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NEC Image - Jeff Sargent


The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) has just released a report on Phase I of their project, Evaluation of Electrical Feeder and Branch Circuit Loading.


The last three editions of the NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC) contain requirements reflective of the increased implementation of energy codes at the municipal, state and federal levels of government.  These new NEC rules are complementary to requirements in model energy codes that restrict energy usage in certain types of occupancies. One of the major areas of focus in the model energy codes is the lighting load in commercial buildings. The energy codes specify maximum lighting densities for commercial type occupancies on a VA per square foot basis, while the NEC specifies a minimum load per square foot for the same occupancy.  


Can the NEC and model energy code requirements be harmonized? The answer to this question is a qualified yes, but in order to make changes to the minimum load allowances in the NEC, there needs to be a solid technical basis to do so. This is where the current FPRF project is headed.


The first phase of this project identifies the different factors involved in this discussion and establishes means by which the collect electrical usage within buildings down to the branch circuit level.  Once this data is harvested and analyzed, that information can be used as the technical basis for making or not making changes to current NEC minimum load allotment requirements.


Currently, alternative approaches to the minimum load prescriptive requirements are available through new exceptions that have been added to the NEC. The outcome of feeder and branch circuit load collection data will be used to support more holistic changes to the baseline NEC load calculation requirements.


For more on this topic, see my “In Compliance” column from the May/June 2016 and March/April 2014 editions of NFPA Journal.

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services Division (DSPS) is proposing to exclude Arc Fault and Ground Fault Circuit interruption (AFCI/GFCI) expansion from the Wisconsin Electrical Code despite objection from the State’s Electrical Advisory Council.  DSPS tried to eliminate AFCI and GFCI in 2012 and the reaction from the electrical industry and fire services was so strong that Governor Scott Walker “pulled the plug” on DSPS’s actions.


NEC 2017Like many states, Wisconsin has adopted the NEC for the state’s electrical code.  DSPS’ proposed amendments for AFCI and GFCI requirements would be less than the minimum requirements prescribed by the current edition of the National Electrical Code.  Since the introduction of GFCI requirements in NFPA’s National Electrical Code in 1971, the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows a decreasing trend in the number of electrocutions in the United States. The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission provides valuable insight to the importance of GFCI in their Electrocution Reduction Program.  Recognizing the value of GFCI protection through timely adoption of the NEC will further the safety of Wisconsin citizens and will demonstrate that DSPS is a leader in public safety.


U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 47,820 reported U.S. home structure fires involving electrical failure or malfunction in 2007-2011. These fires resulted in 455 civilian deaths, 1,518 civilian injuries and $1.48 billion in direct property damage.     


To proceed with the proposed rules changes is a dangerous disservice to the citizens of the state of Wisconsin who have an expectation that they can safely interface with the electrical systems within homes, businesses, institutions and recreational facilities.


The DSPS has an opportunity to stand-up for the safety of all Wisconsin residents by not allowing these rule changes to proceed and maintain the exemplary record that the state of Wisconsin has achieved as being a leader in electrical safety.  It is a decision that we can all live with. If you are interesting in attending the public hearings on these proposed changes, and weighing in with your thoughts, they begin tomorrow, January 31st.

During a Vision 20/20 workshop on smoke alarms in March 2015, conducting a national census (or representative in-home survey) on the prevalence and characteristics of smoke alarms was identified as the top action item among the fifty-nine stakeholder participants. Therefore, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is moving forward with an in-home representative survey across the US to assess the use and functionality of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms.  

The Research Foundation has been contracted by CPSC to facilitate a workshop to gather feedback from stakeholder groups for this planned survey. Stakeholder groups include the fire service, enforcers/AHJs, public educators, researchers, equipment manufacturers, standards developers, and others. The feedback gathered will help inform the questions and methodology of the survey as well as how it is communicated (i.e. what are the really important pieces of data that need to be gathered and included in the overall data set). 

The workshop will be held 16 February 2017 from 8am to 5pm EST at the Consumer Product Safety Commission in Bethesda, MD.

The first part of the day will include a review of previous work, on-going relevant work, data gaps, human behavior changes/societal changes that influence safety behaviors, perception of CO alarms, and changes in smoke alarm listing and installation standards. Then, the workshop participants will be broken into smaller groups to discuss the key areas and topics that they feel are needed as part of the survey. A draft agenda is available. 

If you would like to participate in this free workshop, please respond back to Eric Peterson, administrator at the Foundation, by email or +1 617984-7281 by February 8. Space is limited.


Confined space hazards know no borders.  


Less than two weeks after three workers died in a confined space in Florida, four workers died from atmospheric hazards  while preparing to clean a sewage pit at a Bangkok market on Thursday. The same story-just a different country.  


The incident occurred in a Bangkok marker area where workers were about to carry out maintenance on a 3 meter deep sewage pit. The first worker opened the cover, leaned over, and likely was overcome by the atmospheric hazard and fell into the space.  A second worker entered in an attempt to save the first worker.   A third worker entered and also became non-responsive.  His brother proceeded to enter to try to save him, making him the fourth victim.


A team of rescue workers arrived on scene and assumed that four men had been electrocuted while cleaning the pit.   After turning off the power to the entire market, one rescue worker proceeded to enter the space on a rope but without a proper respirator such as an airline respirator or an SCBA.  The rescue worker passed out but fortunately was pulled to safety using the rope.  Without that rope, he likely would have become victim number 5.  


This first fatality that started this incident began before the first worker had even entered the space.   NFPA 350 Guide for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work discusses "adjacent space" hazards that occur in the vicinity of confined spaces and provides safe practices to prevent incidents such as this from occurring. 



Note- these recent tragedies have authorities across the country looking to NFPA to learn more about the codes, standards and safety practices related to confined space entry. NFPA offers an online confined space training series for those that design, work in, or supervise a facility that has one or more confined spaces. Content is ideal for facility managers, risk managers, safety directors, architects, engineers, industrial hygienists, construction workers, and technicians.

nfpa firefighter hood bulletin

Download the full bulletin by clicking on the image.


NFPA has issued a firefighter protective hood safety bulletin as the fire service grapples with PPE contaminants and increases in job-related cancer.

Firefighters and their PPE are exposed to a wide range of toxins. According to a study by the CDC and NIOSH, firefighters have a higher chance of developing more than a dozen different cancers than the general population.


Firefighter thermal/flame protective hoods do not stop soot and chemicals from depositing on areas that are extremely vulnerable to dermal exposure. The hoods are designed to protect a firefighter’s head and neck, but they are not built to prevent toxins from being absorbed into a firefighter’s skin. The greatest number of carcinogens enter a firefighter’s body through the lungs; with the skin being the second most concerning access route. Furthermore, if the hoods are not properly cleaned, the toxins will linger in the hoods and rub against the firefighter’s skin.

NFPA is currently working on three research projects related to contamination, PPE and cancer. In the meantime, the protective hood bulletin recommends that fire departments educate personnel on PPE care and maintenance in accordance with NFPA 1851, the Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.


Post and share this bulletin to keep firefighters safer from carcinogens and hazardous substances. For additional information, visit NFPA’s PPE cleaning page.

All eyes were on Dubai on New Year's Eve in 2015 when a fire quickly raced up the side of a 63-story building, The Address Hotel. Thankfully, there were only a few injuries. The fire spread from one floor to the next, feeding off the flammable exterior cladding. It wasn't the first exterior cladding fire in Dubai. According to this paper, Dubai had experienced at least three similar fires.


After the fire, many were asking how a flammable material could have been used on the exterior of a high rise building. It was revealed that the product had been tested, but not to NFPA 285. NFPA 285 tests the flame propagation characteristics of a material.  According to this news story, it was only tested for "fire containment and not flammability."



Over the weekend, Dubai announced more restrictive regulations on exterior cladding. The specifics of the new law have not yet been made available. However, it is being reported that all existing buildings will be forced to replace non-compliant cladding with compliant cladding before a certain date. If an existing building has a fire prior to the replacement, all non-compliant cladding must be replaced with materials that meet the new regulations. In addition, people could face prosecution and fines for not following the new law. You can read more here


These types of fires aren't exclusive to Dubai. They've happened all over the world. In 2014, the Lacrosse Apartments in Melbourne, Australia had a large fire. The exterior cladding was found to be a major contributor. In a recent decision, the Building Appeals Board denied the owners' request to install sprinklers on the balconies instead of replacing the exterior cladding.


The events of this past week show the importance of considering the fire characteristics of external cladding. Luckily, these fires have not resulted in serious injury and/or deaths, but they are costly. Hopefully, the push continues to properly test materials for the safety of cities across the world.

Fire Door Comparison

In the picture above, only the door on the left must comply with the inspection and testing requirements in NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives.


However, a lack of clarity around NFPA 80 requirements remains among many facility managers, safety officers, engineers, life safety supervisors, EHS managers, construction managers and others who are responsible for ensuring that the healthcare facilities they manage comply with the standard. Knowing which doors fall under the standards’ inspection requirements is just one example.


NFPA 80 compliance comes as a result of the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services’ (CMS) adoption of the 2012 edition of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, last year, which requires that all U.S. healthcare facilities meet the fire door requirements in the standard.


To help clarify the application of NFPA 101 and NFPA 80, NFPA and the Door Security & Safety Foundation (DSSF) have teamed up to conduct a series of one-day trainings, which work to help ensure fire door compliance in health care facilities. More specifically, the trainings cover:

  • door types encountered in a health care facility
  • door locking means permitted
  • eleven verification points required for the yearly inspection of swinging fire door assemblies
  • the skills required to serve as the qualified person permitted to perform inspection and testing in accordance with NFPA 80


NFPA 101 and NFPA 80 fire door inspection for health care facilities trainings will be held on the following dates, as follows:


February 3, 2017 - Cranston, RI

March 6, 2017 - NFPA Headquarters, Quincy, MA

May 15, 2017 - NFPA Headquarters, Quincy, MA

July 10, 2017 - NFPA Headquarters, Quincy, MA

October 5, 2017 - NFPA Headquarters, Quincy, MA

December 4, 2017 - NFPA Headquarters, Quincy, MA


For anyone who has questions at these trainings, please contact me, Lauren DAngelo at

NFPA has been working on a series of videos to help explain the significant changes to the 2017 edition of NFPA 70: National Electrical Code that impacts the electrical industry as a whole, as well as the work you do every day. We’re pleased to see so many of you are taking the opportunity to view the videos and ask questions on our Xchange platform.


Please join me for the next video in the series. In this one, I talk through the significant changes that impact limited energy circuits and communications systems, most notably in Chapters 7 and 8 of the NEC. These changes include:
•    Revisions on the use of unsupported lengths of power-limited tray cables
•    A new condition allowing metal masts and supporting structures for antennae to be protected by a building or structure lightning protection system instead of direct connection to a grounding electrode
•    New requirements covering the ampacity of signaling, data and communications cables that also provide power to connected devices in order to keep pace with new power over the Ethernet (PoE) technology


… plus other impactful changes from the 2017 edition that you absolutely need to know.
The following is a video preview:



You can watch the full video for free if you are logged into Xchange. Haven't registered for Xchange yet? It’s easy to do. Look for the login link above to login or register for your free account on Xchange. Once you’re logged in, you will have access to the full webinar, in addition to related free content, and discussions with your peers across the country and around the world. Don’t miss out; get involved today!

A few week's ago I wrote about NFPA 1's requirement to provide automatic sprinkler protection for new buildings housing emergency fire, rescue, or ambulance services.  In addition to that requirement, there are many other instances in the Code where sprinkler protection is mandated.



Section 13.3.2 of NFPA 1, Fire Code, addresses those scenarios.  As NFPA 1 extracts from 50+ other NFPA codes and standards, the requirements for sprinkler protection may also be included elsewhere.  However, Section 13.3.2 is where to start to determine if a building/structure needs sprinklers.  The first subsection, reminds users that were required anywhere in NFPA 1 or by the referenced codes and standards in NFPA 1, the automatic sprinkler system is required to be installed in accordance with the provisions of 13.3.1, which mandates compliance with NFPA 13.


NFPA 1 requires automatic sprinkler protection in the following scenarios:

  • Basements exceeding 2500 ft2 (232 m2) in new buildings. (
  • New building housing emergency fire, rescue, or ambulance services (
  • New buildings three or more stores in height above grade (
    • Stand-alone open parking structures that are detached from other occupancies are not required to be protected with sprinklers. (


In addition to the conditions specifically noted by NFPA 1, other requirements may drive the need to automatic sprinkler protection.

  • Section, extracted from NFPA 13, addresses exterior roofs, canopies, porte-cocheres, balconies, decks, and similar projections.
  • Section begins a series of code sections, extracted from NFPA 101, that address the occupancy specific sprinkler requirements based upon the occupancies (new and existing) that are contained in the Life Safety Code.
  • Section mandates that all new high-rise buildings be protected by sprinklers.  Existing high-rise buildings must be fully sprinklered within 12 years of adoption of the Code.


Finally, Section requires automatic sprinkler protection for all occupancies containing areas greater than 2500 ft2 (232 m2) used for high-piled storage of combustibles.  Any occupancies containing areas greater than 12,000 ft 2(1115 m2) used for general storage of combustibles must also be sprinklered. An automatic sprinkler system is also required throughout all occupancies containing storage commodities classified as Group A Plastics in excess of 5 ft (1.5 m) in height over an area exceeding 2500 ft2 (232 m2) in area.


Sprinkler requirements for other facilities such as mini-storage buildings, bulk storage of tires and woodworking operations are extracted from NFPA 5000.


There are a lot of instances that trigger the need to automatic sprinkler protection.  With the importance of these life saving and property protecting systems its critical to understand where in the Code to locate and identify these requirements...Section 13.3.2!


Happy Friday and thanks for reading!


Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

              In Part 1of this series we discussed a model Total Wellness Program and some of the benefits it has experienced since its inception.  In this part we will discuss the concepts that have been coming up all over the Country and some recommendations you can take for your agency and start working on them right away.

              I am sitting at the National EMS Physicians Association conference in New Orleans and have sat in on two separate lectures and a full working group with over 50 members all discussing first responder health and safety and what can they as medical directors do to help our responders.  Last week, I attended the Safety and Apparatus Symposium presented by the Fire Department Safety Officers Association, a group who's motto is to improve the health and safety of all first responders. There they discussed several trends including annual physical fitness testing, health and wellness program concepts, department safety cultural challenges, and cancer prevention.  At all of these events, along with the NFF meeting that was discussed in Part 1, several themes seemed to resonate across the board regarding safety and health.  They are outlined below:


  • Make a commitment to invest in the concept of a total wellness program.
  • Create a peer support program, where the line staff determines who the peer support team is comprised of.
  • Provide your peer support personnel with training on stress management and information on getting further help for members.
  • Partner with your surrounding medical community to provide services to employees.
  • Work with metal health clinicians who have a solid understanding of what ALL first responders go through. Assure that you provide them with opportunities to learn more about what this life is like.
  • Create a culture of safety from the top down and a zero tolerance policy regarding safety violations.
  • Establish what must be reported to senior staff and what should remain privileged and make all staff aware of the difference and the line.
  • Create support network and communication networks for members families.
  • Provide administrative support for the program.


Investing in a total wellness program is beneficial to a department on so many levels, but let’s stick to financial.  Every year departments of all shapes and sizes, including volunteer services struggle with staffing due to injuries and leaves.  This becomes very expensive and time consuming by back filling spaces, paying overtime, and struggling to find appropriately trained personnel for the open spots.  While most departments rely on worker’s compensation to cover the salary and medical expenses of the injured party, there is still a cost to departments for their lost time.  Also, when on leave for a personal illness or injury, departments still have to cover for the lost time.  On a volunteer department, especially one with already low staffing, this can be devastating.  They may be required to request mutual aid from neighboring departments or, in some cases, have to pay for their areas to be covered.  Another financial benefit is patient generation.  Hospitals, medical providers, and mental health providers want volumes of patients.  They are more likely to partner with your department knowing that in the future it will lead to patients coming in their door.  Plus, some want to help their community or just think it’s really cool to work with first responders.  On a hospital level, imaging, surgeries, and rehabilitative care are all huge money generators and by working closely with a department to streamline their facilities processes to meet the needs of first responders they can create a profitable win-win situation. 

When you are creating one of these programs you need to have buy-in from your line personnel.  The all to frequent error many departments make is to have a command level officer be in charge of these programs and then select who they want to be the peer support staff.  By having the line staff elect/select the people that they want to go to a department instantly builds trust.  One of the things many first responders express is that they are concerned that in the small world of their departments, their personal information can spread quickly.  By having people they trust ion these roles and training those people on the value of confidentiality and what must be reported and what is best referred, they can have that trust.  One novel recommendation is to create a survey with the names of all department members, then have staff select their top three people that they talk to when they don’t know something or have a problem.  Then take, let’s say the top ten vote getters and there is your peer support team!  This will show the line staff that the program is about them and not management controlling them and will, hopefully, foster participation.

   Working with families is a huge missing component in most first responder organizations throughout the Country.  Be it as a result of scheduling, the hours, and/or the stressors, frequently our loved ones don’t truly understand why we are acting the way we are.  Further, they often don’t know or can’t comprehend the things personnel are going through.  There are studies out there that show the divorce rate of first responders to be at over 80%. There could be many causes for this but at the end of the day, this additional stress does not make for a healthy department or work environment.  By making the significant others of responders feel involved and supported, every day not just when something bad has happened, you are making part of the family.  Frequently different department members call their co-workers their “brothers and sisters.”  Well how would one think their home family would feel about them having a completely separate work family?  While for some bringing their home and work together may be uncomfortable or something that they are not used to.  Having your spouse and family understand better the things you are going through and what others in their shoes are experiencing will only improve their total understanding and hopefully create a more healthy and supportive environment. 

   Creating one of these programs isn't easy, and certainly isn't free.  But this is the price that must be paid to support those that help us all every day.  Next week we will talk about what the @NFPA is doing today and what the future holds for wellness in Part 3.


Have you recently completed or are you actively working on a research topic related to automatic detection or suppression?  The extended deadline for abstracts is quickly approaching for the joint AUBE '17 / SUPDET 2017 Conference.  Papers are sought on new developments with focus on the topics listed in the Call for Papers.  Interested presenters should submit an extended abstract (2-3 pages) by email not later than 4 February 2017 to  . 


The 2017 Suppression, Detection, and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET 2017) will be a joint conference with the 16th International Conference on Automatic Fire Detection (AUBE ’17). The joint conference will be held September 12-14, 2017 at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Hyattsville, MD 


Submitted abstracts should include the full title and name(s), affiliation(s), address(es), telephone number(s), and email address(es) of the author(s), with the presenter identified (underlined).


Abstracts must be original work and will be accepted on the basis of their quality and originality in the field of automatic fire detection and signaling, security systems, automatic suppression, and their applications.  Abstracts should be absent of commercial overtones, be based on good science, present objective and credible results, and be without inherent bias.  Abstracts that do not meet these criteria will not be accepted.  

The end of January is marked by two tragedies in NASA history.


January 27, 1967: Apollo 1 (AS-204) launch pad fire


Apollo 1 Launch pad fire, January 27, 1967

This photo show the interior of the command module after the fire. Investigators later determined likely cause to be electrical arcing from defective wiring.


During a pre-flight test on January 27, 1967, for what was intended to be the first manned Apollo mission into space, a fire broke out in the cockpit of the command module. Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee died in the fire.





January 28, 1986: Challenger (STS-51-L) Explosion


The Crew of the Challenger Space Shuttle, January 28, 1986.

Front row from left, Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair.

Back row from left, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, Judith Resnik.


This memorable tragedy occurred on January 28, 1986, when the Challenger Space Shuttle broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing the 7 crew members on board. Significant at the time was the presence of payload specialist Christa McAuliffe, intended to be the first school teacher in space. 


The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is excited to be a Cooperating Organization of the Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI) conference “Resilience of the Integrated Building: A Community Focus” scheduled for April 11 – 13, 2017 in Oklahoma City, OK.


The AEI 2017 Conference provides an opportunity for professionals of the building design and construction industry, including structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, architects, and construction management professionals to learn about and discuss advanced building design strategies and state-of-the-art building technology practices.


With over 90 presentations and representation from 9 different countries, the technical program will cover the 8 AEI BUILD categories and will feature presentations on building envelopes, building materials, building structural systems, community planning for resilience, forensic studies, and integrated systems.


NFPA will be presenting on our efforts in the area of resilient design and the likely impact on codes and standards. As societal norms and expectations change with respect to fire and other hazards, finding the balance between “minimum” criteria and “optimum” criteria in the codes and standards can become a challenge.


AEI Build draws on the best ideas in design, construction, and maintenance of buildings and offers the Architectural Engineering community a new resource of innovative research, new developments, and best practices in eight practice focus areas of the architectural engineering profession: deliver, enclose, learn, modular, perform, resilient, secure, and sustain.


As part of our sponsorship, AEI will extend the AEI member rate to NFPA member attendees that wish to register for the conference. The $100 discounted registration code is: AEI17K100.


We hope to see you there!


The 2012 edition of the Life Safety Code was recently adopted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In over-simplified terms, this means medical facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs), and free-standing emergency departments (EDs), must comply with the 2012 edition of NFPA 101 in order to receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. (I’m not an expert on Medicare or Medicaid, so I’ll stick to the Code issues.)


NFPA 101 is an occupancy-based code, so it’s very important to classify occupancies correctly. Otherwise, the wrong requirements will be applied. This could result in occupants being provided with insufficient life safety features, or conversely, a building owner spending more money than necessary on life safety features that aren’t warranted. Three occupancy classifications exist in the Code that could apply to medical facilities; they are: Business Occupancies, Ambulatory Health Care Occupancies, and Health Care Occupancies. The NFPA 101 definitions and a brief description of each, as they apply to medical facilities, follow.


Business Occupancy. An occupancy used for the transaction of business other than mercantile.


While this might not sound like a medical facility, the definition does capture the correct classification for facilities such as doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices, and urgent care clinics, provided that no more than three occupants are incapable of self-preservation at any time (as will become apparent momentarily). In these types of medical facilities, patients are fully capable of evacuating under their own power in the event of an emergency. The occupant life-safety risk is no different than that found in an office building. Granted, when I was a call-fire fighter/EMT back in the day, we ran the occasional ambulance call to the local doctor’s office, usually for someone who was brought there because they weren’t feeling well, only to find out they were having an MI (myocardial infarction, or heart attack… I remember some of what I learned in EMT school nearly 30 years ago!). While those patients were incapable of self-preservation due to their medical condition, that did not make the doctor’s office anything other than a business occupancy. Those patients simply went to the wrong facility. (They should have dialed 911 and gone to the hospital.)


