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January 30, 2015 Previous day Next day

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

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