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January 28, 2013 Previous day Next day Insider

NFPA members only! Register today for the next NFPA Insider presentation being held on January 31 at 2pm (EST). 

NFPA President Jim Shannon will give his first word. In this episode's 'Up to Code' segment, get the latest news and information on the codes and standards process. In the NFPA Journal Live piece, Chad Beebe, Director of Codes and Standards for the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and a member of the NFPA 99 health care facilities committee will join us to discuss, "The Superstorm and the Damage Done: Emergency Planning, Evacuation, and the Lessons of Sandy." And, lots more!

NFPA INSIDER is a live, bi-monthly online session that features expanded news and content from the latest issue of NFPA Journal® and other NFPA sources. Not an NFPA member? Join today.

What can we learn from nightclub fire tragedies, including The Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island in 2003, and the January 27, 2013, fire in Sana Maria, Brazil? Robert Solomon, NFPA's division manager of Building & Life Safety Codes, says that in addition to the adoption, implementation and enforcement of fire and life safety codes, it's vitally important that consumers learn how to protect themselves when they visit nightclubs and other public assembly venues.


Learn more at </p>

!|src=|alt=Looking_back_600|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Looking_back_600|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017c36580b15970b!Another deadly nightclub fire ...but this one happened 23 years ago.&#0160;In the wee hours of March 25, 1990, the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx was packed with young Honduran immigrants celebrating Carnival when Julio Gonzalez, a 36-year-old unemployed Cuban refugee, was ejected from the club after a fight with his former girlfriend. Gonzalez filled a plastic container with $1 worth of gasoline at a nearby gas station, then returned to the club, poured the gas on the floor of the club’s only open entrance, threw in some lit matches, and left. Read about the horrifying aftermath in &quot;Looking Back&quot; in the latest issue of NFPA Journal .

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PublicAssemblySafetyTipsFires in assembly occupancies, like nightclubs, have shown to be some of the most deadly when the proper features, systems and construction materials were not present. Every so often, the unexpected happens. Anyone who enters public assembly buildings needs to be prepared.

Learn more about how you and your loved ones can be best prepared for an emergency at a nightclub or other assembly occupancy. Download our free safety tip sheet.

Just shot a quick interview with Robert Solomon, NFPA's division manager of Building & Life Safety Codes.  Robert is one of the resident experts on nightclub safety and he answered a number of questions about this weekend's deadly fire at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil. 

As of this morning, the death toll currently stands at 231 dead and hundreds more injured. 

We should have the video interview edited and posted on this blog in the next few hours.  Stay tuned.


!|src=|alt=Wildfire suppression|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Wildfire suppression|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef017ee7e46157970d!The cost to fight wildfires is massive (the government spent nearly $2 billion in 2012, for example), but this figure doesn&#39;t take into account the plethora of other expenses associated with these fires, argues columnist Molly Mowery in the latest issue of +NFPA Journal.+

For instance, Mowery points to direct and indirect costs, including facility damage, evacuation aid to displaced residents, long-term rehabilitation costs to watersheds, and public health impacts. A 2009 report released by the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition examined six wildfire case studies and concluded that the total expenses were between two to 30 times greater than reported suppression costs.

"If community leaders were more aware of these impacts, there would be a compelling argument to invest in up-front mitigation solutions that increase resilience to wildfire disasters," says Mowery.


For more information on these potential solutions, learn how a community can become fire adapted, read Mowery&#39;s column, and watch the following video:

About once a month I scan the web to see if there have been

any confined space fatalities.&#0160;

Tragically, I almost always find one, and it is not unusual to find

several fatal confined space incidents. Even worse, there are times I find multiple fatalities in a single confined space


The fatal confined space accident I found this month was
particularly disturbing to me. It seemed so blatantly obvious that the space
and work being performed would require at least some basic confined space entry
procedures, yet none appear to have been followed. 

A company that cleans industrial tanks was hired to clean
the bottom of a 40 x 50 foot 6000 gallon tank that previously contained the
highly toxic solvent, methylene chloride.  
It appears that he “fell” into the tank, and was found unconscious at
the bottom.  The 15 towns responding to
the incident with fire/hazmat/rescue personnel, very quickly realized after
testing the tank’s atmosphere that the 12% oxygen level meant that this would
be a body recovery and not a rescue. 
They then proceeded to take the necessary precautions to protect rescue
workers from suffering the same fate as the 37 year old worker. 


While this fatality is still under investigation by OSHA it

is clear that there were some major problems with this confined space

entry.&#0160; It appears that not just some,

but ALL of the basic confined space entry procedures were ignored.&#0160; If even ONE of the basic confined space entry

procedures had been followed this worker may be alive today.&#0160;&#0160; It appears that no gas monitoring was

performed prior to entry. &#0160;&#0160;If it had

been, the oxygen alarm would have sounded indicating that the atmosphere

required ventilation prior to entry.&#0160;&#0160; If the atmosphere had not been tested, even if the worker had been attached to a

tripod, harness, winch rescue system, he likely would not have fallen or if he

did, his coworker could have pulled him out.&#0160;&#0160;

And sadly, it appears that the worker was not wearing the proper PPE for entry.&#0160;&#0160; A half-mask air purifying respirator was

found near his body.&#0160; Air purifying cartridge

respirators do NOT protect against methylene chloride exposure and NO air

purifying respirator protects against an oxygen deficient environment.&#0160; If the worker did need to enter the tank to clean the residue while the atmosphere was still unsafe, he would have needed to wear a self contained breathing apparatus or an airline respirator with an auxilary self contained breathing supply.&#0160; Further information on the fatal accident can

be found on the web.&#0160;

The question I have is why would an experienced industrial
cleaning company worker have entered this tank without a confined space permit,
air monitoring, ventilation and non entry rescue capability?  Something just does not seem right.  An industrial tank cleaner (and certainly his
employer) should have recognized this was a confined space and should followed
at least some basic confined space procedures. The company website discusses confined space as one of their specialties so this was not a company that was unaware of the hazards of this type of work.   

The medical examiner has now reported that
the worker died of head trauma from the fall.  
 I have to wonder if perhaps the
worker was overcome by methylene chloride vapors in the space ADJACENT to the
tank opening and if he fell into the tank before he had a chance to assess the
hazards and to follow some basic permit required confined space
procedures.  The worker’s partner never
entered the tank but was also taken to the hospital with symptoms, leading me
to believe that he was exposed to  methylene chloride vapors in the adjacent
space outside the tank opening.  The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR) lists methylene chloride as a material that causes dizziness and unsteadiness. [ ASTDR |]indicates that even at low levels of exposure, workers may become less attentive and less accurate at tasks requiring hand eye coordination.  

Unfortunately hazards of adjacent spaces are not generally
recognized and are not covered in OSHA’s permit required confined space entry
standard.  The Chemical Safety Board has noted
the hazards of adjacent spaces in some of their investigations, including the
Valero Case
, and has encouraged NFPA to address adjacent spaces in their Best
Practices Document currently in development.  

The NFPA Technical Committee on Confined Spaces is working
on the development of a best practices document on confined space entry
designed to address gaps in existing confined space standards.   This document will go beyond the regulatory
requirements and provide more prescriptive guidance on how to safely enter,
work and exit from a confined space.  The
recognition and control of adjacent space hazards will be included in this
document.  Do you have any thoughts on
how to address adjacent space hazards or other ideas for what should be
included in the document?  If so please
leave a comment or contact npearce@ 


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