Skip navigation
All Places > NFPA Today > Blog > 2015 > January

In addition to a full SupDet suppression and detection program this year, the Foundation will feature a workshop on inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire protection systems and emerging challenges.  The workshop, (free to SupDet participants) will address recent questions raised about what constitutes proper ITM activities. Some of the questions that will be considered are:

  • How much do current ITM requirements improve the effectiveness of fire protection systems? Are there gaps?
  • How are ITM programs being implemented currently? What is needed by enforcers?
  • Are additional activities, such as design evaluations or re-commissioning, warranted?
  • On the other side, what is the cost/benefit ratio of ITM activities? Is there a technical basis for the required frequencies?

The goal of this workshop is to establish a research plan on the topic of ITM and fire protection system effectiveness.


Yesterday, we posted to Facebook asking people to remember to shovel out their hydrants to help the fire service in case of emergency, and many of you sent in photos of your cleared hydrants. This timely story came up in our news feed and perfectly demonstrates the benefit of shoveling (so thanks to everyone who has!).

Members of the Salem, NH fire department are digging out the town’s hydrants, but it could take several weeks to finish them all. A snow-covered hydrant costs firefighters precious minutes during an emergency. When they pulled up to a home fire Wednesday night, a neighbor had completed this task for them, saving time and the home. 

The fire started when the owner used a blowtorch to melt ice off the back steps of the house, said Captain Jon Brackett. 

“Yeah, I can’t emphasize enough how much we do discourage people from using an open flame to melt snow or ice in an event like this,” Brackett said.

Thanks to the assistance from the neighbor, the closest hydrant was cleared, allowing the firefighters to get water on the fire right away. What a great reminder for  all of us as we are out there shoveling our driveways and sidewalks this winter; take a couple extra minutes and get the hydrants as well!

The NFPA Board of Directors appointed two new members to serve on NFPA’s Standards Council for a three-year term effective January 1, 2015: Patricia A. Gleason of McLean, VA and Gary S. Keith, of Norwood, MA.

Patricia A. Gleason is currently the President and COO of the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI), which operates certification programs for over 50 types of safety and protective products used by millions of workers in the fire & emergency services industry.  In this position, she serves on the Board of Directors of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), as Chair of the ANSI Conformity Assessment Policy Committee, the ANSI Accreditation Committee, and is also an ANSI Appeals Board member.  Ms. Gleason also served on the ISO Working Group 29 that completed the revision of ISO Guide 65, the standard governing the accreditation of third-party certification organizations. She has served on the NFPA Technical Committee on Hazardous Materials Protective Clothing & Equipment since 1998, and the Correlating Committee for Protective Clothing & Equipment since 1995.  She is a member of the American Society for Safety Engineers, and serves as an officer on the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Homeland Security Executive Committee. Ms. Gleason serves as a member of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Special Technical Committees on CBRN Protective Clothing and Equipment for Law Enforcement; and Bomb Suits. Prior to her appointment at SEI in 1994, Ms. Gleason was director of communications with the International Safety Equipment Association and Safety Equipment Institute, where she worked with corporate personnel of safety and protective equipment manufacturers.  From 1984 to 1985 she worked with Keller & Heckman as director of government affairs, and from 1982 to 1984 as a liaison/paralegal with the Federal Communications Commission.  She received her MBA from Marymount University and her BS from Frostburg State University.

Gary S. Keith is the Vice President-Engineering Standards at FM Global, overseeing the development of technical guidance to understand and mitigate the property hazards in client locations.  Prior to returning to FM Global in 2013, he worked 18 years for NFPA serving as Vice President-Field Operations and overseeing six divisions responsible for the outreach of NFPA's fire safety mission.  He has been a member of the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, a project dedicated to public education for residential fire sprinkler systems, since its inception and served as its president from 1996 to 2013.  Prior to NFPA, he worked 15 years for FM Global in various field engineering and management positions.  Mr. Keith also served his home town community for 20 years as a call firefighter and fire protection engineer with the Fire Department in West Bridgewater, MA.  He has a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology and is a graduate of the Management Development program at Harvard Business School.

In addition to adding two new members, current Council members Randall Bradley of Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, and John Rickard of P3 Consulting were each reappointed for a second three-year term starting January 1.  Also, the Board appointed Chad Beebe of ASHE - AHA, who had previously served on an interim basis, to his first official three-year term, also beginning January 1.

The NFPA Standards Council, a 13 member body appointed by the board of directors of NFPA, is charged with overseeing the NFPA standards development process. Generally, the duties of the Council include supervising activities related to NFPA standards development process, acting as administer of rules and regulations, and serving as an appeals body.

house fires
An electrical failure exacerbated by a dried-out Christmas tree was the likely culprit for a house fire on January 19 that reached untenable conditions, killing two grandparents and four children ranging in age from six to eight years old.

The Washington Post reports that a faulty electrical outlet supplying power to lights on the 15-foot tree likely sparked the blaze in the home. “This fire was the result of a tragic accident that occurred at the absolutely worst possible time: while [Don and Sandra Pyle] and their grandchildren were sleeping,” Bill McMullan, who heads the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives office in Baltimore, told the paper. According to NFPA's latest "Fire Loss in the United States" report, electrical distribution or lighting equipment is the fourth leading cause of home fires. Moreover, one out of every 40 reported home fires that begin with a Christmas tree result in death, per NFPA.

In a statement to the press, the victims' family offered these words: "Our hope is that our loss will raise awareness that this tragic event could happen to any family."

The tragedy is also shining a light on home fire sprinklers. For more on this story, visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

PPE blog image
Personal protective equipment (PPE) has always been critical for the safety of first responders, a fact that came into sharp focus during the recent Ebola scare. The small outbreak in the U.S. and larger situation in West Africa has led to many tough questions about the nation’s ability to deal with a future biological disease outbreak in the U.S. 

William Haskell, a PPE expert and project officer in the Policy and Standards Development branch at the NIOSH National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory, is at the forefront of efforts to protect first responders. The January/February issue of NFPA Journal includes an in-depth interview with Haskell, a member of several NFPA technical committees, on possible amendments to NFPA 1999, Protective Clothing for Emergency Medical Operations, as well as the ongoing efforts to keep first responders safe during biological disease outbreaks, and what lessons can be learned from the recent Ebola events impacting emergency responders. The feature, called Mr. PPE, also features a photo spread of several new types of PPE that could be used in responding to biological hazards.

Read the article in the new issue of NFPA Journal, and see a video of the photo shoot online at

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.

654.jpgGuy Colonna, Division Manager, Industrial and Chemical Engineering at NFPA provided updates on recent code rulings and covered several topics.  The first was an update on combustible dust. Guy reviewed major combustible dust incidents and the recent push by the Chemical Safety Board for an OSHA standard.  Currently, grain dust is the only industry regulated by a federal standard.  NFPA is looking to position our standards to be stronger to assist in what OSHA will do.  NFPA 652, Fundamentals of Combustible Dust, is a new standard that is currently in the second draft phase.  It will be available to view in early 2015.  “This standard should re-establish the position in industry that we should be in”, said Guy.


The next topic Guy covered was the progress on the Confined Space Document development.  NFPA 350 will be a confined space guide, not a standard, which will complement the existing OSHA 1910.146 and the ANSI confined space standards.  The first draft is complete and open for public comment.


