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Supdet crowd
Day three of the Fire Protection Research Foundation's "Fire Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium" (SUPDET) being held this week in Orlando is focusing on the latest technologies and research on fire detection. Paper topics included mass notification, signaling and notification, unwanted alarms, and nuisance alarms.

In addition to the papers already featured in previous blog posts, the following presentations were offered in Orlando:

Ken Modeste of Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.

Security Implications Associated with Mass Notification Systems
Ken Modeste, Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.

Parameters for Indirect Viewing of Visual Signals Used in Emergency Notification
John D. Bullough, Ph.D., Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Robert P. Schifiliti, P.E., R.P. Schifiliti Associates, Inc.

Bruce Olson of AMFG Technologies

Design for Speech Intelligibility Using Software Modeling
Bruce Olson, AMFG Technologies 

Lance Ruetimann of Siemens Switzerland, Ltd.

Reducing False Alarms - A case study of selected European countries
Lance Ruetimann – Siemens Switzerland Ltd.

Analysis of the Response of Smoke Detectors to Smoldering Fires and Nuisance Sources 
Jim Milke, Ph.D., University of Maryland

Tom Cleary of NIST, Tom Fabian of Underwriters Laboratories, and Amanda Kimball of the Fire Protection Research Foundation spoke about current research efforts on nuisance alarms.

Next Steps for Nuisance Alarms
Amanda Kimball, P.E., Fire Protection Research Foundation

UL 217 STP Task Group Development of Foam Tests
Tom Fabian, Ph.D., Underwriters Laboratories

NIST Research on Kitchen Fire Prevention and Nuisance Alarms
Tom Cleary, Ph.D., National Institute of Standards and Technology

Richard Roberts of Honeywell Life Safety spoke about the requirements on nuisance alarms in NFPA 72 during the Research Foundation symposium in Orlando.

Smoke alarms and detectors are designed to detect a fire in its early stage and alert people so they have time to escape. Home fire fatalities have decreased dramatically over the past few decades. And while that reduction cannot be solely attributed to the use of smoke detection devices, many researchers agree that they played a substantial role.

According to Richard Roberts, Industry Affairs Manager for Honeywell Life Safety, nuisance alarms, most often caused by cooking, are the leading cause of home occupants disabling their smoke alarms. Disabled alarms account for roughly 20% of all smoke alarms, and that number may be higher in high-risk areas, such as inner cities and rural communities.

In the 2013 edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, two new sections were added to the code to address nuisance alarms. The first would require that by 2016, home smoke alarm systems installed between 8-20 feet from a cooking appliance be listed for resistance to common nuisance alarms. The second would require that by 2019, all home smoke alarm systems be listed for resistance to common nuisance alarms.

However, Mr. Roberts said that performance test protocols need to be developed and added to the UL smoke detection product standards – a process that is expected to take up to five years. And because of a current lack of technical data needed to develop those protocols, a motion was filed and approved through the NFPA code development process to push out the effective date of the first requirement to 2019. 

Read an overview of Mr. Robert’s presentation on the requirements on nuisance alarms in NFPA 72.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation has launched Phase 1 of a new project, "Smoke Alarm Nuisance Source Characterization" that is intended to provide data for the development of test protocols in ANSI/UL 217 and ANSI/UL 268 product standards in order to meet the NFPA 72 requirements. A report on Phase 1 is expected to be released this spring.

During today's symposium, Dr. Daniel Gottuck of Hughes Associates, Inc., provided an overview of the Research Foundation project.

Mengel award
Thomas Fabian and Robin Zevotek receive the Ronald K. Mengel award from Amanda Kimball of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. Professor Milke was not available for the award presentation.

Robin Zevotek, James Milke, and Thomas Fabian were honored this morning in Orlando for having the best presentation in the detection portion of last year's Research Foundation’s symposium.

The authors, who spoke last March on the “Cooking Fire Prevention” during the Foundation’s SupDet event, received the Ronald K. Mengel Award. The award, voted on by symposium attendees, 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. Zevotek is a research engineer at Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., Professor Milke is chair of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland, and Mr. Fabian is a fire research manager at Underwriters Laboratories Inc.  

<p><a class="asset-img-link" style="display: inline;" href="" target="_blank"><img class="asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a3fccdcd39970b img-responsive" style="width: 450px;" title="Devon_Coquillard" src="" alt="Devon_Coquillard" /><br /></a><em>Devon Coquillard of the Florida Division of Emergency Management speaks about social media at the Research Foundation symposium in Orlando.</em></p>
<p>If you want to use social media to help spread your agency’s message during an emergency, you need to get your platforms up and running now. <strong>Devon Coquillard</strong> of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), speaking at the <a href="" target="_blank">Research Foundation’s symposium</a> in Orlando, manages social media for FDEM. She says an increasing number of associations and agencies are jumping on the social media bandwagon – and says you can’t wait until a crisis occurs before you fire up your Twitter account.</p>
<p>The world has become a digital social society, with an estimated 20% of our computer time spent on social platforms. Ms. Coquillard says effective social media for crisis communication is about engagement -- both listening and messaging -- and taking advantage of having online “eyes and ears” throughout your community.  </p>
<p>Establishing a solid purpose and goals, as well as “voice and tone” for your social crisis communications are important first steps, she says. She suggests tapping into existing partnerships to build online followers and using analytic tools to measure your progress.</p>
<p><a href="" target="_blank">Watch Ms. Coquillard’s online presentation</a>. </p>
<p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="" src="" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="450"></iframe></p>


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Dr. Bryan Hoskins spoke about how to communicate safety messages to vulnerable populations at the Research Foundation symposium in Orlando.


How can we make sure vulnerable populations receive and understand emergency messages? During his presentation today at the Research Foundation symposium in Orlando, Bryan Hoskins, Ph.D. of Oklahoma State University, provided an overview of how vulnerable populations, including the visually and hearing impaired, those with cognitive disabilities or in unfamiliar locations, the elderly, children, and others, may experience difficulty in understanding warnings provided during an emergency.

With this wide range of impairments, Dr. Hoskins says that at any given moment, 50% or more of our populations may be considered to be vulnerable during an emergency.

Dr. Hoskins says traditional warning horns and strobes are effective in alerting many people to an emergency, but some vulnerable populations may be unable to respond or understand the actions they are expected to perform. In these instances, he says, voice or text notifications may be needed.  He noted that a literature review of this issue resulted in a series of recommendations on emergency messaging for a variety of populations, including:

    • All information should be provided both visually and audibly

    • Alarms should be distinct for each type of emergency

    • Messages should be simple in terms of vocabulary and number of instructions

    • Messages should have the more important information at the beginning and the end

    • Messages should be repeated frequently and at a slow pace


View Dr. Hoskins' presentation on communicating with vulnerable populations.




!|border=0|src=|alt=NFPA Evacuation guide|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px; border: 1px #000000;|title=NFPA Evacuation guide|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01a73d89039c970d img-responsive!NFPA's free "Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities" provides information on the general categories of disabilities (mobility, visual, hearing, speech, and cognitive) and the evacuation information that occupants need. It also includes a checklist that building services managers and people with disabilities can use to design a personalized evacuation plan.</p> </li> </ul>

The First Draft report for NFPA 1710 is posted at  The committee has added new occupanices (garden style apartment and high-rise) to the deployment model.  

Deadline for submittal of Comments is May 16, 2014 (April 11 for paper) at 5pm Eastern. Please submit your comments by the deadline for the committee to act on at its second draft meeting. 

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