Skip navigation
All Places > NFPA Today > Blog > 2013 > June > 13


Recently, the 100th anniversary (May 13,

1913) that Frances Perkins gave her moving speech, "The Social and Human

Cost of Fire" at the NFPA Annual Meeting in New York City. This speech prompted the NFPA

Executive Committee to create the new “Committee on Safety to Life”. 

Their work of course led to what we now have as NFPA 101, +Life Safety Code+. 

Frances Perkins saw it with her own eyes. She was 30, a social worker living in New York City, and was visiting a friend for Saturday tea in Greenwich Village when the afternoon was split by the wail of sirens. She and her friends ran to the other side of Washington Square, and were among the throngs who witnessed the spectacle of the Triangle fire firsthand.

The fire, and the subsequent impassioned calls to action by labor reformers, had a profound impact on Perkins, and she vowed to take up the reform cause. She wasted little time; by the following year, she had become executive secretary of the Committee on Safety, a non-governmental body formed in the days following the Triangle fire to push for system-wide reforms for worker safety. It was as part of her extensive lobbying efforts that Perkins — who had also become an expert in the minutiae of building safety — addressed the 17th annual meeting of NFPA in May, 1913, in New York. Specifically, Perkins urged the organization to advocate for codes that protected not just buildings, but also the people who worked in them. NFPA created the Committee on Life Safety the following year, and in 1927 issued the Building Exits Code, the forerunner to today’s Life Safety Code®.

Perkins was named Secretary of Labor in 1933 by Franklin Roosevelt, becoming the first female Cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

Read excerpts from her speech  at the NFPA Annual Meeting. 


View Larger Map 

Weather conditions all over Colorado resulted yesterday in a rash of fires in many areas of the state, at least four of them considered large fires, with the Black Forest Fire and Royal Gorge Fire destroying homes and damaging infrastructure in the past 24 hours.

In the case of Black Forest, a resort and retreat area known as La Foret was surrounded by fire forcing evacuation of owners and guests. My NFPA colleague Cathy Prudhomme and I were there on May 4 in support of a pilot Wildfire Preparednes Day of Service in Colorado. As I learned of the fire last evening, I wondered how many of the people I'd met and places I visited would be affected. I also reflected on the fact that so many people kept fire in mind and were willing to set aside a day or more of their time to voluntarily reduce the risk. 

We set aside a special day on May 4 to help Coloradans focus on wildfire preparedness. But it's true that any day, any time, is the time to prepare for wildfire when you live with the risk of this natural phenomenon. The time is now if you are preparing your summer cabin for the season. The time is now if you are completing your spring cleaning and landscape maintenance. The time is now even if you are anxiously awaiting word on status of evacuation. There are things you can do now that can help to save your property, your valuables and your life. The time is now to take action to make your home, family and community safe. 

Use mapper above to zoom to locations where there are Firewise Communities/USA sites and active fires. Data on fires supplied by MODIS interagency system, updated every 24 hours.

The recipients of the 2013 Harry C. Bigglestone Award for Excellence in Communication of Fire Protection Concepts are Kristopher Overholt and Ofodike (D.K.) Ezekoye for their paper, “Characterizing Heat Release Rates Using an Inverse Fire Modeling Technique.” Overholt is a graduate student in civil engineering at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering; Ezekiel is professor in the mechanical engineering department of the same school.

This paper explores an innovative concept that could prove key to the future of fire protection. The winners have developed an algorithm that uses the temperature readings from sensors inside a compartment to find the heat release rate curve of the fire. This contribution directly leads to an enhanced understanding of real fires and opens the way to new forensic reconstructions. As a token of appreciation, Springer has made the paper Open Access.


The Harry C. Bigglestone award is presented annually, along with a $5,000 cash prize, to the author(s) of the most outstanding paper submitted to Fire Technology during the previous calendar year, as voted by the International Editorial Board. This award is named after the late Harry C. Bigglestone, a trustee of the Fire Protection Research Foundation, and fellow and president of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. The award was presented at the General Section Reception at the NFPA Conference & Expo on Tuesday, June 12.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: