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In November of 2012, the Foundation conducted a symposium centered on the challenges and tensions around the intersection of fire safety and sustainable building design. Building designers, many of them from Chicago's global sustainable building design community, presented trends in "green" design - ranging from photovoltaic building skins to innovative and energy saving ventilation systems and others.  Members of the fire protection community addressed the fire safety challenges of these and other features and also presented the life cycle sustainability benefits provided by fire protection and fire prevention.

It was unique conversation which led to some interesting questions:

Why does the LEED green building rating system not acknowledge the sustainability benefits of fire protection features?

How to we use performance based fire safety design to develop innovative fire protection solutions in tandem with innovation in sustainable design?

How can we continue to evolve fire protection systems to address the challenges of declining resources?

The presentations from the symposium can be found here; look for a report of findings and recommendations in the upcoming months.

We'd welcome your input on these topics and the opportunity to work with you to address them.

The 16th annual Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium (SUPDET 2012) is set for March 5-8, 2012 at the Sheraton Crescent Hotel in Phoenix.  Register now

SUPDET 2012 features 30 presentations and a special workshop on Emergency Communications Strategies.  Keep your knowledge at the leading edge through presentations featuring the latest developments and current research in key areas including:

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

A special half-day workshop on Emergency Communications Strategies will be available for all SUPDET 2012 attendees on March 7.

Earn additional CEUs, network with other professionals in your field, and learn about new technologies and advancements from experts in fire detection, suppression, and signaling issues.  Register now.

Learn how to get involved with the NFPA Standards Development Process by submitting changes to documents or by joining one of NFPA’s Technical Committees. 

Amy Cronin, Division Manager of NFPA Codes and Standards Administration, provides an overview of the NFPA Standards Development Process and how the public and NFPA members can get involved in revising NFPA documents. Amy discusses how real life incidents can offer necessary changes to documents to avoid future life threatening accidents.  She explains how the four-stage process starts with the submission of Public Input during the Input stage.  This information is presented to the Technical Committee for review.  If the Technical Committee does not agree, the public or NFPA member can return with a Public Comment at stage 2.  This gives an opportunity to see what the committee liked and did not like about an idea and submit additional supporting data. If the committee still does not agree with Public Comment, stage 3 allows the submitter to present the information to the NFPA membership at the NFPA Conference & Expo’s Association Technical Meeting, this year held in Chicago, June 9-15 2013.  The submitter also has one more opportunity for the idea to be heard, by appealing to the NFPA Standards Council during stage 4.  

With the proper expertise anyone can get involved with the Standards Development Process by joining one of NFPA’s Technical Committees. Although there is no monetary reward for participating on a committee there is the opportunity to be recognized throughout the country as being an expert in that field by having your name referenced in the document.  The travel time is very limited, often 1-3 meeting days for each meeting and there are 2 meetings every three years.   

Stay up to date with Codes and Standards activities

NFPA News, a monthly newsletter providing detailed information on notifications of closing dates, requests for comments on NFPA documents and the publications of Formal Interpretations (FIs), Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs), and Errata. 

Document information pages - provides one central location to view all document specific information about our codes and standards. Alerts can also be set up on each document information page so when a public item is posted, a notification is automatically sent to an email address.

The Home Depot in Travers City, Michigan donated 2500 smoke alarms to area fire departments

‘Tis the season for giving and thanks to a joint effort by NFPA, The Home Depot and Kidde, fire departments across the country are receiving 50,000 smoke alarms, valued at $1million dollars to enhance fire safety in their communities. The Home Depot and Kidde ran a fall fire safety program which inlcuded a challenge to store associates to compete for top sales of smoke alarms and CO detectors.  The top selling store in each region was rewarded with an opportunity to give back to their community by donating up to 2500 smoke alarms to local fire departments.

Several of The Home Depot stores that won the challenge invited the public and fire service to store events where smoke alarms were presented to fire departments. Congratulations to the winning stores and thanks to Kidde, The Home Depot and all of its associates for raising awareness for fire safety. 

In addition, Kidde and The Home Depot will make a $25,000 contribution to The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s “Be a Hero, Save a Hero” initiative.  This contribution follows the launch of the public service campaign about this program, which urges homeowners to log on to and promise to ensure their home has enough up-to-date and working smoke alarms.

Visit for more details.


As temperatures
drop in the months ahead, the risk of home heating fires peaks. In fact, December, January and February are the leading months for
home fires, with 50% of all home heating fires occuring during this time.

In 2010, home heating equipment was
involved in an estimated 57,100 reported home structure
fires, 490 civilian deaths, 1,530 civilian injuries, and $1.1 billion in direct
property damage. 

When heating
your home this winter, remember that all heaters need space. Keep anything
that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the
furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater. And remember to turn
off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to sleep. 

Check out even more home heating safety tips.  

OSHA has recently issued citations for yet another fatality that occurred  adjacent to a confined space. As discussed in a previous blog, the hazards of adjacent spaces are not often recognized by employers and are not specifically addressed in the OSHA Permit Required Confined Space standard (1910.146)

North Carolina Dept of Labor recently cited Smithfield Packing ~ $250,000 for a fatality that occurred when a worker was overcome by hydrogen sulfide gas while filling a tanker with liquid sludge.   The atmosphere outside the tank was not tested prior to or during the filling and since the worker never ENTERED the tank, there were no confined space entry procedures set in place.   There was no permit, no attendant, not testing. See story.

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 can create both health and safety hazards.  Workers can die as a result of breathing in toxic materials released into the adjacent space or as a result of a fire and explosion caused by flammable vapors leaking into the adjacent space.  

How should we address those hazards that are not necessarily inside the confined space but are associated with the confined space hazard?    In the marine industry, both the OSHA Shipyard standards (1915.14) and NFPA 306 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 will likely include the evaluation of hazards in the area adjacent to the confined spaces.   We would love to hear your ideas for how to address adjacent space hazards in the new document!

InteroperabilityA new report has been published by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. The report, titled "Interoperable ESE: Performance Requirements for Compatible and Interoperable Electronic Equipment for Emergency First Responders,” was authored by Casey Grant of the FPRF. 

This report documents a project with the goal of developing performance requirements for the compatibility and interoperability of electronic equipment used by fire service and other emergency first responders. The project was conducted with following objectives:

  • Develop an inventory of existing and emerging electronic equipment categorized by key areas of interest to the fire service.
  • Document equipment performance requirements relevant to interoperability, including communications, power requirements, etc.
  • Develop an action plan toward the development of requirements to meet the needs of emergency responders.

Download the full report through the FPRF website now

Image from Boston Herald, taken from an NFPA video, shows, top left, Ann (Clark) Gallagher, her parents, bottom left; Fred Sharby Jr., his parents.

Seventy years after Keene High School football star Fred B. Sharby perished in the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston, he continues to be remembered by the high school football community.

Sharby, an 18-year-old Keene High School football player, was at Boston's Cocoanut Grove nightclub with his girlfriend, Keene football cheerleader Ann Marie Clark, and both their parents, when a fire broke out. The two families had just attended a football game between Boston College and Holy Cross.

Fred, his mother and his girlfriend came out of the fire. Fred B. Sharby made a heroic decision that night to go back in for his father and Ann's parents.

A total of 492 people, including Fred, his father, and Ann's parents, died in the nightclub fire, which shocked the nation and generated headlines worldwide.


Lucas Luopa, Ann Clark Gallagher, and Jack Zimmerman.
Winning the 2012 Fred B. Sharby Award Thursday night was 18-year-old Lucas Luopa, co-captain of the Keene High School Blackbird Football team.

Luopa said the Sharby award represents the best football player on and off the field, and is the most distinguished award at Keene High School.

Presenting the award Thursday night was Sharby's former girlfriend, Ann Clark Gallagher, and the first recipient of the award, Jack Zimmerman.

"If it were not for Fred, I might not be here," Gallagher said. "I was 16 years old then, I'm 86 years old now and I'm still here. Thank you, Fred."

Zimmerman, the first recipient of the award in 1943, is now a retired lawyer. Like Ann, he is 86.

Panel 15
Panel 15 was the place to be for the electrical industry. There were more observers than committee members, as the industry debates electrical safety in Health Care Facilities.

Fish Tank
Aquarium located in the hotel gives all NEC meetings attendees a pleasurable escape from their work.

Panel 15 continued very professionally its long standing debate on electrical systems in health care facilities. A critical contentious issue that is a continuation of several controversial decisions made over the past several years. The meeting ended around 3:00 pm with good natured conversation and well wishes between members on either side of the issue.

