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rocky.jpgSparky got to spend a day in Philadelphia, where he checked off two of his bucket list items by running the famous “Rocky steps” and visiting the Liberty Bell. The 1976 film Rocky made the front steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art almost as much of a cultural landmark as the art inside the museum. The Liberty Bell was cast in 1752 and has since become a Philadelphia landmark and an iconic symbol of American independence. Through the window behind the bell, you can see Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution were both signed. 


Sparky turned 65 on March 18, 2016, and we have been pulling out all the stops to help him celebrate! He’s created a bucket list of 65 activities and events he’d like to accomplish from now through October. As he checks them off his list, we’ll make sure to share them with you. Some of Sparky’s wishes are pretty lofty, while others are just fun or a bit silly. Check in weekly to see where he goes and what he’s up to!

On April 29, 1986, a fire occurred in the Central Library of Los Angeles, California.  The 400 occupants evacuated the library in about eight minutes without a mishap, but the ensuing fire resulted in a commitment of over 70 pieces of fire apparatus and nearly 350 firefighters, and took 7.5 hours to extinguish.  Fifty-five firefighters suffered minor injuries during fire suppression.


The fire destroyed an estimated 200,000 books, the largest collection of patents in the western United States, and 2/3 of the library’s magazine collection.  In addition, about half of the library’s 1.2 million volumes were damaged by water and smoke.  The area of fire origin was in one of the book stacks and the fire was suspicious in nature.


The complex arrangement of the large floors prevented firefighters from immediately locating the fire.  The lack of sprinkler protection in many areas, the presence of vertical ventilation and other unprotected openings, as well as the abundant fuel contributed to the severity of the fire.  NFPA members can read the full investigation report for free.


On 18 April 2016, the Foundation hosted the Symposium on Fire Protection for a Changing World.  A engaged group of insurers, fire protection equipment manufacturers, engineers, academics, and fire service representatives gathered in Munich, Germany to hear presentations about emerging applications, concepts, and methods; fire protection challenges of new hazards; and big data for fire protection applications.  The speakers represented a cross-section of industry, academia, insurance, and the fire service. 


The specific topics discussed at the symposium included trends impacting fire protection, economic and environmental impacts of fire events, intelligent buildings, tall wood buildings, photovoltaic systems, lithium-ion batteries, and many more. All presentations from the event can be found on the Foundation's website

NFPAchats.jpgA recent summit hosted by the Missouri Fire Sprinkler Coalition introduced attendees to something of an anomaly--a builder who fully supports home fire sprinklers. Admitting that some of his peers and local homebuilding associations take a different stance, Randy Propst, owner of Loran Construction, has seen the realities of fire sprinkler installation in new homes. He recently spoke with NFPA about his experience with this safety feature and why he's perplexed by the opposition's anti-sprinkler stance.

NFPA: Why have you started sprinklering your new homes?

I started building homes through a program by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program gives specific cities a certain amount of money to do with it as they please, as long as it improves affordable housing. In Springfield, Missouri, they’ve created a “bank” for this money. I borrow money to build these affordable homes. In turn, I have to keep my rent within HUD's levels.

Four years ago, we linked up with company Arc of the Ozarks [an organization supporting individuals with disabilities]. The company would rent a home from us for the people they serve and their caregivers. As we started working with them, we realized we’re missing something here. These homes need to be universally designed, which means they can accommodate people with various limitations. Concurrently, we got on a savings, energy, and safety kick. From a safety factor, we know we needed to start including fire sprinklers. The last four or five homes have been sprinklered. We’ll probably build another five or six this year, all sprinklered. Sprinklers will now be a standard part of our package. We have also tinkered with the idea of building spec homes, and if we do, they will all be sprinklered. I want the competitive advantage. [The insignificant cost of sprinklering a home] won't make or break a home sale, but tell me who else is offering this safety feature.

Read the rest of Propst's interview by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

healthCare.jpgOver the past 2 years at NFPA we have all been waiting for the Centers for Medicare + Medicaid Services (CMS) to announce that they are switching their requirements from the 2000 edition of NFPA 101, The Life Safety Code, to the 2012 version. It’s a HUGE deal as we all know. One question that everyone keeps asking is “when will the final rule be announced?”


We still don’t know for sure but there are rumblings that the announcement is imminent. The other question that seems to be coming up is “when a surveyor from CMS or the accrediting organization comes in to your health care facility to conduct an audit, who is the person on your staff that will answer their questions based on the 2012 edition?”


In preparation of that answer and while we wait for CMS, the Certification team at NFPA has created a new certification specifically designed for facilities managers in health care occupancies.  A few members of the advisory board that helped create the certification exam had this to say about this new program:


“Every facility manager needs to be continually focused on fire/life safety compliance, and the CLSS certification is one way to illustrate to your organization that you have the knowledge and skills needed to stay on task with these challenging requirements.”

-Valerie Laktash, Director of Facility Services at Placentia-Linda Hospital


"Health care engineers interface with and impact more internal departments than ever before. Ever-changing technologies have to be seamlessly integrated. Government, community members, hospital staff and patients rely on us as to interpret and implement regulations designed to make our health care facilities safer for all. Hospital administrators depend on us to not only meet current facility requirements but also plan future needs. Regardless of how the job changes, one thing remains the same: Health care engineers make sure that the medical staff and patients have clinically excellent facilities and a clean, safe environment of care. This new NFPA certification is based on one of the most important codes we must interpret – NFPA 101-2012 and it represents a mandatory credential going forward in this profession”

-Edward M. Browne, Vice President Support Services, Cambridge Health Alliance


For more information on this new certification, please visit

Sparky visited Seattle's Space Needle, which is the largest building on earth by volume by volume. At 605 feet tall, the building is so high that when it was first constructed in the 1960s clouds would sometimes form inside the tower! There are 848 steps leading up to the Space Needle's observation deck, and, luckily, an elevator!


Sparky turned 65 on March 18, 2016, and we have been pulling out all the stops to help him celebrate! He’s created a bucket list of 65 activities and events he’d like to accomplish from now through October. As he checks them off his list, we’ll make sure to share them with you. Some of Sparky’s wishes are pretty lofty, while others are just fun or a bit silly. Check in weekly to see where he goes and what he’s up to!

On April 27, 1998, a fire in an occupied board and care facility in Arlington, Washington killed eight of the building’s 32 residents.  The facility was originally built as a hospital but had undergone several renovations and changes in usage over the years, and was not equipped with an automatic fire sprinkler system.  A local fire alarm system was installed with hardwired, AC powered smoke detectors and heat detectors in corridors and common areas.  There were also manual pull stations next to the exterior exit doors.


The fire was determined to be incendiary in nature, and is believed to have begun when a resident ignited her bedding material with either a lighter or matches.  Based on NFPA’s investigation and analysis, the following were significant factors contributing to the loss of life in this incident.


  • Lack of an automatic fire sprinkler system
  • Lack of system smoke detectors in the room of origin
  • An open door in the room of origin
  • Additional open doors


NFPA members can read the full investigation report, and all site visitors can read a summary of the investigation.

Sparky got to spend a day eating his way through Hersheypark and Chocolate World in Hershey, PA. Hersheypark, which opened in 1906, was founded by Milton Hershey as a leisure park for the employees of his chocolate company. Chocolate World, the accompanying visitors’ center, opened in 1973 and offers visitors a look into how chocolate is made.


Sparky turned 65 on March 18, 2016, and we have been pulling out all the stops to help him celebrate! He’s created a bucket list of 65 activities and events he’d like to accomplish from now through October. As he checks them off his list, we’ll make sure to share them with you. Some of Sparky’s wishes are pretty lofty, while others are just fun or a bit silly. Check in weekly to see where he goes and what he’s up to!


Last year, NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative released a quiz gauging the public's perception on home fire sprinklers and sprinkler requirements. Taken more than 2,000 times, the quiz has been a popular tool in getting fire sprinklers on the public's radar while offering them a dose of education.


For those quiz takers out there--you're in luck. We have refreshed it with a series of new questions. Take a minute and test your knowledge. Submit your score to us by replying to the comments section, and please help us share this fun tool by clicking on the social media buttons below.

Last week, Toyota introduced their new hydrogen fuel car, Mirai , to California streets. Like any alternative fuel vehicle (AFV), cars powered by hydrogen present unique challenges for the fire service and emergency responders.


“In general, AFVs are different for first responders because they’re used to responding to vehicles that have internal combustion engines. They have decades of experience addressing vehicle fires that have that sort of technology, so AFVs present new challenges for emergency response crews,” says Michael Gorin, a project manager at NFPA.


NFPA offers training and other resources for those dealing with AFV emergency situations. There is a free online training program that takes a comprehensive look at every type of AFV. There is also an AFV emergency field guide - a single resource for emergency responders that includes procedures for any type of AFV. This document, compiled last year, contains specific information for dealing with a Mirai vehicle in the event of an emergency.


In Mirai and vehicles like it, a fuel cell powered by hydrogen gas replaces the traditional gasoline or diesel engine. As Gorin explains, hydrogen is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that cannot be odorized like other flammable gases that first responders are familiar with. Emergency responders, says Gorin, should use thermal imagers when dealing with any hydrogen emergency in order to determine the presence of fire. Any hydrogen fires that do occur should not be extinguished unless the flow of gas can be stopped.


While AFVs are still a rarity on the roads, that will likely change as the technology behind these vehicles becomes more accessible and as prices fall closer to what a working person can afford.  Gorin points out, Tesla recently introduced their Model 3, which at $35,000 comes at a high cost, but one much lower than their other AFVs on the market today.


“The general sense in the industry is that the popularity of AFVS will continue to expand as the vehicles become more affordable for the public,” he says.



Sparky checked off two items when he visited Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, both in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Construction on the Crazy Horse Memorial, a tribute to Native Americans, was started in 1948. While it’s still far from completion, the memorial is already the world's largest mountain carving! Mount Rushmore took 14 years to complete, and now attracts over 2 million visitors every year.


Sparky turned 65 on March 18, 2016, and we have been pulling out all the stops to help him celebrate! He’s created a bucket list of 65 activities and events he’d like to accomplish from now through October. As he checks them off his list, we’ll make sure to share them with you. Some of Sparky’s wishes are pretty lofty, while others are just fun or a bit silly. Check in weekly to see where he goes and what he’s up to!