Guy then provided an update on DOT as it relates to crude oil and rail transportation.  Recently there have been incidents both domestic and in Canada dealing with rail cars and crude oil.  Since there is no pipe line to transport the crude oil more trains and rail cars are being used to ship the crude oil.  This particular grade of crude oil has a very low flash point. The DOT is evaluating the properties of what exactly is being shipped to ensure the tank cars are properly designed and emergency responders are being notified with specific information.  Ethanol is also being carried on some of these freight trains.  If an incident were to occur, you cannot fight ethanol with the typical foam that most community emergency responders have available to them.  It requires alcohol resistant foam that many communities may not currently keep on hand.  Pre-incident planning and coordination is needed with all communities that have these trains passing through them in order to properly prepare for an incident.


Lastly, Guy covered some of the online training modules that are being developed at NFPA.  There is a 3 module training series on NFPA 654 now available.  More information about the training series can be found at:

Looking backThe best that can be said about the 1974 explosion at the Nypro plant in Flixborough, England, is that the casualty count could have been much higher had it not occurred on a Saturday.

The plant manufactured caprolactam, a chemical used to fabricate nylon, using cyclohexane, a colorless, flammable liquid that occurs naturally in crude oil, volcanic gases, and cigarette smoke. On May 29, plant employees discovered a cyclohexane leak, and the plant was shut down for repairs. Production started and stopped twice more before the plant finally went online again at 7 a.m. on June 1. Everything seemed to go smoothly until 4:35 p.m., when the repaired piping ruptured, producing a massive vapor cloud explosion that nearly leveled the entire installation, killing all 18 employees inside the plant’s control room and another 10 elsewhere in the plant.

Read “Looking Back” in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal for more on the Flixborough disaster.

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.

January 2015 Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletterCheck out the new look of NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter. The publication now gives you more of the news stories you crave while better linking you to online resources (all of which are free) that will help you champion for home fire sprinklers. In the latest issue, find information on: 

  • new materials by NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition underscoring what homebuilders need to know about home fire sprinklers
  • a sprinkler law that recently took effect in Minnesota
  • an elected official who initiated a sprinkler ordinance after hearing a perfect pitch

As always, the newsletter is free. Sign up today and start receiving the publication directly to your inbox once a month. 

KidsAccording to Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice-president of Outreach and Advocacy, one of the best way to reach people with important fire-safety messages is to get to the kids.

“Over the years, children have been a key audience for NFPA and fire-safety educators,” she says. “They are great receivers of the fire-safety message, and they’re also great deliverers of that message.”

Now, kids can play an even bigger role in fire safety by participating in The Paradigm Challenge, a new competition developed by Project Paradigm, the American Red Cross, the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, and a coalition of fire safety organizations, including NFPA. The project, which will award up to $100,000 per team for the top 100 teams, is designed to get kids ages 7 to 18 involved in reducing deaths and injuries due to home fires by contributing their own fire safety ideas.

Want to know more about the Paradigm Challenge? Read Carli’s column “The Kids Are Alright” in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal.

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.

Snow removal in South Boston

The statewide travel ban in Massachusetts has been lifted, but the big dig-out from yesterday's storm continues. Here in Boston, schools are closed for a second day and Mayor Martin Walsh is urging residents to work from home, if possible, to allow city workers to continue working to clear roadways.

As my colleague Owen Davis outlined on Monday, NFPA, along with the United States Fire Administration, has issued a collection of resources called "Put a Freeze on Winter Fires" that offers up free information on the leading causes of winter fires, including cooking, heating, and candles. We also provide timely tips on how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning -- including a reminder to clear snow away from your car's exhaust pipe if you're running your car while you're outside shoveling. 

Stay safe and warm!

As Winter Storm Juno fast approaches, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) urges the public to use added caution when heating their homes in the days ahead. Home heating equipment is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths, with January being one of the three leading months for home heating fires. In addition, improperly used or malfunctioning heating equipment can create carbon monoxide (CO), a poisonous, potentially fatal gas in the home.   Storm Juno 2

Unattended heating equipment is the leading cause of home heating fires. NFPA recommends monitoring all heating equipment carefully, particularly space heaters. Whether portable or stationary, space heaters account for one-third (33 percent) of home heating fires and four out of five (81 percent) of home heating fire deaths on average per year.

Also, with the potential for power outages, NFPA strongly encourages having flashlights and battery-powered lighting at the ready; never use candles to light your home. 

For more information on home heating as well as carbon monoxide safety, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires”, NFPA’s winter safety campaign with the U.S. Fire Administration.

Maine now joins 21 other states that have formalized a sprinkler coalition. Initiated late last year, the Maine Fire Sprinkler Coalition is led by State Fire Marshal Joseph Thomas, who offered candid comments to NFPA about his state's home fire problem, sprinkler opposition, and the coalition's attempt at changing the culture of sprinklers.  


Maine experienced 26 fire deaths in 2014. Two residential fires were responsible for 10 of these fatalities. Are there any key finds from these tragedies?


What we’re finding is that the vast majority of fatalities are associated with fires that are in places that don’t have smoke detectors or inoperable smoke detectors. I've been around long enough to see the onset of smoke detectors in the late '70s and early '80s. Since then, we've seen the number of fire fatalities come down. However, national trends indicate that 98 percent of people believe they're protected by smoke detectors, but in reality it's about 60 percent. We need to bolster people's recognition of fire sprinklers as viable things that need to be installed.

The Research Foundation is excited to announce its annual slate of free webinars. In 2015, six webinars will be offered to all those interested at absolutely no cost on the following subjects:

February - Assessment of Hazardous Voltage/Current in Marinas, Boatyards and Floating Buildings

April – Wildland Fire Ignition Pathways

June – Smoke Alarm Nuisance Source Characterization

August – PV Update - Insurers Perspective

October – Smart Firefighting

December – ESFRs and Obstructions 

WEBAHVThe first webinar of the year is entitled Assessment of Hazardous Voltage/Current in Marinas, Boatyards and Floating Buildings. Delivered by John Adey, President of American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), the webinar will present the results of the recently completed Foundation report. The goal of this project was to identify and summarize available information that clarifies the problem of hazardous voltage/current in marinas, boatyards and floating buildings, and to develop a mitigation strategy to address identified hazards.

This first webinar will take place on February 10, 2015 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm; register here.

This series of webinars is sponsored by the Fire Protection Research Foundation with support from: Eaton Corporation; Globe Fire Sprinkler Corporation; IKEA; Proctor & Gamble; Property Insurance Research Group (PIRG); SimplexGrinnell; Tyco Fire Protection Products; Viking Sprinkler Corporation; Zurich Insurance; National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Perspectives blog
Fire can happen to anyone—just ask New Milford, Connecticut, Fire Marshal Karen Facey. Facey’s powerful account of her own recent brush with fire can be found in the “Perspectives” feature in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal.

Fire “doesn’t care where you live, how much money you make, how much you care about safety, or what you do for a living—even if you’re a fire marshal,” Facey writes in her personal account. “I had certainly felt human, and fallible, when I realized my kitchen was on fire; in that moment, I was less a highly trained fire professional than a homeowner faced with a critical split-second decision.”

After spending a recent Saturday driving her two teenage children more than 300 miles to their various events, Facey dropped the kids off at their father’s house and set to work melting some wax on the stove in preparation for a candle-making project. Tired at the end of a long day, she went to bed without properly turning off the stove and woke to smoke alarms blaring and “a column of flame shooting from the stovetop, 50 feet from me,” she writes. She was able to put the fire out with water, but her embarrassment was palpable, especially when sharing the story the next day at a training for volunteer firefighters.

 “The bottom line is that working smoke alarms saved my home, and there is a strong likelihood that they saved my life and the lives of my pets,” Facey writes. “Fire and public safety professionals should use my story to help urge their audiences to change their smoke alarm batteries immediately and test them monthly. … If this message can encourage or cause one person to change their behavior, then it is worth every iota of embarrassment and judgment coming my way.”

