Skip navigation
All Places > NFPA Today > Blog > 2016 > December > 09

NFPA Today

December 9, 2016 Previous day Next day


The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) for NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®, is being published for public review and comment:

Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by the February 16, 2017 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the log number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

Effective December 1, Massachusetts requires one- and two-family homes built before 1975 to have working, up-to-date smoke alarms. Fire inspectors, checking alarms during the home sale process, will be looking to ensure that smoke alarms are up-to-date and in working order.
State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey explained that new regulations were established because the sensing technology inside alarms deteriorates after 10 years. The new regulations require alarms to be the photoelectric type or a combination of photoelectric and ionization technology.


NFPA statistics show that three out of five U.S. home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working alarms. To learn more about smoke alarm awareness, NFPA commissioned a survey earlier this year and determined:

• half of Americans (50 percent) have three or more smoke alarms in their current home
• almost one in five Americans who have smoke alarms (19 percent) say the oldest smoke alarm they currently have in their home is 10+ years old
• nearly one in five Americans who have smoke alarms (18 percent) are not at all sure how old the oldest smoke alarm they currently have in their home is
• when asked how often they should replace smoke alarms, nine in 10 Americans (90 percent) did not select the correct answer

Checking the date and replacing smoke alarms older than 10 years was the theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme. For additional information on smoke alarm safety read the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code® or check out NFPA’s public education resources related to smoke alarms.

The December 2016 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.


NFPA_news.jpgIn this issue:

  • Safety begins with you - public participation in the standards development process
  • Tentative Interim Amendment issued on NFPA 36
  • Errata issued on NFPA 58 and NFPA 501
  • 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.

By now, we are all aware of the horrible tragedy that occurred in Oakland, CA, where 36 people lost their lives in a horrific fire event at the Ghost Ship warehouse (the Ghost Ship housed assembly uses, residential uses, business use and others), which was hosting a electronic dance music concert at the time of the fire on the evening of December 2.  On Saturday afternoon of December 3, a 10 alarm, wind-driven fire tore through 15 buildings and multiple vehicles in Cambridge, MA.  All of this on the heels of the devastating wildfire in the beautiful Smoky Mountains National Park.


Fortunately, these large loss fires are not common, but they still exist.  And as long as they still exist, our jobs as fire safety professionals are not done, not even close.  I have read articles and responses and opinions about the fires, but I have been most impacted by NFPA's President, Jim Pauley's, reaction on the current state of fire safety as a result of this terrible event.  In his words:


   "They remind us that our work is not done and we should make every effort to see the learnings from all of them    are used in our codes and standards, enforcement and public education work just as we have throughout history.    This is how we can ensure that we continue to reduce loss and avoid complacency." 


Complacency.  I never really thought of fire in that way.  Maybe because I have work for NFPA and I spend every day, at work and at home, thinking about fire safety.  I still see fire as a problem and a risk.  I am that person who looks for sprinklers in restaurants, and exits in shopping malls, and blocked fire doors. I worry that I don't have enough smoke alarms in my home and worry there may be too much lint in the dryer or faulty electrical work.  But that is not for everyone.  Fire risk, for most, is not at the top of the priority list.  But it needs to stay a priority.  In this crazy world of terrorist threats, cyber-security, global warming and climate change, homegrown acts of violence, all which plaster our news on a daily basis, how can we have time to focus on the fire risk, too?  .


I read an article just the other day that I thought related to this issue so well.  (Yes, it was from a parenting website, about parenting issues, and not a fire safety website, but the concepts were the same, and so timely.)  The article read:


   "We focus on the extraordinary risk, rather than the common one. No TV news runs spots on the alarming rate of    child drowning. They don’t run bloody footage of the high number of children killed in car crashes. Instead, we pay    attention to the extraordinary: the shark attacks, the mass shootings, the risk of terrorism..."


With this focus on extraordinary risk, we can so easily become complacent with the day to day risk.  I am fairly confident that those 36 innocent people that lost their lives last weekend didn't think that they would lose their lives to fire.  Who does? It is the "it won't happen to me" attitude that can be dangerous, but it is so easy to believe.


Whether they realize it or not, the public relies on codes and standards to protect them.  Smoke alarms in our homes, the number of exist in an office building, the storage of hazardous materials in a warehouse, electrical wiring methods and materials, are all regulated by codes and standards.  In addition to a building code, a fire code may be one of the first codes and standards that a jurisdiction works with.  Every jurisdiction needs and has a fire code. 


NFPA 1, Fire Code, is provides jurisdictions and enforcers with a comprehensive resource for fire safety issues addressing occupant life safety, property protection, storage, use and handling of hazardous materials, fire department access and water supply, interior finish and furnishings, conditions in new and existing occupancies, building rehabilitation work, and hazards from outside fires.  It is a fire safety 'bible' of sorts.  When a fire inspector/code enforcer/AHJ inspects a building, they use a fire code as their resource to check the presence of fire protection systems, to know when inspection, testing and maintenance is required, to verify proper storage of hazardous materials, to ensure egress systems are unobstructed, available, and that the required access to the building is provided should the fire department be on site, among many many many other building issues.


Valuable and proven codes and standards exist, and they will continue to evolve.  Let's work together, not in opposition, to make use of these codes and standards (especially the Fire Code!) and to remain vigilant to the risks of fire. Our job isn't done yet.


(Let's not forget holiday safety!  Check out last week's post about NFPA 1 provisions for natural cut and artificial Christmas trees.)

As we seek to provide greater resources to those who rely on us for critical information and knowledge to eliminate loss from fire and other hazards, we are working to further harness the power of data for our stakeholders, including the U.S. fire service.


In August of 2016, NFPA, with support from IAFF, IAFC, CPSE, NASFM, NVFC, and the Metro Chiefs, received funding from the AFG Fire Prevention and Safety Grants Program to develop a national fire data system (NFDS) that meets the priority needs of the U.S. fire service for quality local and national data for both operations and community risk reduction. It will be designed to be a data resource to support a broad range of fire department decision-making.


The NFDS plan was presented to front-line fire service innovators from thirteen national organizations at NFPA’s Responder Forum last month. Video footage of the NFDS presentation at that event can be accessed here.


An important first step in the NFDS plan is a survey of fire department leaders and other fire personnel to learn how they are using data, what tools and software they are employing for collection, and which resources would enhance operations, first responder safety and community risk reduction.


If you manage fire data efforts for your organization, please take the NFDS survey.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: