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NFPA 70E Series: Where's the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)?


It is coming up on Labor Day. A day for honoring the American worker. It seems an appropriate time to launch a new blog series on NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®. If nothing else, NFPA 70E is about protecting the worker.


Until I run out of topics to have a tirade about, I intend to offer some personal observations that have been made since I have become the staff liaison for NFPA 70E. I expect these to be posted every few weeks for several months. Some may be short. Some will be lengthy. It is expected that you will not agree with all of my views especially since some will take a very simplistic view to make a point. Hopefully they will provide a different angle on some issues you face and something to think about when using NFPA 70E. My ultimate goal is to make you think before signing an energized work permit.


Recent conversations with users of NFPA 70E have lead me to the realization that many do not know who is responsible for enforcing the requirements. Unlike other standards like the National Electrical Code® (NEC®), the Life Safety Code® (NFPA 101®) or the Standard for the Installation of Fire Sprinklers (NFPA® 13), NFPA 70E is not an adopted or legislated standard. It does not have a governmental authority for enforcing the requirements. 


Many believe that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for enforcing NFPA 70E. While OSHA regulations provide the law that American workers be provided a safe work environment, it is not responsible for enforcing NFPA 70E. OSHA enforces the requirements in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). OSHA expects that you have complied with the law. They typically do not audit every facility in the United States of America prior to an employee conducting any task. They may use NFPA 70E to show where your program is lacking after an incident. Using NFPA 70E requires proactive application of the requirements to be effective so OSHA is not really the AHJ. An AHJ is broadly defined as “an organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or a procedure.”


Consider the analogy that there are laws against stealing. You might get caught your first time or your hundredth time.  You steal
things for years or are never caught. Does this negate the need to actually follow the law? Does this mean there is no enforcement? The court system provides punishment if you happen to get caught violating the law. Likewise, OSHA has laws for providing a safe work environment for your employees. You decide to ignore the laws requiring safe work practices. You put your employees at
risk.  Hundreds of minor injuries or near misses occur. Nothing is reported. Ultimately there is a serious injury or a fatality. OSHA punishes you for not following the law. Did OSHA make you comply with the worker safety law? Did the court system or police department make you comply with the law against theft?  No, they did not.  Each reacted to you not following the law. They did not proactively ensure that you actually follow the law. Only you can do that.


One way to proactively address worker safety is to utilize NFPA 70E to assist in providing a work environment that has followed the guidelines of a national consensus standard when your electrical safety program is established and when it is being utilized throughout the facility. You would not only be proactively applying practices and procedures to minimize the risk of electrical injury to your employee but proactively setting workplace guidelines that help you comply with the federal mandate that your employees not be subjected to undue risk of electrical injuries.


The saying is “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Ignorance of industry and national standards is also no excuse. If an industry has identified hazards and risks, and implemented methods to minimize those, it is expected you will apply them. NFPA 70E is written for the recognized electrical hazards in the workplace and ways to avoid them. Only the AHJ can proactively verify that employees are
protected from those hazards.


Who is the AHJ for NFPA 70E. The answer is YOU!


Next time: I will go into what that statement means.

New! NFPA 25 1-Day Classroom Training: NFPA 25: Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems (2017)


25-1day.jpgIntroducing NFPA® classroom training on the 2017 edition NFPA 25: Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. This new, one-day NFPA® training uses collaborative discussion and job-based activities to explain inspection and testing rules for sprinkler system components, signs of corrosion, managing impairments, the owner's responsibilities for compliance, and ITM task frequencies.


Register now for St. Louis, Seattle or Orlando! Space is limited!


Get 4-days of training when you register for both NFPA 13 (Mon.-Wed.) and NFPA 25 (Th.)


NFPA 13: Installation of Sprinkler Systems (2016)

NFPA 25: ITM of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems (2017)

What is a tiny house? While the definition varies depending on who you talk to, typically it is considered any house under 400 sq ft. You could fit 6.5 tiny houses inside the average American home (which is around 2,600 sq ft). The tiny house movement is quickly spreading across America. For some buried in student debt, it is viewed as the only way to achieve the American Dream of owning your own home and for others, it is about getting rid of the excess and living more simply. Whatever the reason is, are they safe?


Some tiny homes have foundations or are built off-site and tied down to a foundation. Since these sit on a foundation, these have to meet local building code requirements.




Safety concerns are related to the large number of tiny homes being built on wheels. You'll see these referred to as THOWs (Tiny Houses on Wheels). These are presenting a problem for AHJs. Local building codes are not enforceable because they aren't built on foundations. Although you might think they should be considered RVs, they are not. The RV standards make it very clear that RVs are only meant for temporary living, not permanent. These tiny houses seem to have created a large problem in the codes and standards world.


Many in the tiny house movement like that they are living "outside the law". People build their own tiny homes with their needs in minds. This allows for arguably the most efficient use of space. But, they are technically illegal. While I'm not sure I'm ready to trade in my "large space" for a tiny home, I see the potential. Many have suggested using them to house the homeless or as women's shelters. I've even heard of military families using them. Before we consider using them for such great causes, we need to know they are safe.


Some of the major concerns with THOWs:

  • Required number of means of escape
  • Use of ladder in the means of escape
  • Size of windows if they are provided as a means of escape
  • Requirements for smoke alarms and sprinkler systems
  • Lack of foundations
  • Minimum room sizes
  • Plumbing requirements (many THOW owners want to use composting toilets which are largely illegal)


Are you ready to trade your "large home" in for a THOW?  Have you seen these in your communities? This seems to be a movement that isn't going anywhere. What safety concerns have you heard regarding these tiny spaces?


Picture Credit: The Move | A Tiny House on the Prairies

emitchell1.jpgThe Metropolitan “Metro” Fire Chiefs Association, (which is a section of IAFC and NFPA), just named Ernest Mitchell, Jr. an Honorary Member.


Chief Mitchell, FEMA's U.S. Fire Administrator, is the third person to have received this prestigious honor in the Metro’s 51-year history. According to the Metro Executive Board, he was named Honorary Metro Chief for his “exceptional leadership in the areas of fire prevention, fire suppression and related disciplines throughout his career.” Prior to his appointment as Fire Administrator, Mitchell retired as Fire Chief and Assistant Director of Disaster Emergency Services for the City of Pasadena, California Fire Department after 33 years in the fire service. During his last year in Pasadena, Mitchell was President of the IAFC where he continued until the completion of his term.


Congratulations to Chief Mitchell from all of us at NFPA! Read more about Chief Mitchell's recent honor in the complete news release.


August 29-31, NFPA has booth 1309 at the National VPPPA Safety and Health Conference at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida. We were so excited to talk with so many people on opening day! We've had the biggest interest in the NFPA 350 Confined Space Safety, On-site Safety Training and NFPA 70E. 


For more information on NFPA Training go to

ESFI 3.JPGAs fires rage across the state of California and devastating floods continue to affect thousands in Louisiana, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published new editions of its safety guides and has supplied hundreds of copies to emergency management officials, building code officials, and electrical professionals in Louisiana and California.


The NEMA guides, Evaluating Fire- and Heat-Damaged Electrical Equipment and Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment, provide important advice on the safe handling of electrical equipment that has been exposed to fire or water, respectively, and outline items that will require complete replacement or that can be reconditioned by a trained professional. The guides are free and available for download on NEMA's website.


In addition, ESFI (Electrical Safety Foundation International), which has been working with NEMA since last year on a standard operating procedure for natural disasters that affect the transmission and use of electricity, is warning consumers of the electrical dangers associated with severe storms and the resulting floods and power outages. The organization has created a great infographic that provides statistics on flood dangers, and it also include tips on electrical safety before, during and after a flood. Download the infographic today and share it with your friends and family.


Access all of NEMA's natural disaster resources by visiting the NEMA website. Consumers can find weather-related safety tips as well, on ESFI's website. Additional information about electrical safety at home can be found in NFPA's public education section of the website.

09.JPGNFPA’s DiNenno Prize Selection Committee invites public safety experts to nominate an innovation that has enhanced public safety for the 2017 DiNenno Prize.


The prestigious DiNenno Prize, modeled after the Nobel Prize, recognizes important breakthroughs that have had a significant impact on public safety, including building, fire and electrical safety. The prize is named for the late Philip J. DiNenno (pictured here), the highly regarded former CEO of Hughes Associates and distinguished NFPA board leader, in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to fire safety. Nominations for the Prize are by invitation-only. Invitations were sent to prominent public safety organizations and individual public safety experts. The deadline to nominate an innovation is November 1, 2016. The winner will be announced in May 2017 and the award will be given at a plenary session at the 2017 NFPA Conference & Expo (C&E), to be held June 5-7, in Boston, MA.                                          


The 2016 DiNenno Prize winner was the technical achievement, oxygen consumption calorimetry. The award and prize money were presented to Dr. William Parker of the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) for developing the device, a notable foundation of modern quantitative fire protection engineering. Oxygen consumption calorimetry determines the heat release rate of a fire by measuring the rate at which oxygen is consumed. It is often used to evaluate the fire safety of materials and assemblies, making it a crucial element of modern fire testing methods.


What great discovery will earn the 2017 DiNenno Prize?


The Los Angeles Daily News reports that NASA has created artificial intelligence (AI) to make the quick decisions needed to help save the lives of first responders during dangerous situations. The system is called AUDREY which stands for Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction and sYnthesis.


Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) joined forces with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop the new AI. DHS hopes that the technology will become a game-changing resource for the “Next Generation First Responder. “AUDREY pulls data from the environment and the equipment carried by first responders, and detects any temperature changes, gases or other threats. If AUDREY picks up any concern signals, a warning will be sent to the person in the field.


This artificial intelligence bridges the gap in communications and shares situational information with more than one agency at the same time. As reported in NFPA Journal®, emergency responders are increasingly outfitted with sensors, heads up displays and augmented glasses. Data collected can then be shared with fire leader’s onsite to determine the location of firefighters, their vital signs and any potential hazards on scene. AUDREY can also tap into a home’s smart technology to determine any causes or trouble spots.


If all goes according to plan, firefighters will have found a great friend in AUDREY.


The Los Angeles Daily News reports that NASA has created artificial intelligence (AI) to make the quick decisions needed to help save the lives of first responders during dangerous situations. The system is called AUDREY which stands for Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction and sYnthesis.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) joined forces with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop the new AI. DHS hopes that the technology will become a game-changing resource for the “Next Generation First Responder. “AUDREY pulls data from the environment and the equipment carried by first responders, and detects any temperature changes, gases or other threats. If AUDREY picks up any concern signals, a warning will be sent to the person in the field.

This artificial intelligence bridges the gap in communications and shares situational information with more than one agency at the same time. As reported in NFPA Journal®, emergency responders are increasingly outfitted with sensors, heads up displays and augmented glasses. Data collected can then be shared with fire leader’s onsite to determine the location of firefighters, their vital signs and any potential hazards on scene. AUDREY can also tap into a home’s smart technology to determine any causes or trouble spots.

If all goes according to plan, firefighters will have found a great friend in AUDREY.

The smell of fresh spun cotton candy, the greasy fried food, and the whirling rides.  It's carnival season!  Who doesn't remember the excitement of the local county fair when they were a kid?  But how many people thought about the codes and standards that help ensure visitors and workers are kept safe? I sure didn't.


NFPA 1, Fire Code, Section 10.14 provides requirements for special outdoor events, carnivals and fairs.  Concession booths are a particular concern at fairs.  Many contain flammable liquids, commercial cooking equipment, and are producing grease laden vapors.  Often times concession stands are crammed into one small pedestrian area, concentrating the potential hazard into a confined, high-traffic zone.



Overall, the AHJ is permitted to regulate all outdoor events such as carnivals and fairs as it pertains to access for emergency vehicles, access to fire protection equipment, placement of stands and concession booths, and exhibits, as well as the control of hazardous conditions dangerous to life and property.   The AHJ plays an important role in reviewing the layout of the event; where concessions and vendors can be located, making sure proper egress is maintained, and keeping the necessary access for fire department vehicles available in case of an emergency.


In addition, NFPA 1 specifically addresses the protection of concession stands with the following requirements:

  • 10.14.5 A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher be provided for each concession stand where required by the AHJ.
  • 10.14.8 Concession stands utilized for cooking shall have a minimum of 10 ft (3 m) of clearance on two sides and must not be located within 10 ft (3 m) of amusement rides or devices.
  • Cooking equipment used in fixed, mobile, or temporary concessions, such as trucks, buses, trailers, pavilions, tents, or any form of roofed enclosure, shall comply with NFPA 96 or Chapter 50 unless otherwise exempted by the AHJ in accordance with 1.3.2 of NFPA 96.
  • Additional guidance is provided in Section 10.14 for electrical equipment, communications, power sources, and life safety evaluations for fairs and carnivals.


By following the necessary precautions in NFPA 1, carnivals and fairs can continue to be a fun and memorable event for everyone.

The Buncefield Oil Depot fire explosion was referenced during NFPA's Latin American Conference on Process Safety keynote address.


NFPA Division Director Guy Colonna opened up The 7th Latin American Conference on Process Safety in Lima, Peru earlier this week with a keynote address on risk management and process safety. Colonna spoke to manufacturers, government agencies, consultants, academia and insurers associated with the chemical, pharmaceutical, and petroleum industries about process safety strategies and the application to NFPA codes and standards. Colonna also presented an educational session on the second day of the conference being hosted by the Center for Process Safety (CCPS).


Colonna explained that organizations employing process safety strategies learn what they are doing well and can apply effective controls to similar hazards so that they achieve equally favorable results. He cautioned attendees not to rely on past practices or consider a “lack of a serious incident” justification for bypassing proactive risk-based safety measures. Without a benchmark for what’s working and what’s not, he advised, it’s difficult to provide a formal process safety assessment.


National and international standards, like NFPA’s, follow the strategies of risk-based process safety. They provide a consistent way of managing certain well-identified hazards – and frame best practices within industries to show how to consistently implement those practices. Colonna emphasized that a long-term strategy should include:


• Compliance with standards by maintaining a dependable practice, conducting compliance work activities and following through on decisions, actions, and use of results

• Stakeholder outreach so that information is developed and disseminated to reduce issues


To underscore his message, Colonna pointed to high-visibility catastrophes that led to scrutiny internationally:


• The Buncefield Oil Depot fire and explosion in the United Kingdom that involved 22 of 31 tanks and resulted in smoke plumes in Portugal and France.

• A fire at Caribbean Petroleum Company that damaged 17 of 48 tanks in the terminal as gasoline was offloaded from a ship.

An ammonium nitrate fertilizer grade fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant in Texas that resulted in 15 fatalities.


Last week, another blast occurred in two tanks in Managua, Nicaragua. The factors that lead to this recent explosion are unknown at this point but the other noted incidents lead to government level investigations, reports on causal factors, corrective actions for respective industries and recommendations to regulatory and standards-setting bodies like NFPA.


The key takeaways from Colonna’s Latin American presentation are that standards impact risk-based process safety goals in many ways and process safety is a career-long journey for every worker.

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From the NFPA Quarterly v. 10, no. 3, 1917


"The use of a tenacious foam solution as a means of extinguishing oil fires has been brought to the attention of the oil producers in the country during the last two years.  The process consists essentially in mixing two chemical solutions, to produce a thick tenacious foam, containing bubbles of carbon dioxide, and in spreading this foam over the surface of the burning oil."


Tests of this foam extinguisher were conducted by igniting flammable liquids in the tank.  Foam was discharged onto the fire, gradually covering the surface and extinguishing the fire.  The elapsed time from the start of the fire to the time it was extinguished was just under four minutes.




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The Yvorra Leadership Development Foundation is accepting applications for the 2016 scholarship awards competition. The application deadline is October 30, 2016. Since 1989 YLD has awarded $118,000 in scholarships and awards to emergency responders throughout the United States. Any active duty career or volunteer
member of the Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Medical Services may apply. In 2012, YLD issued three awards of $2,500.


To request or complete an application visit our web site at


The Yvorra Leadership Development Foundation was organized in 1988 in honor of Deputy Fire Chief James G. Yvorra, who was killed in the line of duty. In 2007, YLD established the Chief John Eversole Endowment for Hazardous Materials Responders. In 1995, the Foundation established the Donald E. Sellers Endowment for Emergency Medical Services. For more information, visit the web site at

Deputy Chief James G. Yvorra dedicated his life's work to the fire and emergency medical services. After graduating from Indiana State University (Pennsylvania) with a degree in English and journalism, he began his career in 1974 as the EMS training
coordinator for Lycoming, Tioga and Sullivan counties in Pennsylvania. In 1976 he moved on to the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute where he was a Senior EMS Instructor. His leadership style and personal commitment to his profession helped many young men and women begin successful careers as EMTs and paramedics at a time when the profession was just developing.


In 1978, Jim combined his talents in journalism and emergency services by joining the Robert J. Brady Company as editor of fire and EMS publications. While there, he was responsible for producing an impressive list of publications, including Emergency Care (third edition), First Responder, Trench Rescue and Investigating the Fire Scene.


After six successful years with the Brady Company, he formed Peake Productions in 1983 to focus on specialty topics. In just five years, his company produced Alan Brunacini's, Fireground Command for the National Fire Protection Association, and Fire Protection
Publications Hazardous Materials: Managing the Incident, which he co-authored.


Despite his academic background, Jim Yvorra was a hands-on kind of guy. He served as an active volunteer with the Berwyn Heights (Maryland) Fire Department and Rescue Squad for 11 years holding every rank through deputy chief and president. He was also a founding member of the Prince Georges County (Maryland) Hazardous Materials Response Team and held the position of shift officer.


Jim was a serious student of management and leadership, and believed the individual could make a difference. His personal accomplishments set an example for others to follow.

This is a brief summary of the second in the ten part series on personal disaster planning available in the September 2016 issue of e-ACCESS.


Ready, Set, Go!.jpg  Pre-planning for disaster events is critical as the planning time required for almost all of these events will take many, many times longer than the actual warning time you’ll get that the event is coming.  When it comes to any of those disasters, whether natural and man-made, do you know how much warning time you’ll really have and how you will receive that warning? Knowing and understanding the answers to these two questions may well be critical to your safety and survival. Have you ever thought about these questions or the answers? The answers clearly emphasize why you need to take some responsibility for your own safety and make your preparations now, long before any event takes place.


You’ll be surprised, if not shocked, at the typical warning times:

  • Fire – Building: 1-5 minutes depending on the alarm system or lack thereof
  • Fire –Wildland: Normally, fire danger rating systems provide a 4- to 6-hour early warning of the highest fire danger for any particular day that the weather data is supplied. Earthquake: Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds, depending on the distance to the epicenter of the earthquake.
  • Flood: Flood watches, which are the first level are issued when conditions suggest a possibility of flooding, or if flooding is anticipated within 12-48 hours.
  • Tornado:  13 Minutes is the average warning time before a tornado hits
  • Hurricane:  The warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds to allow for important preparation.
  • Tsunami: Simulations from the Cascadia Subduction Zone just off our coast show that an initial tsunami wave can reach the coast in 20 to 30 minutes - so time is limited. Geologic history showed waves can be as high as 30 feet. So you must get at least that high above sea level.
  • Lightening: You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. Because light travels so much faster than sound, lightning flashes can sometimes be seen long before the resulting thunder is heard. When the lightning and thunder occur very close to one another, the lightning is striking nearby. To estimate the number of miles you are from a thunderstorm, count the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder. Divide this number by five.
  • Volcanic eruption: It is impossible to predict the date of an eruption. Volcano warning systems are based on a probability of an eruption or hazard. There are two main volcano warning systems - color codes, and alert levels. Warning systems are specific for each volcano.
  • Attack: (Active shooter, etc.) – None
  • Man-made: (Chemical spill, etc) - None

We need to think hard about these warning times. Could you develop a plan to get you and your family to safety between the time you get the warning and the time the event occurs? I know I couldn’t. This is why pre-planning is so important.


You can subscribe to e-ACCESS for free and see all the archived issues, just click here.

RF report.JPGNFPA recently hosted a workshop on economic decision making in fire and electrical safety.  One of the studies highlighted during the presentations was a study completed by the Research Foundation on "Development of an Environmental and Economic Assessment Tool (Enveco Tool) for Fire Events".

In broad terms, the impact of fire on a community is usually measured in terms of the number of fires, human casualties, and property damage. There are, however, more subtle impacts of fire that are not so easily estimated but contribute to the measure of overall performance of the fire service in protecting a community. A simple method of estimating two of these issues: environmental impact and economic impact is proposed to help fire departments communicate the value of their services to the communities they protect.

While environmental and economic impact assessment methodologies exist as separate systems, they generally require a high level of knowledge that is outside the scope of most fire departments. A relatively simple methodology for estimating the environmental and economic impact of fires will help communities understand the degree to which fire department activities can benefit a community’s environmental and economic well-being.

The Foundation undertook a study to investigate the feasibility of developing a tool that enables fire departments to estimate the value of their services to a community in terms of environmental and financial impact. A report is available on the Foundation website that provides a summary of this effort, which resulted in development of a prototype tool for fire department use.

If you are interested in exploring the use of the prototype tool in your community, please contact the Foundation for more information.

To learn more about the study and the prototype tool, there is also a free recorded webinar available on the NFPA website.


We want to hear from you! It's easy to comment on posts: just look for the login link above to login or register for your free account on Xchange. Xchange is more than a blog; it's an online community that connects you with peers worldwide and directly with NFPA staff. Get involved today!

Logo-web-site-new.jpg Globe_logo_new-e1457553364990.jpg Dupont_Kevlar_Single_Tag_CS6.VERT_.v2-color-300x51.pngGlobe, DuPont Protection Technologies (DuPont), and NVFC partnered together for the fifth year in a row, to provide new, state-of-the-art turnout gear to fire departments in need. This year, a total of 13 departments will receive four sets of gear each. The first three recipients of the 2016 Globe Gear Giveaway are Klawock (AK) Volunteer Fire Department, Franklin Township Volunteer Fire Department (Broadway, NJ), and Norton Volunteer Fire Department (New Brunswick, Canada).

Over 600 applications for gear were submitted, demonstrating the real need that exists for this type of program. Many departments are struggling to provide gear to their members and often have to make do with gear that is old, non-compliant, ill-fitting, and otherwise inadequate, putting the safety of the boots-on-the-ground firefighters at risk.

To be eligible to apply for the four sets of new Globe turnout gear, departments had to be all-volunteer or mostly-volunteer, serve a population of 25,000 or less, be legally organized in the U.S. or Canada, demonstrate a need for the gear, and be a member of the NVFC.

Read more about the first three recipients on NVFC's website.