To read Facey’s personal story, check out the latest issue of NFPA Journal

Did you know that for a good night's sleep, you should replace your mattress every 8 years and your pillows every 2 years? And did you know that the American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months?

SmokeAlarmsSafetyTipsAccording to an article on, there are eight other common household objects that need to be replaced on a regular basis, including your homes smoke alarms.

"In the event of a fire, a smoke alarm is a key factor in a safe resolution," says HLNTV. "The National Fire Protection Association urges consumers to replace all smoke alarms every 10 years. And, they suggest to test them every month to make sure things are working properly."

Thanks to HLN for sharing this important tip! It's a good reminder that when there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly. See more of NFPA's safety messages about smoke alarms.

Now about those kitchen sponges...

The Research Foundation completed 30 projects in 2014. All are candidates for the Research Foundation medal, recognizing the project which best exemplifies the Foundation's fire safety mission, technical challenges overcome, and collaborative approach to execution that is the hallmark of all our projects. See the list of 2015 Foundation Medal candidates (PDF).

The review process is underway and the winner will be announced at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Chicago, June 22-25. 

The winning project of the 2014 Fire Protection Research Foundation Medal was “Best Practices for Emergency Response to Incidents Involving Electric Vehicles Battery Hazards: A Report on Full-Scale Testing Results.” Thomas Long (center) accepted the Medal on behalf of his team from Kathleen Alamand of the Fire Protection Research Foundation and former NFPA Chair Philip Stittleburg during NFPA's Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.


+* !|src=|alt=Audrey-Goldstein|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=Audrey-Goldstein|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c73d84da970b img-responsive!*Joining the growing list of writers for the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog is newcomer Audrey Goldstein. She is an associate fire protection engineer with NFPA, responsible for responding to technical questions on NFPA 13D,  Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes,+ and other water-based suppression documents.


We've brought Audrey on board to address topics related to NFPA 13D as well as other technical aspects of home fire sprinklers. If there are any topics you'd like Audrey to address, comment on this blog or send us an email.

Audrey proudly hails from Maryland, one of only two states with requirements for residential sprinklers in all of its counties. The Fire Sprinkler Initiative team is pleased to have her on board.


Visit NFPA's sprinkler blog to read her inaugural post. 


 Related articles

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter highlights decline of fire deaths in a state requiring home fire sprinklers

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Fire chief: Homebuilders "misinformed" about home fire sprinklers

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Home fire sprinkler ordinance the result of fire chief's vocal support and educational efforts

WildfireLast October, a number of newspapers reported on the loss of a tanker plane that crashed while dropping retardant on the Dog Rock Fire in Yosemite National Park, killing its pilot. This type of media coverage illustrates the significant risks faced by responders, says Lucian Deaton, manager of the Firewise Communities and Fire Adapted Communities programs for NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division.

“Wildfire will always be with us, which is why it’s critically important to do what we can to minimize the risks for those who fight those fires, whether they’re flying above the flames or cutting fire breaks on the ground,” he says.

To help community residents understand their risks and encourage them to take an active role in mitigating them, Firewise recently held a virtual workshop that highlighted community hazards as seen through the eyes of responding firefighters. The presenter, Jeremy Keller of the Macochee Joint Ambulance District in West Liberty, Ohio, highlighted the importance of road access, signage visibility, gate access, and other factors that might hamper responders’ efforts to fight a wildland fire.

For more on the way communities play a role in ensuring a safer environment for all, read Lucian’s column “The Responder Connection” in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal.

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.

As we continue to enhance our standards development site, NFPA looks for ways to make it easier for the public to get involved and participate in our standards development process.

A feature in the standard development site is the capability for the public to “View Public Inputs” and “View Public Comments” after all submissions have been completed. For documents in the Fall 2016 revision cycle that received public inputs, links are now available to “View Public Inputs” on each Next edition tab of the document information pages under the category “First Draft”. You will be asked to sign-in or create a free online account with NFPA before using this system. Please note that NFPA 18A did not receive any public inputs and, therefore, will not have a link available for viewing.

To view a complete list of the Fall 2016 documents, go to the document information pages and use the search feature in the upper right gray box to search by cycle.

As always we are here to help you participate in the NFPA process.

If you have any questions or need help with any feature on the standards development site, please feel free to contact us.

At last year’s NFPA Conference & Expo, NFPA members voted to reject the idea of increasing the allowable smoke compartment size in hospitals from 22,500 square feet to 40,000 square feet. The proposed change would have been included in the 2015 edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®.

Despite the outcome, “the premise for the increase in smoke compartment size for new construction remains viable,” writes Ron Coté, principal life safety engineer at NFPA.

In his new column “input Wanted” in the new January/February issue of NFPA Journal, Coté lays out the arguments for and against the provision and why this is an issue that has not yet been resolved. The technical committee plans to continue to look at this issue in the upcoming revision cycle for the 2018 edition of NFPA 101, Coté said.

The closing date for public input is July 6, 2015. Visit and go to the link that reads, “The next edition of this standard is now open for Public Input.”

To learn more about this issue, read the latest issue of NFPA Journal


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.


!|src=|alt=New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb07df87c7970d img-responsive!Earlier this month, a number of publications picked up an opinion piece by David Kurasz, executive director of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Advisory Board and member of the New Jersey Fire Sprinkler Coalition. Similar to trends that have occurred in other states (Alabama, for example), New Jersey saw an unfortunate uptick in fire fatalities in 2014. More specifically, there was nearly a 30-percent increase in fire deaths in 2014 when compared with 2013 totals.


"I urge people to never leave space heaters unattended. Clean chimney flues before use, check all smoke detectors, and consider installing residential fire sprinklers," pleaded Kurasz in his op-ed. "Sprinkler systems are the answer to reducing fire-related fatalities, protecting New Jersey residents and first responders from the horrors of fire."


Kurasz was right. Read what happened days later by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog. 

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Fire chief: Homebuilders "misinformed" about home fire sprinklers

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!"Homes are burning so darn fast:" Fire chiefs make convincing argument for home fire sprinklers

9D4BCB1551C84784BADE5D23FC29A55FFor safety's sake, hospitals rely on multiple layers of regulations, including codes and standards such those created by NFPA, says Chad Beebe, deputy executive director of advocacy for the American Society for Healthcare Engineering. Unfortunately, those codes sometimes conflict in ways that can affect a hospital’s operations.

"Codes that are adopted or made compulsory in a jurisdiction, for example, can contain provisions that differ and sometimes conflict," he says. "Additional friction is created when the adopted codes are not the most recent editions of those documents, or if the provisions in those codes are not based on the most recent information related to patient care."

Read Beebe's article "Fault Lines" in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal to see what's being done to address the way health care codes work with each other to improve the overall health care regulatory process in the United States.


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.


NFPA President Jim Pauley promises some exciting changes to this year's Conference & Expo in Chicago. Watch the video above to hear his invitation for you to join us at this year's event from June 22-25 at McCormick Place. 

Early bird registration is now open through May 8th! Also, be sure to spread the news about the Conference, and your attendance, by using this year's hashtag - #NFPAConf

Calling all fire departments! The NFPA, as we do every year, has mailed out a paper version of our Fire Experience survey to each of you. We are encouraging your response to this survey as soon as you are able since the fire experience survey is critical for many reasons. This survey directly contributes to the following NFPA reports:

In addition, the survey results enable the NFPA, USFA and CPSC to develop national estimates for fire causes based on the annual National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) data.

IpadTo help motivate everyone to complete their surveys on time, we are holding a drawing! All Fire Departments that submit a completed Fire Service Experience Form before April 15, 2015 will be eligible for a drawing where 8 Fire Departments will be awarded a 32 GB Wi-Fi IPAD Air and their choice of one of NFPA’s Public Fire Protection Standards!

FYI, there is now also an electronic version of this survey that can be filled out on-line. If you would like to use this electronic option go to: or email us at stating that you would like to use this option. When responding to the survey on-line, please use the Fire Department identification number that you’ll find on the top line of the address label on the paper survey.

Be sure to take a look at all of those legal terms and conditions. Thanks for your participation and good luck!

266F8BD712C94DC4905B350F04BC2DD3.ashxEach time an Ebola patient in the United States had to be taken to a hospital, first responders around the country were actively engaged in the process. Though the worst of the incidents seem to be over, they highlighted the way police, fire, and emergency medical services prepare to encounter such infectious, high-risk patients.

In his column "Ebola & Beyond," Ken Willette talks about NFPA 1581, Fire Department Infection Control Program, which has been shaped by other infectious threats, such as hepatitis C, the N151 flu virus, the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, and bioterrorism agents. The standard provides minimum criteria for infection control for fire department members involved in routine or emergency operations, addressing personal protective equipment, hazard communication, and decontamination of apparatus, individuals, and equipment. 

For more on effective infection control, read Ken's column in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal.


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.

transform.pngFor a while now most fire chiefs around the country have known that changes in building materials and home furnishings have altered modern fire behavior—residential fires today are burning hotter and faster than they did just a few decades ago. Now, the fire service must change accordingly, say researchers Dan Madrzykowski, a fire protection engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Stephen Kerber, the director of the Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) at Underwriters Laboratories (UL).


The cover story of the new January/February issue of NFPA Journal takes an in-depth look at the UL and NIST research on modern fire dynamics and how it has led some of the biggest fire departments in the country to change how they fight residential fires. The tactical shifts, chiefs in those departments say, have led to fewer firefighter injuries and a reduction in property loss.

The new research has also led to the rewriting of firefighting manuals as well as NFPA’s consideration of the creation of a new standard. Many in the fire service have praised the research, while others are deeply skeptical.

The cover story, “New Fires, New Tactics,” explores the tactical changes sparked by the research, the science driving these changes, and some of the impacts of and controversies surrounding the new research.

Learn more by reading the article in the new issue of NFPA Journal.

Fire BreakThe January issue of Fire Break, NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division newsletter, is now available for viewing. Here’s what you’ll find in this month’s issue:

  •  Information about the use of geospatial technology and how it can help with planning for, mitigation of and response to wildfires
  • A quiz that tests your wildfire safety knowledge
  • Information about IAFC’s WUI 2015 conference in Reno
  • A head start on the numbers for Firewise for 2014
  • A link to the WFOD’s updated photo library

...and much more. We want to continue to share all of this great information with you so don’t miss an issue! So subscribe today. It’s free! Just click here to add your e-mail address to our newsletter list.


On Tuesday January 17th, 1995 a 20 second earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale occurred near the Japanese port of Kobe, about 500 km (311 mi) southwest of Tokyo.   The quake killed more than  6,000 people, injured at least 30,000 and left more than 300,000 people homeless.   More than 100,000 buildings were severely damaged or destroyed by the quake and the fires it caused.  148 separate fires destroyed 6,513 buildings.

Kobe5Several factors influenced the spread of fire immediately after the earthquake and in the days that followed.  For example, many of the structures involved were built of lightweight wood or bamboo covered with a thin layer of stucco that was not well secured.  Even if a building did not collapse, it often lost its outer layer of stucco.  When this happened, the underlying wood materials were exposed, creating a large combustible fuel load.

The 1995 Kobe earthquake was the worst to hit Japan since the 1923 Kanto earthquake, which had an estimated Richter magnitude of 7.9 and resulted in nearly 143,000 deaths, primarily due to fire.

The Charles S. Morgan Library supports the research activities and maintains the archive of NFPA.  Our collection includes several works relating to the Kobe earthquake including the fire investigations report, 2 NIST reports(also available online), and several books.  We also have a rare copy of a 1923 report by Boris Laiming to the NBFU on the 1923 Tokyo Conflagration.

Learn more about the Library and Archives, our resources, and services.


Only two persons were able to escape from the Pennsylvania House Hotel when flames quickly spread through the building on January 16, 1972, leaving 12 others dead.  The hotel building was typical of many old, small community hotels built to serve the travelers of 75 years ago -- hotels that for the most part have been replaced by motels as transportation has changed through the years.  The owners of older buildings have attempted to keep a hotel business going, with the result that many of the hotels have changed in character, serving as residential hotels for local citizens rather than lodging a transient population.  In this case the building served as a residence for the owner and his family as well as a combination residential-transient hotel.

NFPA members Download this May 1972 Fire Journal article

Casey Grant's article in the January issue of IEEE's magazine for high-tech innovators "Potentials", has challenged a whole new audience to consider the needs of the fire service and how cyber-physical systems might meet them.  Co-authored with leaders on this topic from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the article stimulates the next generation of information systems experts to consider how this technology can connect with the physical world of fire fighting - in the WUI, in high risk incidents like train derailments and large scale warehouse fires, and even in residences. 

Its our hope that the Foundation's activity to bridge these two worlds will help realize the NFPA mission of a fire safe world.  Look for future reports, webinars, and conferences on this topic.

Registration and sponsorships are in full swing for the Foundation's 2015 Suppression, Detection, and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium (SupDet) to be held March 3-6 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive in Orlando, Florida.  We are pleased that the symposium will be enhanced by the following sponsors to date:

Sie_logo_petrol_rgb     Tyco_SG Logo - Blue_HighResolution 2012     Victaulicorange       

Powerpoint-Reliable-BlackLogo_noTQS        UL_Enterprise_red_spot      GentexCorpColor

Zurich logo
SupDet will feature over 30 presentations including:

• Latest in detection and signaling research including detection of cooking fires, carbon monoxide detection, development of test methods for nuisance resistance for detectors and alarms, and detection applications including nuclear power plants.

•Latest in suppression research including storage protection applications, dry sprinkler systems, lithium ion protection, hybrid suppression systems, and special applications including heavy duty vehicles.

For the full program, please visit the Foundation's website. There will also be a free half-day workshop on "Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) of Fire Protection Systems: Improving the Effectiveness of Systems" open to all attendees on Wednesday, March 4th.

REGISTER TODAY for the full symposium, or choose either the Detection Program or the Suppression Program. All registration options entitle you to attend the workshop on Wednesday, March 4. Sponsorship options are still available - please contact Amanda Kimball ( at the Foundation if you are interested.

In his new column in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal, Wayne Moore of Hughes Associates provides a key example of why it is important for all stakeholders in a fire alarm system to learn how to navigate NFPA 72Ò, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

The 2010 edition of NFPA 72 included a requirement that snuck up on some contractors, according to Moore. The code states, “effective January 1, 2014, where audible appliances are provided to produce signals for sleeping areas, they shall produce ta low-frequency alarm signal that complies with the following: (1) The alarm signal shall be a square wave or provide equivalent awakening ability. (2) The wave shall have a fundamental frequency of 520 Hz ± 10 percent.”

However, many contractors have admitted they were not aware of the code change and were baffled with local authorities having jurisdiction began enforcing it, Moore said, a mistake that can be easily avoided.

“Stakeholders must understand where, when, and how the requirements may apply to any particular fire alarm system,” Moore writes.

