance from The Big Test Show at LEGOLAND Florida and review the song lyrics but visiting

The best source for inspiration in any product development group is our active and vocal customers. In a recent large-scale research project, we spent a lot of time studying and interviewing electrical, sprinkler, and fire alarm installers, along with their code official counterparts. While some might characterize these two groups as having diametrically opposed interests, the results of our quantitative analysis showed they have a lot more in common than you’d think.

The top 5 critical jobs as determined by inspectors were:

  1. Recognizing a hazardous condition in the field
  2. Getting the right answer to an unexpected situation in the field
  3. Understanding the codes and how they apply in the field
  4. Understanding how the code changes as it evolves
  5. Improving knowledge and job performance

Compare that to the top 5 critical jobs as determined by contractors:

  1. Working with inspectors who understand the codes
  2. Working with inspectors who keep up to date with code changes
  3. Understanding the code when installing a system
  4. Understanding how the code changes at it evolves
  5. Understanding the codes and how they apply in the field

These two lists are amazingly similar, and the prioritization speaks volumes about the roles that contractors and inspectors play in the process. Inspectors perceive that having broad and accurate knowledge is paramount. This fits with their role in the process: they are the last line of defense before a job is deemed complete and safe. Contractors intuitively recognize this as well: they perceive their own knowledge less a risk than the fear that the inspector’s knowledge was incomplete.

The idea that a code or standard provides guidance on the theory of a job stands out in this list as well. The emphasis for both groups is to have an understanding how code applies to the real world situation. Further, mastering the changes to code is a priority — it is too easy to assume that what you’ve always done is still the right way to do it.

What can we do with this information? Concerns about code knowledge, fresh insights, and a level of confidence in both installers and inspectors seem to call for code expertise on speed dial. Luckily, there are solutions available like NFPA membership and AHJ access to the technical advisory service. Confusion about code and code changes doesn’t have to be a hindrance to a successful project.

NFPA_Unwanted_Fire_AlarmsIn 2009 alone, NFPA estimates that there were more than 2 million false alarms in the United States due to unintentional activations and system malfunctions. The fire service faces challenges in dealing with false alarms and NFPA recognizes the importance of minimizing them.  That’s why NFPA teamed up with the International Association of Fire Chiefs to develop the Fire Service Guide to Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarms.  It's a free 17-page downloadable PDF document available through NFPA’s catalog that offers guidance to members of the fire service to reduce unwanted fire alarms.

For more information read the full news release.


Sparky TV is here

Posted by mikehazell Employee Aug 9, 2012

Sparky_column_buttonCheck out Sparky TV. You won't see him on the horizontal bars or swimming next to Michael Phelps but you will see him in his first music video and talking about outside meeting places, the sound of the smoke alarm and more. These 30 second video clips are great for the classroom, at home, open houses and community presentations.

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

In this issue:

  • Comments sought on proposed TIAs on NFPA 30B, NFPA 51, NFPA 55, NFPA 400, and NFPA 2001
  • Errata issued on NFPA 70 Report on Proposals
  • Standards Council Agenda Available
  • Committees Seeking Members
  • Committees Soliciting Public Input
  • Committee Calendar

NFPA News is a free newsletter, and 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.

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

Did you know that, according to NFPA 80, your fire doors must be inspected not less than annually? 

On August 28, NFPA will be offering a free webinar on the inspection, testing, and maintenance of  swinging fire doors.  The webinar is sponsored by the Door and Hardware Institute (DHI), FDAI, Door Security and Safety Foundation, and Intertek, and will be presented by Keith Pardoe, of DHI, and also an active NFPA 80 Technical Committee member as well as Kristin Bigda, a Senior Fire Proection Engineer at NFPA.  

This webinar in a great opportunity to learn about the inspection, testing, and maintence provisions contained in NFPA 80 related to swinging fire doors.  Building owners and managers, authorities  having jurisdiction, and the fire door inspectors all have important  roles and responsibilities in a building’s annual fire door inspection  process and will benefit from the material that will be addressed. We will be discussing the current requirements of NFPA 80, as well as the specific responsibilities of all  parties involved in the door inspection process. In addition, common door deficiencies and inspection issues to look for in the field will be shown.


NFPA 80 Webinar

The webinar will focus on the provisions contained in the 2010 edition of NFPA 80 but will highlight some of the new changes that are a part of the soon to be released 2013.

Will you be attending?  Sign up today, the spots are filling up quickly!

-Kristin Bigda

According to Oklahoma emergency officials, more than 93,000 acres have burned in fires across the state since Friday. To date, many of these fires have been contained or mostly contained, but the threat of continued wildfire activity remains high here during the next few weeks due to hot, dry and windy conditions.

Remember: it’s important to pay attention to notices posted by your local and state emergency officials as they monitor the fire situation. For instance, if you’re thinking about grilling outdoors or if vacation plans take you camping, limit your grilling use and lighting of campfires. When in the car, take care not drive or park your vehicles on dry grass, which can ignite from sparks under the vehicle.

See our full post on our Firewise Communities blog, including a safety tips and a video from a local TV station.

The Fall 2012 Report on Comments (ROC) for 38 NFPA documents are now available. Some of the proposed NFPA documents addressed in the Report on Comments include:

  • NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems
  • NFPA 17, Standard for Dry Chemical Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 17A, Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 22, Standard for Water Tanks for Private Fire Protection
  • NFPA 52, Vehicular Gaseous Fuel Systems Code
  • NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance
  • NFPA 259, Standard Test Method for Potential Heat of Building Materials
  • NFPA 501A, Standard for Fire Safety Criteria for Manufactured Home Installations, Sites, and Communities
  • NFPA 801, Standard for Fire Protection for Facilities Handling Radioactive Materials
  • NFPA 909, Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties - Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship
  • NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs
  • NFPA 1855, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents
  • NFPA 1925, Standard on Marine Fire-Fighting Vessels
  • NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS)

See the full list of NFPA documents in the 2012 fall revision cycle.

The deadline to submit a notice of intent to make a motion on any of these documents is October 5, 2012. Download a NITMAM form (doc, 34 KB). Columbian reports that Portland, Oregon firefighters responded to an apartment fire and could hear screaming inside and see smoke seeping from under the door. So they kicked in the door and found — a cat. The cat — named Dude — was fine after the firefighters took him outside and gave him some oxygen. The apartment's automatic sprinklers contained the fire to the couch, where it started.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, a family cat died in a house fire that the fire marshal’s office said was caused by “carelessly discarded smoking material in a trash can.”

All one has to do is Google "cat dies in house fire" or "dog dies in house fire" to begin to understand that there is a problem. During my firefighter career I was able to rescue pets from house fires, and I also witnessed the death of many pets.

Read Maria Figueroa's complete post on our Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

You have identified all your confined spaces at your workplace.  What is next?  You need to figure out when and why employees may need to enter those spaces.   The best possible scenario is that you make the determination that there is NO NEED for employees to enter this space or at least not to enter except in unusual circumstances.  In those cases you need to take steps to insure that these spaces are NOT entered.  Sometimes it takes a fresh look at some of your confined spaces to see if it necessary to go in to those spaces at all.  The safest option for entry is no entry at all.  

A few years ago I was working with a correctional facilities manager to develop a confined space entry program for the facility.   He brought me in to the laundry room and showed me a vertical pipe chase in the corner of the room leading several stories down to the basement.  The pipe chase had a grate covering over the opening.   The facilities manager indicated that occasionally someone would have to open the grate and descend to the basement to retrieve socks and other items that had fallen through the grate.   The logical question “Why put employees at risk entering a confined space to retrieve a sock?”  Certainly we all have mismatches to deal with!   In this case there was also a very logical solution.   Put a fine mesh screen over the hole below the grate so nothing falls in! Then lock the grate shut, post a confined space label and if there is a need to enter the space every 20 years to repair a leaking pipe, then review the hazards of the space and safe entry procedures prior to entry. 