Additional awards through the Globe Gear Giveaway will be made monthly throughout 2016. A total of 52 sets of gear will be distributed to departments in need. Stay tuned to the NVFC web site, Dispatch newsletter, and page on Facebook, as well as the Globe page on Facebook, for additional information and announcements regarding the Globe Gear Giveaway.

economic group.JPG

On August 17th a diverse group of fire service, building regulatory and research professionals met at NFPA to try to answer a question. In a world where decisions are increasingly being driven by dollars and cents, how do we demonstrate the value of fire prevention, community fire risk reduction, and firefighting using this new language?

economic meeting.JPG

Representatives from Phoenix Fire, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, and Purdue University gave examples of cost/benefit methods that were used to demonstrate the value of warehouse firefighting, home fire sprinklers and AFCIs, respectively. Researchers from Sweden, Harvard, UC Davis and SUNY Buffalo demonstrated how a more theoretical approach to cost/benefit might reflect some of the indirect/opportunity costs that preventing fires or reducing their size can effect.


The group brainstormed to identify needs for data that will inform these strategies and standardized approaches, and make the arguments that jurisdictions across the country can use.


NFPA will consider this input as we chart our path forward to meet these needs for our stakeholders.

File this under awesome. It fits the bill in a lot of ways.


Earlier this week a 1982 Mack 1250 GPM pumper fire truck began an awe-inspiring 3,700 mile trek from Princeton, New Jersey to Managua, Nicaragua.


The journey began with the kindness and fortitude of Master Sargeant Jorge Navarez, a New Jersey Air National Guardsmen with the 108th Security Forces Squadron. During a trip to his birth country in 2014, the 22-year veteran with the Princeton Police Department, visited a volunteer fire unit in the capital city of Nicaragua. He noticed that their equipment was sorely lacking, and pledged to find a way to rectify things. Navarez returned to the Garden State compelled to make a difference for Managua firefighters (and the residents that they serve).


fire truck on a plane.jpgFor the next two years, he worked with local, national and international officials to make a difference. His first ask was to the director of emergency services in Princeton. The city had a retired truck and they were willing to put the truck up for symbolic auction. Navarez purchased the pumper for a dollar, and set his sights on getting the truck flown to Latin America. As you can imagine this was no small feat; but with the help of the Air National Guard, the Air Force Reserve, the active-duty Air Force, several government agencies and the Denton Program, which allows U.S. citizens to utilize cargo planes for humanitarian efforts, the fire truck and some much needed equipment was loaded onto a plane earlier this week at the 439th Airlift Wing at Westover Airforce Base in Massachusetts.


To learn more about this incredible undertaking and the collaboration it took to realize one man's dream, check out the Department of Defense blog.

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Last year, NFPA’s leadership team decided to establish a first-of-its-kind program that brings together forward-thinkers from the fire service to proactively address emerging issues and dig deeper on new technology. In October, the collective wisdom of different facets of the fire service came together during  NFPA’s inaugural Responder Forum in Indianapolis.


As we set out to define the goals of the Responder Forum, we turned to our stakeholders for insight and created an Emergency Responder Advisory Committee (ERAC) made up of representatives from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), Metro Chiefs, United States Fire Administration/National Fire Academy (USFA), and the NFPA Fire Service Section (FSS).


We then invited thirteen fire organizations to nominate a total of 39 delegates. Participating organizations include the six ERAC organizations, plus the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI), The International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services (IWomen), National Association of Hispanic Firefighters (NAHF), National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPF), North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD), and the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI). By all accounts, the initial Responder Forum was a successful initiative.


We recently invited a new class of 36 innovators to join the Responder Forum. They will join the 2015  scholarship recipients in Charlotte this November for a deeper dive on timely first responder topics - bringing the number of fire leaders, line firefighters, trainers, fire marshals, investigators, and inspectors to more than 70 this year. This group reflects the diversity of the fire service – career, volunteer, urban, rural area, major cities, small towns, male, female, and different cultural groups. Together, with NFPA staff and subject matter experts, the delegates will learn as much as possible about data, smart firefighting techniques, and the new behavioral insights needed to address today’s challenges.

The Responder Forum in many ways belies its name. Rather than react to day-to-day operational and tactical issues (a difficult job in and of itself), members of the Responder Forum strive to get ahead of real-world problems by developing strategies that are proactive, purposeful and progressive.


2015 forum class.JPG

What does refueling railroad cars and a fire department service delivery concurrency evaluation have in common?


These are the topics of two technical advisory questions I received this week.  Did you know that NFPA members as well as Authorities Having Jurisdiction have access to technical staff at NFPA to ask questions about our codes and standards?


NFPA 1, Fire Code, receives questions on a very wide range of topics: hazardous materials storage, fire department access, grilling, hydrant water supply, cooking equipment, and even automobile wrecking yards. This week brought questions on two completely unrelated subjects, but both are covered by the Code in some way.


1. Does Chapter 42, Refueling, address rail cars?

Section 42.1 states that Chapter 42 applies to refueling of automotive vehicles, marine vessels, and aircraft.  A majority of Chapter 42 is extracted from NFPA 30A which applies to motor fuel dispensing facilities, motor fuel dispensing at farms and isolated construction sites and motor vehicle repair garages.  NFPA 30A does not apply to anything on rails.  Section 42.11 extracts from NFPA 52 and applies to the design, installation, operation, and maintenance of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) engine fuel systems including marine, highway, rail, off-road, and industrial vehicles.


Fire-Station-9-photo-650x487.jpg2. What is a fire service delivery concurrency evaluation?

Fire departments operate under a specified level of service standards for fire protection, emergency medical, prevention, and other operational services provided (travel times, staffing, response time, equipment, capability, station location are all examples of service standards set by each department.) A key component of fire safety is the ability of the fire department to match their service delivery to the demand of the community.  However, large-scale developments have the potential to overwhelm a fire department’s ability to provide it's specified standards service. Chapter 15 allows the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to address these developmental impacts in a proactive, rather than reactive, manner. Chapter 15 prompts the discussion regarding how services are to be maintained.


Have you ever worked for a fire department who was impacted by a large development expansion?  How did it impact your job and your service?


From the NFPA Quarterly v. 2, no. 1, 1908

"On Friday, May 8, 1908, Atlanta was visited by the worst conflagration in its history, excepting of course its destruction by fire during  the Civil War in 1864.  The monetary loss will amount to about one and one-quarter million dollars, while the insurance loss will probably be in the neighborhood of nine hundred thousand dollars.  Thirty different buildings were either destroyed or damaged.  No lives were lost.


The purpose of this report will be to describe as accurately as circumstances will allow, the conditions which made possible this conflagration, to give briefly a story of the fire and to point out the lessons it teaches. "



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The NFPA Standards Council acted on the issuance of documents in the Annual 2016 revision cycle and considered several appeals at its August 3-4, 2016 meeting.


The final decisions have been issued by the Council on the following four documents:

  • NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, 2017 edition
  • NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code, 2017 edition
  • NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®, 2017 edition
  • NFPA 75, Standard for the Fire Protection of Information Technology Equipment, 2017 edition

Read the final decisions from the August 2016 meeting


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

We have received feedback regarding the omission of “change indicators” in our codes and standards (such as vertical rules, bullets, or shading, which identify changes between editions), a feature that was previously available but is not available now in the same way in our new codes and standards publishing platform. We recognize that this omission has been frustrating for users of our documents and we apologize for the inconvenience it has caused.


At NFPA we take very seriously the feedback we receive and value the opinions of those who use and rely on our information. Since the implementation of our new publishing platform, we have been working on improving our process
for including change indicators in all of our codes and standards; a solution that will meet the needs of code users and provide better service for our customers.


We anticipate this permanent solution to be in place for all 2018 editions of NFPA codes and standards (annual 2017 cycle). But in the interim, while this process is being put into place, we have developed a process to provide change
indicators in several documents where the number of changes between editions can be significant.


To respond to that need, the following products are in place or are coming in the near future:

    • Digital versions with change indicators for the 2016 edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems
    • Digital versions with change indicators for the 2016 edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
    • Digital and print versions with change indicators (available in September 2016) for the upcoming 2017 editions of NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, NFPA
      58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code
      and NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®.


NFPA is continually working to develop the best tools for our stakeholders. We appreciate your continued patience as we develop and add this feature to our publishing system. If you have any questions or need more information regarding our process for including change indicators in our codes and standards, leave your comment below and we will be sure to follow-up with you.


Thank you for your continued support and for the work you do to help keep our communities safer from the risk and effects of fire, electrical and other hazards.


It is always uplifting to hear of fresh ideas that are aimed at reducing fire risks and keeping people safe. Whether every new concepts makes it to market is not the point.  The point is that, as a society, we keep trying.


I was excited to recently learn of The Paradigm Challenge — a youth innovation competition that this year aimed to generate new ideas to prevent injuries and fatalities caused by home fires.  I was even more excited to learn that Kyle Sitkins, a high school graduate from my local area, edged out more than 25,000 competitors from across the nation to take 2nd place in the competition.  Kyle introduced a prototype he calls the "Spring Sandwich" which is targeted at reducing dryer fires.  The Spring Sandwich pops open the lint trap to remind the user that it needs to be cleaned.


Kyle was startled to find in his research that washers or dryers account for about 17,000 fires in the U.S. every year, and he used data found through the National Fire Protection Association to support his project innovation.  “I knew dryer fires were very common and it can be an easy thing to forget,” Sitkins said. “I thought it would be nice to have something that would always remind somebody.”

Kyle will be awarded $2,500 that he plans to apply to tuition at Michigan Technological University to study engineering next year.  Online voting is open through Aug. 30 for the Public Choice Award, which could earn Kyle an additional $5,000. Check out Kyle's “Dryer Lint Reminder” and vote!  And also take a moment to read NFPA's safety tips  on dryer safety, or share a safety tip sheet on the topic!


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Three new Requests for Proposals (RFPs) have been issued by the Foundation in the past few weeks and are still open for any organizations interested in submitting a proposal.  All RFPs are available on the Foundation website at


The first RFP relates to a Phase 1 study on Evaluation of Electrical Feeder and Branch Circuit Loading.  The goal of the project is to develop a data collection plan to provide statistically significant load data for a variety of occupancy and loading types to provide a technical basis for considering revisions to the feeder and branch circuit design requirements in the National Electrical Code®.  The data would be collected in a potential second phase project.  The deadline for proposal submission is 22 August 2016 by 5pm EDT.


The second RFP is for a literature review on Storage Protection and Horizontal Barriers.  Contractor will review relevant literature on potential horizontal barriers in rack storage arrangements, relevant requirements in NFPA 13 and the basis behind each, and currently available test data related to shelving/horizontal barriers.  The end project will be an analysis of the knowledge gaps around the topic that could lead to further research.  The deadline for proposals is 2 September 2016 by 5pm EDT.


The third RFP relates to the topic of Marina Risk Reduction.  The overall goal of this project is to provide a comprehensive risk assessment and associated action plan to eliminate, prevent, and/or mitigate the harmful effects of Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) in the vicinity of marinas, boatyards and floating buildings.  The deadline for proposals is 9 September 2016 by 5pm EDT.


If you have any questions, please contact


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panama meeting.JPGNFPA’s first Latin America workshop for authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) recently took place in Panama City, Panama. The Enforcement Workshop brought together AHJs from 10 countries - Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Salvador, Mexico and Honduras. NFPA has worked with the fire service and the enforcement community in Latin America for years to build an infrastructure that recognizes the standards application process. NFPA codes and standards are adopted, referenced, and used within the legal framework of Latin America but implementation across countries has been fragmented.


Coronel Jaime Villar, Fire Chief of Panama Fire Department, Antonio Macias, Latin America Director for NFPA, and Olga Caledonia, executive director of International Operations for NFPA joined together to host the inaugural two-day event that was attended by 16 AHJs.


The purpose of the first-of-its-kind event was to provide a forum where different AHJs could share code adoption experiences (what works and what doesn't) and best practices. In the absence of a formal regional code enforcement system in Latin America, participants gained real world knowledge from their peers; discussed the development of a code infrastructure for the region; and heard about key issues being addressed in NFPA’s Latin America training. Central to the discussion was the experiences that Latin America stakeholders have with NFPA 1 and NFPA 101: Life Safety Code®.panama ladies.JPG


Following the first day program, the group also visited the Panama Canal - one of the world’s engineering masterpieces. The Panama Canal is currently undergoing an expansion project in accordance with UL and FM approvals, as well as NFPA codes and standards.


The Latin America Enforcement Workshop was a successful inaugural symposium that offered AHJs in Latin America prime networking and access to important code information. To keep stakeholders up to date on codes, standards, and relevant issues year-round, NFPA publishes the NFPA Journal Latinoamericano®, a bilingual fire and life safety magazine in Spanish and Portuguese.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08aa7e48970d-200wi.jpgThe August 2016 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.


In this issue:

  • Standards Council decisions issued on NFPA 25, 58, 70, and 75
  • Fire Code Friday
  • Proposed changes to NFPA 70E
  • Change indicators on NFPA Standards
  • 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.

I love the Olympics.  The competition, the pride, and the two weeks that this world can come together under one roof and celebrate.  It's certainly a breath of fresh air from the rest of the news we are so used to hearing lately.


Image result for olympic rings


To prepare to host an Olympic Games is a massive undertaking by the host country.  They are required to provide state-of-the-art facilities for hundreds of events across the city and country, feed and house thousands of athletes and provide accommodations for tens of thousands of visitors.  They must provide safe infrastructure, support for the local community, and minimal environmental impact.  Cities beam with pride to show off their culture and community to millions and millions of visitors and people watching on TV in their homes.


So, how did Rio prepare for this event while making sure its property and people are safe?


Back on January 27, 2013 a a fire at the KISS nightclub in Santa Maria Brazil began when members of a band that was performing waved lit flares, igniting the club’s interior finishes. The death toll was 239 and it was Brazil’s deadliest fire in more than 50 years. Like many tragedies, events such as the KISS fire raised awareness in Santa Maria and Brazil as to the state of local fire codes.  Soon after the fire in 2013, Jim Dolan, then NFPA's director of the Fire Code field office, traveled to Santa Maria to discuss how NFPA could help Brazilian authorities update their fire protection and life safety codes.


Around the same time, the state of Rio de Janeiro had contacted NFPA with a request for support services on its codes.  With the then approaching 2014 soccer World Cup and this year's 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil recognized the need to adopt and implement modern and effective codes — especially NFPA 1, Fire Code — with standardized rules and regulations that would help them keep buildings and facilities up to date.



So, where does Brazil stand today?


NFPA has worked with Rio on the adaptation and adoption of NFPA 1 which has included translating the Code into Portuguese.  Through training offerings, NFPA has also educated local code officials.  NFPA's local representative in Brazil, Anderson Queiroz, confirmed that Brazil already uses many NFPA standards as reference for their local fire code. Adoption is a long term process since it has to do with old laws that are partially reviewed over the years according to specific and current needs. Mr. Queiroz is currently working with Rio Fire Department on means of egress provisions from NFPA 1 which will become part of the State Fire Code with reference to NFPA. Then, Rio will start working on another subject which to become part of the Fire Code.  São Paulo state has used around 80 NFPA standards so far as the basis for their Fire Code.


So, whether you are one of the millions of people that will tune in to watch the Olympic games this week, or those that are on the ground there competing or visiting, you will be witnessing the impact of NFPA codes and standards at work; keeping people safe around the world!


Firefighters have long used self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to protect against the inhalation of hazardous contaminants and chemicals. While law enforcement officials routinely enter occupancies and encounter situations that present comparable health risks, certified SCBA protection hasn’t been as well established for the law enforcement community.


With those health and safety concerns in mind - and a commitment to serving the needs of responders – NFPA has been working to develop SCBA standards that meet the law enforcement community’s SCBA needs.


Most recently, a new project request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) prompted the Technical Committee on Tactical and Technical Operations Respiratory Protection Equipment* to begin developing a standard for combination unit respirators, which allow first responders to switch from supplied air respirators to powered air-purifying respirators once satisfactory air quality has been determined. The committee met at NFPA last week to begin drafting the new document (NFPA 1987, Standard on Combination Unit Respirator Systems for Tactical and Technical Operations), which will specify the certification, labeling, design, performance and testing requirements for such respirators.


This effort builds upon the Technical Committee’s development of NFPA 1986, Standard on Respiratory Protection Equipment for Technical and Tactical Operations, which is scheduled to be issued this fall. While NFPA 1986 is comparable to the fire service SCBA standard (NFPA 1981, Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus for Emergency Services) in many respects, it also features safety warnings, indicators, displays and alerts that are visible or audible only to the wearer during tactical operations and terrorist incident response. These features are necessary for law enforcement. While SCBA for the fire service makes a range of sounds and can feature flashing lights, this can prove problematic for tactical operations responders, law enforcement responders, hazmat teams and personnel who work in confined spaces.


To learn more about how these SCBA standards for the law enforcement community are reflective of NFPA’s ongoing efforts to meet the needs of all first responders, check out our online fire service resources.


*- The Technical Committee on Tactical and Technical Operations Respiratory Protection Equipment includes the FBI; end-user representatives from the Interagency Board (the Los Angeles Police Department and sheriff’s departments); National Bomb Squad Commanders Advisory Board; U.S. Department of Defense; fire department hazmat teams and the U.S. Marine Corps.

Inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) for water-based fire protection systems, of a facility is an important part of Facilities Managers jobs.  Regular fire safety inspections in institutional and commercial buildings is essential for the safety of both the occupants and the facilities. When ITM requirements for a building are met, buildings run more efficiently, spending on maintenance costs, upgrades and repairs is more readily identified, leading to less unexpected costs, and last but not least, safety is increased.


While the NFPA does put the responsibility for ITM on the owner of the building, often the facilities manager is acting on behalf of them.  At times, depending on the training level and the experience of each individual facility manager, it may be appropriate to bring in an outside contractor to perform certain ITM activities. However, there are some inspections and maintenance activities that with the right training, can be handled with in-house inspections. 

A critical component to ensuring that the water-based fire protection systems in your facility are running properly is understanding what can be done in-house, and is not covered by hired help. 

This is where having the right training comes in.


If during the ITM process significant design issues are revealed, it can lead to the need for a “re-commissioning event”. While NFPA 25 does not require that an owner perform this recommissioning activity, it might be unavoidable or necessary in order to confirm compliance with all of the applicable design and installation standards.  If the owner and / or facilities manager decides that a re-commissioning event is the right step, NFPA 3 is the recommended practice.


Much of this knowledge and research on facilities managers and their roles is what lead to the NFPA developing their new Hands-On 2-Day Training for Facilities Managers – Essentials for Life Safety and Fire Protection Systems, check it out!

A CBS New York news story today highlights the dangers that firefighters face when responding to emergency calls during the summer. Under oppressive conditions, three firefighters suffered serious injuries while attacking a multiple alarm fire in the Wakefield area of the Bronx that severely damaged five homes. A fourth first responder, driving to provide mutual aid from neighboring Queens, was critically injured on his way to the shutterstock_1482369.jpgcall.


The difficult day in the Bronx, underscores how important it is for firefighters to stay hydrated and mindful of the health risks that exist before, during and after a fire incident when the weather is hot and humid. Under normal circumstances, the hazy, lazy days of July and August can slow people down, disorient some, cause exhaustion, and even lead to heart attack or stroke. Add in the extreme heat that firefighters confront and the heavy personal protective equipment they don to tackle flames and smoke, is it any wonder that firefighters across the country are experiencing nausea, cramps, pain, and dehydration? To combat excessive heat, more firefighters may be called to the scene to allow rotation of crews and rehabilitation areas can be set up at the incident scene to monitor firefighters’ vital signs and help them cool down before returning to the firefight.


In light of recent heat waves, four leading fire organizations, including NFPA, issued a statement this week reminding fire professionals about the importance of situational awareness and risk evaluation.


To learn more about fire department occupational safety and health and protocols related to firefighter training, apparatus, protective clothing and equipment, medical and physical requirements, health and wellness, and incident rehabilitation programs, access NFPA 1500 and NFPA 1584 free online.

Senate SSA Logo.jpg

NFPA is proud to again participate in the United States Senate Sergeant at Arms, Office of Emergency Preparedness’ 10th annual Emergency Preparedness Month Fair in the Hart Senate Office Building on Friday, September 23, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in room SH-902. The purpose of the Emergency Preparedness Month Fair is to educate Senate staff on the importance of emergency preparedness not only here at work, but at home as well. This is accomplished by inviting representatives from our various internal offices and many local emergency management agencies and response teams from around the National Capitol Region to share information and resources with Senate staff, and educate them on steps that they can take to recover quickly after an emergency.


This event has increased in popularity over the years, and it is anticipated that upward of 300 attendees, up from 200 last year, will be there throughout the day.

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It is expected that Senate staff will attend the event, with the majority from Senators’ personal Washington, D.C. offices. In addition, staff from Senate Committee, Leadership, and a variety of support offices such as the Sergeant at Arms and Secretary of the Senate are likely to visit during the event. Staff from other legislative branch organizations such as the United States Capitol Police, Library of Congress, and the Architect of the Capitol may also attend.

The second draft meeting for NFPA 70E was held in Salt Lake City on July 18th through July 21st. There were 173 public comments acted on at the meeting. There are a few proposed changes to the standard that were acted upon that may garner the most attention.


NOTE:  The official position of the committee has not been given through the formal ballot. This blog only addresses preliminary revisions proposed by the public and committee.


The first is that the layout of Article 120 Establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition has been reorganized to better address the logical sequence of events. The steps, principles, and program for lockout/tagout have been moved to be the first sections of Article 120 since these are necessary before verifying the condition.  The verification steps have been moved to the end of Article 120 since these are the last steps for establishing the electrically safe work condition.


A second change is to place further emphasis on the risk assessment and put the hierarchy of controls into mandatory language.  The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) has always been and remains to be the last method selected when providing protection for the worker exposed to hazards when conducting justified energized work. The revised text clarifies this principle.


The third changes clarifies how the standard should have always been used when justified energized work is to be conducted. It essentially is not adding new requirements but will assist in preventing the misuse of the standard. The change is that Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(a) [that many call the task table] has become a new table applicable to both the PPE category method or the incident energy analysis method. It no longer determines whether PPE is required but whether or not there is a likelihood of an arc flash occurrence. The user conducts a risk assessment and determines the protection scheme to be employed to protect the worker using the hierarchy of controls (same as in the past editions).


The last big change is that the references to PPE equipment standards have been changed to informational notes. The equipment must still meet the applicable standards but the verification process has been changed to one of a conformity assessment where the PPE manufacturer should be able to provide assurance that the applicable standard has been met by one of three methods. The previous edition of the standard did not require any verification method. The three methods are; self-declaration with a Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity, self-declaration under a registered Quality  Management System and product testing by an accredited laboratory and a Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity, or a certification by an accredited independent third-party certification organization.


The committee's official position will be taken by ballot in early September.  If you want to keep up on the process visit the NFPA 70E web page at The next edition tab will carry all the current information throughout the process. NFPA 70E - 2017 is slated to be voted on at the association meeting in Boston, MA in June 2017.