Learn more about this topic and why this provision was added to the code in Moore’s latest column, “Wake-Cup Call” in the new issue of NFPA Journal. 


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.

NEC Challenge
Ask and you shall receive. Back by popular demand, the NEC Challenge Championship has returned for its second year, and we are less than one month away from the live Championship event where our three finalists will put their code skills to the test and duke it out for our $5,000 grand prize!

This year, the NEC Challenge was bigger and better than before – with more prizes and more ways you could play along at home. We hit the road to bring the game to even more trade shows and launched, bringing the game directly to you so electrical professionals everywhere could put their code knowledge to the test.

And since every challenge can only have one champion, we invited the best of the best to compete once again in the NEC Challenge Championship.

Ladies and gentleman, meet your finalists:

Click on the links above to hear and see how they’ve made it to the Championship event. On Friday, February 6 at 12:00 p.m. EST, they will be competing for the $5,000 in our live webisode event, consisting of three rounds of gameplay, including a head-to-head final round challenge between the top two contestants for the grand prize.

If you were smart enough to watch last year’s Championship, you know it’s a one of a kind event. And you can watch this year’s all happen live. Visit to find out how you can register to view the crowning of our next NEC Challenge Champion. 


!|border=0|src=|alt=Canada|title=Canada|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d0c0a801970c image-full img-responsive!
Mirroring the position of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, Cynthia Ross Tustin says the time for mandatory installation of home fire sprinklers is now. "You need a home escape plan, you need working smoke alarms, and you need home sprinklers," says the fire chief for the Essa Township Fire Department in Ontario, Canada, who was interviewed by a Canadian news publication. "It's not one or the other."


Delaying the issue of requiring sprinklers, she says, makes no sense, especially since cities like Vancouver have seen life-saving successes in implementing a sprinkler ordinance. The story also cites Scottsdale, Arizona, which has required sprinklers in new homes since the mid 1980s. (A report by the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition highlights data following the adoption of this ordinance.)


Visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog for additional information on how safety advocates in Canada are taking a stance on sprinklers.

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Deadly blaze underscores Connecticut's home fire problem and growing group of safety advocates working towards a solution

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Latest Fire Sprinkler Initiative newsletter highlights decline of fire deaths in a state requiring home fire sprinklers

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Mayor hears convincing pitch for home fire sprinklers from fire chief, initiates local ordinance

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Home fire sprinkler ordinance the result of fire chief's vocal support and educational efforts

MC_TabortourGary Tetz_optIn 2008, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began requiring nursing homes without sprinkler systems, or with inadequate systems, to retrofit them. The new rule, which reflected changes made in the 2006 edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, called for upgrades to be completed by August 13, 2013. Facilities that failed to meet the deadline risked penalties, ranging from violation notices to withholding Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

In an article  in the latest issue of NFPA Journal, Ashley Smith details how one such nursing home, Marquis Mt. Tabor in Portland, Oregon, rose to the challenge and completed the retrofit on a tight deadline while continuing to care for patients. The project went so well that Marquis Mt. Tabor might serve as an example of how to plan and manage a complex sprinkler installation project with a building full of patients for another important group of health care facilities: hospitals. 

For more information on how to plan and execute a sprinkler retrofit in a functioning health care facility, read Smith's article "Old & New" in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal.

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.


On Tuesday, January 15, 1985, a fire occurred in a 102,900-sq ft, 85-year-old warehouse built of mill construction undergoing demolition in the light manufacturing section of Hoboken, New Jersey.  At the time of the fire, the roof and top floor of the four-story warehouse had been dismantled.  The automatic sprinkler system that once protected the warehouse complex had been taken out of service two weeks prior to the fire.

In an effort to keep warm while working inside the building, demolition crews lit small fires in metal containers.  It is believed that the fire was caused when burning materials from the container fires came in contact with accumulated combustible rubble located on one floor below where the demolition crew was working.  The warehouse was totally consumed and burned to the ground within 30 minutes of detection of the fire.  The extremely rapid development and spread of the fire were large largely due to the geometric configuration of the fuel load, i.e., large areas of exposed, well-seasoned timber, unprotected vertical openings and inoperative automatic sprinkler system.

A five-story, 85,000-sq ft building that abutted the warehouse was an extreme exposure problem from the onset and was eventually destroyed by the fire along with all of the small miscellaneous buildings contained in the block.  Two hundred and sixty-five fire fighters with 36 pieces of apparatus battled the fire for over 5 1/2 hours before bringing it under control.   Twelve other fires caused from burning embers being carried by high winds to other locations in the city, along with the complete destruction of a city block and 77 automobiles, resulted from this fire.

In spite of below freezing temperature and high winds, fire fighters were able to successfully contain the fire to one block.  If their efforts had failed, the potential for the destruction of additional property was greatly increased.

This fire illustrates the extreme exposure hazard of buildings undergoing demolition.  The following are considered to be significant factors contributing to the large property loss in this fire:

   •     Failure to provide adequate safeguards during the demolition operation.

   •     Automatic sprinkler system impairment in an exposure building.

   •     Adverse weather conditions, i. e., high winds on the morning of the fire.    

   NFPA members Download this Hoboken, NJ report 

IAF blog photo
Fire tore through a $35 million residential building under construction in the Indianapolis suburb of Fishers on early Tuesday morning, January 13. The fire at the unfinished complex, which includes 306 apartments, spread quickly because of the open construction, according to fire crews at the scene who fought freezing temperatures to extinguish the blaze.

This latest fire continues last year’s trend of large and destructive fires at residential complexes under construction, which included huge fires in San Francisco, Los Angeles (in the photo above) and Houston—collectively accounting for about $100 million in property losses.

The new January/February issue of NFPA Journal, out this week, looks at the high rate of these massive residential construction fires in 2014 and what is currently being done to address the problem. 

The article, “Construction Ablaze” in the “In a Flash” department of Journal, explores why buildings under construction are such a high fire risk and highlights an effort by the American Wood Council to create three detailed technical manuals focused on standards and prevention—one each for construction supervisors, construction workers, and the fire service. The materials, expected for release in February, are based on existing codes and standards, including 10 NFPA standards, most prominently NFPA 241, Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations, and NFPA 1620, Incident Planning.

According to an NFPA report released last July, “Fires in Residential Properties Under Construction or Undergoing Major Renovation Other Than One- Or Two-Family Homes,” from 2007 through 2011 there was an annual average of 830 fires in residential buildings under construction, excluding one- and two-family homes, causing an average of $56 million in direct property damage per year. While there has been no official accounting of all 2014 fires that fit this category, the initial evidence suggests that property loss averages skyrocketed, with the aforementioned fires in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston alone nearly doubling the yearly average.

According to the NFPA report, the leading equipment causes of construction fires at big residential complexes are cooking equipment (40 percent), followed by heating equipment (29 percent). Other causes include torch, burner, or soldering iron (6 percent); electrical and lighting equipment (6 percent); and shop tools and industrial equipment (5 percent).

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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 3.13.39 PMThe January/February 2015 NFPA Journal is out, with a cover story that takes an in-depth look at important new research that is changing how fire departments fight residential fires.

The issue also includes health care-related features on a sprinkler retrofit in an Oregon critical-care facility, and the need for streamlining the sometimes complex layers of health care regulations. We also feature an in-depth conversation with a personal protective equipment (PPE) expert on some of the key PPE takeaways following the recent—and, in West Africa, the ongoing—Ebola outbreak. In our “Perspectives” department, a Connecticut fire marshal shares her experience of a kitchen fire in her own home.