Technology is available today that can minimize the need for confined space entry.  In the past, meter readers had to enter confined spaces such as vaults and manholes routinely to manually read water and electrical meters.  There are now remote reading sensors that can be installed so that these same meters can be read without entering the confined spaces.   Video cameras can be used to “monitor” spaces and electronic detectors can sense when a valve or gasket may be leaking.   A valve stem could be extended so that it can be manipulated from outside a confined space.  We need to start figuring out ways to NOT enter confined spaces! (More on prevention through design in a later blog!)   

 If you determine that there are confined spaces in your workplace that you do not want employees to enter, the OSHA 1910.146 (c)(3) of the  Permit Required Confined Space Standard 

 allows employers to post a sign warning of a confined space hazard, take effective means to prevent entry, and re-evaluate the space if an employee and contractor were to enter the space.  

Do you have any examples of confined spaces at your workplace that do not need to be entered?   I would love to hear about them and what you did to prevent entry!   Remember, the safest entry is NO entry!!

July August 2012 issue of NFPA JournalWe're making it easier than ever before to keep up with NFPA Journal®, whenever and wherever you want to read it. Read the digital version of our July/August issue, offering fully hot-linked content from the print version.

In addition, our new NFPA Journal mobile app allow you to download the magazine and read it offline on your iPad or iPhone. This easy-to-navigate app gives you access to the complete magazine anytime, anywhere. View videos, links to websites, and share articles with colleagues. Download the NFPA Journal app for your iPad and iPhone.

We welcome your feedback on these new ways to interact with NFPA Journal. Please share your thoughts in the COMMENTS section below.

BYB blog
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) will host its 5th Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, November 14 – 16, 2013, and is now accepting proposals for educational presentations. The conference is organized by NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division and Firewise® Communities Program.

The Backyards & Beyond Wildland Fire Education Conference presents participants with a unique opportunity to build relationships and explore key issues regarding wildland fire, and to learn how to prepare homes and communities for, and adapt to living with wildfire.

For more information, including the application process, see the full NFPA release.


Perfect in every way!

Posted by mikehazell Employee Aug 2, 2012

As a former classroom teacher, finding great books or stories that promote fire safety were few and far between.  Our new FPW short story, “Perfect Penelope” is great for shared reading and sparks discussion about fire safety and FPW. 




The first step in developing a confined space program is to identify these spaces in your workplace.   Many confined space fatalities have occurred because an employer failed to recognize the presence of a confined space.   While there are several different definitions of what constitutes a confined space, one characteristic is consistent and stands out above the rest-a confined space is NOT DESIGNED FOR HUMAN OCCUPANCY.  I once heard an instructor say that if you cannot or would not comfortably put your desk in a space and work there all day then your radar should go up and you should think “possible confined space”.  A confined does not necessarily have to be small and “confined” it simply has to be “not designed for continuous human occupancy”.   While spaces such as sewer manholes, vaults and tanks may be more readily identified as confined spaces, there are other spaces such as tunnels, vaults, crawl spaces, pipelines, boilers, water reservoirs, ship holds and elevator shafts that may not be as recognizable as confined spaces.  A tank that held petroleum may be clearly recognized as a confined space due to the chemical vapors. However a tank that has only held water may not be recognized as a confined space. Yet a rusted water tank could contain a low oxygen atmosphere.    

Another key characteristic of a confined space is that it has a limited or restricted means for entering and exiting the space.  What does this mean?  It means you cannot just walk directly into the space through a doorway or down a set of standard stairs to access the space.  Typically  access to confined spaces is via a ladder or perhaps a spiral staircase or through a hatch or small opening.  Sometimes you must contort your body or crawl to work in, get into or get out of the space.    One such example would be a shallow crawl spaces with lots of pipes obstructing access or egress. 

A full audit of your workplace should be done to determine if there are any confined spaces present. OSHA 1910.146 Permit-Required Confined Space Entry Standard requires employers to evaluate the workplace to determine if there are any confined spaces.  Once identified, these spaces must be labeled and employees informed of the presence of such spaces.   OSHA does identify the characteristics of a confined space but does not specify the competencies required of the individual who will evaluate the workplace to determine if confined spaces are present.  

NFPA 306, Control of Gas Hazards on Vessels, requires a marine chemist with specific qualifications for evaluating confined spaces on marine vessels.  There is no such requirement for other industries although the American Petroleum Institute does have a certification program that provides a body of knowledge for those who serve as API certified tank entry supervisors.

Do you have someone in your workplace qualified to identify the presence of a confined space?   Once identified, can theis individual identify the hazards in those confined spaces anddo they know how to eliminate or control those hazards?  

The NFPA technical committee on confined spaces will be developing a best practices guide for confined space entry. One possible topic we may include in this document is the training/competencies required for evaluating the presence and hazards of confined spaces.  What type of qualifications do you think someone should have to be able to identify confined spaces and their hazards? Do you feel that this evaluation needs to be done by a safety or health professional or simply by a knowledgeable individual who has been trained to recognize confined spaces?  Let us know what you think! 

 (Next blog topic-Identifying Hazards in Confined Spaces)

Sparky the Fire Dog®, and his new 'Wish List" were a big hit at the recent Firehouse Expo in Baltimore. The Expo, an annual event which brings together experts from across the country to address issues facing the fire and emergency services, was the perfect opportunity for NFPA to showcase Sparky's Wish List, our online registery that brings together communities and local fire departments for the good of local fire safety education programs.

During the Expo, Sparky (with some help from NFPA staff members) helped attendees walk through the simple online registry and complete a list of Fire Prevention Week materials that they'd like to use during school visits and other community events.

Now it's up to you -- community members and local businesses -- to help fulfill those wishes, and make sure that life-saving educational materials make it into the hands of fire departments. Now more than ever, many fire departments are finding it difficult to fund safety programs. Materials start at $12.50, so even modest purchases can help. Please visit Sparky's Wish List to learn more about how you can help support fire safety in your community.

See a list of states and communities where Wish Lists have already been created.



The NFPA Standards Council will be meeting on August 7-9, 2012 at NFPA Headquarters in Quincy, MA. At this meeting, some of the topics the Council will address include:

  • appeals on the issuance of NFPA 61, NFPA 72, NFPA 150, NFPA 499, and NFPA 1582
  • issuance of the Annual 2012 documents with Certified Amending Motions
  • issuance of proposed TIAs on NFPA 13, NFPA 13D, NFPA 13R, and NFPA 25 regarding antifreeze
  • new projects/documents on design, performance, testing, and certification of two-way, portable (hand-held) land mobile radios (LMR) for use by emergency services personnel; common mass evacuation planning guide; and use of respiratory protective equipment for emergency response operations that do not involve structural firefighting
  • consider requests from Committees to change revision cycle schedules and committee scopes

Read the full Council agenda and hearings list for further information.

The NFPA Standards Council is a 13-person committee appointed by the NFPA Board of Directors that oversees the Association's codes and standards development activities, administers the rules and regulations, and acts as an appeals body. The Council administers about 250 NFPA Technical Committees and their work on nearly 300 documents addressing topics of importance to the built environment.

FAC_Logo_FDo you want to make a difference? NFPA has an ideal opportunity for an Associate Project Manager to perform division project management activities related to the Fire Adapted Communities program as assigned by a project manager. Duties include technical support of web content, conducting research, and developing and providing technical training.

The Associate Project Manager will work 30 hours per week out of our Denver, CO office. 

Principal responsibilities include:

  1. Research, collect and draft new web content for the FAC website.  Review and update current content as identified.
  2. Work with FAC Coalition members to ensure up to date information and links and help identify new technical content.
  3. Respond to web site inquiries.
  4. Assist with implementing and support of new multimedia features.
  5. Research grant and funding information for inclusion in web site section.
  6. Assist in development and implementation of pilot communities, technical guidebooks, training programs, and other initiatives as identified in the FAC and Division work plans.

Please review the job requirements and learn how to apply

FPW 2012 Quiz
We've developed a short quiz to test your fire safety knowledge as part of this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign! Take the quiz on our website and afterwards, continue to click through to see what the correct answers were to any you may have answered incorrectly. Also, be sure to share your results on Facebook and Twitter.

Take the Fire Prevention Week quiz now!

For further educational material and tip sheets on having two ways out, the leading causes of home fires, information about protecting your home and families with life-saving technologies, and the importance of home escape planning, visit the Fire Prevention Week website.

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