Ambulatory Health Care Occupancy. An occupancy used to provide services or treatment simultaneously to four or more patients that provides, on an outpatient basis, one or more of the following:

(1) Treatment for patients that renders the patients incapable of taking action for self-preservation under emergency conditions without the assistance of others

(2) Anesthesia that renders the patients incapable of taking action for self-preservation under emergency conditions without the assistance of others

(3) Emergency or urgent care for patients who, due to the nature of their injury or illness, are incapable of taking action for self-preservation under emergency conditions without the assistance of others


The big difference between business occupancies and ambulatory health care occupancies is the presence of four or more patients who are incapable of self-preservation because of a variety of reasons. The other key to this definition, and what differentiates it from health care, is the phrase “on an outpatient basis.” This means that a doctor has not signed an order admitting the patient to a facility for longer-term care with housing and sleeping accommodations. When patients are outpatients, they receive medical treatment or observation and are then subsequently admitted to a facility as inpatients, or they go home.


Part (1) of the definition describes something like a dialysis clinic. The treatment renders the patient incapable of self-preservation because of the lack of ability to evacuate without the assistance of staff due to being hooked up to a dialysis machine.


Part (2) of the definition describes something like an ASC, in which the patient walks into the facility, is then rendered incapable of self-preservation by anesthesia for a procedure, is moved to a recovery area for observation, and then walks out of the facility, typically on the same day. A dentist’s office could be classified as ambulatory health care if, at any time, four or more patients are rendered incapable of self-preservation.


Part (3) of the definition, which was new in the 2003 edition of the Code, can apply to an emergency department (ED), whether it is attached to a hospital, or a detached, free-standing facility. If attached to a hospital and classified as ambulatory health care, it must be separated from the remainder of the building by two-hour fire barriers (see of the 2012 edition and of the 2015 edition). The advantages to classifying an ED as ambulatory health care include: it is not subject to suite size limitations applicable to health care occupancies, patient rooms can be open to the corridor, and the health care occupancy corridor protection requirements don’t apply. Again, the key is the patients in the ED are outpatients; once four or more inpatients who are incapable of self-preservation are present, the facility is classified as health care.


Health Care Occupancy. An occupancy used to provide medical or other treatment or care simultaneously to four or more patients on an inpatient basis, where such patients are mostly incapable of self-preservation due to age, physical or mental disability, or because of security measures not under the occupants’ control.


Health care occupancies are like ambulatory health care occupancies in that they contain four or more patients who are incapable of self-preservation; however, health care patients are inpatients, rather than outpatients, and are provided with housing and sleeping accommodations to facilitate extended care. Examples are hospitals, nursing homes (SNFs), and limited-care facilities, which could include something like psychiatric hospitals. These facilities are provided with the highest level of life safety features due to the number of patients expected to be unable to evacuate themselves on an around-the-clock basis. For health care occupancies, the Code utilizes a defend-in-place strategy, in which patients are moved from the area of fire origin to an adjacent, protected smoke compartment, without requiring vertical travel in the building.


While all three of these occupancies provide varying degrees of health care services, the protection requirements for life safety from fire vary significantly, all dependent on the occupant risk. It’s important to note that it’s always the authority having jurisdiction’s (AHJ’s) responsibility to determine occupancy classification. The AHJ always has the authority to apply the Code in the manner it deems appropriate. My discussion is based on how the Code is intended to be applied as developed by NFPA’s Technical Committees on Safety to Life. If you have any thoughts on the occupancy classification of medical facilities, please post them in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and until next time, stay safe!


Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I’d love to hear your suggestions!


Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to and click on “Free access to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101.”


Now you can follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

In 2015, teaming up with representatives from the nation’s leading fire service organizations, NFPA conducted the Fourth Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service. This latest report follows three earlier surveys completed in 2001, 2005 and 2010.

Based on audience feedback from these past assessments, NFPA worked diligently to update the 2015 assessment, adding new questions to the survey, providing both an online and paper version for easier access, and other key changes.

The result is a comprehensive report that helps inform Congress and the U.S. Fire Administration where funding is needed across the U.S. Fire Service. It also serves as a powerful tool for local fire departments when discussing their capabilities within their jurisdictions. The report takes a look at both career and volunteer departments, structural and wildland-urban interface firefighting, and examines areas such as fire personnel and their capabilities, facilities and apparatus, personal protective equipment, community risk reduction, and much more.

While the 2015 Needs Assessment report shows that some fire service needs in these categories have been declining, many have remained constant or have increased. For a deeper dive into the report findings, we invite you to watch our full one-hour webinar here on Xchange.

The following is a preview:


Haven't registered for Xchange yet? It’s easy to do. Look for the login link above to login or register for your free account on Xchange. Once you’re logged in, you will have access to the full webinar, in addition to related free content, access to NFPA staff and discussions with your peers across the country and around the world. Don’t miss out; get involved today!

Countries worldwide turn to NFPA for our codes and standards, and as a resource for information and knowledge on all things related to fire, life, and electrical safety. This week NFPA President Jim Pauley is in Panama, one of the international regions that has not only taken steps to officially adopt NFPA codes, but to actually enforce them. In fact, the Panama Canal, one of the engineering wonders of the world, uses NFPA codes and standards to protect the people and property in its wake.


Pauley is meeting with fire officials to thank them for their long-standing relationship with NFPA, and to celebrate the country’s adoption of NFPA 1 as its National Fire Code. Pauley expressed gratitude for the 30-year collaboration with the Panamanian government, and commended officials and government leaders for taking fire safety seriously.

Last summer, Panama was the setting for NFPA’s first Latin American Enforcement Workshop - a successful three-day program, attended by eight countries. Panama was also represented at the first Electrical Summit for Latin American stakeholders in Mexico City this fall.


“We look forward to strengthening the bond that we have with Panama even further. Today is yet another positive and proactive step in that direction,” Pauley said.  He reminded the Latin America stakeholders in attendance that they have access to NFPA personnel and resources as they continue to adopt codes and move through the transitional process.

Listen to the Podcast on the NFPA Podcast channel. 


It might seem crazy today, but firefighters dying from falling off fire trucks used to be a problem—from 1977 to 1987, an average of almost four firefighters per year died from falling off trucks. Today, that problem is virtually unheard of thanks in large part to the 1987 adoption of the landmark NFPA 1500, Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program, the first fire service occupational safety standard.


In this episode of NFPA Journal Podcast, hear from fire service veterans Alan Brunacini, J. Gordon Routley, Phil Stittleburg, and Ken Willette, talk about what is was like to “ride the tailboard,” the fun, the danger, and how a few sentences in a big standard changed 200 years of tradition in the fire service and likely saved dozens of lives.


Subscribe to NFPA Journal Podcast on iTunes.


Also, read an entertaining oral history, "We Drove Like We Were Crazy" on the creation of NFPA 1500 in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal. 

ESFR sprinklers are often installed in warehouses to avoid installation of in-rack sprinklers. Due to the unique discharge pattern of the ESFR sprinkler, obstructions located near the sprinkler can greatly affect the distribution of water and potentially sprinkler performance. The 2016 Edition of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, provides requirements which are intended to minimize the affect obstructions have on ESFR sprinkler performance.


The Fire Protection Research Foundation initiated a project to ultimately develop a tool that can be used to provide reliable analysis of the impact of obstructions on ESFR sprinkler performance and provide technical basis for revisions to the NFPA 13 requirements. This tool and existing test data can be used as a basis for the NFPA 13 Technical Committees to develop new requirements and guidance for ESFR sprinklers.


The second phase of this project focused on open web bar joist obstructions and from that work, the impact of horizontal distance from the sprinkler to the obstruction is better understood. The third phase (outlined in this newly published report) continued the test program and increased the understanding of the impact of vertical distance and studied the impact of obstruction width.


Download the free report, "Obstruction and ESFR Sprinklers - Phase 3" (PDF), authored by Garner A. Palenske, P.E., and William N. Fletcher, P.E., with Jensen Hughes, from the Research Foundation website to review the findings. 

NFPA 257

NFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 257Standard on Fire Test for Window and Glass Block Assemblies:

  • NFPA 257, Errata 257-17-1, referencing 1.3 of the 2017 edition, issued on January 17, 2017 

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 following three proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments, and NFPA 1931, Standard for Manufacturer's Design of Fire Department Ground Ladders, are being published for public review and comment:

Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the March 23, 2017 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

The National Electric Code (NEC) has provisions for protecting residential fixed building wiring by use of devices such as the overcurrent circuit breaker and the arc fault circuit. 


However, interest has been growing in recent years to investigate and clarify the degree to which the feeder and branch circuit load design requirements in the NEC need to be adjusted based on the increasing pace of technological innovation along the entire span of the electrical power chain.


There are multiple factors driving this issue and supporting the need to address this topic. For example, today’s Energy Codes are driving down the electrical load presented by end use equipment and thus load growth assumptions that justify “spare capacity” should be re-examined. In addition, larger than necessary transformers that supply power to feeder and branch circuits expose unnecessary flash hazard to electricians working on live equipment.


A newly published Research Foundation report summarizes a Phase I effort 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 NEC. This initial effort has an emphasis on general commercial (office) occupancies, and the deliverables provide a review of the literature, and clarify the key elements of a data collection plan in support of a potential second phase (not included in the scope of this effort).


Freely download the report, "Evaluation of Electrical Feeder and Branch Circuit Loading: Phase I" (PDF), authored by Tammy Gammon, Ph.D., P.E. from the Foundation website

Jubail Industrial College in Saudi Arabia has released their 2017 NFPA Training Dates:


February 26 - March 1

Certified Fire Protection Specialist

March 5-9
NFPA 20: Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection, NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems

March 26-30
National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code

April 16-20
Certified Fire Inspector 1

April 30 – May 4
NFPA 70: National Electrical Code, NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace

May 14-18
Certified Fire Plan Examiner

May 21-25
NFPA 101 Life Safety Code


For More Information go to Jubail Industrial College or  Register Now

NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®, is accepting public input for the Annual 2019 revision cycle.


To submit input through NFPA's online submission system, select NFPA 70 from the list of NFPA codes and standards. Once on the NFPA 70 document page, select "The next edition of this standard is now open for Public Input" to begin the process. The system shows any changes made by the submitter in legislative text.  You also have the option of submitting the input right away or saving it for later completion before the September 7, 2017 closing date.

Review further instructions on how to use the online submission system


We are here to assist!  If you have any questions when using the online submission system, feel free to contact our Customer Contact Center at (800) 344-3555 (select 4) or by email.


Public input is a suggested revision to a proposed new or existing NFPA Standard submitted during the Input stage in accordance with Section 4.3 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards.

We have just moved one step closer to the publication of the 2018 edition of NFPA 1, Fire Code.


Earlier this week the Second Draft Report for the Code was posted online for public access to the actions of the committee from the Second Draft meeting held last October.  At the Second Draft meeting, the Technical Committee is responsible for developing revisions to the document.  These revisions which pass ballot are ultimately compiled and published as the Second Draft Report on the document’s NFPA website. This Report serves as documentation of the Comment Stage and is published for public review. 



The report consists of multiple components: a comprehensive Second Draft, Public Comments with corresponding Committee Actions, Committee Statements, Committee Comments, and Ballot Statements. Once published, the public may review the Second Draft Report to decide whether to submit a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM) for further consideration.


One of the most valuable changes that was made to the NFPA standards development process over the past years was to produce and make available a live draft of a document at each stage in the development process.  In the past, the public would have to decipher the changes from both phases of the revision process to determine how the document would ultimately read as a whole.  Now, those interested are able to view a full live document which accurately depicts the accepted changes to the document.  At this stage in the process, the draft shown online is almost exactly how the document will read at publication, pending any changes received through NITMAMs (closing date is FEB 20!)


So, what was accepted by the Fire Code Technical Committee at the Second Draft meeting?  The accepted changes can be found as Second Revisions in the complete Second Draft or in the Second Revisions report, again both accessible on the NFPA 1 webpage.


Some key technical changes to be included in the 2018 edition of the Code:

  • Addition of two listing standards for relocatable power taps.
  • Clarification of the installation of electric gate systems.
  • Update of Section 34.10.3 to apply to outside storage of wood and wood composite pallets of listed pallets equivalent to wood. 
  • New Chapter 38 on Marijuana Growing, Processing or Extraction Facilities.
  • Revision of Chapter 40 to update extracted references from NFPA 654 to NFPA 652.
  • Confirmation of and additional revisions to new section on Mobile and Temporary Cooking Operations.
  • Complete revision of Chapter 52 on Energy Storage Systems
  • New Chapter 55 to reference compliance with NFPA 56 for cleaning and purging activities for new and existing flammable gas piping in specified applications.
  • New section 63.9 for Insulated Liquid Carbon Dioxide Systems.
  • Hundreds of updates to sections extracted from other documents.  Major extracts at the Second Draft stage include NFPA 101, NFPA 58, NFPA 30, NFPA 407.

The Fire Code Technical Committee was certainly busy this revision cycle.  There are many new and exciting additions to the Code that will address a plethora of emerging issues.  I look forward to highlighting more of these issues in future posts.


If you have any questions on any changes please feel free to log in and comment on this post and we can discuss.


Happy Friday!


“We found five people alive. We’re pulling them out. Send us a helicopter,” a rescuer said over a firefighters’ radio."

News outlets are reporting that firefighters have pulled six survivors, including two children, from the partially collapsed Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, Italy.

Earlier this week four intense magnitude 5 earthquakes and heavy snow hit central Italy, prompting an avalanche to dump 17 feet of snow on the luxury hotel and trap about 30 people inside the remote resort. Rescue attempts had been hampered since Wednesday by heavy snow, fallen trees, and debris blocking the five mile road that leads to the mountainside property. By Thursday, only 25 vehicles and about 135 rescue workers had reached the scene to search for survivors with shovels; an Alpine rescue team arrived by cross-country skis, followed by a response team via snow mobiles, and firefighters were dropped in by helicopter.

But today, back-breaking efforts were rewarded and spirits were lifted when firefighters pulled survivors who clung to life for more than 40 hours, in an air pocket in the kitchen, out of the rubble. 

"It's a miracle," said Senator Federica Chiavaroli, a deputy justice minister who was at the rescue staging area. "Rescuers have never given up hope and they never stopped believing. Now their hope has been reinvigorated." 


Who knew Tyler Perry was an advocate of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®? During the 2017 People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles on Wednesday, where Perry was named Favorite Humanitarian, the actor/director highlighted fire and life safety measures in the Microsoft Theater LA Live, the venue for the award ceremony.

Perry kicked off his acceptance speech by noting the theater's safety regulations. He acknowledged the standardization by which “the facility abides by important rules,” and pointed out specific safety features in the theater, including fire sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers.

“If the lights go out in this building right now, there are these little lights – you see them on the wall, they have back-up batteries in them,” Perry added. “And what will happens is, it will light your way out of the darkness.”

Perry may not have realized that his examples of building and life safety are direct references to NFPA 101, but it’s rewarding and important to have these potentially life-saving provisions, which work to protect people each and every day (often without them even knowing it), publicly recognized at an event that’s attended by thousands of celebrities and fans, and watched by millions more.

Thank you, Mr. Perry, for your support of public safety, and congratulations on all your efforts to end homelessness and support civil rights issues!

casey grant - nfpa smart firefighting

I-Women highlighted smart firefighting on their recent I-Women Talk Radio Show on Fire Engineering, and invited Casey Grant from the Fire Protection Research Foundation and me as NFPA’s Fire Services Segment Director and NFPA Responder Forum organizer to discuss the virtues of smart firefighting.


Smart firefighting and data were the main focus of the Responder Forum, which brings together forward-thinkers from 13 leading fire organizations. I-Women radio show host Susan Tamme, a district fire chief with Tampa Fire & Rescue, and five other members of I-Women from across the country were highly engaged participants at the Forum in November. They thought the subject would be a great topic for us to share with their blog talk radio listeners late last month; listen and see what you think.

The benefits of smart firefighting and the importance of capturing real time data from sensors and emerging technology is a topic that all national fire organizations, local fire departments, command staff leaders, and line firefighters should be interested in. Smart firefighting technologies enable the fire service to control situational awareness, self-rescue, hazard assessment, victim awareness, fire ground operations, strategic deployment, mitigation, investigation, and health and wellness. The data captured from smart firefighting technology benefits the fire service globally, centrally and locally.


To learn more about the Firefighter of the Future, watch Casey Grant’s full keynote presentation from this year's NFPA Responder Forum.

70E BLOG.png

We all know that the primary work procedure required by both NFPA 70E® and federal regulations is that electrical equipment be placed into an electrically safe work condition before work has begun. [Here in the northeast, if the facility or the specific equipment has no ability to be supplied by automatic secondary power, I might consider that the loss of power (or establishing an electrically safe work condition) is not a concern to the owner and that energized work would never be necessary. If a sudden, unexpected power loss is not a concern, how could a scheduled outage possibly be?] We also know that there are only three reasons for permitting energized work. These are increased hazard, increased risk and infeasibility. I don’t intend to address what these mean or whether the energized work is justified. For this discussion I am going to assume that these reasons have been used to justify the work.

Assume something along the line of a patient on life support or a process that has the potential to ignite a hazardous location. If the equipment is shut off, the patient will die. The building will blow up if the process is stopped. You surely don’t want either to occur. These are typical reasons someone uses to illustrate the need to justify energized electrical work. What is surprising that although both of these are used as examples, most often neither is the reason I am given as justification for energized electrical work.

If you claim justification of the energized work to keep the patient alive or the process operating, doesn’t that meet the requirement? Not really. Just making the claim does not make it true. It could be true if that single, critical piece of equipment can be repaired while staying in full operation. If it is not a single, critical piece of equipment, is the energized task justified? What happens if the equipment fails before the justified work even begins? What if the equipment cannot be repaired? Justified energized work does not guarantee uninterrupted equipment operation. What happens when the worker drops a screw into the equipment and the equipment is accidentally and suddenly shut-down? That patient’s life that you used to justify the energized work has ended. That explosion that you wanted to prevent has leveled the building. Something you tried to avoid has occurred. And if those results did not or will not occur due to equipment failure, was the energized work truly justified?

We have all seen photographs of things gone horribly wrong when work is conducted on energized equipment. Before the task began do you think they thought; today is the day I will get injured or will die. Did they think; I will make a mistake that will shut this equipment down. Or did they think; it will not happen to me. Either way they were injured when something did not go as expected. If the work was justified and they followed NFPA 70E, their injuries should have been recoverable. Good for the worker but what about the reason for the justification?

On the other hand, there is no way that those pieces of equipment were brought back online quickly enough to prevent this hypothetical death or explosion from happening. The down time in a majority of these cases was considerably longer than a scheduled shut down would have been. Should they have anticipated all the possible faults? Should they have had a “Plan B”? If they had a Plan B, shouldn’t they have had it in operation so that the work could be performed in an electrically safe work condition? Was moving the patient to another area or using other life support equipment possible? Should they have considered how long the equipment could be de-energized before the situation would turn bad? Maybe the process could be shut down for more than an hour before the hazard became an issue and a five minute de-energized repair is the way to go.

This does not mean that there is never a legitimate reason for justifying energized electrical work. What it means is that often it is still selected as the norm rather than the exception without truly justifying the task or considering other things. You should consider everything before putting your worker at risk by performing energized electrical work.

Next time: I am glad I don’t have to make the decisions some of you make.

(The blaze at the Plasco building. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA)


The Guardian and other international news outlets report that at least 30 and possibly up to 50 firefighters are trapped and assumed dead beneath the rubble after a high-rise building caught fire and collapsed in Tehran, Iran today.

The 17-storey Plasco building, the capital city’s oldest high-rise, housed 400 businesses including several clothing distributors, which likely contributed to the fire’s rapid spread. Located near the British embassy, the building caught fire about 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, engulfing the upper floors and quickly descending to the bottom levels.

“About 20 to 25 firefighters have been trapped beneath the rubble,” Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, mayor of Tehran said. A spokesperson for the rescue operation put the number of responders missing between 30 and 50, according to the state Irna news agency.

Eshagh Jahangiri, Iran’s first vice-president, visited the scene with other senior officials. “It was shocking and unbelievable,” Jahangiri said on state television. “A number of our people, especially our great firefighters, have been trapped. The government is assisting with help from other forces including the military.”

There have been safety concerns about the Plasco in the past. Eghbal Shkeri, a senior official from Tehran’s city council indicated that previous warnings regarding the building’s safety had been ignored, and said, “Repeated warnings had been given about the building, and its fire control system was very weak.”

According to a research report released by NFPA in April 2016, U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated yearly average of 14,500 reported structure fires in high-rise buildings. The two deadliest high-rise fires in U.S. history were caused by terrorism. The fires and building collapses that occurred when two planes flew into the World Trade Center twin towers in NYC on September 11, 2001 killed 2,666 people, not including the 157 passengers and crew on the two planes; and on April 19, 1995, a truck bomb outside a nine-story federal building in Oklahoma City killed 169 people. During the years 2006‐2015, there were five firefighter deaths in four high‐rise building fires.


Structural collapses are the third leading cause of firefighter fatal injuries in the U.S., with six in 2015 alone (not restricted to high-rise incidents).


To learn more about ensuring occupant and property protection during the time of a fire in a high-rise building, click here.

On a recent trip to Baltimore, I was fortunate enough to participate in the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation’s planning meeting as they develop a guide for behavioral wellness for fire departments.  It’s exciting to see that some of the source materials they are using come from the NFPA 1500 series of standards.  While at the meetings, we received a presentation from the Denver Fire Department about their “Total Wellness Program.”  This program looks at firefighting not as just any other profession, but rather as individuals who are high performance athletes and who need constant maintenance of their minds and bodies to be able to handle the stress and rigors of the job.     

              The Denver program has a variety of services available to department members.  They can choose to see one of dozens of therapists who have agreed to work with first responders and have taken the time to ride along in order to understand the toll of the job on one’s mind and body (a couple are even former first responders).  They can see wellness and performance coaches who help them with making healthy choices and give them tips on how to keep their minds engaged.  They use nutritionists to make sure they are eating right and their bodies are fueled appropriately.  Denver even hired two full time physical therapists to work with both injured and non-injured members to ensure they stay fit and healthy.  The coolest part is the medical care; they are using orthopedists that specialize in caring for professional athletes to provide care to injured members.  These specialists have greatly increased the speed in which injured members are imaged and receive procedures, thus they are back on the job faster. 

Another great feature is that the program isn’t just for department members; their significant others and families participate as well.  They are part of a message group, have separate meetings with clinicians, do group events such as fund raisers and exercise classes, and are a part of all department sponsored functions.   The idea to include families came a department funeral where the Chief asked the wives to sit with their husbands.  Instead of a sea of blue with the significant others excluded to the back of the church, they were together, this proved to be a huge success with many saying they felt a part of the family and wanting to be more involved.  The DFD estimates that for every dollar they have spent on the program, they have saved three dollars in what they would have lost on the various leave types for employees. They also have seen a 42% reduction in annual workman’s comp costs.

              Learning about this program made me think to my time working on the streets.  As we look at Part 2 of this series, please comment on your experiences in your careers and whether a program like the one described above would help you or your departments.  Let us know what steps you are taking to improve wellness and what needs to change.  Next week we will talk about some of the concepts you recommend and will present some of the recommendations from the NFFF meeting and workshops. 

Great Chinatown Conflagration - January 20, 1900

(Picture courtesy of the Hawaii State Archives)


Early 1900 was a tumultuous time in the Pacific. An outbreak of bubonic plague had begun to spread throughout the Chinese inhabitants on the island of Honolulu in Hawaii. In an effort to prevent further spread of the disease, the Board of Health established a quarantine station in Kaka'ako and set 41 controlled fires to clean and disinfect the areas affected by the plague.