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

  • New tip sheet on security bars
  • Campaign prompts putting safety first when looking for off-campus housing
  • Upcoming Remembering When Conference
  • Sparky goes green for Earth Day
  • Augusta’s great fire of 1916
  • Report: U.S. trends and patterns of fire losses

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.

Lightweight.pngNFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative has extensively covered the concerns of modern, homebuilding materials and home furnishings under fire.

For instance:

Now, we want to hear from you. The topic of lightweight construction is now featured on Xchange, NFPA's new online community that gives you the opportunity to connect with your peers on issues most important to you. (It's free to join Xchange and get involved.) Check out the new discussion on lightweight construction, and let us know what experience you have had with this material. Are you a fire service member that has responded to homes built with this material? Have you had any involvement with homes built with this material? Share your thoughts directly on Xchange.

Nacogdoches, Texas.pngAt approximately 12:25 p.m., on April 16, 1984, workmen were performing arc welding operations on a hot press in the International Paper Company's Nacogdoches, Texas plywood manufacturing plant.  During welding operations, deposits of oil, pitch, and wood dust which collected on the press, the catwalks, the wood structural members of the roof assembly, and the plywood roof deck ignited.  The fire spread rapidly over the accumulated deposits both above and below the automatic sprinklers.  Fire department units began arriving at the plant at 12:28 p.m. and found the plywood manufacturing facility heavily involved in fire.  Within five minutes after the arrival of the initial fire department units, the building was "fully involved."  Roof collapse began approximately ten minutes later.  The fire destroyed the plywood manufacturing facility, resulting in an estimated loss of 32.5 million dollars.


Construction of the plant facilities began in 1969, and the plant was operational in August 1970.  The plywood manufacturing building encompassed approximately 218,000 undivided square feet of all wood construction.  In 1979, a 19,000 square foot addition of steel construction was added to the south end of the original building.  This addition housed the jet dryers and other processing equipment.


The building was protected throughout by twelve dry-pipe automatic sprinkler systems and two dry-pipe standpipe systems.

Three factors were identified during the investigation as significant in the rapid fire spread and loss of the building.  These factors were:

The accumulation of highly combustible deposits of oil, pitch, and wood dust generated in the plywood manufacturing process;

The lack of adequate fire prevention measures during arc welding operations;

The obstructed piping with in the dry-pipe automatic sprinkler systems.

For more information on this Fire Investigation report Plywood Manufacturing Plant Fire Those who would like more information on industrial and manufacturing fires Fires in U.S. Industrial and Manufacturing Facilities

Sparky checked of yet another bucket list item by joining members of the National Guard at the McCrady Training Center in South Carolina. Sparky got to participate in training exercises and even ride in a tank!


Sparky turned 65 on March 18, 2016, and we have been pulling out all the stops to help him celebrate! He’s created a bucket list of 65 activities and events he’d like to accomplish from now through October. As he checks them off his list, we’ll make sure to share them with you. Some of Sparky’s wishes are pretty lofty, while others are just fun or a bit silly. Check in weekly to see where he goes and what he’s up to!


The April NFPA Journal Podcast episode is now available for download on iTunes, Google Play, and other podcast platforms.

The episode features NFPA electrical engineers and code specialists Mark Earley and Jeff Sargent, speaking on three new proposed articles in the upcoming 2017 edition of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®). The proposed articles discussed deal with energy storage systems, large-scale photovoltaic, and direct-current microgrids.


Listen to the podcast to hear the experts give their insights on these new technologies, and to learn about how they are addressed in the 2017 NEC. If you prefer, listen to the podcast on your computer.


Don’t miss an episode. Please subscribe to the NFPA Journal Podcast on iTunes!

April FBThe April 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 2016 wildfire season and the challenges residents are facing so early in the year
  • Four great ways to keep your yard green, healthy and Firewise this spring season
  • Information about FEMA’s America’s PrepareAthon! and tips, tools and resources to help you and your neighbors prepare for natural disasters (including wildfire!)
  • A look at the work South Africa is doing to reduce its wildfire risk through community-based programs

...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.



NFPA launched a new Fire Protection Engineering Support Fund at Oklahoma State University, the University of Maryland (UMD) and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) this week. NFPA funds will directly help these universities recognize students who are tackling today’s fire challenges.

NFPA has given many fire protection awards in the name of engineering trailblazers, but this marks the first time we have created an ongoing NFPA support program to further advance FPE studies. Students enrolled at these universities are encouraged to talk with their FPE professors and department leaders about the following programs:

  • Oklahoma State University will recognize up to three undergraduate students annually in its Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology.  A monetary award will be presented each spring, along with a stipend to pay for travel to NFPA’s Annual Conference & Exposition, where students will showcase projects to more than 3,000 fire and electrical safety professionals.
  • The University of Maryland Department of Fire Protection Engineering will utilize NFPA funds to recognize students in the university’s extensive outreach program. Top UMD fire protection engineering students visit schools in the region to discuss careers in the FPE field. Department leaders can now recognize students that are actively involved in community engagement with a stipend to cover their time and associated travel expenses.
  • WPI has created the NFPA Fire Protection Engineering Graduate Support Fund award to be distributed as a single gift annually to a FPE graduate student during their course of study at WPI. Criteria for the award will be developed by the Fire Protection Engineering Department in consultation with the provost and NFPA.