In his cover story, “Tactics 2.0,” Journal staff writer Jesse Roman looks at recent research, conducted by Underwriters Laboratories and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, that evaluates firefighting tactics in residential fires. The highly combustible contents of modern homes, as well as the materials and building techniques used to construct those homes, are leading to much more aggressive fires and prompting the fire service to rethink some of the fundamental ways it attacks these kinds of fires. The Journal package is of interest not just to the fire service but to anyone involved in residential fire safety, from builders and installers to insurers and public safety experts.

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.


!|src=|alt=New York|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|title=New York|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b7c7357930970b img-responsive!A New York association representing thousands of volunteer firefighters initiated a series of informational sessions for firefighters that discuss the importance of updating the state's building code and the necessity of not excluding a home fire sprinkler provision.

At a recent legislative outreach meeting, about 50 firefighters heard how the Firemen's Association of the State of New York (FASNY) will be encouraging the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council to update the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code. FASNY is urging the code council to adopt the 2015 edition of the International Residential Code, including the requirement to sprinkler new, one- and two-family dwellings.


Per a recent news story in the +Watertown Daily Times,+ FASNY's goal is twofold: bolster fire service support for the code update and inform legislators of the association's stance. For more information, visit the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.


!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Fire fatalities surpass last year's in a state grappling with home fires

Safety SourceThe January issue of Safety Source, NFPA's public education enewsletter, is now available for viewing. In this issue, you will find;  

  • New Dan Doofus video about smoke alarms
  • Updated EMAC messages
  • activity helps reinforce "stay away from hot things" message
  • Infographic highlights winter fire safety
  • A new contest rewards the ingenuity of youth to create fire-safety messages. 

Don't miss an issue! Sign up now and be the first to get the latest information on happenings in the public education division, activities, fire statistics, trends, educational tips, Sparky the Fire Dog® and more.

Metro fire
Passengers react Monday afternoon as smoke fills a Metro train in a tunnel outside L’Enfant Plaza Metro station. Photo: Saleh Damiger, The Washington Post.

One woman died, and 84 people were taken to hospitals, after smoke filled the L'Enfant Plaza metro station in Washington, DC, on Monday afternoon. According to a report on, the National Transportation and Safety Board says an electrical arcing event sparked the incident.

"There was an electrical arcing event involving the trackside power cables (the third rail)," said a statement from the NTSB's Peter Knudson.

A six-car Yellow line train was southbound from L'Enfant station when sparks were noticed about 1,100 feet in front of the train as the tunnel filed with smoke.



From NFPA Journal®, July/August 2010
Designing smoke control for a pair of new AeroTrain stations at Washington Dulles International Airport meant using different approaches to achieve the same end: allowing passengers to evacuate as quickly and as safely as possible.  

The new AeroTrain transit system is a critical part of the upgrades underway at Washington Dulles International Airport. The system, which began operation in February, connects current and future concourses via an underground tunnel system, and it was important to design the system in a way that provided not only swift and efficient movement of passengers, but also maximized the protection of passengers and first responders in the event of an emergency. Read the full article by Karl Decker.



A recent helmet-cam video posted by Richmond (CA) Fire Department Captain Marc Lucero shows a man being rescued from a fire around 7:00 a.m. last Wednesday. Reports indicate the man survived.

Here’s the description with the video:


Richmond Fire Department, California: At this fire you’ll get a view of what it is like to rescue someone from a fire in zero visibility with high heat conditions. Video starts prior to crews making entry for fire attack. Coordinating a 2 1/2 inch hose stretch to the second floor has it’s difficulty it’s self so the crew opted to switch for a more manageable to a 1 3/4 150gpm line. Just as the hoseline stretch is being made, about 15 feet into the fire Captain Nick Jackalone finds a victim who has succumbed to the fire and could not make it out. Captain Jackalone “the voice you hear in video” calls out that they have found a body. He and Captain Marc Palechek’s crew E62 quickly work well together to remove the victim who remains unconscious and suffering from moderate injuries.


The victim is quickly treated by crews on the outside and transported to Kaiser Hospital Richmond where he survives his injuries. If you have ever wondered what it is like to be inside a working fire this is a great video to listen too with your eyes closed! When they enter I challenge you to close your eyes and just listen! This job is done most of the time this way, because often, there is just nothing to see. Black smoke provides zero visibility and high heat conditions add a uncomfortable dangerous element that firefighters have to overcome to have a successful outcome such as this. Great job too and I hate to say it! “B-Shift” for a job well done and giving the public another insider view of what firefighters across the country go through every day! Captain: Victor Bontempo is Incident command.</p>



InsiderNFPA INSIDER is a live, bi-monthly online session — an added benefit for NFPA members only — that features expanded news and content from the latest issue of NFPA Journal and other NFPA sources.

In this month's NFPA INSIDER, on Thursday, January 15th at 2:00 pm (EST), members will hear:

  • First Word – Welcome the New Year with Jim Pauley, President of NFPA
  • Up-to-Code – Michael Wixted, NFPA Engineer of Standards Administration, discusses how to propose a new NFPA standard for development
  • ... and more!

Members: register today to attend. Not a member? Learn more about the many benefits and join today!


Shortly after 9:25 p.m., on January 12, 1984, a private patient attendant discovered a fire involving furnishings in a exit access corridor at the Beaumont Nursing Home in Little Rock, Arkansas and notified nursing staff. After being notified by the attendant, the staff initiated emergency procedures which included evacuating those patients closest to the fire and closing remaining patient room doors. Fire department units arrived at the Beaumont Nursing Home at approximately 9:38 p.m. and found fire showing in the northeast corner of the building. Fire fighters observed the nursing staff and civilians in the process of evacuating some of the 57 patients from the home. The fire caused severe damage to a section of the building,and resulted in the death of two patients and injury to 12 others.

The one-story Beaumont Nursing Home was built in two separate sections separated by a four-hour fire wall. The section on the building in which the fire occurred was built in 1954, and was of ordinary construction. Fire protection features in this section of the building included automatic sprinkler protection and automatic smoke detector protection connected to a building fire alarm system

Fire department investigators have determined the cause of the fire to be an electrical short in an extension cord which ignited furnishings in an exit access corridor. Investigators also determined that the water supply to the automatic sprinkler system had been shut off; the automatic smoke detection system was not functioning properly; and there was a delay in the notification of the fire department. As a result, the fire was able to develop undetected by automatic systems and was well established at the time of discovery. This allowed heat and smoke to spread throughout this section of the nursing home.

Five significant factors were identified during the investigation as contributing factors to the loss of life and injuries from this fire. These factors were:

• A closed valve due to a ruptured underground supply line preventing water flow
from the public main into the building's sprinkler system;

• The lack of a properly functioning building fire alarm system;

• The location of the "T.V. room" in the exit access corridor;

• A delay by nursing staff in the notification of the fire department;

• The failure of established inspection and testing programs to identify deficiencies
in various components of the fire protection systems provided at the nursing home.

NFPA members Download this Little Rock, AK report For statistical information Fires in Health Care Facilities

On January 11, 1988 at 8:19 p.m., the New York City Fire Department was notified of a building fire at East 50th Street, Manhattan.  Arriving fire fighters found a fire involving several first floor rooms with trapped occupants on the floors above.  Before the fire was under control, the fire department had sounded five alarms bringing over 200 fire fighters to the scene; four civilians died, 13 fire fighters were injured, and another nine civilians were also injured.  Approximately 70 people were rescued by fire fighters.

The mixed-use building was a fire-resistive, 115 ft x 100 ft, 10-story high-rise structure.  The first two floors had commercial areas, and floors three through ten contained apartments.  A single-station, battery-operated smoke detector was provided in each apartment.  Other fire protection equipment included a standpipe system in one of two enclosed stairways, fire extinguishers, and a partial wet-pipe automatic sprinkler system protecting a storage room in the basement.