Capture1.JPGRecently, the Fire Protection Research Foundation held an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Summit, which included a diverse group of stakeholders focused on a review, validation and identification of gaps for emergency responder operational training materials on AFVs. These training materials are used by first and second emergency responders and others handling emergencies with alternative fuel vehicles, with an emphasis on gaseous fuels. This summit was possible through funding provided by the United States Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).


The summit addressed emergency activities such as: fire events, non-fire emergencies (e.g., submersion), fire investigation, crash reconstruction, tow and salvage, extrication practices, refueling and charging infrastructure, etc. The deliverables from this summit provide a summary of prioritized needs and gaps from the perspective of emergency responder stakeholders, and promotes activities to address these needs and gaps through all possible approaches. This includes working with vehicle providers to implement inherent safety design solutions through up-front innovative design.


Of particular note, the Summit highlighted the following:

  • The need to address implementation of electronic badging technologies as soon as possible to enable real-time emergency event size-up and prospective data collection;
  • A clarification of the tactical firefighting approach for the venting of gaseous fuel storage vessels depending on the vessel material (i.e., metal versus composite);
  • An address of the need of investigators to re-power damaged vehicles to harvest post event data; and
  • A continuation of the discussion on the problem of stranded energy and its long time frame impact on first and second emergency responders.


Download the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Summit proceedings from the Research Foundation website.

train-on-fire-header-1000x288.jpgIn the recent past there have been several pipeline and rail car incidents involving flammable liquids in municipalities in North America. These incidents often involve a complex interaction with municipal authorities, the fire service as the first responders, and industry personnel. Despite the extensive efforts of all parties to ensure that emergency responders are properly trained and equipped, there remain gaps in the application and use of risk-based response processes to manage these incidents. Likewise, there is no standardized template or reference point to provide emergency response agencies with emergency planning and response best practices; this challenge is shared by small and large departments alike.


Two new Fire Protection Research Foundation project reports have now been completed and published, as they provide on-scene incident commander guidance for High Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFT) and Liquid Petroleum Pipeline Emergencies.


Download for free, "High Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFT) On-Scene Incident Commander Field Guide" and "Liquid Petroleum Pipeline Emergencies On-Scene Incident Commander Field Guide," both authored by Gregory G. Noll & Michael S. Hildebrand of Hilldebrand & Noll Associates, Inc.

C&E.JPGAs you can guess, NFPA’s annual Conference & Expo takes LOTS of planning and coordination including securing, years in advance, the location of the event.


NFPA has scheduled our conference in Boston next year and in Las Vegas in 2018, but we haven’t finalized a location for our 2019 event. That’s where you, our prospective attendees come in. If you could choose, where would you like to see NFPA’s Conference & Expo?


How does New Orleans sound? What about San Antonio? Is Vegas still your favorite?  Take our online survey, which features the four cities we're considering, and tell us what you think. The deadline to respond is Thursday, August 11. Then stay tuned right here in Xchange for the results!


Want to vote but haven’t signed up for Xchange? It’s easy! Just look for the login link at the top of the page to register for your free account. Get involved today and be part of the conversation!

Sparky travels to Canada and becomes a featured dancer in Konah Raynes cover song “Can’t Stop the Feeling”, by Justin Timberlake. The cover video was created to celebrate Canada’s capital Ottawa. Other featured dancers include, Ottawa's favorite dancing Police Officer Tracey Turpin, Mayor Jim Watson, Fire Services, Paramedic Services and people from all around the community. 


commercial.JPGThe installation of large PV systems on commercial building roofs is an emerging risk due to a favorable value proposition attracting building owners to install the technology. With these systems, the likelihood of a rooftop fire significantly increases since electrical breakdown – leading to arc faults, ground faults, and short circuits - can occur anywhere across the system. Any electrical fault can be accompanied by ensuing fire.


The rooftop placement is beyond the building fixed fire protection and detection features. This can mean delayed fire detection and no fixed fire protection. In addition, combustible features of the module and other components add fuel to support a fire. Where a fire develops below PV modules, the modules will reflect heat from a fire back down towards the roof enhancing the combustion rate of conventional roof materials. Roof assemblies traditionally considered “noncombustible” become combustible or fast-burning.


With these types of systems, the fire service takes a cautious approach as power generated by the panels cannot be turned off. This phase 1 research project looks into fire mitigation solutions for the fire service with these systems.


"Development of Fire Mitigation Solutions for Photovoltaic (PV) Systems Installed on Building Roofs - Ph. 1" authored by Joel Sipe, Ph.D. with Exponent is now available for free download from the Fire Protection Research Foundation.




Hector Montoya from Texas was nine years when he decided to donate smoke detectors to families who didn’t have them.


Montoya came up with the idea after watching the news with his grandmother and hearing a story about a Fort Worth mother and one of her twin daughters who lost their lives in a house fire. They didn’t have a smoke alarm in their home.


That evening he pitched an idea to his family. Instead of spending the money he had saved on himself, he decided to donate smoke detectors to families who didn’t have them.


Three years later Montoya has donated 6,425 smoke detectors in several cities and towns across North Texas. Last week he donated 125 smoke detectors to the DeSoto Fire Rescue. Fire officials will distribute the life-saving devices to senior citizens who lack the proper fire-safety measures.


According to NFPA smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. NFPA recommends:

  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month
  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.
  • Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.


For the third year in a row, smoke alarms are the theme for NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week which takes place this year October 9-15. NFPA provides educational information on smoke alarms via a variety of tips and tools.


Marina fires have become a concern in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


In March, fire erupted on two boats and quickly engulfed six more vessels at Abu Dhabi Breakwater Marina. Firefighters managed to stop the flames from spreading to 211 boats and 23 jet skis nearby.


Boatyard and marina fires present different challenges and require a certain tactical approach. The authorities in UAE recognize this and invited NFPA to partake in a series of meetings with Civil Defense leaders, both at the national and seven Emirates levels, to provide guidance on marina safety. Last month a final meeting took place with national and Emirates authorities, and the owners of yacht clubs and marinas throughout the country.  UAE authorities and marina owners reached consensus and unanimity on the topic of marina fire safety. Drew C. Azzara, NFPA Executive Director for the Middle East & North Africa, reports that after healthy, candid, and results-oriented dialogue, an agreement was made to mandate the use of NFPA 303 Fire Protection Standard for Marinas and Boatyards, and 307 Standard for the Construction and Fire Protection of Marine Terminals, Piers, and Wharves in the UAE. The decision also calls for the adoption of Chapter 28 of the NFPA 1 Fire Code.


The UAE collaboration is yet another example of how NFPA is partnering with government officials and business leaders around the globe to share information and knowledge, and ultimately eliminate fire.

This spring, right about the time that NFPA was ushering in its inaugural crop of data analytics interns, Forbes Magazine came out with its list of Best Jobs in 2016. Topping the list was data science, proving that businesses recognize the importance of capturing and analyzing data in order to create relevant, real-time solutions – and reinforce gut instinct. For similar reasons, the role of statistician secured the #2 spot on the list.


NFPA has been talking about data, and more importantly working collaboratively on data projects, for more than a year. With each conversation, internally and externally, it has become abundantly clear that data is a driving force in today’s sign.jpg


To support Dr. Nathaniel Lin, NFPA’s Data Analytics strategy lead, and the lofty goals of the organization - more resources were needed. Former WPI graduate student intern, and current full-time NFPA data scientist, Mohammed Ayub was the first to join the ranks. Mohammed is laying the foundation for a new national fire data system that captures (and shares) incidental, health and wellness, operational, and other existing data. Two new interns intent on real-world work experience and high impact opportunity were also hired. Harsh Vardhan and Ramy Fahim are helping NFPA, and by extension our stakeholders, to collect and analyze data that will address the fire problem.  Harsh, a WPI graduate student pursuing a data science degree, has been a key contributor to a major data project - a property inspection prioritization tool. He’s also categorizing the nearly 400 inquiries received last month at NFPA’s Conference & Expo (C&E) about NFPA’s Data Analytics Sandbox. Meanwhile, Fahim, an applied mathematics undergrad at USC, is breaking down data from 30,000 U.S. fire departments. By creating 15-20 different profiles based on size, location, volunteer or professional service, he is generating key information that will enable fire departments to make decisions based on collective wisdom. The three data disciples also point to a fire incident risk model project (predicting the likelihood of fire incidents) for the state of Tennessee - as a revolutionary precursor to a national model.


data at desk.JPGNFPA’s data team has a language that is unfamiliar to many of us including web scraping (scouring the web for data), imputing (filling in missing data fields based on machine learning techniques), clustering (grouping subsets), and surveying (tapping into the collective wisdom of the fire service for best practices), but they also need to know how to effectively communicate with NFPA management and partners about complex concepts. With a dozen big data projects on the radar, the team spends their days delving into complicated solutions and mastering the art of simple communication.


Each of the emerging data scientists agree that NFPA is the perfect place to be right now. They chose NFPA because they liked the idea of being part of a 100-year old start up that is blazing new trails. A conversation with the trio is peppered with enthusiasm and words like cusp, opportunity, solutions, pain points, social impact, tactical, independent, operational, forefront, empowerment, and common goals. Admittedly, they didn’t know much about NFPA before they arrived, and yet they can’t think of a better springboard for their career. It’s a transformative time not only for these millennials but for the 120-year old organization that shares the belief that data is the driving force for change these days.

Yesterday, NFPA's Nicole Comeau wrote a fantastic post about assembly occupancies, the dangers of crowds and the importance of enforcing fire and life safety codes at these venues.  Thanks, Nicole!


Let's talk about the Code requirements behind this concept of occupant load. NFPA 1, Fire Code, is a valuable resource for fire marshals and AHJs when determining occupant load and the egress capacity of a space.  The direction provided by the fire Code helps prevent overcrowding and potential insufficient egress capacity. So, how exactly does a building determine its "occupant load" and why is it so important that these requirements are adhered to?


It is a basic concept of the Code that the means of egress system be sized to accommodate all people occupying a building. Sizing is accomplished by matching the occupant load of a floor with the calculated egress capacity of the egress components serving the floor.


Capacity = The number of people the egress system can accommodate safely during an emergency.

Occupant Load = The total number of persons that might occupy a building or portion thereof at any one time.


Per NFPA 1: The total capacity of the means of egress for any story, balcony, tier, or other occupied space shall be sufficient for the occupant load thereof. [101:]



Egress Capacity ≥ Occupant Load


The number of people or occupant load for which the means of egress system must provide egress capacity is calculated per the requirements set forth in NFPA 1 or otherwise determined. The occupant load is to reflect the maximum number of people anticipated to occupy the building rooms or spaces at any given time and under all probable situations. The occupant load is the maximum of either the calculated value OR the maximum probably number of people expected in the space. 


Egress capacity is calculated based upon the available width of egress components (doors, stairs, corridors, walkways, etc.)  Further requirements in Chapter 14 of NFPA 1 provide the details for calculating egress capacity of the space.


When the occupant load of a building or area exceeds what is was designed for, the egress capacity cannot accommodate the occupants safely and efficiently.  Queuing, bottle-necking, slow egress are all a results of improperly designed egress systems.


When all is said and done, it is critical that overcrowding be prevented and prohibited and that the fundamental concept of egress be upheld:


Egress Capacity ≥ Occupant Load


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Last week, presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized fire marshals in a few states for upholding occupancy requirements at campaign events. The story created a bit of a buzz but also an opportunity for a refresher on why these requirements, in not only political events but also things like concerts, sporting events and other gatherings, are important and what can happen when they are not followed.


Building, fire and life safety codes like NFPA 101, Life Safety Code® are intended to protect people attending events - a particularly challenging task where people are gathered in a more concentrated use area. This includes the speakers, performers, staff and audience members, as well as the first responders who potentially risk their lives when something goes wrong. The codes are developed through a time-tested voluntary consensus process that brings together a range of stakeholders to create the minimum level of safety. The codes are then adopted by jurisdictions. Fire marshals and other authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) enforce these codes. It is often an overlooked but essential role in public safety.


Not metering or otherwise controlling the number of people who can go into an assembly occupancy can lead to overcrowding. In the event of an emergency, occupants can easily get caught up in a crowd crush and be unable to reach an exit in a safe and timely manner. One such tragic event was the E2 Nightclub on Chicago’s South Side in February 2003.


NFPA 101’s provisions are often fire-centric, but there are other triggering events such as a power failure, violence (the action that initiated the E2 crowd crush), or medical emergencies that can cause the occupants in a large assembly space to move towards an exit to escape a potential emergency. These provisions are part of the code requirements, are used to establish the number of occupants who might occupy the space, and are imposed to keep everyone safe in an emergency.


You typically see “maximum permitted occupancy” signs in ballrooms, meeting rooms and auditoriums where a large number of people might be anticipated for good reason.  When capacity is exceeded and the number of exits are not adequate for crowds – historic tragedies like The Station nightclub fire that killed 100 in Rhode Island can occur.


In some of these campaign events the venue worked to accommodate the event organizers by setting up video monitors and chairs in adjacent spaces to allow some of the overflow crowd to come inside, a reasonable action when the primary event space is over capacity.


The fire marshals in these situations are doing their jobs – and doing them well. Their enforcement of codes is something that the public and we expect, and rely on to keep us safe.


From the NFPA Quarterly, v. 7, no. 1

“A contractor was clearing out and excavating an old vacant lot which had not been used since the fire of 1906.  The street was held back by an old brick retaining wall.  When he began excavating below this wall it caved in, allowing all the earth and pavement from the area wall back to the street care lines to fall into this excavation.  This left approximately 150 feet of 10 inch high pressure main suspended in the air and it naturally broke of its own weight.


The present practice is to cut off by means of gates at the corners, any block in which similar work is being done.  As the high pressure is a gridiron system, with gates at each corner, any block may be cut out without affecting the remainder of the system.


When this break occurred the large amount of water rushing out under a static pressure of 180 pounds carried away all other piping and conduits on that side of the street.


Approximately fifteen minutes elapsed form the time the break occurred to the time the water was shut off.  When it is considered this was the first accident the system has had, the work of the Fire Department appears to have been very credible.”

The Second Draft Reports for 36 NFPA Standards in the Fall 2016 revision cycle are available with a deadline to submit a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM) of August 22, 2016.


Some of these proposed Standards with Second Draft Reports are listed below:


  • NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • NFPA 17A, Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems

  • NFPA 18A, Standard on Water Additives for Fire Control and Vapor Mitigation

  • NFPA 36, Standard for Solvent Extraction Plants

  • NFPA 56, Standard for Fire and Explosion Prevention During Cleaning and Purging of Flammable Gas Piping Systems

  • NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations
  • NFPA 225, Model Manufactured Home Installation Standard
  • NFPA 385, Standard for Tank Vehicles for Flammable and Combustible Liquids
  • NFPA 501, Standard on Manufactured Housing
  • NFPA 655, Standard for Prevention of Sulfur Fires and Explosions
  • NFPA 730, Guide for Premises Security
  • NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations
  • NFPA 1006, Standard for Technical Rescuer Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1072, Standard for Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Emergency Response Personnel Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1616, Standard for Mass Evacuation and Sheltering
  • NFPA 1670, Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents
  • NFPA 1911, Standard for the Inspection, Maintenance, Testing, and Retirement of In-Service Automotive Fire Apparatus


View the full list of NFPA Standards in the Fall 2016 revision cycle.

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