Supporting these institutions and FPE students’ efforts presents a powerful opportunity to reinforce their passion and validate that their research has a real, vital impact on the world of fire protection.

Data workshopIn March, in San Antonio, Texas, the Fire Protection Research Foundation held a workshop to address “Big Data and Fire Protection Systems.” The goal of this workshop was to identify and prioritize the opportunities for big data to inform decision making for ITM (Inspection, Testing and Maintenance) used for built-in fire protection systems.


The on‐going reliability of built‐in fire protection systems is related to inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) of these systems. This is addressed by multiple NFPA codes and standards, including NFPA 4, Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing, NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water‐Based Fire Protection Systems, NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, and NFPA 2001, Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems. Requirements for ITM have evolved over time, but often do not have a solid scientific basis.

The proceedings from this workshop have now been published and are free to download.


Data analytics is a new area of focus for NFPA - one that you can read more about in a recent NFPA Journal Perspectives column on big data and NFPA's future. As part of this new initiative, is the development of a Data Analytics Sandbox. NFPA is uniquely positioned to coordinate the next generation of data and data analytics in support of the built environment and safety infrastructure. Going forward, the NFPA Data Analytics Sandbox is anticipated as serving as an important collective resource, and serving as a next generation test bed in support of our rapidly evolving world of cyber physical systems and the internet of everything. The collection and coordination of ITM data, which will ultimately support the technical activities addressed by NFPA 4, 25, 72, 2001, etc., is considered a prime candidate activity for the NFPA Data Analytics Sandbox.


The Problem with Free

Posted by ashleysmith Employee Apr 13, 2016

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01b8d1be0c87970c-320wi.jpgWhy copyright protection is so important for standards developers

Standards development organizations like NFPA are in the midst of a fight that impacts the very core of our mission, NFPA President Jim Pauley wrote in his latest column.

Some opponents say the standards system should be free, while others say they would dismantle the private sector standards system altogether in favor of a government system for codes and standards.


However, this is not realistic. The federal Office of Management and Budget [OMB] has maintained a strong preference for voluntary consensus standards, rather than government-created standards. Many other government entities have said they couldn’t replace what the private sector standards system produces.


Without NFPA codes, our world would be a very different – and more dangerous – place. Without the National Electrical Code®, electrical installations would be less safe, more expensive, and vastly different from one area of the country to the next. Without the enforcement of NFPA 1, Fire Code, fires would occur more often, resulting in more injuries and deaths.


Developing these codes and standards that improve safety around the world requires time, money, infrastructure and production, and this work is sustained by what we charge for our output. It couldn’t happen otherwise.


It's crucial that people who value and rely on the results of our private sector standards respect the copyright laws. Before you copy a copyrighted standard to give to someone for free, or before you hit send on an email that attaches an electronic version of a copyrighted standard, keep in mind that you're playing into the hands of those who casually say, "everything should be free."


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.

Sparky spent a day at Oregon’s Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, just in time for their annual Tulip Fest. Every year, a stunning expanse of colorful tulips stretch across the farm’s 40 acres of land, a spectacle that draws families (and dogs!) from around the country.


Sparky turned 65 on March 18, 2016, and we have been pulling out all the stops to help him celebrate! He’s created a bucket list of 65 activities and events he’d like to accomplish from now through October. As he checks them off his list, we’ll make sure to share them with you. Some of Sparky’s wishes are pretty lofty, while others are just fun or a bit silly. Check in weekly to see where he goes and what he’s up to!


This issue’s “In Compliance” section takes a look at electrical safety, life safety in new and existing structures, home sprinkler myths, and fire alarm considerations for industrial spaces.


Here’s the news you need to know, in brief. Or, visit the NFPA Journal website to read the complete section.


Meter Matters

When firefighters enter a building, they could be exposed to energized electrical wiring, or they could risk the well-documented hazards associated with de-energizing the building’s electrical panel and wiring system. Lack of proper training and inadequate electrical personal protective equipment have contributed to fire service personnel being injured while pulling meters.

A proposed revision of the 2017 National Electrical Code® (NEC®) would protect firefighters and other first responders from shock and and possible arc-flash hazards while responding to certain residential incidents. The revision requires all one- and two-family homes to have a service disconnecting means on the exterior of the home.


Look Ahead

Each new edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®, addresses state-of-the-art subjects not codified in previous editions. Proposed changes for the 2018 edition include:

  • Hazardous materials – The Chapter 4 goals are being expanded to include the provision of reasonable life safety during emergencies involving hazardous materials.
  • Integrated fire protection systems – A new provision is being added to Chapter 9 of the Life Safety Code to permit the occupancy chapters to require fire protection systems that are integrated with other building systems to be tested accorded to NFPA 4®, Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing®.
  • Risk analysis for mass notification – Another provision is being added to Chapter 9 to permit the occupancy chapters to require a risk analysis for mass notification systems in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®.
  • Construction, alteration and demolition operations – A provision is being added to Chapter 4 of the Life Safety Code to permit the occupancy chapters to require construction, alteration, and demolition operations to be in accordance with NFPA 241®, Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations®.


Straight Facts

Many homebuilders, developers, and general contractors have preconceived notions about automatic sprinklers in single-family homes. Often, they’re myths based on bad information.

To help dispel those myths, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) and NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative teamed up at the recent International Builders Show to disseminate the right information through face-to-face conversations.

The main myths they wanted to debunk? That sprinklers are too expensive (the average cost is only about $1.35 per sprinklered square foot), that they’re ugly (concealed sprinkler covers can make the nearly undetectable), and that they’re complicated to install (in reality, they’re very similar to a domestic plumbing system).


Ambient Attention

An array of ambient conditions in industrial occupancies can affect the performance of a fire alarm system. The 2016 edition of NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®, states the limits imposed on these devices based on ambient conditions, and designers must carefully consider those when choosing components for fire alarm systems in industrial spaces.

Those spaces can include conditions that can affect detector operation or initiate false alarms: mechanical vibration, electrical interference, process smoke, moisture, particulates, fumes, noise, and radiation, among others.


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 courtesy of Shutterstock


Since first entering the US market in 2007, electronic cigarettes have become increasingly popular, with sales reaching $1.5 billion in 2014.

Uncertainties abound about this relatively new technology, ranging from the health effects of this alternative to traditional cigarettes to the threat of injury resulting from fire or explosions caused by e-cigarettes.


Last week, NFPA released a report about the increase in fires and explosions from the use of e-cigarettes. By tracking media coverage of fires caused by e-cigarettes, NFPA has determined that these sorts of fires are on the rise. There were 15 incidents reported in 2015 alone, up from 25 reported between 2009 and 2014. While e-cigarette fire events are rare, the report concludes they can cause injuries so severe that greater regulatory oversight of the technology behind e-cigarettes may be in order.


The report also notes that fires could be linked to e-cigarettes’ power source, lithium-ion batteries, which are often found in rechargeable devices.  NFPA Journal™ has covered issues related to lithium-ion batteries in the past and included a Fire Protection Research Foundation  report on lithium-ion batteries describing the dangers associated with these energy storage systems.

station fire.png



In his previous post, NFPA blogger Rob Feeney discussed the nightmares and realities he experienced following the Station Nightclub fire in 2003. Grappling with the death of his fiancée, Donna, and his own injuries from the fire, Feeney underscores a burn survivor's long and arduous road to recovery:
While in the hospital, I had many visitors—in particular, Donna’s family and the priest that was going to marry Donna and me. Since Donna left behind two daughters (8 and 11 years old), I wanted to tell them how sorry I was and that it should have been me that was buried, not her. They didn’t blame me. They wanted me to concentrate on my own physical healing and promised they would be there to boost my damaged body and heart. However, I still felt responsible. I didn’t feel I deserved anyone helping me.


My first few days of regaining consciousness were confusing. In fact, it took more than two years to completely separate reality from my morphine dreams. My first day awake, there was a nurse in my room with an accent. Shelley Kelly Lewis, hailing from Nebraska, was part of a federal effort to assist with a large amount of burn injuries from the Station. Shelley became the most important person to me. She was my mental and emotional rock. By my side 18 hours a day, she told me she would make sure I get through this. At the time, part of me believed what Shelley said while the rest of me wanted to die.

Read the rest of Rob's post by visiting NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative blog.

UntitledThe April issue of NFPA News, our codes and standards newsletter, is now available.

In this issue:

  • Proposed TIAs seeking public comments on NFPA 25 and NFPA 70
  • A2017 First Draft Reports available for submission of public comments
  • 2016 NFPA Standards Directory available
  • News in brief
  • Committees soliciting public input
  • Committees seeking members
  • Committee meetings calendar

Subscribe today! NFPA News is a free newsletter, and includes special announcements, notification of public input and comment closing dates, requests for comments, notices on the availability of Standards Council minutes, and other important news about NFPA’s standards development process.

This week, Sparky got to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Located in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the memorial commemorates Wilbur and Orville Wright’s historic experiments in aviation, including the “first flight” of 1903. This summer, the National Parks Service will also celebrate an important anniversary- 100 years of looking after America's national parks.


Sparky turned 65 on March 18, 2016, and we have been pulling out all the stops to help him celebrate! He’s created a bucket list of 65 activities and events he’d like to accomplish from now through October. As he checks them off his list, we’ll make sure to share them with you. Some of Sparky’s wishes are pretty lofty, while others are just fun or a bit silly. Check in weekly to see where he goes and what he’s up to!

nfpa70.pngThe Second Draft Report for NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®, is now available.  NFPA 70 is in the Annual 2016 revision cycle with a deadline to submit a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM) of April 29, 2016.

The Second Draft Report is the second part of the Technical Committee Report, which documents the Comment Stage.  It consists of the Second Draft, Public Comments with corresponding Committee Actions and Committee Statements, Correlating Notes and their respective Committee Statements, Committee Comments, Correlating Revisions, and Ballot Statements.

membrane.jpgWhen marinas need to sand and paint boats, the dust and fumes pose problems. They can spread throughout the building, bothering people who work in the marina and dirtying other boats.


To address that, marinas often build what’s known as a membrane enclosure: a metal scaffolding structure surrounding the boat, which is then covered in plastic shrink wrap. Solves the problem, right? Well…


The bigger problem is, using these membrane enclosures inside sprinklered buildings presents some serious fire safety hazards, the March/April NFPA Journal reports. The concern is that they could delay sprinkler activation in the event of a fire. Water may not be able to penetrate the enclosure.


There are at least two code implications. Membrane enclosures are not compatible with NFPA 33, Spray Application Using Flammable or Combustible Materials, or NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems.


The marine industry isn’t alone. Many other industries do similar spray applications inside enclosed structures, including aircraft facilities and hydro-electric facilities. Many of the industries, even including marine, have expressed concern about the fact that the practice is not technically allowed by standard.


The details are far more complex, but for the full picture, check out Nancy Pearce’s piece, “Wrapped Up,” in our latest journal issue. If your industry uses membrane enclosures, this is a crucial read.


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.


Construction workers pick up in the aftermath of the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs.


In June 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire tore through the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs, killing an elderly couple and causing an estimated $454 million in insured losses. It remains one of the most destructive fires in U.S. history—now it is also one of the most-well understood.


A new NFPA Journal article, “House to House,” in the “In a Flash” section of the magazine, looks at a groundbreaking 227-page study on the fire conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


A NIST team spent almost a year in Mountain Shadows conducting about 250 interviews with witnesses and first responders. They cross-referenced those accounts with radio logs, time-stamped photographs, satellite images, and city records to meticulously piece together how the wildfire moved through time and space. In doing so, they tried to determine how factors such as topography, weather, building density, ignition vulnerabilities, and first responder actions affected the fire’s path.


Read more about what they learned, and how meticulous, in-depth wildfire investigations could change the way we think about fire behavior, in the all new NFPA Journal. in this month’s “In a Flash”:


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.


Both wildfire and unemployment have long been pervasive problems in South Africa.


Chaparral and shrubs burn fiercely in the west, as do dry grasses and thickets in the north. Meanwhile, some one in four South Africans is unemployed.


So how do these relate?


In 2003, the South African government piloted a program called “Working on Fire” (WoF) that addresses both by recruiting disadvantaged South Africans, training them extensively, and then hiring them as wildland firefighters. The program creates much-needed jobs while keeping wildfires at bay.


WoF now has some 5,000 participants across 200 bases. The wages these firefighters collect help provide for more than 25,000 people across the country, by some estimates.


The program has been such a success that Kishugu, the private organization that runs and manages, WoF, rapidly expanded it throughout the world, maintaining operations in seven countries and four continents.

In the March/April issue of NFPA Journal, staff writer Jesse Roman speaks with Val Charlton, division director of Public Benefit Organization at Kishugu.


In this in-depth interview, Charlton talks about the main causes of fire in South Africa, how the WoF model developed, and how NFPA is involved. Read the full interview here.


Also, check out our podcast of the interview.


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.


smokealarm.pngGripping my Red Cross vest and a large cup of java, I sluggishly entered the Beech Street Senior Center in Belmont, Massachusetts. My friend's please-get-rid-of-all-my-vodka party the night prior had apparently impacted my slumber. However, this Saturday morning meeting was well worth the 6 a.m. wake-up call.


Filling the center's lounge area were another two Red Cross volunteers, a half-dozen members of the Belmont Fire Department, and members of the town's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). Our mission was twofold: install a series of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in more than 30 homes while also leaving them with key fire safety tips. The event was part of a larger, national endeavor--the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign--aimed at reducing death and injury caused by home fires in the U.S. by 25 percent in five years. (NFPA is a partner for this campaign.) Giving residents free smoke alarms and useful tools is how the Red Cross aims to hit the goal.


"The Red Cross responds to home fires?" is the question I get asked most frequently when I tell folks about my volunteer work with the organization. "Aren't they strictly for big disasters?" Actually, the Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes, and nearly all of them are home fires. As a member of the Boston metro Disaster Action Team, I've seen firsthand how fire can crumble lives and shatter dreams. My worst day on the "job" was when I responded to a home fire that killed a Boston University student on the verge of graduation.


This is why I was elated to volunteer for something a bit more proactive. Separating into four teams, a Red Cross and CERT member joined a firefighter placed in charge of proper placement and installation of the alarms inside each home. Knocking on our first door, my team got an eyeful when an elderly man answered the door--pantsless. Even scarier was the fact that the man--who had a wife in a nursing home and now lived alone--had a series of nonworking smoke alarms. The devices that were working were outdated.


As Ross, the firefighter in my group, hoisted up a ladder and installed the new devices, I sat down with the resident. He learned about proper testing and maintenance of his new gifts, preparing a home-escape plan, and seeking safety if a fire should occur. Knowing his legs don't work the way they used to, he shook his head when I told him he only has as little as two minutes to safely escape a home fire.


"What's the number you call during an emergency?" said another homeowner in his 90s. Since the man still had his wits about him, I was shocked that he was unaware of 9-1-1. I made a point to write the number on one of my handouts in black marker. He's a nice guy--cordial and funny, with a nice family, based on his photos scattered throughout the home. My heart aches when he tells me he's afraid of dying, then elates when we leave his home safer than before. (There were no smoke alarms at all in his house.)

We enter another home of an elderly woman. Built in the 1800s, the home is beautiful, but stuffed with stuff on every level. Luckily, most of the smoke alarms were working, though outdated. (NFPA recommends replacing smoke alarms after 10 years.)

"Absolutely scary" were the words I remember Ross used to sum up what he saw in these homes. For a firefighter who has seen a thing or two in his lifetime to use that phrase meant the job we were doing was critical. The teams that day installed a total of 122 devices in 33 homes.


I slept soundly that night, and I hope the homewowners we had encountered, now safer in their homes, had done the same.


This post was written by Fred Durso, Jr., communications manager for NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

At 3:08 a.m. on April 6, 1990, the Miami Beach Fire department received a telephone call reporting a fire at the Fontana Hotel. First-in fire units found the hotel's lobby area heavily involved in fire and began simultaneous suppression and rescue operations.  Before the fire had been extinguished 9 patrons died and the building was extensively damaged.


Investigators were unable to determine the cause of the fire which appeared to have originated in a crawl space above a storage room.  Once the fire burned out of the crawl space, it ignited combustible ceiling tiles and other combustible materials in a lobby area.  Smoke and fire in the lobby area spread to the second and third stories through a utility shaft, normal cracks and voids in the structure, and HVAC ductwork.


Retroactive application of the NFPA Life Safety Code by the Miami Beach Fire Department contributed to the large number of survivors in this incident.  This is especially remarkable when the general construction of the building, advanced age of the majority of guests, and the time of alarm are considered.  More than 90 percent of the building population survived.  Well-constructed stair towers contributed to the evacuation of guests in the building.


Sparky got to visit the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. Built in 1744 by Spanish missionaries, the Alamo was converted to a military fortification in the late 1800s. In 1836, it was the site of the famous Battle of the Alamo, which has since been immortalized in movies and books.


Sparky turned 65 on March 18, 2016, and we have been pulling out all the stops to help him celebrate! He’s created a bucket list of 65 activities and events he’d like to accomplish from now through October. As he checks them off his list, we’ll make sure to share them with you. Some of Sparky’s wishes are pretty lofty, while others are just fun or a bit silly. Check in weekly to see where he goes and what he’s up to!


What kid – or adult kid – wouldn’t want a hoverboard?


During the 2015 holiday season, hoverboards were all the rage. The two-wheeled, motorized, self-balancing scooters were one of the hardest gifts to get. Think Atari in 1979, Cabbage Patch Kids in 1983, or Tickle Me Elmo in 1996.


The problem is, hoverboards have a tendency to catch fire, in many cases due to overheated lithium batteries. Learn from Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy, what the holiday hoverboard flap illustrated about public safety.


Also in our March/April issue, Kathleen Almand, vice president for Research at NFPA, talks about the results of a long-term health study proving that firefighters have a higher risk than the general population for some types of cancers. Find out more here.


Donald Bliss, our vice president of Field Operations, discusses why it’s critical to gather fire data from across the world. This topic is particularly current in the wake of deadly fires across the world, including the Russian mental health clinic fire that killed 23 and the tragic factory fires in Bangladesh that have killed hundreds. 


Over in Washington, D.C., our division director for Government Affairs, Gregory Cade, talks about global climate change in the wake of the annual Conference of the Parties (COP21), also know as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference – which produced the Paris Agreement for the limiting of global warming. Does the agreement signal a new role for codes and standards developers? Willette, division manager for Public Fire Protection, discusses whether all firefighters need to be trained and certified for interior fire attack, or whether some can be limited to logistical support outside a structure during a fire. Read more here.


Finally, there’s news on how climate change and structural fire risks collide in the wildland/urban interface, courtesy of Lucian Deaton, who manages the Firewise Communities and Fire Adapted Communities Programs in NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division.


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.

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, and NFPA 70, National Electrical Code® , are being published for public review and comment:


Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the May 20, 2016 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date

An live burn/sprinkler demonstration in Connecticut was made possible by NFPA's 2015 Bringing Safety Home Grant.


NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative recently announced the winners of its Bringing Safety Home Grant, given to 15 recipients across North America. The funding assists and other safety advocates with up to $10,000 apiece to support activities that showcase the importance of home fire sprinklers.


Following a successful launch in 2015, the Bringing Safety Home Grant is once again assisting sprinkler advocates with their grassroots efforts this year. Recipients will use the grant to initiate an extensive campaign promoting home fire sprinklers to residents and the state’s decision makers.


See a complete list of this year's recipients.

Directory.jpgThe 2016 NFPA Standards Directory is now available for download. The Directory contains standards development information such as:

  • An introduction to the NFPA standards development process
  • the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards,Technical Meeting Convention Rules, and other procedures
  • NFPA's members of the Board of Directors, Standards Council, and advisory committees
  • Committee projects and scopes, revision cycle schedules for processing committee reports


Download a free copy of the NFPA Standards Directory (PDF, 2 MB), your guide to NFPA’s standards development process.

prepareathon.jpgOn Saturday, April 30, FEMA is encouraging individuals and communities across the U.S. to take action to prepare for emergencies on


National PrepareAthon! Day. Won’t you join us and others around the country to plan and practice your preparedness! There are several ways you can take action including:


Leading up to and directly after National PrepareAthon! Day, FEMA will be promoting hazard-specific weeks and provide tools and resources you can use to help prepare for these natural disasters. Check out the hazards and the assigned week below:

  • April 10 – 16:      Flood Awareness Week
  • April 17 – 23:      Tornado Awareness Week
  • April 24 – 30:      Lead up to National PrepareAthon! Day
  • May 1 – 7:           Wildfire Awareness Week and lead up to NFPA’s national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day (May 7)
  • May 15 – 21:       Hurricane Awareness Week
  • May 22 – 28:       Extreme Heat Week


Start organizing today and participate in April and May no matter what hazard you’re most at risk for in your area. Find out where preparedness events are happening in your area, connect with other communities, find customizable resources, and add your own activities to the PrepareAthon activity map to demonstrate how you are taking action to prepare.


Get all this and more at


Then stay tuned for more information from FEMA about Wildfire Awareness Week starting May 1 and NFPA’s Community Wildfire Preparedness Day on May 7! For those considering wildfire projects, you'll see just how easy it is to apply your PrepareAthon! project to the Prep Day event! Can't wait to hear what you have planned!

Early in the morning of April 2, 1973, a fire involved a second-floor night club in a 12 story hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. This fire was of particular interest because it exposed a 10 story atrium in the center of the hotel, and even though property damage was high, only one of the 1,000 guests required hospital treatment. The fire was discovered coming from the nightclub at 4:30 a.m. by a maintenance employee, who activated a manual fire alarm station and then pulled out a standpipe hose and began applying water.


The atrium, located in the middle of the building was filled with smoke when firefighters arrived, and visibility was down to 10 feet in most areas. Most of the firefighters were assigned to prevent panic among the occupants and assist with evacuation. NFPA’s Fire Journal article regarding the incident found several items of note:

    • The building’s mechanical exhaust system did not operate; because the switch connecting the smoke detection system to the smoke exhaust system had been turned off (the system had to be manually turned on during firefighting operations)
    • Visibility was severely reduced, to the point of obscuring exit signs
    • Exit doorways were painted the same color as the surrounding wall, obscuring their location to occupants in the dense smoke
    • Guests attempted to use the automatic elevators for escape; since the elevators could not be manually controlled for escape, firefighters had to ride the cars to prevent their being used
    • The large volume of the atrium permitted dilution of smoke in the early stages of the fire, enabling some guests to escape without much confusion
    • Quick action by firefighters to control panic probably held injuries to a minimum; one firefighter was injured in this incident


NFPA members can read the Fire Journal + article.


The greater fire hazard of many stored goods makes it imperative for building owners to consider more effective methods of warehouse protection. Photograph: Getty Image


For warehouse managers, being told they need to install in-rack sprinklers can be stressful. The fire protection benefits are not in question. The problem is the cost.


Typically, a large number of sprinklers are required for warehouse storage racks, making the cost far higher than ceiling-level sprinklers. Adding to that, managers worry that in-rack sprinklers could cause water damage to products if they’re set off unintentionally.


However, as warehouses grow taller to make more efficient use of space, the fire risks are elevated because the natural path for fire to grow is vertical.


In 2011, commercial property insurance company FM Global launched an in-rack sprinkler research project to improve the protection of storage racks and lower the overall cost of fire protection. The company’s research division conducted small-, intermediate-, and full-scale fire tests using computer modeling to identify potential protection solutions.


This unique approach proved that by using larger sprinklers and higher water flow rates, the number of in-rack sprinklers could be significantly reduced, saving significant cash. It was estimated this could lower the cost of in-rack sprinkler installation by 40 percent, in addition to reducing the likelihood of damage to stored products.   


A feature story in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal, “Rack Rate,” takes an in-depth look at this research, which offers building owners and designers new possibilities for protecting buildings and products that may be impossible for ceiling-level sprinklers alone.


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.

Sparky checked off yet another bucket list item when he got to ride in Alaska’s Helo-2 search and rescue helicopter. Purchased in 2013, Helo-2 helps Alaska State Troopers cover the state’s vast expanses that would otherwise be inaccessible.


Sparky turned 65 on March 18, 2016, and we have been pulling out all the stops to help him celebrate! He’s created a bucket list of 65 activities and events he’d like to accomplish from now through October. As he checks them off his list, we’ll make sure to share them with you. Some of Sparky’s wishes are pretty lofty, while others are just fun or a bit silly. Check in weekly to see where he goes and what he’s up to!

We announced about a month ago and have since been accepting submissions for our National Anthem Singing Contest. We hope to find a singer of the National Anthem to perform at this year’s General Session of the NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas on Monday, June 13, 2016.


We have taken a look at all entries, and a panel of judges have selected 3 finalists. It's now YOUR TURN to participate. We want you to vote for your favorite entry once per day now through April 24th. The contest winner will receive a roundtrip flight to Las Vegas, one-night hotel accommodations and full conference registration to the NFPA Conference & Expo, where they will perform the national anthem in front of over 3,000 attendees.


Here are the finalists; good luck to all, and remember to go log your vote!

  • Megan Ruger
  • Smoke N' Guns
  • Samantha VanDervort

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