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Shortly after the Columbian Exposition opened in Chicago in 1893, the acting chief of the World’s Fair Fire Department called the exposition’s Cold Storage Building “a miserable fire trap” that would “go up in smoke before long.”

He was right.

The “Looking Back” department in the July/August NFPA Journal explores the factors that caused the deadly fire that killed 14 men. Prioritizing aesthetics over safety as well as a poor choice in building materials played a role in the destruction, which was witnessed by about 50,000 fairgoers.

Eventually, 21 engine companies from the Chicago Fire Department extinguished the blaze before it could spread and cause further damage.


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The NFPA Standards Council will be meeting on August 11-14, 2014 at NFPA Headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts. At this meeting, some of the topics the Council will address include:

  • appeals on the issuance of NFPA 1, NFPA 54, and NFPA 101
  • issuance of the Annual 2014 documents with Certified Amending Motions
  • issuance of proposed TIAs on NFPA 1, NFPA 10, NFPA 37NFPA 45, NFPA 58, NFPA 70, NFPA 70E, NFPA 85, NFPA 99, NFPA 101, NFPA 102, NFPA 400, NFPA 402, NFPA 1192, NFPA 1952, NFPA 1963, NFPA 5000 
  • new projects/documents on selection, care, and maintenance of tactical operations video equipment; selection, care, and maintenance (SCAM) of wildland firefighting clothing and equipment; Community Risk Reduction (CRR) plan; professional practices for facility fire safety planning and fire safety directors.
  • consider requests from Committees to enter new documents NFPA 1616, Standard on Mass Evacuation and Sheltering Program, and NFPA 1072, Standard for Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Emergency Response Personnel Professional Qualifications, into revision cycles.
  • consider requests from Committees to change revision cycle schedules and committee scopes

Read the full Council agenda for further information.

The NFPA Standards Council is a 13-person committee appointed by the NFPA Board of Directors that oversees the Association's codes and standards development activities, administers the rules and regulations, and acts as an appeals body. The Council administers about 250 NFPA Technical Committees and their work on nearly 300 documents addressing topics of importance to the built environment.

Obesity is still a problem in the fire service.According to a recent study, at an even greater rate than the general public. This article highlights the problem and offers some suggestions to combat it.

B2EFB4D9C97249B387A22F48A118C58D.ashxLast August, a Texas man swimming a in Houston-area hotel pool noticed a child in distress in the deep end. He swam to the child and helped him safely out ot the water but could not get out of the pool on his own. When rescuers pulled him out, he went into cardiac arrest and died six days later, a victim of electrocution. The City of Houston and the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation determined that shoddy electrical work performed by licensed electricians resulted in the pool being electrically unsafe.

That was not an isolated incident, says Jeff Sargent in his column “Pool Rules” in the latest issue of NFPA Journal. However, it might have been prevented if the electricians had complied with the requirements of Article 680 in the National Electrical Code® (NEC®).

 For more information on the requirements for electrical installations in swimming pools, read Jeff’s column or consult the NEC itself.


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.


Photo: Firefighters try to hold the flames on the front lines of the Carlton Complex Fire in Central Washington on July 20, 2014.(Photo: Alex Rozier, KING-TV, Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.)

by NFPA's LisaMarie Sinatra

According to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, about 50 fires are now burning across the state and residents continue to brace for the worst as firefighters battle the blazes that have been sparked by hot, dry weather, powerful winds and lightning. The Washington State Department of Natural Resources said over the weekend that firefighters from New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming have made their way to Washington to help fight the fires.

The Carlton Complex Fire, which began as four small fires and now has merged into one, was ignited by lightning, and has burned more than 238,000 acres across the central portion of the state. Fire crews, according to news reports, have been able to hold the fire back, and with cooler temperatures and lighter winds forecast for the next few days, many are hopeful they can make more progress in containing the flames. At the same time, Sheriff Frank Rogers said in a recent news report that the blaze is now moving away from populated areas and into timber.

The Chiwaukum Creek Fire, according to reports, has now burned more than 10,000 acres and thankfully, there have been no reports of injuries nor damage to structures. Residents in the area of Leavenworth, however, remain under an evacuation order.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports that high winds caused the Watermelon Hill Fire, burning southwest of Spokane, to grow from 5,000 acres to 13,000 acres. The good news is, there have been no reports of damaged or destroyed homes there, and the fire has not moved towards populated areas. Few evacuation orders have been made, but residents in the area are all on alert.

NFPA recently distributed an advisory to a number of states experiencing increased wildfire activity, including Washington. The advisory lists a number of resources and information like what to do “before, during and after” a wildfire, the basics of defensible space, a Firewise homeowners checklist and safety tips sheet. All of these are available to help people learn what they can do to reduce their risk of injuries and prevent damage to their homes, property, businesses and more. Check out NFPA’s wildland fire web page for these and other resources to help keep you and your family safe this summer.

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