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EVsafetynewsletterThe February 2012 issue of NFPA's "EV News Update" is now available. In this issue:

  • NHTSA releases interim guidance following Volt investigation
  • states offer "train the trainer" sessions in MS, RI, FL, DE, KY, WA, and VT
  • registration open for EV Symposium in Los Angeles

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.

Acc_cost_savingsFollowing President Obama’s State of the Union address, which highlighted several pledges to continue with plans for cleaner energy in the U.S., the California Air Resources Board has announced the Advanced Clean Cars program. The program is designed to “drastically reduce smog-causing pollutants”, and is expected to lead to increased sales of environmentally friendly vehicles.

In addition to increasing sales of hybrid and electric vehicles and building adequate fueling infrastructure for those vehicles, Composites World reports that the program will have other benefits inc, including cuts in vehicle operating costs, vehicle fueling costs, reduced smog-forming emissions, and a cut in greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information about the program, check out the full news release.

electric vehiclesAs electric vehicles continue to become a viable consumer choice, NFPA will continue to do its part to ensure the safe implementation and operation of this burgeoning technology.

As columnist Jeff Sargent explains in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal®, NFPA 70® , National Electric Code®, has addressed electric vehicles since the 1990s. Further provisions to the code, states Sargent, "exemplifies NFPA's commitment to making sure the NEC keeps pace with the EV revolution and, most importantly, that the consumer infterface is free from electrical hazards--the mission of the NEC. 

Read the full column in the latest issue of NFPA Journal. And watch the following clip highlighting the 2012 edition of the NEC:


-Fred Durso, Jr.

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) for NFPA 1977 is being published for public review and comment:

Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by the March 23, 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 January 29, 1985, a fire occurred on the first floor of a boarding home in Washington D.C.  The fire, thought to be caused by smoking materials, involved a couch in the facility’s smoking room and a small amount of other materials, before the smoke detectors alerted occupants and automatic sprinklers controlled the fire.  Although smoke had spread throughout most of the structure, occupants were able to escape with fire department assistance, and the only injuries were minor in nature.

This fire was significant because it demonstrated the value that an automatic sprinkler system can have on improving the level of protection in an occupancy with an identified fire problem – boarding homes.

NFPA members can download the full investigation report.

Russ Sanders (right) with Colonel John Ridge in 1987In the latest issue of NFPA Journal®, NFPA Regional Director Russ Sanders wrote a touching tribute to John Ridge, the captain (later colonel) of the Louisville, Kentucky, Fire Department Quad Company #4 who died in October at age 83.

Before his death, Ridge chatted with Sanders about two fire incidents--the Feeder's Supply fire in Louisville in the 1970s and the Texas City fire of 1947. Here's a snippet from Sanders' column:

John explained why he wanted to discuss these two  fires. Like the Texas City fire, the Feeder’s Supply fire involved large  amounts of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Unlike Texas City, there were  no deaths or injuries at Feeder’s Supply, and the fire was confined to  the building of origin. "I read about the Texas City fire in an NFPA  publication in 1950, took the lessons learned and incorporated them into  our pre-fire planning and training, and put that information to work at  the Feeder’s Supply fire," he told me. "NFPA never received the credit  it deserved in those days, but I feel NFPA should be recognized, even 40  years after the fact, for the outstanding work it has done in helping  prepare fire officers in the field."

Read the full column in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal.

-Fred Durso, Jr.

GraceWe just read a great post on Cesar's Way Dog Behavior blog and thought we would share. The Zeitz family of Newfane, NY decided to foster a dog before the holidays. The dog, a black mixed breed named Grace, had been left tied to a stop sign alongside her puppies and been saved by a rescue organization, the Akron Canine Rescued Angels. The Zeitz family had fostered about 100 dogs through the program, but didn’t realize how special Grace would be.

A couple of days before Christmas, Alice Zeitz threw some laundry into her basement washer and dryer and headed upstairs to be with her fiancé and two children, ages 8 and 3. Before long, Grace began running to the basement and back, clearly agitated. They finally followed the barking dog down to the basement and saw that the washer had begun smoking and had caught on fire. Grace’s keen nose had smelled the smoke even before the smoke detector and she warned the family in time before any serious damage to the house or any injury to the family had occurred.

Needless to say, Grace’s foster situation became permanent. Zeitz said even before Grace’s heroic action she felt a special bond with the dog. Congratulations to hero Grace on her new home with the Zeitz family! 

Also, check out NFPA's dryer and washing machine safety tip sheet for info on how to help prevent these fires in your own home. 

Google-Plus-Logo3NFPA recently joined Google+ and created a business page. For those not yet familiar with the new social platform, take a look at how Google describes their new site; 

Google+ makes connecting on the web more like connecting in the real world. Share your thoughts, links and photos with the right circles. Use easy, spontaneous video chat to strike up conversations with as many as nine people at once. Get everyone on the same page with fast, simple group chat. We’re very excited about the new approach to sharing we’ve created through Google+, but this is really just the beginning.

If you are already a Google+ user, be sure to add NFPA to your circles. If not, take a look around and check out some of the interesting features, you might just sign up for an account while you are there!