The fire originated in a first floor office and, before the fire department arrived, spread to other areas on that floor.  Combustion products spread to floors above because the first floor access doors for the two enclosed stairways were held open with wedges.

Coordinated suppression and rescue operations restricted the number of fatalities and injuries and limited the extent of damage to the building.

The following factors appear to have contributed significantly to the severity of this fire and to the loss of life:

    •     Building modifications that increased the fuel load;

    •     The absence of automatic detection or suppression systems;

    •     Stairway doors at the level of fire origin that had been blocked open,

            allowing heat and smoke to spread throughout the building.     

NFPA members Download this Manhattan, NY report For NFPA statistical data High-Rise Building Fires  Safety tips Read NFPA's high-rise apartment and condominium safety tips

At 9:32 a.m. on Saturday, January 10, a natural gas explosion killed 20 people in Fremont, Nebraska, and destroyed the Pathfinder Hotel and six adjacent buildings.  The exact cause of the explosion is unknown, but the natural gas leak that preceded the explosion was caused by an underground pipe separation.  The odor of the natural gas was first detected about four hours before the explosion.  However, hotel employees were unable to reach gas company personnel to request assistance for nearly two hours, even though they used emergency telephone numbers.

The fire that resulted from the explosion spread vertically through inadequately protected elevator shafts, stairways, and pipe chases.  The incident was remarkably similar to the Paramount Hotel disaster that occurred in Boston on January 18, 1966.   During that explosion, the Paramount Hotel was severely damage when flame from the subsequent fire traveled through non-fire stopped pipe shafts and inadequately protected elevator shafts.

 NFPA members Download this July 1976 Fire Journal article For NFPA statistical data Fires Starting with Flammable Gas or Flammable or Combustible Liquid


!|border=0|src=|alt=Habitat For Humanity build|title=Habitat For Humanity build|class=asset asset-image at-xid-6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb07d65e90970d image-full img-responsive!
The sights and sounds of progress filled two homes in Hanover, Massachusetts, this week. Power saws sliced into wood, paint was slathered onto walls, nails pierced drywall. NFPA staffers, which included NFPA President Jim Pauley and members of the Leadership Team, were the muscle behind these activities that took place inside the homes. Another interior feature was what lured these volunteers to the homes in the first place.


The South Shore Habitat for Humanity, the Massachusetts Fire Sprinkler Coalition, and other sprinkler advocates collaborated to fully sprinkler the homes in an effort to showcase installation ease and cost. Following the late 2014 installation, NFPA staff set foot on the site this week to begin the process of transforming the homes into livable spaces. By the end of the day, many were covered in wood dust, paint, and sweat--all signs of a hard day&#39;s work.


Watch videos of NFPA in action by visiting the Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Fire fatalities surpass last year's in a state grappling with home fires

!|src=|alt=|style=padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; display: block; width: 80px; max-width: 100%;!Upon learning benefits of home fire sprinklers, insurance agent prompts company discount

In the Library, we are frequently asked, "What's is the oldest book you have"?   One of the oldest works we have is Electric lighting, and the underwriters' standard requirements in reference thereto, with instructions for the proper inspection of electric light equipments, illustrated (1882).  Weston2 One of the illustrations, a diagram of the mode of operation of the Weston Current Indicator, is shown to the right.   

The introduction, writen by Henry Morton, PhD., begins "The nature of Electricity, or the final cause of those phenomena we call electric, is something about which we are absolutely ignorant, although we know so much about the modes of action, and have made such great and varied use of this unknown agency". 

The Charles S. Morgan Library supports the research activities and maintains the archive of NFPA.  Our collection reflects the interests and activities of members, NFPA committees and staff.    We have copies of all NFPA codes and standards, proceedings, annual reports and amending materials.  PDF copies of many of our historic codes are available for purchase from the NFPA Catalog.  

Learn more about the Library and Archives, our resources, and services.

In the early Morning of January 9, 1974, fire originated in a TV set at the Orlando South Travel Lodge in Pine Castle, Florida.  The occupant of the second-floor room of origin narrowly escaped death of serious injury.  This fire was the latest in a series of 20 malfunctions in TV sets at this motel in the past year; 18 had occurred in the preceding eight months.  The malfunctions ranged in severity from minor electrical arcing to smoking of sets to open burning with spread to other items in the room.

NFPA members Download this July 1974 Fire Journal article  For NFPA statistical report on Electrical Fires


NFPA is proud to announce the launch of the Certified Electrical Safety Worker (CESW) program. This certification will ensure electrical safety of workers in the workplace by documenting and increasing knowledgeability of electrical safety.

NFPA President, Jim Pauley, says this program “serves as a powerful tool for organizations that require the certification, demonstrating their vested interest in meeting the electrical safety standards contained in NFPA 70E.”

The Certification Team worked closely with the NFPA Electrical Engineering Team as well as a group of dedicated external Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to design, develop and implement this program.

This project has gone through several stages over the last 36 months to reach its final and current form.

For more information, visit

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 1, NFPA 58, NFPA 101A, NFPA 400, NFPA 1221, and NFPA 1917 are being published for public review and comment:

Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the February 20, 2015 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.


Some months back, the Fire Analysis and Research Division was asked to run some numbers on fires in residential properties under construction or undergoing major renovation.   This resulted in a new NFPA report, Fires in Residential Properties under Construction or Undergoing Major Renovation.

The results were largely straightforward.  We found that fires in residential properties undergoing construction or major renovation, while a minor portion of all residential property fires, nevertheless accounted for an estimated 5,120 fires per year from 2007 to 2011. We also found that most of these fires and associated losses took place in one- or two-family homes.  Many of the leading causes -- heating equipment, electrical distribution and lighting equipment, torches and shop tools, and smoking materials – were pretty unremarkable. But we were more than a little surprised to find that cooking was the leading cause of fires in residential properties under construction.

We were at a loss to explain how cooking-related activities could figure so prominently in housing units, which, by definition, were not occupied. When the findings were presented to some members of the building community, however, several spoke about the frequent use of hot plates or improvised heating devices to warm food at construction sites, and at least one company reported implementing a “no cooking rule” in response to safety concerns. 

We were naturally relieved to learn that there was some anecdotal evidence to help account for our unexpected results.  But while implementing worksite rules around cooking are a start, addressing the problem in a comprehensive way could require much more expansive prevention efforts.

Safety is a longstanding concern in construction environments, particularly residential construction.  Many workers in this industry lack safety training, and many are temporary or immigrant workers for whom, as emphasized in a recent NIOSH blog, Safety and Health for Immigrant Workers, there are also sizeable language, cultural, and structural barriers to safety.   It seems likely that safe practices related to cooking are associated with other health and safety concerns, including access to washing facilities, sanitary environments for eating, and overall workplace safety efforts.  Good worksite fire safety practices, in this case, will likely be most effective when linked to proactive workplace safety cultures.  

 As the number and complexity of data and telecommunications centers grows, NFPA standards are evolving to address their fire protection needs.  The Research Foundation is initiating a study to explore the performance of gaseous fire suppression systems in high airflow spaces created by these centers.  A Request for Proposals  for Project Contractor has been issued; proposals should be submitted to Amanda Kimball by January 9, 2015, 5 pm EST.

by NFPA's Michele Steinberg

Well, the day I have been dreading for many months is finally here. On this last day of 2014, I say goodbye to my very dear friend and colleague, Linda Coyle, as she goes off to a happy and healthy retirement.