Panel 17 finished today as projected. The major point of debate centered on the grounding and bonding of swimming pools and spas. This is a long standing issue that is a hot topic in every code cycle. The issue of public safety has to do with keeping stray electrical currents out of swimming pools. Unfortunately although the problem is universal, the means to accomplish this vary widely based on geography. Soil composition plays a large role in meeting the necessary requirements.

Panel 4 spent the majority of the day focused on the fine points of safety issues regarding the installation of photo voltaic systems.

Panel 16 continues to define the many safety aspects of non power delivery cabling. A major area of technology growth in communications.

-Bill Burke, NFPA Division Manager, Electrical

Seven new panels started today with the excitement of opening day. People are energized and ready to get underway.

DictionaryIn a big way, today proved my favorite irony of the code making process. We fill rooms (and have long waiting lists) of electrical experts you would think like to debate the advantages and disadvantages of different technologies and that does happen. However if an outsider were to walk in to a panel meeting they might think they might in a meeting of hostile book editors. We fill the panel with technical experts and they fight over English!

To that end the code committees invent words and introduce their own oxymorons. Today’s panels were full of the word overcurrent, which no spell checker likes but every electrical person in the world understands. Additionally, a terrific presentation was done today in panel 10 dealing with circuit breakers introducing arc reduction, but also enhancing the English language with the concept of “adjustable instantaneous” HUH?

Panel 10 did provide us with a great definition of “Good Code,” that it be:

  1. Practical
  2. Enforceable
  3. Adoptable

HOME RUN- a great definition!

Panel 16 talked at length about cables that don’t carry electricity; fiberoptics, another word spell check doesn’t like.

The ECC (Electrical Code Coalition) held an update luncheon today to discuss the progress made on their website which is in the final stages of construction. The Coalition is a group of Electrical Organizations that work together to facilitate the adoption of the NEC, promote the third party assessment, and support the need for code enforcement. A lot of good work has been done and with much more to go. A brief update was given on the current state of adoption for the 2011 edition. The coalition has been very successful in pushing through adoptions, as well as keeping them from going backwards in the area of public safety in a few states. At the end of the meeting the coalition explained its strategy for working with promulgating agencies.

What a day for vocabulary!

The three code making panels (7, 10, and 18) all finished the first day with a new world record. Their efficiency was enhanced by task group work that combined numbers of similar comments so they could be addressed as a group. A great technique used for years by the NEC panels. This concept has been incorporated in the new NFPA codes and standards process, which is one of many enhancements of the new system that will really streamline the NFPA code making process. SO as a new world record was set today it will probably not stand for long as the 2017 NEC will embrace the new NEC process and enhance its efficiency. 

-Bill Burke, NFPA Division Manager, Electrical

With the request to enter into a revision cycle approved by the Standards Council, the Preliminary Daft of NFPA 652, Standard on Combustible Dust, is now accepting public input until January 4, 2013.  The big question circling this document, what are the fundamentals of combustible dusts?


If you were to go through the different NFPA dust standards, you will notice similar requirements.  The requirements may not be exactly the same throughout the standards, but the general underlying ideas are there.

The Technical Committee (TC) started the draft out with four main chapters that circle around four basic concepts in each of the dust standards: hazard identification, hazard assessment, hazard management, and management systems.

 Hazard Identification

The very first thing you are going to do is to Identify whether a hazard exists in your facility. Before getting overwhelmed by the combustible dusts standards, you need to determine if the dust in your facility is a combustible dust and if it presents a flash-fire or explosion hazard.  Can the dust burn? Yes, then you will need to determine if it can cause a flash-fire and/or explosion.  To determine if the the dust can present an explosion hazard, the simplest test that can be performed is known as the “go/no-go” test or ASTM E 1226 Standard Test Method for Explosibility of Dust Clouds.  Further tests may be required based on the hazard management methods you wish to use in your facility.  Knowing whether the dust in your facility has a potential for a flash-fire or explosion hazard is essential to determine where you need to go next within the standard and the other standards.  If you do not properly manage the hazards, you are increasing the chance (or risk) of an incident occurring in your facility. 

 Hazard Assessment

After identifying whether the dust in your facility can present a fire, flash-fire, or explosion hazard, the next step to assess the type of hazard you have and where these hazards exist.  The method can be as simple as going through your facility and determine where these hazards exist and develop a means in which they can be managed (see hazard management).  Simply, this method of accessing your facility for hazards  is known as a process hazard analysis. A process hazard analysis (or PHA) is not intended to be complex analysis requiring a facility to hire consultants.  There are many ways to preform this analysis and the TC is developing some guidance to better help the user understand how to perform a PHA. However, if you do not know the hazards or process equipment well enough to make informed decisions, it wouldn’t hurt to have a 3rd party assist in the review.

 Hazard Management

These are going to be your tools on how to manage the different hazards in the facility: building construction, explosion protection, equipment construction, ignition source control, housekeeping, etc.  There are requirements that will apply to the facility itself and different pieces of equipment.  Some will not apply to your particular facility and other requirements will give you different options that you can apply.

Management Systems

The last major concept when dealing with combustible dusts is management systems.  Management systems cover operating procedures, inspection, testing and maintenance of equipment, training for employees and contractors, emergency planning, incident investigation, management of change, and document retention. Basically, make sure that you use and maintain your equipment properly, train your employees and anyone working in your facility, investigate fire and explosion incidents, keep constant documentation, and procedures for managing any changes in the process, equipment, material, facility, etc.


When taking a high-level view at the concepts in each of the dust standards, there are basic concepts that standout no matter what type of dust your facility has. 


The moment you have all been waiting for is here.   The #1 change to NFPA 80 , 2013 edition is not a change to a specific section or word, but rather to an entire chapter.  The #1 change encompasses some specific issues that I have included in the top 5, but is a change that will affect nearly every user of the document. 


#1:  Rewrite of Chapter 5 - Care and Maintenance.


For many users of NFPA 80 , you may remember that Chapter 5 was new to the standard for the 2007 edition, when the document when through a complete rewrite.  At the time, the new Chapter 5 expanded the requirements related to the inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire doors and provided the now famous requirement for the annual inspection of fire doors.

After existing for two cycles, it was time for the committee to further revise and clean up the Chapter.  For 2013, not only has Chapter 5 been revised editorially, to better organize the material, technical revisions have been made to the requirements for field modifications, acceptance testing of opening protectives, who is completing annual inspections, record retention for inspections and tests, and clarifications throughout the chapter that its requirements apply to fire doors, fire windows, and fire shutters.  Many of these technical changes solve issues that have surfaced since the Chapter was published in 2007.

The result of all the changes to Chapter 5 is a more technically accurate and user friendly Chapter that contains information so important to the users of NFPA 80 and to the fire doors and opening protectives being inspected, tested and maintained.


I encourage you to check out the new edition of NFPA 80 and read all the valuable changes that have been made by the Technical Committee. 


See post about change #2!


See post about change #3!


See post about change #4!


See post about change #5!</p>


As we start week two 12 more NEC CMP’s will meet throughout
the week. The lower than normal comments should facilitate quicker than
expected CMP work. Those that will be here for both weeks have enjoyed the
Redondo area but are now gearing up for week two. Last week there was a
continuing theme surrounding generators and their place in the NEC. Will that
continue in week 2? 

The same rooms are filling but with different faces. What
will these new faces bring to the party? We know the technical expertise and
strong work ethic will be there but what are their opinions on how the 2014 NEC
should look?

Again the morning is full of the re-acquaintance of old
friends and the introduction of new ones, around the well stocked continental
breakfast. They arrive an hour before the meeting starts to stake their places
at the table. Many will sit in the same seats on the same side with the same
people as they have every three years for the past 20 years or so.

Week 2 will start with seven CMP’s, most scheduled through
Tuesday or Wednesday. The official scorecard looks like this:

CMP 4  Chair: Ron
Toomer, Staff
Liaison: Chris Coache, Comments: 209

CMP 7  Chair: Michael
Smith, Staff
Liaison: Dick Roux, Comments:

CMP 10 Chair: Julian Burns, Staff Liaison: Jean Blanc, Comments:

CMP 15 Chair: Larry Todd, Staff
Liaison: Michael Fontaine, Comments:

CMP 16 Chair: Tom Moore, Staff
Liaison: Lee Richardson, Comments: 116

CMP 17 Chair: Donny Cook, Staff Liaison: Bob Benedetti, Comments: 51

CMP 18 Chair: Bobby Gray,  Staff Liaison: Allen Fraser, Comments: 53

!|src=|alt=NEC Task Group|style=width: 450px;|title=NEC Task Group|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017d3e6b3205970c!
-[Bill Burke |], Division Manager, Electrical


We've seen this video before, but it remains an amazing reminder about fire safety during the holiday season. A demonstration showing how flammable a dry Christmas tree can be as opposed to a tree watered regularly is highlighted in the above video. This test was conducted by the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories. 

For more information on Christmas tree safety, please visit our special section of the NFPA website

In putting together our semi-annual training catalog, I was introduced to a number of NFPA instructors. One thing, besides the many interesting personalities, was apparent; the amount of experience, wisdom and ability of our instructors is mind boggling. I found their backgrounds fascinating and decided to profile some of our instructors. This is the first of what I hope to be many profiles featured in this space.

Hilbert BVI Photo












  Mark Hilbert and an NFPA training class in the British Virgin Islands

Mark Hilbert is one of the stars on our training staff who teaches a number of our electrical seminars. In trying to locate photos of Mark, I was able to connect with him in October, 2012 via phone and e-mail before he left for an NFPA training session in Saudi Arabia. Mark travels frequently on behalf of NFPA, providing organizations abroad with the latest code training available. He was able to send me some interesting photos, one of which is included in this post. Here’s a quick profile on Mark.

Mark R. Hilbert was the Chief Electrical Inspector for the State of New Hampshire (retired 2010) and a licensed master electrician in two states. He is a certified Electrical Inspector by the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, past president of the Granite State Chapter and Eastern Section and is the 4th Vice President on the International Board of Directors. He is a principle member and Chair of the NFPA 79 Committee (Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery) representing IAEI and a former member of Code Making Panel 4. He is a principle member and chair of CMP 2 on the NEC Committee and 1st Vice President of the IAEI. He is an Executive Board member of the Electrical Section of NFPA and a seminar instructor for NFPA and IAEI. He has taught the NEC and NFPA 70E nationally and internationally.

April, 1979 to present
August, 1982 to present
August, 2000 to Present
*National Electrical Code Consultant and Seminar Instructor
August, 1998 to Present
Member Electrical Section
September, 2004 to Present
Electrical Section Board of Directors

October, 1993 to Present
*National Electrical Code Seminar Instructor
October, 2008 to Present
International Board of Directors, 2nd Vice President
October, 2002 to March 2008
October, 2003 to Present
Principle Member representing IAEI
August, 2008 to Present
Technical Committee Chair

November 18, 1995 to present
November 18, 1995 to present
April 20, 1996 to present
January, 2002 to present

Wildfire watch"I've become a pro at skimming headlines to stay on top of wildfire news, but in saving time, I can lose the ability to offer informed assessments of a topic," admits NFPA Journal columnist Molly Mowery in the latest edition of the magazine. 

Delving deeper into the actual wildfire reports that news outlets tend to briefly summarize can clarify aspects of a fire and its response that never made it to print. For example, Mowery points to articles published after the release of the USDA report on the 2010 Fourmile Canyon fire near Boulder, Colorado. Several newspapers questioned the effectiveness of fuels treatment, but Mowery says the actual report indicates that "no general inference could be made about the fuel treatment efficacy."

Carving out time for in-depth discussions with peers is one way to get the full story on wildland fires. Check out Mowery's other suggestions in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.

A Chicago fireman climbs a ladder to one of the second floor classrooms.  (Photo courtesy

This past weekend marked the 55th annivesary of one of the most tragic school fires to ever take place in the United States. On December 1, 1958, 95 people lost their lives in the Our Lady of the Angels Roman Catholic grade school in Chicago. It was the deadliest school fire in U.S. history and the first in decades that resulted in a large death toll. Not only did it reminded Americans of some major uncorrected fire hazards in U.S. schools, but it also shone a light on other hazards that had not been widely recognized before. It is one of the reasons many fire and life safety codes and standards are enforced in schools across the country today.

Read an NFPA Journal online exclusive from 2008 for a detailed look at what happened that day in Chicago and what advances in school fire safety have been made in the past five decades. Also see the official memorial site for the Our Lady of Angels fire.

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