-Lauren Backstrom

Life Safety Code provisionsNew provisions for furniture in corridors and cooking in health care occupancies are some of the major changes to the 2012 edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, detailed by columnist Chip Carson in the latest edition of NFPA Journal®. 

Carson states that "the intent of these significant changes is to  recognize the operational and health care treatment methods now in use  and to make the design of long-term care facilities more home-like and  improve the quality of life of the patients and residents." Read the complete column in the latest edition of NFPA Journal.

NFPA's Robert Solomon provides an overview of other Life Safety Code changes impacting health care and ambulatory health care environments:



-Fred Durso, Jr.

On January 24, 1993, an incendiary fire occurred at a hospital in Weymouth, Massachusetts.  One sprinkler operated in the room of fire origin, extinguishing the flames before firefighters arrived.  The damage from flame and heat was limited to the room of origin, however, water and smoke spread into the corridor and resulted in some damage.  Six staff were treated and released for smoke-related injuries.  Compliance with fire safety code requirements, training of staff, and the use of automatic sprinklers significantly reduced the potential for loss of life and large property loss during this incident.

Anyone can download a summary of this incident in English or Spanish, as well as an NFPA Journal article about this and one other incident. 

The following two new proposed standards are seeking public input on their pre-First Drafts (formerly pre-ROP):

  • NFPA 950, Standard for Data Development and Exchange for the Fire Service
  • NFPA 1091, Standard for Traffic Control Incident Management Professional Qualifications 

These pre-First Drafts are 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 these proposed new standards is January 4, 2013.

Poughkeepsie fire
Photo: Associated Press/Poughkeepsie Journal

Authorities say a fire tore through a private home being rented by college students in upstate New York, killing three people. According to a report from the Associated Press/Poughkeepsie Journal, the victims were identified as two female Marist College students and one male, who was not a student at the school.  he cause of the fire in Poughkeepsie remains under investigation. Town Police Chief Thomas Mauro tells Associated Press/Poughkeepsie Journal that the off-campus house was being rented by six female Marist students. Several had guests there Friday night. The fire was called in to 911 about 1:30 am Saturday. Four people made it out of the fire, were taken to a hospital, treated and released.


According to an NFPA report, between 2005-2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,840 on structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities and barracks. These fires caused an annual average of 3 civilian deaths, 38 civilian fire injuries, and $20.9 million in direct property damage.

Download the NFPA report on campus and dorm fires as well as a free safety tip sheet on campus fire safety.

Audio: Fire safety tips for college students from Judy Comoletti, NFPA's division manager for public education


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a statement today concluding its safety defect investigation into the post-crash   fire risk of Chevy Volts. The statement said in part, "Opened on   November 25, the agency’s investigation has concluded that no   discernible defect trend exists and that the vehicle modifications recently developed by General Motors reduce the potential for battery intrusion resulting from side impacts."
NHTSA also released interim guidance to increase awareness and identify   appropriate safety measures for the emergency response community, law   enforcement officers, and others about electric vehicles.

For more complete information on the announcement, interim guidance and training visit the EV Safety Training Blog.

Lorraine Carli

NFPA is seeking applications for the 2012 Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant, funded by the RJA Group. The amount of $5,000 is provided annually to a local fire department in the United States or Canada to support its fire and life safety education program or campaign. Last year’s award went to the College Station Fire Department in College Station, Texas, to support a fire safety education program for the more than 40,000 Texas A& M students who live in off-campus housing. Contact Lisa Braxton if you have any questions about the award and application process.

The application deadline is February 3, 2012. Mail the application to the National Fire Protection Association, 1 Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA  02169, Attention: Public Education/Jensen Application. Or e-mail the application to

-Sharon Gamache

NFPA and FPRF will present a one-day seminar focusing on recent global research that addresses high challenge warehouse storage and the call for improved fire protection strategies. The seminar, “Global Research Update: High Challenge Storage Protection,” will be held June 27, 2012 at the Marriott Rive Gauche, in Paris, France, in cooperation with the European Fire Sprinkler Network conference.

“Many of today’s products including aerosols, lithium-ion batteries, and flammable and combustible liquids increasingly pose storage challenges in warehouses around the world,” said Kathleen Almand, executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. “Participants at this event will explore the latest global research on storage protection and how to improve safety in the future.”  

The program will feature presentations from the insurance industry and global property owners who will provide a perspective on these emerging needs. In addition, global research organizations will highlight recent research works.

Seminar Sponsors
Honorary co-sponsors of the seminar are:

  • Health and Safety Laboratory      (HSL), UK
  • Ineris National Institute      for Industrial Environment and Risks, France
  • SP – Technical Research      Institute of Sweden

For more information about the seminar and to register, contact the Fire Protection Research Foundation.

The FPRF’s 16th annual Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications symposium (SUPDET 2012) will be held at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday, March 5 through Thursday, March 8.

Aimed at fire detection, suppression and emergency communications systems professionals, the symposium provides attendees the opportunity to exchange ideas, innovations and current research information. Attendees have the option to choose between the Detection and Signaling Program or the Suppression Program.