On January 20, 1900, while one of these controlled burns was taking place at Bertania between Nu'uanu and the Kaumakapili Church, unexpected winds blew the fire onto the roof of the church. Firemen were quickly overwhelmed as the flames spread all the way to the waterfront. The conflagration lasted for 17 days. In the end, more than 4,000 homes and 38 acres of property were destroyed.


For more information regarding this or other historic fires, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Library. The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer reference questions from members and the general public.

National Fire Data System survey

Do you manage fire data efforts for your organization? We’d like to learn more about how you use data, the tools you use, and what resources you need. Please take a few minutes to complete this survey by Friday the 20th.


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 resource for data to support a broad range of fire department decision making.


The ultimate goal of NFDS is to create a flexible, scalable, and usable data exchange platform that captures fire department activities beyond simply documenting incidents to improve overall how data is collected and used in local communities.


The current grant funding is designed to establish the groundwork for the NFDS, and develop the underlying data system and application requirements. This survey is an important and valuable first step in understanding the current state of data collection among fire service members, and we hope you will take the time to provide your thoughts! 

Image courtesy of Jake Pauls


With the recent move from the 2000 edition of NFPA 101 to the 2012 edition by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), we’ve been getting questions at NFPA periodically about the Code’s requirements for door inspections, particularly as they apply to health care occupancies. Here’s a little history on the Code’s door inspection provisions.


In the 2009 edition, Chapter 7, which addresses means of egress, introduced a new set of requirements titled ‘Inspection of Door Openings’ (see in the 2009 edition). The provisions were intended to ensure reliability of egress doors, especially in areas like assembly occupancies, where door hardware might be subject to accelerated wear due to high-frequency usage. The provisions were formatted to apply where required by Chapters 11 through 43, and served as a ‘menu item’ that could be referenced by the various occupancy chapters where the applicable technical committees deemed it appropriate. In addition, the provisions only applied to those egress doors that were required to swing in the direction of egress travel – generally, doors serving a room or area with an occupant load of 50 or more, doors serving exit enclosures, and doors serving high-hazard content rooms. The annual inspection included items such as:

  • Inspection and testing in accordance with NFPA 80 where the door is a fire door
  • Functional testing to ensure proper operation
  • Visual inspection to assess the door’s overall condition
  • Verification of the following:
    • The door can be opened fully and closed freely
    • Opening forces do not exceed maximums prescribed by the Code
    • Latching and locking mechanisms comply with the Code
    • Releasing hardware is installed between 34 in. and 48 in. above the finished floor
    • Doors installed in pairs comply with the Code’s releasing requirements
    • Door closers are properly adjusted
    • Projection of door leaf into egress path does not exceed Code maximums
    • Powered doors comply with Code requirements
    • Any required signage is intact and legible
    • Any special locking arrangements comply with Code requirements
    • Security devices that impede egress are not installed

The annual inspection was to be documented and kept for inspection by the AHJ. Further, any deficiencies were to be repaired or replaced “without delay.”


Fast-forward to the 2012 edition; the door inspection provisions were revised so that rather than applying to doors that swing in the direction of egress travel, they would apply to any of the following:

  • Doors equipped with panic hardware or fire exit hardware
  • Doors in exit enclosures
  • Electrically-controlled egress doors
  • Doors with special locking arrangements (delayed-egress locks, access-controlled egress doors, and elevator lobby door locking)

Further, a requirement for inspection and testing of smoke door assemblies in accordance with NFPA 105 was added.


The occupancies that mandated the annual egress door inspection were:

  • Assembly occupancies
  • Educational occupancies
  • Day care occupancies
  • Residential board and care occupancies

This is where a bit of confusion comes in for health care occupancies. Since the door inspection criteria is not referenced by either Chapter 18 or 19 for new or existing health care occupancies, respectively, does that mean doors in health care occupancies, including fire doors, are not required to be inspected? The answer is no, fire doors need to be inspected, regardless of occupancy classification or the lack of reference to The inclusion of the reference to NFPA 80 (and NFPA 105) in was well intended; it was supposed to remind users that, while you’re doing your required egress door inspection, if the door also happens to be a fire door, it needs to be tested and inspected in accordance with NFPA 80. In the 2012 edition, you get there via, which requires fire doors and windows to comply with NFPA 80, including its inspection and testing requirements.


This confusion got cleared up in the 2015 edition. The references to NFPA 80 and NFPA 105 were removed from and moved to Chapter 8 – requires fire door inspection and testing per NFPA 80 in all cases, and addresses smoke door maintenance. Although most health care occupancies must comply with the 2012 edition, the revision in 2015 clarified the Code’s intent.


The 2015 edition added a couple other inspection items:

  • Verification of the presence of required door hardware marking
  • Verification of the presence and proper function of emergency lighting at access-controlled egress doors and doors equipped with delayed-egress locking systems


So what can you expect for the 2018 edition of NFPA 101, which will be released later this year? Not much has changed this time around with the egress door inspection requirements, other than some changes in terminology:

  • ‘Electrically controlled egress doors’ will be known as ‘electrically locked egress door assemblies’
  • ‘Delayed-egress locking systems’ will be known as ‘delayed-egress electrical locking systems’
  • ‘Access-controlled egress door assemblies’ will be known as ‘sensor release of electrical locking systems’


I hope you found this installment of #101Wednesdays to be informative. Now I have to figure out why there’s a red light flashing on and off on the (relatively newly installed) GFCI outlet in my kitchen. Buy a house, they said… It’ll be fun, they said… Good thing I know where the NEC guys sit at the office! Until next time, stay safe!


Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I’d love to hear your suggestions!


Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to and click on “Free access to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101.”

Three construction workers died when they entered a manhole Monday without taking any of the precautions needed to safely enter a confined space. The hazards of the space were readily predictable and preventable. Many workers have died in manhole entries. Any one of several key confined space safe entry procedures likely would have prevented this tragedy.  

The incident occurred when a private contractor who was fixing a roadway in Key Largo climbed into a 15 foot deep hole to investigate complaints of sewage backups in the neighborhood. Reportedly the first man went in and lost contact with his coworkers above. The second worker climbed down in search of the first coworker and also lost consciousness. A third man then went down in a desperate search to find his two coworkers. A volunteer Key Largo firefighter attempted to rescue the downed workers and entered the space without an SCBA since the space was so narrow. He became incapacitated within seconds of entering. The space was later tested and found to contain elevated levels of methane and hydrogen sulfide as well as decreased oxygen levels. Atmospheric hazards in confined spaces are typically the result of material previously stored in the space, or in this case likely were the result of decaying organic material and rust.

While many news reports point to the lack of “air packs” being used as the problem, respiratory protection, such as self-contained breathing apparatus are the last line of defense to be used only after all other control measures are applied. They can rarely be used in spaces such as manholes due to the small configuration of the space.  

The real reason for this incident involved the lack of confined space entry procedures that would include;

  1. Recognition that this was a confined space and evaluation of the atmosphere using a calibrated gas monitor
  2. Identification of all hazards in the space and control of the atmospheric hazards using ventilation
  3. Issuance of a permit by the on-site entry supervisor that included rescue procedures

If the workers had recognized that the space was a confined space and used a properly selected and calibrated gas monitor, they would have known the space was unsafe to enter.   If the workers had identified the atmospheric hazard and used ventilation to remove the hazardous atmosphere, they would not have entered until the atmosphere was verified as safe to enter.   Finally, if confined space entry procedures were followed, an entry supervisor would have issued a permit that would describe the hazards and control measures for the entry and would have established a non-entry rescue procedure. A non-entry rescue procedure would require the first worker to enter the space with a harness attached to rescue equipment such as a tripod/winch system so that the attendant could remain outside the space and winch the first worker to safety should the worker become incapacitated or the atmosphere become unsafe. If the confined space procedures had been established, there would be no need for the second or third worker or the firefighter to enter for rescue. These basic requirements have been present in OSHA’s confined space regulation 1910.146 for over 20 years.  

In an effort to further improve confined space safety, and recognizing that confined space incidents continue to occur, the recommendations in NFPA 350 Practices for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work were established to provide more detailed information on “how to” implement the requirements in the OSHA standard. NFPA 350 explains how to select, calibrate and use the atmospheric monitoring equipment and how to ventilate a space depending on the hazard. Competencies are included for those performing various aspects of the confined space entry and a rescue procedures with pre-plans are established.  

For more information you may view NFPA 350 free of charge at You will also find a free 5 minute video on confined space identification as well as information about on-line and instructor lead confined space training.  

The role of fire inspector isn’t limited to fire inspectors – it’s often just one part of an individual’s job as a fire chief, fire marshal, fire fighter, loss control manager, or safety manager. The NFPA Certified Fire Inspector-I Training is designed to help anyone get up to speed on how to meet the requirements of NFPA 1031: Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Inspector and Plan Examiner.


I had the opportunity to meet some of the attendees in Anaheim last December and not only were they from all over the country (CA, OR, AZ, GA, NY, TX, NC, SC) their jobs were extremely diverse. They were representative of: an international hotel chain, a major film studio, a product manufacturer, fuel supplier, insurance agencies, medical providers, as well as state and local fire service and health departments.



The February 6-9 class at the Embassy Suites New Orleans – Convention Center marks the second year of the 4-day Certified Fire Inspector-I Training. The instructor, Pete Cutrer says the course is designed to focus on practical training applicable to your day-to-day activities. Pete knows why ‘practical training’ is so important--he comes from the public fire service with a background in Fire Protection and Suppression. He is a Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS®) with a focus on Code Compliance and Fire Inspection. He is also an IAAI Certified Fire Investigator, is certified as a NFPA CFI-II, and a Certified Fire Plan Examiner (CFPE).


The CFI-I course is an intensive, instructor-led, 4-day training. It's ProBoard® accredited and designed to be fun, fast- paced and interactive. You’ll learn the basic principles of Fire and Life Safety, and how to meet the requirements of NFPA 1031: Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Inspector and Plan Examiner. It covers the complete use of the Life Safety Code® as well as the key provisions from the other code books (NFPA 1, NFPA 13, NFPA 25, NFPA 72®, and NFPA 101®). You are in the books and participating in exercises that help you come away with an in-depth understanding of how codes work and how to use them.


This past year we saw lots of change especially with the CMS adoption of the 2012 Life Safety Code. If you’re in the health care industry struggling with the new code updates and trying to determine what’s applicable to your facility--take another look at this training. Not only does it show you how to enforce LSC provisions using the 2012 Code, it shows you the basic requirements for fire protection systems in your facility as well. Some of the other topics you’ll learn about include:

• Storage and handling of hazardous materials
• The reviewing, testing, and acceptance of water-and chemical-based fire protection systems
• Fire alarms
• Legal aspects of being an AHJ
• Many other topics related to being a Fire Inspector


For more information on the course click here.


For recognition of your professional training, take the open-book, multiple choice, exam on the fifth day. The deadline to submit your application for the February 10, 2017 exam is January 19, 2017. For more information on submitting your application, click here and scroll to Fire Inspector I Materials. For more information or questions, please contact Laurie Solomon +1 617 984-7432.


