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Section 18.5 of NFPA 1 provides requirements for fire hydrants, including location, distribution, minimum number, clearance, marking, and testing and maintenance.


Section 18.5 was revised in its entirety for the 2015 edition of the Code. Previous editions provided a performance-based requirement that the number and type of fire hydrants and connections to other approved water supplies be capable of delivering the required fire flow and be provided at approved locations. The former Annex E was deleted for the 2015 edition of the Code; in its place, Section 18.5 was revised by the addition of prescriptive, mandatory requirements for fire hydrant location and distribution based on the required fire flow determined in accordance with Section 18.4.


To determine the minimum number of fire hydrants for fire flow, the following provisions should be followed:

  • The aggregate fire flow capacity of all fire hydrants within 1000 ft (305 m) of the building cannot be less than the required fire flow.
  • Table provides the maximum fire flow capacity for which a fire hydrant can be credited.


Determine the number of required fire hydrants for a proposed, new manufacturing building with a fire area of 50,000 ft2 (4650 m2) and a construction classification of Type II(000) (noncombustible and unprotected). The building will be protected throughout by an approved automatic sprinkler system with standard response sprinklers.


Sample Solution:

Test results indicate the theoretical available fire flow is 3500 gpm. Based on the procedures as outlined in Section 18.4, the required fire flow is approximately 1200 gpm.


  • A designer chooses to locate one fire hydrant on the existing public water mains at a distance of 350 ft (107 m) from the building, which meets the maximum 400 ft (122 m) distance criterion of 18.5.3(1).
  • Using Table, it is determined that a hydrant located 400 ft (122 m) from the building can be credited with not more than 1000 gpm (3785 L/min). Because this is less than the required fire flow of 1200 gpm (4500 L/min), one additional hydrant is required within 1000 ft (305 m) of the building. (Or the designer could choose to extend a private fire service main onto the property and locate a hydrant at a distance of not more than 250 ft (76 m) from the building.)
  • In accordance with Table, such a hydrant would be permitted to be credited with up to 1500 gpm (5678 L/min), which exceeds the required fire flow of 1200 gpm (4500 L/min).
  • If the designer chooses to add a second hydrant on the public main, they should be spaced so the distance between them does not exceed 500 ft (152 m) in accordance with 18.5.3.
  • The AHJ should require an additional flow test following the installation of the new hydrant or hydrants to verify they are capable of delivering the required fire flow.


A little over two weeks until the NFPA 1 Second Draft meeting, next week I will talk about issues the committee will be addressing in Milwaukee on October 3-4 (check out the agenda at


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UPDATE: Federal regulators officially issued a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall on September 15th and offered consumers two options: get a replacement phone or refund.


Concerns about lithium-ion batteries continue to mount due to roughly 35 recent incidents caused by faulty batteries, including one overheated smartphone that destroyed a Jeep in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), the federal government's consumer products watchdog organization, issued a warning yesterday to Samsung Galaxy Note 7 users. The commission asked consumers to stop using the phones due to the risk of explosions and fire, going so far as to announce that users should “power them down and stop charging or using the device.” The CPSC warning followed a voluntary recall issued by Samsung last week and an announcement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that asked airline passengers with these devices to refrain from using or charging them in flight and to avoid packing them in their checked luggage.


Earlier today Forbes reported that the South Korean manufacturer is even encouraging users to exchange their devices, for safety sake. “Our number one priority is the safety of our customers. We are asking users to power down their Galaxy Note7s and exchange them as soon as possible,” says DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics.


Rechargeable lithium batteries overheat more than any other type of batteries and tend to have manufacturing defects. They are also very poorly regulated. The low weight batteries house substantial energy and fit into smaller devices, but have been causing fire safety issues in smart phones, tablets, hoverboards and other emerging tech devices that are popular with the buying public.

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My first blog covered why YOU should consider yourself to be an AHJ when it comes to applying the requirements in NFPA 70E®. To refresh your memory, the main reason is that NFPA 70E must be applied proactively not reactively. There is no governmental agency that visits your facility to set up a safe work program for you. No agency audits the work procedures or watches over you while you are performing work. You are left to your own devices until an incident occurs. By then it is too late for the employee who was injured or their family dealing with their death.

Look at the requirements in NFPA 70E. They must be used before an employee is put at risk of an electrical injury. This requires proactive involvement of the entire organization starting at the top. 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.” Throughout an organization there are many people responsible for various NFPA 70E requirements. So you are the AHJ in some regard whether you are in upper management, middle management, a supervisor or the employee.


The employer must provide safety related work practices and train the employee. Upper management must set the course for a culture of electrical safety. They must establish policies for protecting the employee which would include allowing an electrically safe work condition to established rather than placing revenue above worker safety. They are responsible for overseeing that the core electrical safety principles are not undermined. They must address contract employees performing work within their facility.


Middle management must allow for time for work to be safely conducted. They must make sure that processes and procedures provide protection for the employee. They are often the one given the responsibility of applying their signature to an energized work permit and must make sure that the work is properly justified. They may need to modify the electric safety work program when conditions at the facility change.


Supervisors must make sure that qualified employees are assigned to conduct the specified tasks. They should confirm that the job briefing is conducted before work is begun. They must verify that the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is issued to or used by the employee. They must understand the safety issues brought to them by a worker who has expressed concerns regarding the assigned task.


The employee is required to implement the employer’s training and practices. They are responsible for their own actions. They must acknowledge the fact that they may not be qualified for the task assigned to them. The employee must be able to recognize that the equipment has not been maintained as expected. They are the only one capable of realizing that pulling a double shift has decreased their awareness to the point that they can no longer work safely and are now at a greater risk of an injury. The employee is solely responsible for final assurance that the work can be and is performed safely.


A single AHJ most often will not be identifiable when it comes to electrical safety in the workplace even if there is an assigned safety manager. These were just some examples of how the requirements in NFPA 70E become the responsibility of various persons thereby making each an AHJ. The main thing to remember is that NFPA 70E is about providing a safe electrical work environment for the employee. Without top to bottom buy in to this fact, the best laid plans are rendered ineffective. Electrical safety is everyone’s job. Where do you fit in?


Next time: The misconception of what a consensus standard is.

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