Cheryl Blake, Linda and me, December 2014

Linda's one of a dwindling breed. Here at NFPA, there are a number of women in administrative (formerly known as secretarial) positions who are, as we say, "of a certain age." Linda has happily been part of this group that lunches together daily, calls themselves "The Golden Girls" with big smiles, gets together for extracurricular events sometimes, and quietly and efficiently keep the wheels turning behind the scenes at NFPA. As her lunch bunch has, one by one, sailed off into the retirement sunset, I knew it was inevitable that Linda would join them at some point. As much as they like to be known as a group, however, I have known Linda for 15 years and I recognize her individual talent and contributions, regardless of title, status, age or anything you could use to put her in a category.

Read Michele's entire post.

Minnesota StateStrong, public support for home fire sprinklers by Minnesota fire service officials and the state's governor has paid off. A mandatory provision to sprinkler all of the state's new homes larger than 4,500 square feet takes effect this month.

For years, sprinkler opponents have attempted to thwart such requirements through the Minnesota State Legislature, which passed bills in 2011 and 2012 prohibiting new sprinkler mandates in the state's building code. Governor Mark Dayton, however, vetoed both bills. 

The state's Department of Labor and Industry has been looking to incorporate more stringent sprinkler provisions in the code, which already requires sprinklers in two-family dwellings and townhomes of a certain size. When interviewed by NFPA Journal in 2013, Labor and Industry Commissioner Ken Peterson addressed concerns posed by the state's homebuilding industry. Read his response by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

Fire Truck

by NFPA's Lisa Braxton

Conversations I’ve had with my sister recently about smoke alarm safety have paid off. For months, Sylvia has been concerned about the smoke alarms in her house. One alarm didn’t seem to be working and had her worried. She sent a request to the non-emergency page of the Montgomery County government website in Maryland where she lives, to have the fire department come to the house to inspect the alarms.

Sylvia and Lisa (2)Within a few days a fire truck rolled up to the curb. Firefighters confirmed her suspicions about the non-functioning alarm. And they had more news: The alarms in the house were 15 years old. On one alarm, firefighters couldn’t even find the date. They installed new smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries designed to remain effective for up to 10 years.

After the installation was completed, Sylvia sent me an email. “Thanks sis,” she said. “I feel safer now.” I sent one back. “Glad you took care of that. Now we can both sleep easier.”

Supdet 2014

A photo from the 2014 SupDet event in Orlando.

by NFPA's Amanda Kimball

Registration is now open for the Foundation's 2015 Suppression, Detection, and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium (SupDet), which will be held March 3-6, 2015 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive in Orlando, Florida.  SupDet 2015 will feature over 30 presentations including:

  • Latest in detection and signaling research including detection of cooking fires, carbon monoxide detection, development of test methods for nuisance resistance for detectors and alarms, and detection applications including nuclear power plants.
  • Latest in suppression research including storage protection applications, dry sprinkler systems, lithium ion protection, hybrid suppression systems, and special applications including heavy duty vehicles.

For the full program, please visit the Foundation's website.

There will also be a free-half day workshop on "Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance (ITM) of Fire Protection Systems: Improving the Effectiveness of Systems" open to all attendees on Wednesday, March 4th.  

REGISTER TODAY for the full symposium, or choose either the Detection Program or the Suppression Program. All registration options entitle you to attend the workshop on Wednesday, March 4.

Sponsorship options are also available - please contact Amanda Kimball at the Foundation ( if you are interested.

by NFPA's Faith Berry

State legislators in Washington are helping their constiuents prepare for wildfire. According to the website of Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen), Chair of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda), the legislators will host presentations by local and state officials for the local community about preparations for the upcoming 2015 fire season today, January 5th.  What a good way to start out the new year with a bipartisan effort to plan a course for residents of Washington State to be safer in the event of a wildfire.  This meeting notice was posted on December 14, 2014.

The meeting will be held at the Brewster High School Library Monday, January 5th from 7 to 9 pm.  According to Representative Blake’s website, “Legislators and invited local and state officials including Peter Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands, and Frank T. Rogers, Okanogan County Sheriff, as well as Chuck Duffy, Washington State Fire Marshal, among others.” 

One item of discussion will include preparations for the next fire season.  Do you know what kind of preparations are being made in your area before a wildfire season begins?  What are you planning to accomplish to make your home and community safer in 2015?  Is 2015 going to be a “Year of Living Less Dangerously" for you and your community?  To learn more about how you can complete an assessment with your community and fire and land management agencies to plan a course of more effective action visit the NFPA’s Firewise Website.  And plan on participating in the Wildfire Community Preparedness Day on May 2!


 A picture of the Carlton Complex Fire in Washington State taken by Jason Kriess, SFC, Washington National Guard.

Top 10 sprinkler stories in 2014For your viewing pleasure, here's a David Letterman-inspired countdown.

We've determined the most popular posts from NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog in 2014. Many thanks to our regular readers, commenters, and social media mavens who have made that blog a popular destination for sprinkler news. Expect to see more of what interests you in 2015!

And remember: we're always looking for new news to highlight. If anything sprinkler-related crosses your desk or catches your eye, feel free to send it my way so I can highlight it for the good of our growing army of online sprinkler advocates. 

Without further ado, here's the list. Drumroll please:

10. Fiery display in Detroit showcases importance of home fire sprinklers

9. Addressing freeze protection in NFPA 13D 

8. Father and daughter's tragic fire death prompt Washington sprinkler advocates to action

7. Study: Residential sprinklers crucial for preventing death and property damage no matter the building material

6. Powerful op-ed on child fire deaths also makes a poignant plea for sprinklers

5. Thesis combats arguments made by home fire sprinkler opponents

4. A tale of two house fires, one involving sprinklers and one without

3. Fire chief: Homebuilders are "misinformed" about home fire sprinklers

2. Fire chief's stance on home fire sprinklers leads to sprinkler ordinance

1. Get ready for the (sprinklered) home of the future


Shortly before 11:38 a.m. on January 2, 1984, the primary electrical power system failed at The Westin Hotel, and security personnel were immediately dispatched to the electrical equipment vaults located in a sub-basement to investigate.  In rapid succession to the power failure and before the security personnel were able to reach the electrical equipment vaults, a fire alarm signal was received from a smoke detector in the switch gear room.  The responding security personnel encountered "heavy smoke", and a series of explosions occurred in the switch gear room.  The evacuation alarm system then sounded throughout the hotel, and the Boston Fire Department was automatically notified. 

Fire department investigators were unable to firmly establish the cause of the short circuit in the electrical switch gear; however, investigators believe that moisture from an unidentified source caused the short circuit.  The short circuit of the high voltage switch gear eliminated the supply of power to the hotel's primary electrical systems and damaged the emergency electrical system conduit.  This caused the loss of lighting on the corridors and in the enclosed stairways in the 38-story high-rise tower and the loss power to the hotel's smoke control system.  Emergency power to the telephone and fire detection and alarm systems was supplied by batteries, allowing those systems to remain in operation.

The loss of the hotel's primary and emergency electrical power systems, combined with the accumulation of smoke in the basement garage areas where the stairways terminated, created a dark, smoke filled environment in these stairways (which occupants of the hotel were reluctant to enter) and then severely hampered occupants in their ability to quickly travel down the stairs and exit the hotel.

Occupant of the hotel were successfully evacuated during this incident.  As a result of this successful evacuation, a human behavior study was performed in order to document how properly functioning automatic detection and alarm systems and a trained staff can contribute to the effective handling of an emergency situation.   

For the full NFPA Fire Investigation report.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: