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Firewatch for blog
An 84-year-old woman died and two people were injured in a fire that started when one of the occupants fell asleep while smoking in bed. The fire began in the first-floor apartment of a three-unit apartment building in Massachusetts. The three-story, wood-frame structure had local smoke alarms in each apartment, as well as interconnected, hardwired smoke detectors in all the common spaces. The building had no sprinklers. The home oxygen the occupant was using intensified the blaze. 

That's the start of one of the fires profiled in "Firewatch" in the new May/June issue of NFPA Journal. "Firewatch" is a regular department that details fires around the country in a range of occupancies, including residential, health care, manufacturing, and more. 

Hybrid systemHybrid suppression systems are a new fire suppression technology used to protect a variety of spaces ranging from machinery enclosures to computer server rooms. These new hybrid systems utilize both an inert gas (typically nitrogen) as well as a fine water mist to provide fire suppression and/or extinguishment more efficiently than standalone inert gas or water mist systems.

Recently, the industry has brought hybrid suppression technology to the public, in the form of two commercial fire suppression systems. Despite the growing interest in the hybrid suppression technology, including FM Approval’s release of FM Approval Standard 5580 for Hybrid Fire Extinguishing System, there is not an NFPA Standard that governs such a system’s installation, inspection, or application. Because hybrid suppression systems resemble water mist or inert gas systems in many aspects, this has posed the question of whether or not a hybrid suppression system can be standardized as a water mist, inert gas, or whether it should be listed as a new system classification. This decision greatly affects the way a hybrid suppression system is installed and used.

The NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation employed the University of Maryland’s Fire Protection Engineering Department to research the existing literature, tests, and approvals from various manufacturers and insurers. The report, a "Literature Review on Hybrid Fire Suppression Systems" authored by Peter Raia, Michael J. Gollner was then developed. 

Since the technology is new to the market, there is not a lot of information regarding hybrid suppression systems. However, the information found provided some information on how a hybrid suppression system should be classified and whether or not the new technology may deserve its own standard or not.

A 5EACD0390E0147F18179B24BB16B408Ds we try to identify alternative energy sources, says Nick Barilo, a project manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, hydrogen-powered fuel cells have the potential to replace the internal combustion engine and  provide power in a range of stationary and portable applications. Because its use as a fuel is still relatively new, however, the proper methods of handling, storage, and transportation of hydrogen are often not well understood by those who are affected by its use.

One problem is that hydrogen is flammable in atmospheric conditions. When mixed with air, it can form a flammable mixture that is easy to ignite and burns with an almost invisible flame. This flammability is, in part, why hydrogen safety standards, among them NFPA 2, Hydrogen Technologies Code, have been developed.

For more on the subject of hydrogen safety and the work of the Hydrogen Safety Panel, established in 2003 to support the U.S. Department of Energy's efforts to commercialize fuel cell technologies, read Barilo's article "The H Factor" in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal.

We have just released an updated Learn Not to Burn® (LNTB) Preschool Program, which was created to address young children’s increased risk to home fire fatalities.

Learn Not to Burn preschool coverThe Learn Not to Burn series has served as a pillar of NFPA educational programs for more than 40 years.The revised preschool curriculum features five lessons, which include new and original content:

  • Firefighters are community helpers
  • When you hear a smoke alarm, get outside and stay outside
  • Practice a fire drill with your family
  • Stay away from hot things
  • Tell an adult if you see matches or lighters

All of the program’s behaviors and strategies are guided by research addressing fire and life safety messaging for young children. This includes the use of positively-framed messages, age-appropriate learning activities, and encouragement of family involvement.

The program targets children ages 3-5, but it’s also appropriate for the Kindergarten level, with elements that support successful learning up through grades one and two. The updated program integrates literacy, movement, music and dramatic play; each lesson taps into young children’s varied learning styles to reinforce specific safety concepts.

NFPA encourages fire safety educators and teachers to use the Learn Not to Burn Preschool Program as part of their annual curriculum. The complete program can be downloaded online at no cost.

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