All SUPDET 2012 attendees are also invited to attend a free half-day Emergency Communications Workshop focused on emergency messaging, which will involve the development of emergency messaging templates that serve as the technical basis for explanatory material in the next edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

This year’s agenda will feature 30 presentations featuring the latest developments and current research in key areas including:

  • New detection technology
  • Approaches and human response to emergency/mass communication with a focus on high risk groups
  • New developments in water-based suppression systems
  • Environmental regulations and new fire suppression agents
  • Applications/case studies
  • High challenge commodity protection – new research on lithium ion batteries, aerosols and other hazards

For more information or to register online, contact Eric Peterson at +1 617 984-7271.

NFPA 72 As columnist Wayne D. Moore explains in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal®, the cost of installing a fire alarm system may take a backseat to the operational needs and long-term maintenance costs of a system. Fortunately, NFPA codes and standards offer ways of maintaining an alarm system without breaking the bank.

Says Moore, "While it may seem difficult, health care facility  directors must stay abreast of the technical improvements to fire alarm  system products, as well as changes to the life safety, building, and  fire codes, and to NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®.  Managers should work closely with system designers to ensure the fire  alarm system designs consider their operational needs before seeking  installation bids. A proper design can meet these operational needs and  reduce long-term maintenance costs."

Read Moore's complete column in the latest issue of NFPA Journal.

-Fred Durso, Jr.

Sparky Fire Trucks
The most visited section on the Sparky the Fire Dog® web site just got even better! Launched this month, the new fire truck section lets kids of all ages get an inside view of different kinds of fire trucks, explore a quint truck, color and print trucks online, and play fire truck games. Reinforce listening and sequencing skills with "Follow the Sounds," a sound pattern game for preschoolers and school-aged children. "Put out the Fire" is a game of skill in which critical thinking is a must. "It is the Angry Birds of fire-safety, I'm addicted," said one player. is a safe learning environment for children, trusted and approved by teachers, parents, and fire safety educators. 

Most of the country's estimated 6,000 heliports are operated by hospitals, and experts say that many of them have some kind of safety hazard. The problems, as well as solutions contained in the 2011 edition of NFPA 418, Heliports, are presented in "Heliport Help," a feature in the January/February 2012 editon of NFPA Journal®.

As part of the feature's online package, we've included a detailed slideshow, compiled by two members of the NFPA 418 technical committee, that illustrates a range of heliport hazards. In addition to presenting the problems in alarming detail, the slideshow also helps make a compelling case for local adoption of NFPA 418, which now references Federal Aviation Administration guidelines for all new and upgraded heliports.

Watch the slideshow.

-Scott Sutherland, executive editor, NFPA Journal


While Ford has gotten major points in the EV market with its environmentally-friendly sedans, Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Ford Focus Electric, not enough attention has been paid to the American automaker’s larger vehicles.

The Ford Transit Connect van, which has been sold in Europe for some time, is new to the U.S. market, but it came in with a bang—winning Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in 2010. The Transit van gets great mileage and is much lighter than similar vans, making it more environmentally-friendly to produce, and is also available in an electric model.

In addition, SAE reports that Ford has currently working with Azure Dynamics (its partner in developing the Transit Connect Electric) to develop a plug-in hybrid-electric Super Duty F-450/F-550, one of Ford’s biggest and hardiest trucks. Production of the hybrid models would likely start in 2014.

Illinois training

Continuing on our cross-country training expedition, the EV Safety Training team visited the Illinois Fire Service Institute to deliver a classroom train-the-trainer session to Illinois first responders. One hundred students were in attendance, and State Farm Insurance provided a Chevy Volt and an extricated Honda Insight, as well as a hybrid vehicle battery.

The great attendance at this training reveals just how anticipated—and important!—the EV Safety Training program is to first responders in all states, not just the areas that we associate with high EV density.

The next stop of the EV Safety Training tour is the Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute on January 28. For more information, and to learn when we’re coming to your state, visit our calendar page

If you've not practiced your home escape plan since Fire Prevention Week last October, it's that time again! NFPA recommends that your entire family practice your home escape plan at least twice a year. Here's all the information you need, as well as a downloadable home escape plan grid.

FSInewsletterThe new issue of Fire Sprinkler Initiative News, NFPA's monthly e-newsletter, features Canadian homebuilder Murray Pound, who long rejected the notion of home fire sprinklers, but has become an outspoken sprinkler advocate.

We also look at:

  • how a condo fire underscores the case for sprinklers in Massachusetts
  • efforts of a New Jersey coalition to jump start a sprinkler bill
  • the dangers of too much stuff
  • a new report that will study impact of sprinklers in reducing fire injuries

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.

On January 19, 1985, in Benicia, California, a truck pulling two tank trailers loaded with molten sulfur was involved in a collision.  The truck/trailer combination jumped the center divider into oncoming traffic, striking a truck headed in the other direction.  One of the tanks ruptured, spilling its contents and spewing molten sulfur onto two other vehicles.

The driver of the sulfur truck, as well as two occupants of one of the vehicles sprayed with molten sulfur perished in the incident.  The Benicia Fire Department arrived within five minutes of the accident, and firefighting operations lasted for about four hours.  The following are considered major factors in the incident:

  • Detailed emergency response information on molten sulfur was lacking due to the fact that sulfur was not regulated as a hazardous material
  • There was some delay in responding to the incident due to traffic and limited access to the bridge
  • There was difficulty in confirming the nature of the cargo
  • Visibility at the accident site was severely limited due to dense vapors of sulfur dioxide and due to fog

NFPA members can read the full investigation report.

Firebreak0112The January issue of Fire Break, NFPA’s wildland fire newsletter, is available for viewing. In this issue you’ll find:

  • registration information for the next Home Ignition Zone course
  • a link to “Wildfire Watch,” a new column in NFPA Journal®
  • the latest report on wildfire potential for early 2012
  • an NFPA Journal article that explores both sides of the evacuation debate

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.


Way back in October, we posted about the eTrans: an all-electric school bus created by Trans Tech Bus intended to cut the gas guzzled by school districts across the U.S. While the eTrans won’t be available until later in 2012, some school districts have decided to get the next best thing: hybrid school buses.

In Kentucky, Jefferson County Public Schools have purchased 18 hybrid school buses as “part of a statewide push to use more of the fuel-efficient vehicles to save money on gas,” according to WLKY. This brings the district’s hybrid bus total to fifty, more than any other school district in the country. Kentucky has almost 160 hybrid buses, which were purchased using federal stimulus money.

With approximately 26 million elementary and secondary school children riding school buses twice a day in the United States, it’s no surprise that school bus gas bills can easily eat their way through a state budget. With the increased gas mileage provided by hybrid models, schools can reduce their carbon footprint—and teach students that going green saves more than just the environment.

Code equivalencies for health care occupancies
A feature story in the new January/February 2012 issue of NFPA Journal® includes an extensive overview of how the 2012 edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, can be used to achieve compliance for a range of health care occupancies, especially hospitals. Here's a sample:

While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Joint Commission (TJC) continue to enforce the 2000 edition of NFPA 101, both organizations will consider the use of a newer edition of the code for compliance purposes. If a health care facility chooses this option, it must comply in most cases with everything in the newer edition of the code — the intent is to prevent facilities from selecting only specific provisions in a newer edition of the code, resulting in a level of safety that may be lower than intended.

But there are exceptions. CMS calls them waivers, while TJC calls them "traditional equivalencies," but both processes allow health care facilities to select specific provisions of a newer edition of the code, including the 2012 edition, to achieve compliance with the 2000 edition. During the approval process, either CMS or TJC can determine whether compliance with selective provisions of a newer edition results in an acceptable level of safety. The code recognizes this concept of allowing the use of alternative methods to achieve compliance with the code when approved by the authority having jurisdiction.

The story, "Deficiencies + Equivalencies," includes an extensive selection of common design, maintenance, and operational deficiencies for health care occupancies, along with provisions of newer editions of the Life Safety Code, including the 2012 edition, that can help those facilities comply with current CMS and TJC requirements. This includes existing facilities as well as the design of new facilities. 

The story is part of the issue's health care theme. Read the complete story.

-Scott Sutherland, executive editor, NFPA Journal

Wildfire aftermath in Slave Lake, Alberta, Canada.The January/February 2012 issue of NFPA Journal® includes the debut of "Wildfire Watch," a new regular column on wildfire issues written by Molly Mowery, program manager for the Fire Adapted Communities project and international outreach efforts in NFPA's Wildland Fire Operations Division. We're very pleased to have Molly working with us as a regular contributor, and we look forward to seeing her dispatches in the months to come. Here's a snippet from this issue's column:

"The past year of wildfires was devastating. The life and property losses throughout the United States and Canada were of historic proportions — Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona all experienced their largest wildfires on record — and the road to recovery for affected communities will require resources and patience. I recently toured Slave Lake in Alberta, Canada (pictured), where more than 400 structures were lost to wildfire last May in one of the costliest disasters in Canadian history. Experts estimate that rebuilding will cost $1 billion and take more than five years. 

"As public awareness of the wildfire problem grows, so does our responsibility at NFPA to take action. In October, NFPA Journal published a special issue dedicated to wildland fire, and the magazine recently asked me to write a regular column on the topic, one intended to bring you the latest buzz from the field and insights into our work at NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division. It is with excitement and optimism that I write this first column."

-Scott Sutherland

On January 15, 1985, a fire occurred in an 85 year-old warehouse built of mill construction undergoing demolition in Hoboken, New Jersey.  At the time of the fire, the roof and top floor of the four-story building had been dismantled, and the automatic sprinkler system that once protected the warehouse had been taken out of service.   In an effort to keep warm, crews lit small fires in metal containers.  It is believed that the fire was caused when burning materials from the container came into contact with combustible rubble.  The warehouse was totally consumed and burned to the ground within 30 minutes of the detection of the fire.  Due to high winds and rapid fire development the entire city block was destroyed including an abutting five story 85,000 square foot warehouse and several smaller buildings.  Burning embers were carried by high winds to other locations in the city, causing 12 additional fires.

