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Ikea_600The challenges the retail giant IKEA faces in the design, construction, maintenance, and protection of its stores around the world are enormous, according to Steve Wolin, P.E.

"IKEA’s own design standards help bring consistency to the level of safety in those stores, which are built to a wide variety of local construction requirements," says Wolin in his article "IKEA: Big Retailer Storage Hazard Challenge" in the latest issue of NFPA Journal. And IKEA’s desire to expand ensures that "fresh challenges are never far away." 

As part of its effort to provide the best protection possible for its stores and customers, IKEA co-sponsored a series of tests in 2012, organized through the Fire Protection Research Foundation, to develop protection criteria for exposed expanded plastics stored in racks. Those criteria would be considered for inclusion in NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, and used in hundreds of IKEA stores around the world. 

Pearsall_600Ever wonder who invented the ionization smoke detector? David Lucht, P.E., FSPE tells you who and how in his article "Where There's Smoke" in the latest issue of NFPA Journal

 As Lucht notes, ionization smoke detection wasn’t new. But Duane Pearsall was the first to realize that the basic technology in the ion meter his engineer, Lyman Blackwell, had put together in 1963 to remove electrostatic charges in commercial and industrial applications "held the potential for a new kind of smoke detector." Over the past 50 years, Pearsall's work has had a profound influence on fire safety around the world, saving tens of thousands of lives that might otherwise have been lost to fire.

Late last week, I traveled to Worcester Polytechnic University to interview David Lucht, the founder of the school's Fire Protection Department.  Professor Lucht is the author of "Where There's Smoke" - a feature in the upcoming issue of NFPA Journal. The story chronicles Duane Pearsall's unintended "discovery" of a technology that launched a revolution in affordable home smoke alarms, and his subsequent efforts to bring the device to market. In this photo, Professor Lucht holds an example Pearsall's first smoke detector (circa 1972).  Crude by today's standards, It was combined a number of innovations (portable, affordable, and battery-operated) that made it hugely successful with the American public and helped save thousands of lives.

Both the video interview with David, and the story will be available later this week, so stay tuned.

Standards GuideThe National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and NFPA have teamed up to develop a guide to assist departments in understanding and implementing NFPA standards. "Understanding and Implementing Standards" examines three major NFPA standards relating to safety and health and offers clarification, identifies manageable steps, and highlights available resources to help departments reach their safety goals. Information regarding the standards making process is also provided.

Download a free copy of Understanding and Implementing Standards (PDF, 10 MB).

The guide breaks down the following standards:

  • NFPA 1500; Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program
  • NFPA 1720; Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Departments
  • NFPA 1851; Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting

In addition to the guide, the NVFC has created an online resource center highlighting documents and tools that can assist a department in implementing these standards. The resource center also promotes the sharing of best practices by providing sample SOPs/SOGs and first hand accounts from departments who have implemented the standards.


The requirements for using antifreeze in a sprinkler system have been constantly changing over the past few years. For New Englanders (or anyone willing to drive/fly/ski to New England) looking for a comprehensive look at the "how and why" behind these changes and an update on where NFPA 13, 13R , 13D and 25 landed on this topic, I will be presenting this information at the 11th Biennial Fire Protection Systems Product Show held in Randolph, MA this thursday at 3:00 PM. For more information, or to register for this event, visit the New England Association of Fire Protection System Designers website at

I have two dogs and they love any kind of treats.  As a matter of fact, they go bonkers for them.  Sparky the Fire Dog loves treats too and it's his birthday so we're celebrating all month long.  For Sparky’s party, we made some easy dog treats.  So why not throw a party for your dog? 

Check out for the cool-to-dos and check out Sparky the Fire Dog’s party kit that provides everything you need to create a special day for your little firefighter!


- April Briggs

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