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February 26, 2013 Previous day Next day

Thomas Fabian
Thomas Fabian of Underwriters Laboratories

At this week's Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference, Thomas Fabian with Underwriters Laboratories highlighted new data from recent fire tests in two-story residential structures. The majority of the research focused on the performance of ionization and photoelectric smoke detection technologies. Some of Mr. Fabian's findings include:

  • Ionization alarms activated earlier than photoelectric alarms in flaming fires
  • Photoelectric alarms activated earlier than ionization alarms in smoldering fires
  • Closing bedroom doors retarded alarm activation by 75-150 seconds for fires in adjacent rooms and less than 600 seconds for fires in remote areas.

Learn more about ionization and photoelectric alarms, as well as NFPA's smoke alarm safety tips.

How will today's ever-evolving technology impact NFPA provisions related to fire alarm and signaling requirements?

NFPA Journal columnist Wayne Moore of Hughes Associates addressed this question at the Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET) in Orlando, Florida. The use of ethernet and other non-fire and non-EMS networks has not yet made its way into NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, yet the interest to possibly include relevant requirements has been expressed to the code's committee.

Wayne Moore of Hughes Associates

In response to this interest, the NFPA 72 Correlating Committee on Signaling Systems has established a task group to develop proposals around ethernet, local area networks, and wide area networks for fire alarm systems, fire evacuations, and mass notification systems for possible inclusion in the code's 2016 edition.

Another SUPDET session focused on ANSI/UL 2572, a performance standard which was released in 2011, that complements performance requirements in NFPA 72. Larry Shudak with Underwriters Laboratories discussed UL's standard and its focus on mass notification systems in various settings. The specific areas the standard addresses are system construction, product marketing, and testing related to reliability and performance per NFPA 72. (Read the extended abstract of Shudak's presentation.)


Sparky in the Spotlight

Posted by ryan.quinn Employee Feb 26, 2013

Sparky was back in front of the camera yesterday, shooting his latest video.  To get the lowdown on the project, we spoke with NFPA senior product manager Steve Dornbusch - aka "The Dogfather.", what was yesterday’s video shoot for?
We were shooting Sparky's new video for the 2013 Fire Prevention Week - October 6 - 12.

Was there anything different about this shoot, compared to the others?
There's something different this year. Along with live action interaction, Sparky has some new puppet friends to help him teach fire safety. I hope people find them as much fun as I do.  We also have two new songs. started really early and were still shooting into the night, how did it go?
Actually we're still shooting, but so far its going great.  NFPA is a great place to shoot video. We've used a few different locations in the building including the cafeteria, our studio, and some wonderful scenes in front of the atrium waterfall.

IMG_2683When and where will people be able to see the finished product? DVD will be available June 1. 2013. However, the music videos from it will be put on Youtube and sometime this summer, just in time for FPW.

Thanks Steve.

Rest assure dear readers than I'll be on the lookout for any other Sparky sighting within these hallowed halls.  In the meantime, if you're keen to see Sparky's skills in front of the camera (and who isn't?) head over to or the NFPA page on Youtube.


A trio of sessions at this week's Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET) in Orlando focused on cooking fires, which accounts for 44 percent of reported home fires and 16 percent of home fire deaths, according to NFPA statistics.

Presenters from Underwriters Laboratories and the University of Maryland, for example, discussed their joint study on identifying predictors that could prevent flaming, stovetop fires. Oxygen and gas concentrations were analyzed during eleven scenarios--including cooking bacon and ground beef in a pan--at the stove, hood, and ceiling levels.

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 2.41.21 PM

Similarly, researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar and Underwriters Laboratories India discussed their analysis on parameters that can be used to predict probable occurrences of cooking fires. They noted a similar problem with cooking fires in their country, but added that the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in kitchens is a problem catered to Indian culture. Though more research is required on this issue, the researchers noted that a "multi-level response" for kitchen fires--including an alarm and cutting off the LPG fuel supply--might help get a handle on this problem. 

Gandhinagar Kitchen Fire Safety
Akshay Jain of IIT Gandhinagar and Adnan Ansari of Underwriters Laboratories India, present "Standard Cooking Fire Scenarios for Imminent Fire Detection" at SUPDET 2013. Read an abstract of their presentation.

Daniel Gottuk of Hughes Associates ended the cooking fires segment of the conference with his presentation on a study that aims to develop a standard fire test for cooking fire prevention technologies. The study is a follow-up to a Fire Protection Research Foundation project ("Home Cooking Fire Mitigation: Technology Assessment") completed in 2011 that identified and assessed these technologies. The objectives of the new study are as follows:

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 2.15.43 PM

"There are [cooking fire] technologies that are being used and researched," said Gottuk. "There needs to be a standard way to evaluate these technologies on a consistent basis."

Visit the SUPDET 2013 page for more information all of the conference's topics.

Related: Cooking is the leading cause of home structure fires and civilian home fire injuries. This is true for both fires reported to fire departments and those handled without fire department assistance. Download a free copy of NFPA's "Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment" report by Marty Ahrens. 

SupDet attendees

The 17th annual “Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium” (SupDet) kicked off this morning in Orlando. This event, organized by the Fire Protection Research Foundation, brings together more than 100 professionals in the fire alarm, suppression and emergency communication industries, to hear the latest developments fire detection research, sprinkler protection strategies, clean agent technology research, and other topical issues.

Tomorrow, a special Suppression Research Charette will feature several interactive sessions focused on solutions to protection challenges, including an examination of water mist as an equivalent protection solution to sprinklers for selected suppression scenarios.

The Foundation thanks Siemens Industry, Inc. SimplexGrinnell, and UL for their generous sponsorship and contributions to this event.

About the Foundation

The Fire Protection Research Foundation plans, manages, and communicates research on a broad range of fire safety issues in collaboration with scientists and laboratories around the world. The Foundation is an affiliate of NFPA. See a list of Foundation reports and projects.

John Bullough receives Mengel Award
John Bullough of the Lighting Research Center, RPI, receives the Ronald K. Mengel award from Amanda Kimball of the Fire Protection Research Foundation.

John Bullough of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center, was honored this morning in Orlando for having the best presentation in the detection portion of the Research Foundation’s 2012 symposium.

Mr. Bullough, who spoke last March on the “Characteristics of Light-Emitting Diode Sources: Relevance for Visual Signal Detection” during the Foundation’s SupDet event, received the Ronald K. Mengel Award.

The award, voted on by last year’s SupDet participants, was named in honor of Mr. Mengel who was a significant industry contributor to research in support of NFPA detection and signaling codes and standards.

Mr. Bullough will present another paper later today at the Research Foundation’s 17th annual Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications symposium (SupDet) here in Orlando. He will be speaking on the “Influence of Visual Signal Flash Intensity and Duration of Perception”. Mr. Bullough has been studying LEDs as emergency signaling lighting, specifically, the intensity of the light and the duration of the light bursts, and how those impact their effectiveness.

NFPA’s Fred Durso recently talked with Mr. Bullough about his research.


Related content: Fire Protection Research Foundation report - "Performance Objectives for Light Sources Used in Emergency Notification Appliances", J.D. Bullough, Y. Zhu, Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, May 2012

Jim Milke keynote presentation

As the keynote speaker at the Fire Protection Research Foundation symposium (SupDet) today in Orlando, Jim Milke, chair of the department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland, delivered a talk on the comparative loss of life and injury analysis in commercial, industrial and education institution housing. Mr. Milke said that following a previous study conducted on residencies, hotels and health care facilities, a new project is evaluating the benefits of smoke detectors and sprinklers in these occupancies.

NFPA's Fred Durso recently talked to Mr. MIlke about the research project. 

StandardsDirectoryThe 2013 NFPA Standards Directory is now available for download. The directory contains standards development information such as:

  • An introduction to the NFPA standards development process
  • Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards,Technical Meeting Convention Rules, and other procedures
  • NFPA's members of the Board of Directors, Standards Council, management, and external relationships
  • Committee projects and scopes, revision cycle schedules for processing committee reports, and instructions on how to participate in the process.

Download a free copy of the NFPA Standards Directory (PDF, 2.7 MB), your guide to NFPA’s standards development process.


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I'm wondering when the state wildfire officials will begin to put two and two together: invite Steinberg to a meeting in our district and watch the red flags fly!


This is the 2nd time in a month that I've traveled south for Firewise and been met with high fire danger conditions on arrival. Thispretty map from ESRIshows big red arrows signifying wind speeds over 40 miles per hour. And trust me, I can hear and feel the wind from my temporary perch in Georgetown, Texas. I nearly got pushed out of the parking lot of my hotel trying to get from my vehicle to the building. Good thing I overpack: my nice heavy luggage saved me!

Read the full post by NFPA's Michele Steinberg, manager of the Firewise Communities program


On February 26, 1993, a truck bomb exploded in an underground parking garage in the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Six people were killed and more than one thousand others were injured. 

From ABC News
Edward Smith remembers vividly the call from the morgue 20 years ago today, that his pregnant wife had died in the World Trade Center bombing hours before she was supposed to start her maternity leave. "It seems like kind of yesterday sometimes," he told ABC News, "but it seems like a long time ago, too."

Four of the six killed -- Robert Kirkpatrick, 61, Stephen A. Knapp, 47, William Macko, 57, and Monica Rodriguez Smith, 35 -- were employees of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owned the buildings. John DiGiovanni, 45, a dental-supply salesman visiting the World Trade Center, and Wilfredo Mercado, 37, a purchasing agent for Windows on the World restaurant, also died. Read the ABC News report.

World Trade Center evacuees share lessons learned as NFPA starts new behavior study
From NFPA JournalSeptember/October 2002 

Many veterans of the 1993 World Trade Center truck bombing weren’t going to make the same decision on September 11, 2001, that they’d made eight years before.

“Every fiber of my body said ‘I’m getting out of here,’ says Magdalena Brown, who worked for Washington Group International, an engineering firm on the 91st floor of the South Tower. In 1993, she stayed put for hours, then had to walk down 88 flights in the dark.

On the 74th floor of the North Tower, Dharam Pal, chief mechanical engineer for plumbing and fire protection for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, thought the noise he heard was only the explosion of the television antenna transformer on the roof, but he didn’t hesitate to leave immediately. In 1993, he and his coworkers had stayed because they didn’t realize the severity of the situation. Read the entire NFPA Journal article (PDF).

A Study of Human Behavior During the World Trade Center Evacuation

Rita Fahy and Guylene Proulx, PhD
, March/April 1995
This NFPA and the National Research Council of Canada conducted a human behavior study on the World Trade Center bombing that occurred on February 26, 1993. 


September_october_cover_110x145A Decade of Difference
NFPA Journal, September/October 2011
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, NFPA launched a widespread effort to strengthen codes and standards for first responder safety, the built environment, emergency preparedness, and more. Ten years later, those efforts continue — and they’re making America safer. Note: this article includes a sidebar on some of the 9/11-related provisions that have entered NFPA’s codes and standards


NFPA offers safety tips about evacuating buildingsduring an emergency, including information about how high-rise evacuations differ from other buildings.

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