This fire illustrates the extreme exposure hazard of buildings undergoing demolition.  The following are considered to be significant factors contributing to the large property loss in this fire:

  • Failure to provide adequate safeguards during the demolition operation
  • Automatic sprinkler system impairment in an exposure building
  • Adverse weather conditions, i.e., high winds on the morning of the fire

NPFA members can download the full investigation report.   


A feature in the January/February 2012 issue of NFPA Journal® looks at operating room fires and at efforts by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to address the problem by launching an education program for medical professionals using safeguards found in NFPA codes and standards. According to our story:

The FDA estimates that about 600 surgical fires occur annually, though the actual figure is likely higher; fires not resulting in death or serious injury tend to be underreported, since only about half of U.S. states are required to report "adverse events" at health care facilities. And while not all of those fires produce burns, the FDA points out that "some result in injury, disfigurement, or even death."

The number of surgical fires may be relatively small, but the FDA considered the yearly burn reports it receives through its voluntary reporting system to be important examples of safety shortfalls. Surgical devices, for example, must adhere to the FDA’s pre-market clearance process to ensure appropriate safety labels accompany the products. "There’s information on the flammability of alcohol-based skin preps and information on not letting the liquid pool that really clarifies the risks," says Karen Weiss, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research as well as its Safe Use Initiative, which fosters collaboration with partnering agencies to promote safe medication use. "We know labeling is one aspect to maximize safety, but it isn’t sufficient. People don’t always read the label. That alone won’t change people’s behaviors and practices."

Read the full story.

-Scott Sutherland, executive editor, NFPA Journal

Harvard Fire Executive ProgramApplication procedures have been announced for the 2012 Harvard Fire Executive Fellowship Program. The program is once again sponsored through a partnership between the IAFC, IFSTA/FPP, NFPA and USFA.

"Our nation’s fire executives need superior professional development experiences to increase their leadership capacity and the state and local program is a premier opportunity,” USFA Administrator Ernie Mitchell said in a statement. “This program provides a world-class opportunity to explore and expand these relationships in ways that increase innovative leadership within state and local government settings."

Senior fire executives who are selected will be awarded fellowships to attend Harvard's annual "Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government." The 3-week program is conducted on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Selected Fellows would be assigned to attend one of the two session dates.

Applicants must complete and submit the Harvard/Kennedy School of Government Application For Executive Education. Please review criteria and guidelines of the 2012 program before beginning the application. 

For more instructions on how to apply and further information please regarding the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program, refer to the Harvard University/John F. Kennedy School of Government Senior Executives in State and Local Government website. Salina Fire DeptNFPA's Fire Safety Educational Memorial Fund committee selected the Salina Fire Department HazMat Response Team (HMRT) from Salina, Kansas, as the recipient of the 2012 Warren E. Isman Educational Grant.

Established by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) following Warren Isman’s death in 1991, the grant is named in honor of a man who was known to value training and education.

 “The Salina Fire Department Hazmat Response Team is a proven leader in community involvement, education, emergency communications, and implementing cutting edge technologies,” said Ken Isman, chair of the Warren E. Isman Task Force, a subcommittee of the Fire Safety Educational Memorial Fund Committee and son of the late Chief Warren Isman.

Award recipients select a conference where they can attend specialized hazardous materials training and education sessions. The selected team has the opportunity to gain knowledge and enhance their ability to excel in this specialized field. The funds from the 2012 Isman Grant will make it possible for the Salina Fire Department HMRT to attend the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ (IAFC) International Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference in Baltimore, MD, May 2012.

To make a contribution to the Fire Safety Educational Memorial Fund or for more information regarding the application process, visit NFPA’s website

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

In this issue:

  • Changes to the Convention Rules
  • Future Dates for NFPA Conference & Expo
  • Committee Leadership Conference
  • Errata issued on NFPA 59A and NFPA 820
  • NFPA News in Brief on NFPA 70 and NFPA 101
  • Research Foundation initiates four new projects
  • Call for committee members
  • Committee meetings calendar
  • Committees soliciting public input for Annual 2014 documents

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

HoardingCompulsive hoarding isn’t new, but a growing awareness of the problem — and changing public attitudes toward it — may allow firefighters to play a significant role in recognizing and even ameliorating dangerous hoarding situations. "Firefighters and public fire safety educators in the United States and Canada are often faced with challenges on the best ways to prevent fires related to hoarding,’’ says Sharon Gamache, NFPA’s program director for high-risk outreach programs, in a special feature story about the safety implications of hoarding in the new NFPA Journal. "No one wants to see injuries or loss of life among civilians or firefighters as a result of fire hazards that may exist in hoarding situations."

Has hoarding impacted fire safety in your community? Please share your story by clicking the "Comments" button below.

On January 10, Energy Secretary Steven Chu was at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to promote the Obama administration’s support for the domestic auto industry. The Auto Show has hosted the unveilings of several new hybrid and electric vehicle models, and including vehicles by American auto manufacturers like Ford, General Motors, and Tesla.

To coincide with Chu’s visit to Detroit, the Department of Energy has released a new video titled “Energy 101: Electric Vehicles.” The video briefly explains the basic technology behind electric vehicles, as well as highlighting some of the many perks and benefits to owning an EV. You can learn more about the video’s production and some of the other advantages to EV-ownership at the DOE website.

Couch & Xmas Tree
A single sprinkler extinguished a fire, proving their life and property saving benefit.

A fire this morning in a Massachusetts condo made the life and property saving point that fire officials have been making as the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS) deliberates on a proposal to allow home fire sprinklers in new construction.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Lunenburg Fire Chief Scott Glenny said in a joint statement a single fire sprinkler head controlled the fire in a condominium this morning in Lunenburg. The fire started in the living room couch with a Christmas tree right next to it. The Christmas tree, probably very dry by now, was not involved in the fire. 

State Fire Marshal Coan said, “This demonstrates the reason why sprinklers are such a valuable tool for life safety and protection people’s homes.” No one was home in the condominium where the fire started and firefighters were able to rescue a dog trapped inside. People were home in two other apartments, including a grandmother watching a toddler.  The sprinklers prevented the fire spreading to other units. 

Chief Glenny said, “The million dollar building suffered an estimated $25,000 in damage and no one is displaced. As fast as we were able to get there, the fire sprinkler was faster and had the fire under control frankly before we even left the station.” 

Jon Jones, a Lunenburg resident and chairman of the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations said, “Opponents to residential sprinklers often say that newer buildings don’t have fires or that smoke alarms are adequate fire protection. This building was built in the 1980s and the fire would have progressed significantly and quickly without sprinklers, impacting the people in the other condos and their homes and possessions and pets.” He added, “This underscores how important it is for local jurisdictions to have the flexibility to require residential sprinklers where they think they are need.”

NFPA and fire officials throughout the state have held two press recent events to draw attention to the pending action before the BBRS who has adopted the new building code in the state and omited the provision for home fire sprinklers in new one and two family homes.


At a press conference in December at the State House NFPA President Jim Shannon said, "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.” 

According to Shannon, in the last decade, there have been more than 54,000 fires in one- and two-family homes in Massachusetts. These fires injured more than 2,300 firefighters and 1,500 civilians, and caused more than 753 million dollars in property loss. Forty percent of all firefighter injuries happen in one- and two-family homes.

The first press conference in November included a live side-by-side sprinkler demonstration. More information on the Massachusetts code process underway can be found at



Lorraine Carli

On January 10, 1976 a natural gas explosion and subsequent fire killed 20 people in Fremont, Nebraska, and destroyed a hotel and six adjacent buildings.  The exact cause of the explosion is unknown, but the natural gas leak that preceded the explosion was caused by an underground pipe separation.  The odor of the natural gas was first detected about four hours before the explosion, however, hotel employees were unable to reach gas company personnel for nearly two hours, even though they used emergency telephone numbers. 

After the explosion, gas company personnel dug down into the ground and found a 2-inch plastic gas main had separated by about one quarter inch from a compression coupling.  Investigation officials of the NTSB theorized that the natural gas leaking from this pipe separation had permeated the soil between this point and the hotel’s basement wall, and then seeped into the hotel’s basement.

NFPA members can download a Fire Journal article about the incident. 

In hoarding households, blocked windows and exits can make fire attack and rescue difficult for the fire service.

A particular concern of the fire service is the chaotic nature of the material in many hoarding households, where blocked windows and exits can make fire attack and rescue difficult. (Photo: Newscom)

The cover story in the January/February 2012 issue of NFPA Journal® takes an in-depth look at the fire and life safety issues related to compulsive hoarding, an important social problem that has received a lot of attention recently. In "The Dangers of Too Much Stuff," writer Stephanie Schorow reports on how the fire service is teaming up with a range of human service agencies in communities across the country to address the issue of compulsive hoarding, a psychological disorder that studies suggest could afflict as many as 15 million Americans. Here's a snippet:

Compulsive hoarding isn’t new, but a growing awareness of the problem — and changing public attitudes toward it — may allow firefighters to play a significant role in recognizing and even ameliorating dangerous hoarding situations. "Firefighters and public fire safety educators in the United States and Canada are often faced with challenges on the best ways to prevent fires related to hoarding,’’ said Sharon Gamache, NFPA’s program director for high-risk outreach programs. "No one wants to see injuries or loss of life among civilians or firefighters as a result of fire hazards that may exist in hoarding situations."

And here's another:

While the relationship between hoarding and fire safety has yet to be fully documented — NFPA, for example, does not maintain specific data on hoarding-related fires — the work of social scientists and the anecdotal reports of the fire service are gradually combining to reveal an important fire threat.

A 2009 Australian study found that hoarding fires are tougher to fight, and are far deadlier, than other types of residential fires. The data show that fires in hoarding homes have similar ignition sources as other fires, but that packed rooms can significantly complicate the fire attack. Basic rules of firefighting may not apply; firefighters are trained to look for the seat of the fire, but a hoarding household may present firefighters with a logistical nightmare, forcing them to wade through or crawl over stuff in an effort to find the ignition source. "You can’t search the normal way," noted Bill Cummings, a captain in the Shrewsbury (Massachusetts) Fire Department and a 35-year veteran firefighter. "You can’t find the walls because there’s too much stuff. You wouldn’t even know where you were if the place were filled with smoke."

The package includes a nine-step "clutter image rating scale," findings from the eye-opening 2009 Australia study, and much more. See the full article.  

-Scott Sutherland, NFPA Journal editor

NFPA JournalThe latest edition of the NFPA Journal® has been released for January and February focusing on the issue of Life Safety and Health Care through an abundance of articles relating to the matter.

The cover story “The Dangers of Too Much Stuff” explores the dangerous relationship between hoarding and fire safety. NFPA’s own Sharon Gamache, Director of NFPA’s High Risk Outlook Programs, discuses the many fire dangers related with compulsive hoarding, also detailing several resources responders can use when dealing with someone with an issue of hoarding.

The edition goes on to discuss the issue of operating room fires, describing the new FDA initiative that is teaching health care professionals the causes of operating room fires in the article “Operation Fire Safety”.

Another issue brought up in this month’s latest NFPA Journal® the safety of our hospitals heliports, which are beset by a range of safety issues. The article, “Heliport Help” states that the proponents of safer heliports call for stronger regulations designed to ensure heliport safety. 

Read the full issue of NFPA Journal here

http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nfpa.orgScald burn tip sheetNFPA and the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors are urging the public to be cautious when handling hot liquids and soups. Scald burns are the second leading cause of all burn injuries and children, older adults and people with disabilities are especially at risk.

“In winter, there’s nothing as comforting as a warm cup of soup,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “But if you’re not careful this simple meal can turn painful.”

Scald burns are the second leading cause of all burn injuries. According to the study “Instant cup of soup: design flaws increase risk of burns” released by the Journal of Burn Care & Research, prepackaged microwavable soups, especially noodle soups, are a frequent cause of scald burn injuries because they can easily tip over, pouring hot liquid and noodles on the person.

To help prevent scald injuries, NFPA and the Phoenix Society offer some safety tips:

  • Teach children that hot things can burn.
  • Test the water at the faucet. It should be less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius).
  • Always supervise a child in or near a bathtub.  Before placing a child in the bath or getting in the bath yourself, test the water. Test the water by moving your hand, wrist and forearm through the water. The water should feel warm, not hot, to the touch.
  • Place hot liquids and food in the center of a table or toward the back of a counter.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried. Never hold a child while you are cooking, drinking a hot liquid, or carrying hot foods or liquids.
  • Allow microwaved food to cool before eating and open it slowly, away from the face.
  • Choose prepackaged soups whose containers have a wide base or, to avoid the possibility of a spill, pour the soup into a traditional bowl after heating.
  • Treat a burn right away. Cool the burn with cool water for 3-5 minutes.  Cover with a clean, dry cloth. Get medical help if needed.

For more information on reducing the risk of these types of burns, view NFPA’s scald prevention tip sheet. 

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has released a new safety video depicting three accidents involving combustible iron dust at the Hoeganaes Corporation in Gallatin, TN. The video, entitled “Iron in the Fire,” features three computer animations showing how fine metal particles were lofted and ignited in two incidents, and how a hydrogen explosion and subsequent flash fires caused by lofted metal dust killed a total of five workers and injured three others. 


“Combustible dust is a serious workplace hazard across the country," said CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso. "Since the Chemical Safety Board was established in 1998, three of the deadliest accidents we have investigated have been combustible dust explosions.”  The chairman said he hopes the video will drive home the point that dust fires and explosions continue to claim lives and destroy property in many industries.

NFPA Research Foundation issues report on dust explosion hazard assessment criteria

Dust Recently, there has been an increased awareness of the explosion hazard associated with combustible dusts. NFPA 654/A. (Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids) includes criteria that have been used for determining whether an explosion hazard exists in a building compartment. There is, however, genuine concern over the technical pedigree of those criteria.  Federal governmental agencies have recently begun using NFPA 654 as a standard for assessing compliance with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act of 1970.  This has precipitated a genuine concern that the criteria currently in NFPA 654 do not have sufficient technical justification to be used as a law enforcement criterion.

The objective of this project is to establish the technical basis for quantitative criteria for determining that a compartment is a “dust explosion hazard” that can be incorporated into NFPA 654 and other relevant safety codes and standards. Read the report, issued in June 2011, which presents the results of the Phase I portion of the study which is the development of a strawman method to assess the dust hazard.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to plan, manage and communicate research in support of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) mission.

Early in the morning of January 6, 1995 a fire in a North York, Ontario residential high-rise building resulted in the deaths of six residents.  All were found on upper stories in exit stairways.  The fire appeared to have been ignited by the improper disposal of smoking materials.   After unsuccessfully attempting to extinguish the fire, the occupant in the apartment of fire origin left without closing the dwelling unit door to the corridor. 

The following were found to be significant factors contributing to the loss of life in this incident

  • Lack of automatic sprinkler protection
  • Lack of door self-closing devices on apartment entrance doors
  • Vertical smoke movement due to stack effect
  • Staff who were not trained with respect to managing fire emergencies in the building for which they were responsible
  • Lack of fire safety training for building residents
  • Voice communication equipment that could not transmit messages that were understood by residents

NFPA members can download the full investigation report, and all site visitors can download a summary in English or Spanish.  NFPA also has a report regarding fires in high rises that is available to all site visitors:

A fire in a Seattle warehouse on January 5, 1995, resulted in the deaths of four members of the Seattle Fire Department.  All four died when the floor between the upper and lower levels of the building collapsed.  The fire, which was determined to have been set intentionally, began in the building’s lower level directly below the area in which fire crews were conducting interior fire operations.

Despite the aggressive efforts to enhance firefighter safety by the Seattle Fire Department in the years leading up to this event, four firefighters still lost their lives.  NFPA’s investigation identified the following as contributing factors in the incident:

  • Confusion about the physical layout of the building as well as the location of crews working in, above, and around the structure in relation to the fire
  • Lack of awareness on the fireground of the location of the fire and the various crews in relation to the fire
  • Insufficient progress reports transmitted over the fireground frequency
  • Lack of awareness of the length of time the building had been on fire and the passage of time after fire department notification
  • Failure to take into account the fact that the building was a known arson target when formulating the fireground strategy
  • Insufficient information to develop a risk/benefit evaluation of fireground operations

NFPA members can download the investigation report for free, and all visitors can download a summary week Lisa Braxton, associate project manager, NFPA public education division, and Captain Bill Cannata, Westwood, MA fire department, state coordinator of the Massachusetts Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition, and member of NFPA’s Fire Safety for People with Disabilities Task Force, presented a webinar titled “Being Prepared in an Emergency: Fire and Life Safety Tips for People with Autism and their Families”.   The webinar was sponsored by Autism Now, the National Autism Resource and Information Center.  During the webinar Braxton and Cannata provided information on fire and life safety tips, safety drills, and building relationships with emergency responders.  Webinar attendees also heard about “I Know My Fire Safety Plan,” an educational tool designed to help children who have autism know how to respond if a firefighter comes to their home.  To listen to the webinar, go this link.  

-Sharon Gamache


Marine_solar_power[1]The Army goes green! Lance Cpl. Dakota Hicks, from Laharpe, Ill., connects a radio battery to a portable solar panel communication system in Sangin District, in Afghanistan. (AP)

When we think of plug-in hybrids, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a Toyota Prius—not an armored military vehicle.

But according to Green Car Reports, the U.S. Army has just created a fully-armored plug-in vehicle, the FED Bravo: a fully-functional plug-in hybrid vehicle that offers as much protection to U.S. troops as the gas-guzzling Hummers traditionally used by the military.

The U.S. military is the largest worldwide consumer of oil, purchasing upwards of 150 million barrels per year. This dependence on oil is detrimental not only to the national budget, but to U.S. soldiers as well. According to a recent story on NPR, the mine-resistant vehicles that carry U.S. military personnel have a high human cost: for every 50 convoys accompanying fuel to U.S. bases, a Marine is killed or wounded while guarding a convoy. A high-safety, low-fuel vehicle like the FED Bravo might be just what the military needs.

ChildFirereportAccording to a new NFPA report called "Children Playing With Fire", an average of 56,300 child-playing fires are reported to U.S. municipal fire departments per year (2005-2009). These fires caused annual averages of 110 civilian deaths, 880 civilian injuries, and $286 million in property damage.

The fires included:

  • 25,100 outside or unclassified fires
  • 17,900 outside trash or rubbish fires
  • 12,500 structure fires
  • 900 vehicle fires

The NFPA report says that younger children were more likely to set fires in homes, while older children and teenagers are more likely to set fires outside. In addition, males were are more likely to engage in fire-play than females, as 83% of home structure fires and 93% of outside or unclassified fires were set by boys when age was coded as a factor.

Lighters were the heat source in half (50%) of child-playing fires in homes, and 40% of child-playing home fires began in a bedroom.


On January 2, 1984, a fire in an electrical switch gear room of a 38-story hotel in Boston, Massachusetts resulted in the loss of both the primary and emergency electrical power systems.  Smoke from the fire was able to migrate throughout the corridors and common areas of the hotel.  Guests attempting to evacuate were hampered by darkness in exit stairways, and the accumulation of smoke in the corridors and enclosed stairways.  A total of 46 persons – 30 guests and hotel staff and 16 firefighters – were injured during the incident; there were no fatalities.  Factors in the successful evacuation of the hotel occupants and the absence of serious injuries were:

  • A comprehensive fire training program for hotel staff
  • Prompt alerting and announcement of evacuation information by the fire alarm system
  • Automatic notification of the fire department by the hotel’s fire alarm system
  • Accurate information regarding fire location and conditions relayed by hotel staff to “first-in” fire department units
  • The joint actions of the hotel staff and Boston Fire Department in the evacuation of the hotel guests

NFPA members can read the full report.

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