Fire departments fight fires, but they also deal with an awful lot of other incidents…Bernard Marr recently captured the essence of the modern fire service in his excellent piece on the promise of big data analytics to transform the fire service in Forbes.  Marr highlights the work of firefighter-cum-data scientist Bart van Leeuwen from the Amsterdam fire department and Netage to transform how firefighters operate safely and effectively during emergency incidents using data science.  While this is the most visible, and given the focus on firefighter safety perhaps even the most important way data science can and will transform the fire service, it is not the only way.  Data science is already transforming how fire departments deliver service, identify high risk properties, and document their activities. It may not seem as exciting as robotics, augmented reality and other emerging technology used on scene, but this is the area where data science holds the most promise.  NFPA is leading the way in transforming this knowledge and information by:

  • Exploring the application of graph theory and data shapes to the NFIRS dataset— the secret sauce behind TurboTax®;
  • Building a Data Solutions Portal that will provide the fire service with a modern one-stop-data-shop for data to drill down into their local fire problem;
  • And, more ambitiously building a new national fire data system that will transform how data is collected and utilized by the fire rescue service.

NFPA is at the forefront of the data analytics paradigm shift for the fire service.  At a time when the “do more with less” mantra has reached a fever pitch, data science holds many of the keys to helping fire departments understand their fire problem and tell their story to keep firefighters and the communities they protect safer. 

The NFPA Standards Council has directed reassignment of a number of Articles in NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®(NEC), in accordance with a request from the National Electrical Code Correlating Committee. The reassignment of Articles 215 and 230 to Code-Making Panel (CMP) 10 has resulted in a change in the assignment of definitions in Article 100. The following definitions are now assigned to CMP 10:


Service Cable
Service Conductors
Service Conductors, Overhead System
Service Conductors, Underground System
Service Drop
Service-Entrance Conductors, Overhead System
Service-Entrance Conductors, Underground System
Service Equipment
Service Lateral
Service Point


The CMP assignments shown in Article 100 will be updated to reflect these new assignments.

The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919This picture, taken on January 15, 1919 during the Great Boston Molasses Flood shows wreckage beneath the elevated train tracks, where many express trucks parked. (Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection)


From the NFPA Journal v. 105, no. 4, 2011:


"The molasses tore the North End Paving Yard buildings into kindling, ripped the Engine 31 firehouse from its foundation and nearly swept it into the harbor … crushed freight cars, autos, and wagons, and ensnared men, women, children, horses, dogs, rats, wood, and steel. The molasses wave crashed across Commercial Street into brick tenements and storefronts, rebounded off the buildings, and retreated like the outgoing tide, leaving shattered windows and crushed walls in its wake.

… In minutes — in seconds — the landscape in the North End inner harbor area resembled a bombed-out war zone...


Shortly after the flood, the Boston Building Department began requiring that all calculations of engineers and architects be filed with their plans and that stamped drawings be signed, a practice that became standard across the country. The molasses case influenced the adoption of engineering certification laws in all states, as well as the requirement that all plans for major structures be sealed by a registered professional engineer before a municipality or state would issue a building permit. Interestingly, the Boston molasses flood did for building construction regulations nationwide what a subsequent Boston disaster, the great Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire, did for fire code laws."


For more information regarding this or other historic fires and events, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Library. The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer reference questions from members and the general public.

Last weekend, our region received its first "real" snowfall of the season.  A solid 17" of snow fell at my house.  I can't complain as a few days in the 50s this week has melted most of it!


Snow accumulation can quickly obstruct fire hydrants and block access from fire department vehicles.  We all think about shoveling our driveways and front steps, and making sure there is a clear means of escape during and after a snowstorm is very important, too!  However, we can't neglect our responsibility to ensure the fire department has the necessary access to water supply should they need to respond to a fire.  Yes, fires happen in the snow, too.


NFPA 1, Fire Code, requires the following clearance around fire hydrants:


18.5.7 Clear Space Around Hydrants. A 36 in. (914 mm) clear space shall be maintained around the circumference of fire hydrants except as otherwise required or approved. A clear space of not less than 60 in. (1524 mm) shall be provided in front of each hydrant connection having a diameter greater than 21⁄2 in. (64 mm).


Our property has a fire hydrant by the street so we are lucky enough to add another item on the snow removal "to-do" list.  I was proud to see that all other hydrants in our neighborhood were also cleared during and after the storm.  This hydrant should have at least a 36" clearance around the circumference of the hydrant, unless another dimension is approved by the local AHJ.



The requirement of is new to the 2015 edition of the Code. It is intended to ensure fire department pumper apparatus have the ability to park adjacent to a fire hydrant and have adequate room to connect a large-diameter hose from the hydrant’s steamer outlet to the pump inlet. Parked vehicles and other obstructions within 60 in. (1524 mm) of the front of the hydrant pose an undue hindrance to fire suppression operations.


Snow certainly isn't the only potential obstruction to fire hydrant access.  A quick google image search results in the many issues one may find with blocked hydrant access: parked cars, overgrown landscaping, utilities, service vehicles, construction work, mobile cooking vehicles. to name a few.  For those of you in areas where snow isn't a concern, other potential issues may be just as prevalent!


We all should take responsibility for clearing hydrants in the snow.  I feel safer knowing that if a fire occurred in my home there is immediate and efficient access to a water supply for fire fighter operations. 


What type of fire hydrant obstructions have you seen? Log in to comment and share your stories or photos!


Thanks for reading, Happy Friday!


Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

Stay up to code with NFPA 25, NFPA 13, and NFPA 101/NFPA 80 with the latest hands-on training


As your partner in electrical, fire and life safety training, NFPA has listened to the many requests and the feedback you, our customers, have provided. To that end we’re pleased to tell you there are a handful of new opportunities on the horizon we believe will be invaluable to you and the work you do in the field.


What has your feedback told us? For one, you wanted additional dates for our ever popular and often sold out 3-day hands-on training program on NFPA 25, Inspection Testing and Maintenance of Water Based Fire Protection Systems. Second, you told us how important it was to attend the Automatic Sprinkler Plans Review class and the NFPA 101/NFPA 80 Fire Door Inspection Class. Both of these programs began as pilot programs in 2016 and were met with such resounding success we’ve added them to our 2017 schedule!


Starting on January 30, all three of these classes will be held in Cranston, RI and are being taught by the very best NFPA experts in the field. Take a moment to review the descriptions below and the dates, then go ahead and click on the appropriate link to register.


Class #1

NFPA 25: 3-Day Hands-on Inspection Testing and Maintenance of Water Based Fire Protection Systems Training


From January 30 – February 1, participants will engage in classroom learning and hands-on training in a lab setting with NFPA's Matt Klaus or other approved instructors. As a student, you’ll be able to review the 2017 edition of NFPA 25, chapter by chapter, and apply what you’ve learned on actual equipment. At the end of the class you’ll understand the scope of NFPA 25 inspections, define the frequency in which to conduct inspection, testing and maintenance activities, create an action schedule, and much more.


Watch our preview video to learn more:



Find more information and register



Class # 2

NFPA 13: Automatic Sprinkler Systems Plans Review 1-Day Classroom Training


Hosted by an NFPA expert with extensive experience in sprinkler system design and plans review, this one-day course on February 2 is based on the 2016 NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, which covers submittal requirements including regulatory rules, blueprint reading skills and sprinkler specifications. You'll return to work with a proven multi-step process for reviewing sprinkler system plans and hydraulic calculations that can help you save time and work competently to avoid costly, potentially dangerous errors and omissions.


Find more information and to register



Class # 3

NFPA 101 and NFPA 80: Fire Door Inspection for Health Care Facilities 1-Day Classroom Training


The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) adoption of the 2012 edition of NFPA 101: Life Safety Code requires that health care facility operators conduct a yearly inspection of fire door assemblies in accordance with NFPA 80: Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. This new one-day training course on February 3 will help ensure your facility is prepared for CMS audits by giving you the tools and information you need to know how -- and when -- to comply with NFPA 80 rules.

Find more information and to register

 NFPA’s global network of intelligence works hard to constantly stay up-to-date on important changes in materials, technologies and construction, and as world populations grow. As the developers of new and updated fire and life safety codes, our experts are uniquely qualified to understand your challenges and provide the training and services you specifically need to do your job right from analysis and engineering to inspection, enforcement and beyond. Find out how NFPA’s training can benefit you and the work you do every day.

The Jan/Feb 2017 NFPA Journal edition features an article discussing the fire hazards present in hyperbaric chambers, especially those used in non-clinical applications. The article was written by Stephanie Schorow and features members and staff of the Technical Committee on Hyperbaric and Hypobaric Facilities. It describes that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is approved by the FDA for 14 specific uses, including treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning, thermal burn injuries, and crush injuries. However, HBOT is becoming increasingly popular for treating conditions outside of this approved list: AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, depression, migraines, Parkinson's disease, and more. This therapy has also gained popularity from celebrities and famous athletes, and while some of these chambers are being used in clinical settings, many are not.


More often than not, these freestanding, non-affiliated, or privately owned hyperbaric chambers are not manufactured, installed, housed, operated, nor maintained in accordance with NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code, and this greatly increases the risk of fire and explosion. It is a goal of the Technical Committee and this article to make fire marshals and AHJs aware of this propagation of HBOT and the risk caused by hyperbaric chambers that do not comply with NFPA 99. The Journal article even provides a list of ten tips for AHJs to teach them more about the specific hazards regarding these chambers and how to find them in their jurisdiction. Something as simple as an increased awareness can help reduce risk, injuries, and deaths associated with non-compliant hyperbaric chambers, so pass along the article to your local AHJ!

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

  • NFPA 70, Errata 70-17-3, referencing 210.12, 424.99(B), 690.15, Table 725.154 and Table 760.154 of the 2017 edition, issued 1/11/2017

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.

NFPA 13NFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 13Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler System:

  • NFPA 13, Errata 13-16-2, referencing Figure, Figure,, Table 21.3.3, and Equation A. of the 2016 edition, issued on January 3, 2017 

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 January 2017 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.


NFPA_news.jpgIn this issue:

  • Comments sought on new project on Electrical Inspections and Electrical Plans Review
  • Reorganization of Panels for NFPA 70, National Electrical Code
  • Comments sought on proposed TIA to NFPA 70
  • Errata issued on NFPA 13 and NFPA 70
  • Standards Council minutes and decision issued
  • 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.

We are now accepting applications for the 2017 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal to recognize outstanding advocacy efforts that further NFPA’s mission of helping to save lives and reduce loss with information, knowledge and passion.


The James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal honors an individual or group that shares the values of former NFPA President Jim Shannon. Candidates will be involved in advocacy efforts that advance NFPA’s mission, take into account cost-effectiveness, and involve collaboration with NFPA and other organizations.


This award is a statement of our gratitude for the important work people are doing to help us achieve our mission. These people are instrumental in our ability to work toward the elimination of loss due to fire, electrical and other related hazards.


Nominations are open to members of the fire service or any other person or group whose advocacy efforts meet the above criteria. The award recipient will be honored at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Boston, Mass. in June 2017. NFPA will cover the recipient’s travel and lodging.


Nominee applications, which are available for download on the NFPA website, are due February 15, 2017 and can be sent to

Equitable Life Insurance Building, NY - 1912

Equitable Building, NY (Courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collections)


Six people lost their lives during a fire that occurred at the building of the Equitable Life Assurance Society on January 9, 1912. That week would turn out to be one of the coldest on record for the year. When the fire started, the wind was coming from the west with an average speed of 37 miles per hour. As the efforts to fight the fire continued and the day progressed, wind velocity rose at times to 65-68 mph. Temperatures declined rapidly resulting in freezing conditions below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. 


From Report on Fire in the Equitable Building: Broadway, Pine, Nassau and Cedar Streets, New York City (New York: New York Board of Fire Underwriters, 1912)


"Although the Fire department is entitled to the credit of having done all that could be expected with facilities available, it is apparent that the fire, at least above the 5th floor, burned unrestrained throughout the entire area of the main building. The high pressure service being too remote to be promptly available, it is difficult to figure how such a fire, if started again under similar circumstances, could be fought with any greater effectiveness by the Fire Department when the conditions of unprotected floor openings, combustible material, excessive and undivided floor areas, high wind, freezing weather, small standpipes in buildings across streets and the relative inefficiency of portable steam engines in comparison with the high pressure service are taken into consideration."


