Skip navigation
All Places > NFPA Today > Blog > 2016 > December > 23

NFPA Today

December 23, 2016 Previous day Next day

Photo credit: Karsten Moran/New York Times


A fire occurred at a high-rise building in Manhattan’s Upper West Side early this morning, where nine people escaped to the roof to wait out the fire and were safely rescued. Knowing your building's evacuation plan is critical, whether it's relocating to the rooftop or remaining in your apartment. This incident reinforces that sometimes getting outside to street level may not be possible, and that signaling for help on another level of the building is a safer option. Make sure you’re familiar with your building’s evacuation plan.

NFPA offers critical advice for people who live in high-rise buildings:

Know the plan: Make sure you’re familiar with your building’s evacuation plan, which should illustrate what residents are supposed to do in the event of an emergency. The evacuation plan should be posted in places where all residents can see and review it.

Practice is key: Building management should hold a fire drill with occupants at least once a year.

Never use the elevator: In case of fire, always use the stairs to get out, never the elevator. If someone in your family has difficulty climbing down steps, make sure to incorporate a contingency for this into your plan.

Stay low: Smoke from a fire is toxic and deadly no matter what kind of structure you live in. When you hold your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to the exit. In the event of a fire, if both stairwells are filled with smoke, stay in your apartment and wait for the firefighters.

Seal yourself in for safety: If you can't exit an apartment building due to smoke or fire in the hallway, call the fire department to report your exact location and gather in a room with a window to await their arrival. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to create a seal around the door and over air vents in order to keep smoke from coming in.

Stay by the window: If possible, you should open your windows at the top and the bottom so fresh air can get in. Don't break the window - if smoke enters the room from outside the building, you won't be able to protect yourself.

Signal to firefighters: Wave a flashlight or light colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.


Visit NFPA's website for more detailed information on escape planning in tall buildings.


At its December meeting, the NFPA Standards Council approved TIA 13-2 to the 2013 edition of NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems. The TIA is effective December 21, 2016.


The TIA was submitted to address concerns related to the audibility of PASS devices, and to incorporate changes to the alarm sound. Read the submitted TIA and substantiation in its entirety in the October 2016 edition of NFPA News.


The Technical Committee on Electronic Safety Equipment has also provided revisions based on the TIA to the upcoming 2018 edition of NFPA 1982. See the approved TIA at, under the “Current & Prior Editions” tab.

7017SB.pngNFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®:

  • NFPA 70, Errata 70-17-2, referencing 840.3(G) of the 2017 edition, issued 12/16/2016

An errata is a correction issued to an NFPA Standard, published in NFPA News, Codes Online, and included in any further distribution of the document.

The NFPA Standards Council met on November 30-December 1, 2016 in San Diego, CA. At the meeting, some of the following items were addressed by the Council:


  • act on the issuance of proposed TIAs on NFPA 13, 52, 70, 99, 1125, 1616, 1982
  • consider an appeal regarding membership on the NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, Technical Committee on Supervising Station Fire Alarm and Signaling Systems
  • review new projects/documents on driver training simulators used by fire service personnel during emergency vehicle driver training; and discuss fire and emergency service operational standard for the response to active shooter events and incidents.
  • consider requests from Committees to change revision cycle schedules and committee scopes.
  • approve the Annual 2019 revision cycle schedule for NFPA 70, National Electrical Code.

Read the Council's preliminary minutes for the results of items addressed at the meeting.


Also, the Council issued a Final Decision regarding membership on the NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, Technical Committee on Supervising Station Fire Alarm and Signaling Systems (Agenda Item 16-11-17-g)


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.

On Wednesday our Division Manager of International Programs, Olga Calendonia, wrote an excellent blog post about the devastating fireworks explosion in Tultepec, Mexico this week, which has now claimed 35 lives and injured dozens more. The video below gives viewers a sense of just how catastrophic this explosion was. Did you know that this is the third fire-related disaster at this very market since 2005?! While the NFPA standards surrounding fireworks manufacturing and display are the obvious go-to standards in a time like this, the new NFPA 1300 also came to my mind. 


Video courtesy of CNN


What stood out to me was the frequency of similar incidents in the same location, and the perceived risk of storing and selling consumer fireworks at a market where many people, food, and other merchandise vendors all cohabitate. NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, could play a role here. For instance, a risk assessment matrix could reveal both high frequency and high impact for the hazard that is the sale/storage of consumer fireworks in this highly trafficked holiday market. Identifying the risk level is one of the first steps to reducing risks in any given community. It's also important to note that a "community" doesn't have to be a country, state, or city. A community can also refer to an area, event, or building; as big or small as the need demands. 


Risk Assessment Matrix from NFPA 1300


How do you think a community risk assessment (CRA) or community risk reduction (CRR) plan could play a role in a scenario like this one?


My heart goes out to those affected by this explosion, and I know that NFPA will continue to work towards preventing tragedies like this one.

Merry Christmas - Firecode Fridays

Earlier this year I became Staff Liaison to NFPA's Fire Code project and the Fire Code Technical Committee responsible for the development of NFPA 1, Fire Code.  I was excited to take on the responsibility of such an important document that touches so many areas of fire protection, life safety, property protection and fire fighter access and protection.


I then asked myself, "How can I take a document with so much information and make it more useful to enforcers and users of the Code? How can I help get the word out about all of this information?"  And so, "Fire Code Fridays" was born. 


Today marks my 44th "Fire Code Friday" post.  My first post, about indoor children's play structures, was published on Friday, February 26, 44 weeks ago!  In my 44 weeks writing these posts, I have not only learned a lot about the Code myself, but also about how far reaching this Code truly is.  It impacts people, buildings, events and activities every single day.


It impacts AHJs responsible for seasonal events such as carnivals and fairs, display fireworks and parades, and holiday activities such as crop mazes, haunted houses, and Christmas trees.


It affects basic electrical installations, commercial cooking equipment, and the installation and design of PV systems


It requires the availability of clear and unobstructed fire department access to buildings and structures and adequate fire flow for fire fighter operations.


It requires that enforcers and users have an understanding of the storage and use of hazardous materials including their classification, quantity and protection.


It even requires the basic enforcement of objects such as grills and hibachis, sky lanterns, heating appliances and the management of combustible waste and trash.


And above and beyond the provisions that are unique to NFPA 1, there is also an added responsibility to understand the 50+ documents that are extracted into the Code, such as NFPA 101 and NFPA 72.


All in the pages of one, single document.  And there is still plenty for me to share in 2017, including the discussion of new provisions for the next edition of the Code!


Thank you for reading my weekly posts. I hope you have enjoyed them!  If you have suggestions, or feedback, please comment. 


And a very happy holidays, and a safe and healthy New Year!


~Kristin Bigda, NFPA 1 Staff Liaison


As NFPA will be closed December 24 – January 2, Fire Code Fridays posts will resume on Friday, January 6, 2017.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: