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Samantha Hoffmann, public and life safety officer and PIO for the Barrie Fire & Emergency Service in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, received the 2014 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year award today at NFPA’s 2014 Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

NFPA’s Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year Award recognizes a fire and life safety educator who works for a local fire department, uses NFPA's materials in consistent and creative ways, demonstrates excellence and innovation in reaching out to the community, and views NFPA as the source for safety information.

Hoffmann has used NFPA materials since 1989, implementing the Learn Not to Burn program for use among younger hospital patients, as well as successfully introducing the program in every school in North York after joining the North York Fire Department in Toronto in 1996. Hoffmann also reaches out to older audiences with the Remembering When™ program.

NFPA recognizes that educators like Hoffmann are instrumental in the distribution of NFPA materials and messages, and in keeping their communities safe. Along with the award, she has also earned a $1,000 honorarium and free travel to Las Vegas. The Barrie Fire and Emergency Service will also receive a $1,000 donation to support public education activities.

Read the full news release for more details about Sarah Hoffmann's accomplishments using NFPA's programs.

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While cruising through Las Vegas for NFPA’s 2014 Conference and Expo, NFPA’s official mascot Sparky the Fire Dog® made a special visit to the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Las Vegas (BGCSLV) this morning. In front of some 50 children ages 5 to 11, Sparky held a fun, informative fire safety lesson that focused on the importance of smoke alarms and testing them monthly. He also wagged his tail to NFPA’s “What’s that sound?” video, which reminds everyone that if you hear a “beep, beep, beep, if there’s a fire, you’ve got to move your feet!”

A special thanks to the Northern Las Vegas Fire Department who also participated in the event and brought along their fire truck, sharing cool facts about how they use it to fight fires. Last but not least, a huge kudos to the parents of all the BGCSLV children – they were an incredibly polite, well-behaved group!

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Phil Stittleburg  and sparky

At this afternoon's Opening General Session during the first day of NFPA Conference & Expo, we announced the theme of the 2014 Fire Prevention Week. To make the announcement, Chairman of the Board Phil Stittleburg joined NFPA's very lovable mascot, Sparky the Fire Dog. 

“Working Smoke Alarms Save Lives:  Test Yours Every Month!” is the theme for Fire Prevention Week 2014, October 5-11. 

Smoke alarms can make a life-saving difference in a fire, but they need to be working. Unfortunately, many home fire deaths result from fires where a smoke alarm is present but does not operate. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme focuses on motivating people to test their smoke alarms each month to make sure they’re working properly.

Please visit our FPW website, for information, statistics, tools and other FPW related assets that will be useful for your campaigns this year. 


Shannon award

In recognition of outstanding leadership, vision and commitment to reducing fire loss through advocacy, the NFPA honored outgoing President Jim Shannon with the first James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal. The special honor was presented to Mr. Shannon at the Opening General Session of NFPA’s Conference & Expo in Las Vegas on June 9, 2014.

The James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal was established to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the fire loss problem through advocacy. The Medal Selection Committee considers several criteria, including the impact of the individual’s efforts toward NFPA’s mission, reducing fire loss, and the extent to which the efforts are collaborative beyond NFPA.

Mr. Shannon will conclude his 12-year tenure as NFPA president in June with an exceptional record of advocacy to reduce fire loss. Under his leadership, NFPA has considerably advanced its mission of fire safety, better protecting the general public and members of the fire service.

Shannon spearheaded the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, which quickly led to every state passing legislation requiring that cigarettes meet a specific fire safety standard. In collaboration with the fire service and others, this initiative will save hundreds of lives including the lives of firefighters who are at risk every time they respond to a cigarette related fire.

Following the success of the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes, Shannon intensified NFPA’s work to advocate for mandating home fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes, another critical safeguard to enhance public safety and better protect our nation’s fire service. 

Watch the presentation of the Advocacy Medal to Mr. Shannon and a special video tribute made in his honor.


Robert Marshal (center) of Bunge North America accepts the Industrial Fire Protection Section award from Tom Fangman, Corporate Risk Managera for SunCoke Energy, and chair of NFPA's Industrial Fire Protection Section, and NFPA Chair Philip Stittleburg.

The winner of the 2013 Industrial Fire Protection Section Fire Prevention Week 2013 Award is Bunge North America from St. Louis. Bunge North America is the largest operating division of Bunge Limited, a global agriculture and food company. This award was created to recognize businesses that promote fire and related safety messages to its employees and their communities during 2013 Fire Prevention Week.

Bunge North America is receiving this award due to their commitment to spreading fire safety messages throughout the company and their communities. Some of the activities included hosting office-wide safety talks on the proper use of fire extinguishers and reviewing office evacuation procedures. They also hosted an information session on home fire prevention tips, featuring an inspector from the Missouri Division of Fire Safety.

Harry C. Bigglestone Award

This year Harry C. Bigglestone Award for Excellence in Communication of Fire Protection Concepts is shared by two papers:  “Probabilistic Evaluation of Structural Fire Resistance” by Ann Jeffers, Qianru Guo, Kaihang Shi, and Zili Jia of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan and “Predicting Human Behavior During Fires”by Erica Kuligowski of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Out of the 44 papers published in 2013 which were eligible for the award, these two papers were first among those nominated by the Editorial Board and then judged to be the best papers by the panel formed by the Associate Editors.

“Probabilistic Evaluation of Structural Fire Resistance” and “Predicting Human Behavior during Fires” both appeared in quarterly 2013 issues of Fire Technology, which is available for free access to NFPA members.

Jeffers’ paper reveals the full power of the probabilistic approach to evaluate the fire resistance of a structure given the uncertainties of key fire and structural parameters. It serves as a major boost for the structural reliability of fire protection and will help close the gap with more mature structural hazard calculations such as wind and earthquakes where the probabilistic evaluation is already in use.

Kuligowski’s paper serves as an in-depth review of human behavior models during building fires, an emerging topic gaining great strength and a promising future in Fire Technology. In addition, the paper also addresses the importance of model robustness and validation while identifying knowledge gaps within the material.

 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.

James K. Lathrop, vice president of Koffel Associates, Inc., received this year’s Standards Medal for his longtime dedication and contributions towards NFPA technical committees. Colloquially known as “Mr. Life Safety,” Lathrop has spearheaded numerous projects including the NFPA Life Safety ® Project, and has edited four editions of the NFPA Life Safety Code® Handbook. He has also testified on a wide range of fire safety issues before U.S. House and Senate subcommittees, as well as serving as NFPA’s Chief Life Safety Engineer from 1983 to 1991.

The Standards Medal is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to fire safety and the development of codes and standards. It is also the most distinguished award given by NFPA’s Standards Council.

The winning project of the 2014 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal is “Best Practices for Emergency Response to Incidents Involving Electric Vehicles Battery Hazards: A Report on Full-Scale Testing Results.” The Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal recognizes a project completed in 2013 that best exemplifies the Foundation’s fire safety mission and the collaborative approach to execution that is the hallmark of all its projects. The winner is recommended to the chair of the Foundation’s Board by an awards committee made up of members of the Board, Research Advisory Committee, and NFPA technical staff members. Exponent, Inc. employees R. Thomas Long, Jr., Andrew F. Blum, Thomas J. Bress, and Benjamin R.T. Cotts, authored the report.

This project was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (the Idaho National Laboratory), the U.S. Department of Transportation (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. In addition, three groups of panelists (main panel, emergency responder panel, and battery technology panel), provided guidance and expertise to the project. The purpose of the project was to conduct a research program to develop the technical basis for best practices of emergency response procedures for electric drive vehicle battery incidents. Additionally, the research considered certain details, including suppression methods and agents, personal protective equipment (PPE), and clean-up/overhaul operations. Full-scale testing of large format Lithium-ion batteries used in these vehicles was also a critical component of the project.

Mandalay Bay

We are in Las Vegas this week for the NFPA Conference & Expo. We're spreading across the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to cover the big events. Be sure to keep up on the latest news by reading our conference blog

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NFPA Conference & Expo education sessions have kicked off this morning and one of the first attendees got a chance to sit in was done by Casey Grant of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. Casey's presentation covered an ongoing Foundation research project funded by NIST, titled, "Creatng the research road map for the smart firefighter of the future." 

The key concept of this project, SMART, refers to specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and timely items. Gathering of data (using sensors), processing the data (computation), and use of the data (targeted decision making) are the three areas that the world of cyber physical systems cover. As a point of reference, in 2013, we produced 5 exabyte of data every 10 minutes, however from the dawn of civilization to 2003, humankind generated 5 exabytes of data in total, so you can see the progression of how much faster and more readily available this information is becoming. 

Smart clothing, augmented reality, robotics, satellitel information, drones, smartphone apps, fully interoperable equipment are all examples of smart, data rich tools that firefighters may use to make their jobs safer, more efficient, or reducing loss of lives and property. PPE and equipment, apparatus and equipment, building systems, and infrastructure & community data systems can be utilized to gather this data. 

To learn more or stay up to date on future research, the project's status and information is available on the Foundation website

Download the handouts for Casey's presentation on smart fire fighting through the Conference website (registration required). 

Becki WhiteBecki White with the Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Fire Department, provided some pointed comments to homeowners and potential homebuyers in a recent op-ed for Fire Engineering. Her thought-provoking argument ties home fire sprinklers to carbuyer's options--leather interior, heated seats, and others--and the safety features not up for discussion.

"There are many features we expect to be included, like seat belts, air bags, crumple zones," stated White. "They aren't priced out as amenities. If the salesperson asked you to choose between air bags and heated, leather seats, you'd be outraged as a consumer. How dare he?"

That same outrage, added White, should occur when looking at a spec sheet for a new home. Read the post on this issue by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

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