For more information regarding this or other historic fires, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Library. The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer reference questions from members and the general public.

In a recent report published by the U. S. Department of Energy, they updated hybrid vehicle sales figures, which reported more than 500,000 vehicles sold since 2010. The report also notes that monthly sales records have been hit five times since December 2015.

As hybrid and other alternatively fueled vehicles (AFV) continue to grow in popularity, we have expanded our extensive library of training and educational materials for first responders on the best practices and tactics for handling AFV incidents. The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Training Program offers free online training, classroom training, educational videos, 3D models, and quick reference materials. The program includes training tailored for the fire service, *EMS, law enforcement, fire investigator, *accident reconstruction, and *tow & salvage communities.  A detailed list of training offerings can be found attached below. 


For more information about NFPA’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Training Program or to access our training and educational materials, please visit our website:


*These training products are currently being developed or revised, with an intended launch of Summer 2017. 

“Escape rooms” seem to be popping up everywhere. For a fee, you’re locked in a room with a group of friends. The goal is to escape from the room by searching for clues and solving a series of intellectual challenges within a given time-frame. Businesses use them as a fun team-building activity. Others go just to test their wits and see if they can solve the challenges before time runs out. It’s a great concept… except for the being locked in a room bit. The fire safety implications are obvious: countless people have lost their lives in fires because they were locked in the building or their means of egress were otherwise compromised. The topic of escape rooms has recently garnered the attention of NFPA’s Technical Committee on Assembly Occupancies. A task group has been established to determine whether escape rooms require special attention in the Life Safety Code.


And so it was with some skepticism that I agreed to my first escape room encounter on a recent snowy Saturday with my girlfriend and 12-year old daughter. I was admittedly curious to see what they were all about. I agreed to try it on the condition that I would evaluate the egress arrangement before we started the challenge to ensure it was safe; I wasn’t about to jeopardize the lives of the most important people in the world to me (not to mention myself)! We drove through a near-blizzard to downtown Worcester, MA (not far from my alma mater, WPI), entered a nondescript office building, and took the elevator to the third floor. The first thing I noticed was the building was sprinklered and equipped with a fire alarm system – we were off to a good start. We were then led into the room from which we would try to “escape.” However, it was immediately explained that our objective was to unlock a door on the opposite side of the room, which led to another room with another locked door, which would lead us to victory (I was confident in our problem-solving abilities). Here’s the important part: the door through which we entered the room was equipped with no locking hardware. We could leave any time we wanted, whether there was a fire in the building or someone needed to use the restroom. My concerns were quickly allayed. This was going to be fun!


One life safety question I had going into the experience was, “What is the occupancy classification of an escape room?” I believe they fall under assembly use (probably less concentrated) for the purpose of determining occupant load (see Table, but of course, they would not be considered an assembly occupancy unless the occupant load exceeded 49, based on the NFPA 101 definition of assembly occupancy:* Assembly Occupancy. An occupancy (1) used for a gathering of 50 or more persons for deliberation, worship, entertainment, eating, drinking, amusement, awaiting transportation, or similar uses; or (2) used as a special amusement building, regardless of occupant load. (SAF-AXM)


I don’t believe the escape room I experienced was a special amusement building – the egress path wasn’t confounded and lighting levels were not reduced. The escape room I visited was relatively small, with an occupant load of, most likely, fewer than 50 persons. Since the occupant load was fewer than 50, I believe it was a business occupancy, and it posed no unusual life safety hazard.


My experience with escape rooms is very limited. A quick Google search for the term “escape room” returned hundreds of hits – they’re becoming more and more popular. It’s incumbent on the business owners to ensure their “escape” scenarios do not physically restrict their guests against egress. Moreover, guests need to understand that they are provided with free egress at all times; this should be part of the pregame briefing. If occupants think their egress is restricted, even if it physically is not, it could delay their egress in the event of an emergency. (What would you do if you thought you were locked in a room and an emergency were to occur? Would you immediately try the door through which you entered the room, or would you frantically try to solve the puzzle you were working on to get out?) AHJs should be familiar with the Code’s door locking and latching requirements in; the ability of occupants to egress a building at any time without the use of keys, tools, or special knowledge or effort is a fundamental tenet of the Code. Occupants can be contained only for safety and security purposes in occupancies such as health care and detention and correctional – never for entertainment.


The escape room we experienced was perfectly safe, and a great time. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Incidentally, we didn’t make it out in our allotted 45 minutes. We were down to the final challenge, which had me plunge my hand into a bucket of slimy rubber worms to locate a key – it’s harder than it sounds! (After time expired, the game master came in and had my 12-year old try. Of course, she found it within seconds. Figures.)


Do you have an escape room experience you’d like to share? Please post it in the comments. If there’s a problem with these venues, we want to know about it. Likewise, we want to know if escape room owners are doing the right thing, as in my experience. Thanks for reading, and as always, stay safe!


Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I’d love to hear your suggestions!


Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to and click on “Free access to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101.”

electrical inspectionsThe National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is considering the development of ANSI Accredited Standards in support of the electrical inspection community.  Standards to address requisite skills and knowledge, including the establishment of minimum job performance requirements (“JPR”) for those who conduct electrical inspections and electrical plan reviews are envisioned.   Additionally, a stand-alone document to address and establish recommended practices for electrical inspections is being explored.

If either or both of the New Project Initiations are ultimately approved by the Standards Council after consideration of public comments, a new Technical Committee may be established for electrical inspection related standards.  Activities of the Technical Committee are anticipated to focus on:

  • Job performance requirements for personnel performing electrical inspections;
  • General skills, knowledge and experience to perform electrical inspections;
  • Job performance requirements for electrical plan review;
  • General skills, knowledge and experience to perform electrical plan reviews;
  • Recommended practices for conducting electrical inspections (residential and commercial).

NFPA is seeking comments from all interested organizations and individuals to gauge whether support exists for standards development to support the electrical inspection community.  Specifically, please submit your comments to the following:

  1. Are you, or your organization, in favor of the development of an NFPA Standard pertaining to job performance requirements of personnel performing electrical inspections and electrical plan review?
  2. Please state your reason(s) for supporting or opposing such standards development.
  3. Are you, or your organization, in favor of the development of an NFPA Standard to establish recommended practices for electrical inspections?
  4. Are you or your organization interested in applying for membership on the Technical Committee if established by the Standards Council?  If yes, please submit an application, in addition to your comments in support of the project:  Submit online application*

Please submit all comments, in support or opposition to standards development related to electrical inspections and electrical plan reviews to NFPA by the deadline below. 

Submit public comments

Deadline: February 24, 2017

*Applications being accepted for purposes of documenting applicant interest in committee participation.  Acceptance of applications by NFPA does not guaranty or imply the Standards Council will ultimately approve standards development activity on this subject matter.

It's a new year and now's the time to plan ahead. Check out the 2017 NFPA Training Schedule - now available at and as a PDF. NFPA instructors will be teaching more than 150 courses this year at 24+ locations. Additional online training is available 24/7 at your convenience. 



Upcoming training programs include: 

Jan. 18 12:30 - 1:30 pm ET

Free Webinar - Fourth Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service


Jan. 30-Feb. 3 Cranston, RI

Hands-on 3-Day Training - NFPA 25: Inspection Testing and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems (2017)

Automatic Sprinkler Systems (2016) Plans Review 1-Day Classroom Training

NFPA 101 and NFPA 80 Fire Door Inspection for Health Care Facilities 1-Day Classroom Training


Plus, keep an eye out for additional programs on emergency preparedness and NFPA 70E. Dates and locations are subject to change.

NFPA’s new report,
Patterns of Firefighter Fireground Injuries, indicates that seasonal factors are likely to influence the types of injuries experienced by firefighters. NFPA estimates that there were an estimated 30,290 firefighter fireground injuries each year during the five years from 2010 to 2014.  The vast majority of injuries came in the course of fighting structure fires, with fires at residential properties accounting for almost three-quarters of the total (73%).


The leading causes of fireground injuries included overexertion/strain (26% of total), exposure to hazard (21%), slip or trip (13%), contact with object (13%), and fall (11%.  The leading symptoms associated with these injuries involved strain or sprain (28%), pain only (13%), thermal burn (13%), cut or laceration (7%), and exhaustion/fatigue (6%).


Fireground Injuries by Cause of Injury in January, July, and All Months,  2010-2014 Annual Averages

Seasonal factors as a likely influence on injury events were most noticeable in hot and cold weather months, with January and July each recording the highest numbers of injuries. However, the leading injury events in January differed from those in July.  Slips and trips caused the highest share of January injuries (21%), substantially higher than the portion of slips and trips in July (9%) or the annual average (13%). Injuries caused by falls were also proportionately higher in January (14% of annual total) than they were in July (8%) or the annual average (11%).  In July, on the other hand, 34% of injuries were caused by overexertion or strain, compared to 18% in January and 26% of the annual average (26%), likely reflecting hot weather working conditions.


Information on seasonal factors in firefighter injury causation should be useful for firefighter health and safety officers in alerting crews to potential hazards and leading discussions about injury prevention strategies.  Firefighters are likely to have little control over some potential interventions (such as staffing levels), but realizing that there are times when special attention is needed to proper hydration, lifting techniques, fitness assessments, fall hazard awareness, and other injury prevention practices may help mitigate seasonal influences on firefighter injury.


Foto: El Mundo


Recientemente varios medios de noticias que están cubriendo la explosión de fuegos artificiales en el mercado popular en Tultepec, México que causó la muerte de casi 30 personas y heridas en docenas más, acudieron a Antonio Macías, representante regional para NFPA en Latinoamérica, para hablar sobre la importancia de los protocolos de seguridad humana y protección contra incendios.


El Ing. Macías habló con Formato 21 790 AM Radio, El Mundo, Xinhua, Intolerancia y otros medios sobre el trágico incidente, e hizo hincapié la importancia de establecer regulaciones y normas, especialmente a media que la comunidad mira hacia la reconstrucción.

Multigenerational households are on the rise: The number of Americans living under the same roof with at least three generations has doubled since 1980. While these living arrangements offer many benefits, they also present potential fire safety challenges. With that understanding, NFPA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have developed "Fire Safety for Multigenerational Families Living Together," a toolkit featuring tips and recommendations to help increase multigenerational households’ safety from fire.


Multigenerational households may include older adults, very young children and people with disabilities who require added assistance in the event of a fire. So while home fire safety planning and prevention is critical for all families, for households with family members who have specific needs or limitations, advance planning is paramount to ensuring everyone’s safety.


Along with general guidelines for home escape planning, here are recommendations for multigenerational households:

  • Install smoke alarms and alert devices to help family members who are deaf or hard of hearing. Alert devices, such as strobe lights, flash when the smoke alarm sounds. Pillow or bed shakers may be useful to wake a person who is sleeping. The shakers are triggered by the sound of the smoke alarm and shake people awake to warn them of a fire.
  • Smoke alarms do not reliably wake up children. Older adults may not hear the smoke alarm. Assign someone to help children, older adults and people with disabilities escape.
  • Make sure your home has bright lighting in stairways to prevent falls.
    Remove clutter to prevent trips and falls and allow for a quick escape.
    Install handrails along the full length of both sides of the stairs.


A wealth of free resources on fire safety for multigenerational families, including lesson plans, fact sheets, promotional materials and infographics (in English and Spanish) are available online. 

The Boston Bruins Foundation is holding a First Responder Challenge for the first time on Sunday, January 22 at the TD Garden in Boston for New England area first responders, families and friends. Firefighters, police and EMS professionals will take on one or all stages of the Garden Gauntlet -- climbing stairs, and completing laps around the arena bowl, premium levels, and balcony levels of the Bruin's home arena. Participants can walk or run. There are three levels: one for everyone, a slightly higher level of exercise and then an elite course (challenge level can be determined at the event). There will also be a children’s obstacle course, “touch a truck”, Bruins alumni appearances, photo opportunities with Bruins' mascot, Blades, and other family activities.


Proceeds benefit The Hundred Club of Mass., which supports the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line-of-duty. Winners will be presented with a trophy on ice at the second annual First Responder Night at the Bruins vs. Phoenix Coyotes game on February 28

The NFPA Standards Council, upon request from the National Electrical Code® Correlating Committee, at its December 2016 meeting has decided to combine Code-Making Panels 6 and 7 to create a new Code-Making Panel (CMP) 6.  The new CMP 6 article assignments would be: Articles 310, 320, 322, 324, 326, 328, 330, 332, 334, 336, 338, 340, 382, 394, 396, 398, 399, 400, 402, Chapter 9, Tables 5 through 9 and Annex B. The Standards Council is also reassigning the work of Code-Making Panels 4 and 10. Articles 225 and 230 are reassigned from CMP 4 to CMP 10. In addition, Article 215 will be reassigned from CMP 2 to CMP 10. CMP 4 will now be assigned Articles 690, 691, 692, 694, 705, and 710. CMP 10 will be assigned Articles 215, 225, 230, and 240. CMP 19 will be renamed CMP 7 with no changes in article assignments. Representation is sought in all member classifications; specifically applicants with expertise and experience related to the work of the respective panels.


All existing members of the Panels, as well as other interested individuals, are asked to apply. NFPA Staff will return to the Council at the April 2017 meeting with a proposed start-up roster.


To apply for membership on any of these Panels, you must first sign-in on (Note: If you do not have an sign-in, you will be asked to create a free online account before using the application system).  Go to the Technical Committee tab of the NFPA 70 Document Information Page and select the link “Submit Code-Making Panel _ application online" to apply to the appropriate Panel by the February 14, 2017 deadline.

Happy 2017!  Time for the first "Fire Code Friday" post of the new year. 


This past Wednesday, a fire that occurred locally at a fire station in Concord, MA, highlighted one of the valuable provisions in NFPA 1, Fire Code.


Early Wednesday morning, just after midnight, a fire broke out on the first floor of Station 2 in Concord, MA.  Three firefighters were on duty and at the station at the time the fire occurred.  The first floor of the station sustained heavy damage (not structural) and the second floor had minor damages. Two fire engines and one ambulance were also damaged by the fire. The presence of smoke alarms in the station woke the firefighters and they were able to quickly and safety escape.  They were even able to assist in fire fighting operations from the outside of the building. 


Flames at a Concord fire station destroyed one of the engines Wednesday.

Photo from


Protecting buildings that house emergency and public services is especially important.  In 2003, NFPA 1 introduced a provision that requires automatic sprinkler protection for new fire stations (the Concord fire station dates back to the early 20th century):

From NFPA 1, 2003: New fire stations shall be protected throughout by an approved automatic fire sprinkler systems.


In the editions that followed, the requirement was expanded to include other emergency services and the language now reads:

From NFPA 1, 2015: New buildings housing emergency fire, rescue, or ambulance services shall be protected throughout by approved supervised automatic sprinkler systems.


The requirement for sprinkler protection not only protects the emergency services personnel occupying the facility but also diminishes the probability of disrupting the provision of emergency services to the community as a result of a fire. This requirement is consistent with the Code’s public welfare goal and objective which are as follows:* Public Welfare Goal. The public welfare goal of this Code shall be to maintain a high probability that buildings and facilities that provide a public welfare role for a community continue to perform the function for their intended purpose following a fire, explosion, or hazardous materials event.* Public Welfare Objective. Buildings and facilities that provide a public welfare role for a community shall be designed, constructed, maintained, and operated to provide reasonable assurance of continued function following a fire, explosion, or hazardous materials event.


Section 4.1.5 includes requirements intended to maintain a high probability that certain buildings or facilities operate during and after an emergency event, such as a fire, an explosion, or a hazardous materials event, in order to provide an anticipated critical public service. Such facilities might include hospitals and public safety buildings (fire and police stations.)  The requirements for providing automatic sprinkler protection in new buildings housing emergency fire, rescue, or ambulance services is one way of ensuring this goal and objective of the Code is met.


This fire had a relatively happy ending.  Yes, costly damage occurred to equipment and the building, but three lives were saved.  These firefighters are able to continue their job saving others and giving back to the community of Concord. 

There seems to be a gap between the NFPA 70E® knowledge of the employee actually conducting justified energized work and everyone else who uses the standard. There are a lot of requirements that the employee must follow but somehow they are unaware of many of them. The employee may know something about PPE but not much more. Even the PPE knowledge may be minimal. They may be aware of the work permit but are only concerned with certain aspects of it. Often, the employee is told what needs to be done and they do it. No questions asked. Regardless of the employer’s plan, it is the employee who has the biggest impact on their own electrical safety. You are the one who being placed into harm’s way. Your safety is at risk. You should take a proactive role in it.


An employer is required to provide safety-related work practices and training to you as part of your job. They must teach you to be self-aware of the hazards and actions you take. They should also instill in you a sense of self-discipline. Your employer must also train you to perform the tasks, recognize the hazards, to understand the potential injury from those hazards and how to protect yourself from those hazards. You are responsible for implementing each of these into your work. Many of these are synonymous with common sense. Your employer may train you, audit you, and retrain you. No matter what is taught to you, it is you who will make decisions and take actions that either injure you or not. Only you can determine if you are truly qualified to perform a task on a piece of equipment. The following scenario is a typical thought process that you should have when assigned a task.

Consider that you are handed an energized electrical work permit (EEWP) to perform a task. The EEWP is filled out and signed by everyone but you. Do you accept that it is justified for you to be put at risk of injury? If it is not justifiable work do you speak up? Is your potential injury worth it? Those signing may agree that it can be done safely. Do you feel that it is not as safe as they believe? Maybe some of the steps to safely perform the task are missing. Do you point them out? Is a potential 2nd degree burn something you would rather live without? Are there some other controls that could be implemented which would significantly reduce the hazard or risk to you? These should be implemented and the permit modified. Maybe you know of a way for the work to be done in an electrically safe work condition. If you will not sign the EEWP for legitimate reasons the work should not be conducted. You should not feel forced to put yourself at unnecessary risk.

Everyone, including you, finally agrees that the energized work is justified and can be conducted safely. Hopefully you aware that a job briefing is required before the task is conducted. This must cover many things. A sample checklist is provided in NFPA 70E. If a briefing is not held you should not begin the task. You now have another opportunity to address any concerns you have about the task and your safety. You should discuss the work procedure so that it is fully understood before beginning the task. What happens when you realize that you are not qualified to open the gear or perform the task? You are the only one who knows whether or not you are truly qualified to perform that task on the specific piece of equipment. A more appropriate person should be assigned to do the task. This is not about saving face. It is about putting yourself in a situation that you are ill equipped to handle. You should not attempt something you are not qualified to do.

You acknowledge that you are qualified to conduct the task on the specific equipment. You are given all the tools necessary to perform the task. Do you inspect the gear? Do you reject anything that is questionable? Do you verify that it is properly rated for the task you are conducting? The equipment is from a different manufacturer than expected. Do you use it? You have not been trained on it. You should not assume that it functions the same way and using it the same way could put you at risk. Finally, you have everything you need to perform the task. You suit up and are about to open the gear but notice that something is not quite right. There is a wisp of smoke drifting from a ventilation opening. Do you open the gear anyway? You should not since the parameters of the EEWP could be exceeded. Your equipment may no longer protect you from the unexpected hazards inside. A new risk assessment must be performed before you continue on.

The new risk assessment determines that there is no greater hazard or risk of injury so you return to conduct the authorized task. This time when you about ready to start pulling the cables you notice that you cannot see into the location. There are several bad things you could do that are not specifically covered by the standard and should not be done, but a few are specifically called out since they should never be done in energized equipment. One of those is blind reaching. You must be able to see the location where your task will be conducted. There is no way to assume that the task can be safely performed if you cannot see what you are doing. Work must stop again.

The permit and task are changed to specify access from another direction. Back at the equipment this time, you realize that it is too dark on that side of the equipment. Do you grab a flashlight? This was not part of the EEWP or job briefing. Holding a flashlight while performing the task can dramatically alter the risk you are exposed to. You should not perform the work until appropriate and sufficient light is available. By the time temporary lighting is available you have been called off the task and have moved on to another more pressing issue. You are well into overtime but your employer wants you to finish up the original task before you head home. You had bad fish for supper and are sick. Only you can recognize that you are fatigued or ill and are no longer capable of performing the work safely. Do you risk it or speak out for your safety?

Many of these are things that you should consider even without having any knowledge of NFPA 70E. I also have not covered things that are not your responsibility under the requirements of NFPA 70E. You must be able to work safely. You know when something does not seem quite right or safe. You make the decision to use a short cut at the cost of risking your safety. You should read and understand what your employer’s and your roll is when it comes to electrical safety in the workplace. NFPA 70E is not just about the actions your employer took before the incident investigation. NFPA 70E is about preventing you from being injured. Your family wants you to return home at the end of the day. When the time comes only you can decide if you are qualified for the assigned task on the specific equipment and are working safely. Your actions and decisions will directly affect your personal safety more than anything anyone else does. They are your choices. Make the right ones.

Next time: Have you really justified energized electrical work?

The Research Foundation has recently issued two Request for Proposals:

  • Economic Impact of Residential Fire Sprinkler Legislation in California
  • Measurement of the Economic Impact of Fire

Both can be found on the Foundation website.  Proposals are due for both projects by 5pm ET on 27 January 2017. 

4th Needs Assessment, U.S. Fire Service Webinar In Fall 2015, NFPA, in collaboration with other national stakeholders, conducted the 4th Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service. The primary objective of this effort was to identify U.S. fire departments' needs, gaps and challenges. The insights collected can then inform the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Fire Administration where funding is needed and serves as a powerful tool for local fire departments when discussing their capabilities within their jurisdictions.


I will be sharing and discussing the findings of this research effort, which captured new insights about fire department staffing, training, facilities, apparatus, equipment, communications, new technologies and their ability to handle unusually challenging incidents, in a free webinar coming up on January 18th from 12:30 - 1:30pm EST.


Please register for this webinar


Dragging your heels on taking down the Christmas tree? Here’s a fact to motivate you: Nearly 40 percent of U.S. home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January. That's why NFPA strongly encourages people to remove Christmas trees from their homes promptly after the holiday season.

Christmas trees are combustible items that become increasingly flammable as they continue to dry out. The longer a Christmas tree remains in your home, the more of a fire hazard it becomes. While all Christmas trees can burn, a dried out tree can become engulfed in flames in a matter of seconds.


NFPA statistics show that Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they do occur, they’re much more likely to be serious. On annual average, one of every 34 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to one death per 142 total reported home structure fires.

NFPA recommends using the local community’s recycling program for tree disposal, if possible; trees should not be put in the garage or left outside. Meanwhile, these tips for safely removing lighting and decorations from trees and storing them properly will ensure that they’re in good condition for the following season:


• Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk for shock or electrical fire.
• As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.
• Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap them around a piece of cardboard.
• Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness.

For more information on home fire safety all winter long, visit “Put a Freeze on Winter Fires,” a winter safety campaign NFPA jointly promotes with the U.S. Fire Administration.

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