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This week marked the third anniversary of the passing of two Boston firefighters in a fast-moving fire started by hot work in Boston's Back Bay. Lieutenant Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy died battling the blaze at a brownstone on Beacon Street; the cause of the fire was determined to have been started by welding in a nearby building.


The tragedy set into motion changes to Boston's Fire Code and prompted a requirement for trade workers to be trained in hot work safety in order to pull a work permit within city limits. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker also signed a bill in October 2016 establishing a special commission to study best practices for welding and hot work, and make recommendations for improvements statewide.


Not long after the March 2014 blaze, NFPA began working with the Boston Fire Department, City of Boston Inspectional Services and the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council on a plan to ensure that a tragedy like the Beacon Street fire never happens again. In June 2016, the Boston City Council passed an ordinance amending the Boston Fire Prevention Code stating that, effective January 1, 2017, all persons engaged in hot work operations must obtain a Hot Work Safety Certificate. To date, more than 13,000 workers in various construction industry jobs have already participated in the NFPA-designed hot work program.


U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 4,440 structure fires involving hot work per year. These fires cause an average of 12 civilian deaths, 208 civilian injuries and $287 million in direct property damage per year. In addition to causing two line of duty deaths and significant property loss in Boston, hot work triggered a neighborhood blaze in Kansas that consumed two apartment buildings and 17 abutting homes this month, and caused a bridge fire in Pittsburgh last fall that snarled traffic for months along a highly-traveled artery. Based on these events and other less-publicized incidents across the country, NFPA is planning an expansion of the hot work training program. NFPA also addresses hot work in NFPA 51B: Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work.


In the meantime in Boston, Hot Work Safety Certificate Program classes are being offered by local labor organizations. Members are encouraged to contact union administrators regarding training sessions. Unaffiliated construction industry professionals can register for a Hot Work Safety Certificate Program training class at NFPA's headquarters in Quincy

food truck safety tip sheet


As the popularity of food trucks continues, so do concerns around the potential for fires and related hazards. NFPA has taken several steps in response to these issues, including the development of an updated food truck fact sheet, which maps out specific areas of the truck with corresponding tips and information on proper usage and maintenance.


As for NFPA’s codes and standards, NFPA 1, Fire Code®, NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code, NFPA 96, Ventilation Control and Fire Protection for Commercial Cooking Operations, and NFPA 1192, Standard for Recreational Vehicles, all contain requirements that contribute to addressing the fire safety hazards associated with mobile cooking operations, but there are other safety concerns that are not currently addressed in these existing documents.


Consequently, the International Fire Marshals Association (IFMA) created a task group, which developed 16 pages of content covering permits, portable fire extinguishers, separation, communication, training, generators, wood burning and LP-gas to submit as a new chapter in NFPA 1 and NFPA 96. (To view this document, visit The NFPA 1 Technical Committee, which worked to incorporate the language IFMA submitted into the Fire Code, met last October for its Second Draft Meeting.  NFPA 1 will be discussed and the Certified Amending Motions will be voted on by the membership at the 2017 NFPA Conference and Exposition in Boston, MA, this June.


Meanwhile, the Technical Committee responsible for NFPA 96 developed a task group to incorporate the existing requirements within NFPA 96 as they applied to temporary cooking operations. The addition of mobile and temporary cooking operations is now Annex B of the 2017 edition of NFPA 96. (NFPA 96 provides the minimum fire safety requirements - preventative and operative - related to the design, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of all public and private cooking operations.) Revisions included requirements for clearance, exhaust hoods, exhaust duct systems, fire-extinguishing equipment, training for employees, solid fuel cooking, egress, communication protocol, as well as fire department access and procedures for inspection, testing and maintenance of cooking equipment.


Many of these requirements and recommendations are reflected the new fact sheet, which can be downloaded for free.

Its the last day of March, and some of New England is forecast to get up to 8" of snow this weekend (luckily not where I live!) so maybe its best if I first reference this post about clearance around fire hydrants.  Who knew we would be thinking about shoveling on March 31?


But, let's not think about snow!  Today, I wanted to feature a topic from NFPA 1, Fire Code, that falls under the portion of the Code's scope of access requirements for fire department operations. Elevators are an essential means for the fire service to access areas of a building during a fire.  They can be especially important during fires in high-rise buildings.  Per the Code, all new elevators are required to conform to the Fire Fighters Emergency Operations requirements of ASME A17.1/CSA B44, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalator which includes a provision that elevators must be equipped to operate with a standardized fire service access key.  These keys provide access to the elevators so that the fire service is able to take control of the recalled elevators during an emergency and manually control them to move to the necessary floors for tactical needs.


Photos from the NFPA 101, Life Safety Code Handbook show both an elevator lobby emergency operations key switch and an elevator car emergency operations key switch


In addition to the requirement for number of elevator cars, protection of elevator machine rooms, and elevator testing which are extracted from NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, NFPA 1 provides its own provisions for standardized fire service elevator keys.  The requirements of 11.3.6 mandate the standardization of fire service elevator keys to reduce the number of keys necessary for accessing elevators in an emergency. All new elevators must be equipped to use standard keys as approved by the AHJ, and all existing elevators with fire fighters’ emergency operations must be retrofitted to use standard keys within 1 year of the adoption of the Code by the jurisdiction.


Where the physical limitations of existing elevators do not permit such retrofit, the Code permits the installation of access boxes opened by standard fire department keys for the housing of nonstandard elevator keys. The access box must be compatible with an existing rapid-entry access box system in use in the jurisdiction and approved by the AHJ.  The front cover of the access box is required to be permanently labeled with the words "Fire Department Use Only - Elevator Keys" and must be mounted at each elevator bank at the lobby nearest to the lowest level of fire department access at a location also approved by the AHJ.  In buildings with two or more elevator banks, a single access box may be permitted if the banks are separated by not more than 30 ft (9140 mm).  If they are separated by a distance greater than that, additional access boxes are needed.


Where an access box is required and provided it is important that it be used only for its purpose to store elevator keys.  Contents of the access box are limited to the keys only.  Other items relevant to emergency planning or elevator access should only be stored in the access box where authorized by the AHJ. This prevents the access box from being used for any other purpose other than storing the keys.  Extra materials can hinder the fire department's ability to quickly and efficiently access to the keys and may increase the risk that the keys go missing from the access box.


Thanks for reading and Happy Friday!  Stay safe!


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

Frances Perkins, 1936


Today we wish to take the time to remember one of the great pioneers for Life Safety Advocacy.


After witnessing the tragedy that occurred at the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire on March 25, 1911, Frances Perkins took up the cause of safety reform. She was one of three female members of the National Fire Protection Association during that time period. In 1912, Frances became the executive secretary of the Committee on Safety, a non-governmental body formed in the days following the Triangle fire to push for system-wide reforms for work safety. In May 1913, she addressed the 17th Annual Meeting of the NFPA in New York and urged the organization to advocate for codes that protected not just buildings, but also the people who worked within them. NFPA created the Committee on Life Safety the following year, and in 1927 issued the Building Exits Code, the forerunner to today's Life Safety Code. Perkins was named Secretary of Labor in 1933 by Franklin Roosevelt, becoming the first female Cabinet secretary in U.S. history.


For more information on Frances Perkins, check out the NFPA Journal. Also visit the Frances Perkins Center website.


For more information regarding this story and other NFPA or fire related history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA LibraryThe 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.

I’m back this week with another installment of #101Wednesdays after spending last week in Las Vegas teaching NFPA’s Life Safety Code Essentials seminar. The news of another multiple-fatality fire in Oakland, CA that greeted me at work Monday reinforced why teaching the Code is so personally rewarding: the more people who understand and can properly apply and enforce its requirements, the less likely we are to see incidents like the one that occurred Monday morning. (See my post from January about the Oakland 'Ghost Ship' fire that killed 36 people.)


On Day 1 of the seminar, I talk about the importance of inspecting, testing, and maintaining building fire protection and life safety systems. According to news reports, four individuals died in a fire in a “transitional housing” building that housed about 80 recovering drug addicts and former homeless people. Days before the fire, city officials cited the owner for numerous deficiencies including the lack of portable fire extinguishers, missing smoke alarms, and non-functioning fire alarm and automatic sprinkler systems. The deficiencies were ordered to be corrected immediately. They apparently were not, however, soon enough, and four residents paid with their lives.


Maintenance of life safety systems is clearly addressed by subsection 4.6.12 in the 2015 edition of NFPA 101:


4.6.12 Maintenance, Inspection, and Testing. Whenever or wherever any device, equipment, system,

condition, arrangement, level of protection, fire-resistive

construction, or any other feature is required for compliance

with the provisions of this Code, such device, equipment, system,

condition, arrangement, level of protection, fire-resistive

construction, or other feature shall thereafter be continuously

maintained. Maintenance shall be provided in accordance

with applicable NFPA requirements or requirements developed

as part of a performance-based design, or as directed by

the authority having jurisdiction. No existing life safety feature shall be removed or reduced

where such feature is a requirement for new construction.* Existing life safety features obvious to the public, if not

required by the Code, shall be either maintained or removed. Any device, equipment, system, condition, arrangement,

level of protection, fire-resistive construction, or any

other feature requiring periodic testing, inspection, or operation

to ensure its maintenance shall be tested, inspected, or

operated as specified elsewhere in this Code or as directed by

the authority having jurisdiction. Maintenance, inspection, and testing shall be performed

under the supervision of a responsible person who shall

ensure that testing, inspection, and maintenance are made at

specified intervals in accordance with applicable NFPA standards

or as directed by the authority having jurisdiction.


In the case of automatic sprinklers and fire alarm systems, the applicable NFPA requirements are NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, and NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. By following the inspection, testing, and maintenance requirements contained in these standards, impairments and other conditions that would adversely affect the system’s performance can be promptly corrected, ensuring they will provide the needed level of protection. This, of course, costs money. Delinquent building owners who choose to ignore these mandatory, minimum safety requirements need to be dealt with through the courts. Failure to do so will result in future tragedies like the one in Oakland this week.


Thanks for reading. 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.”


Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

Got confined space? If so, please join me for a free one-hour webinar on NFPA 350, Guide for Safe Confined Space entry and Work on March 29th at 2 PM (EDT)  sponsored by OHS online. The webinar will provide an overview of how NFPA 350 can be used to supplement compliance with existing regulations by simplifying requirements and by providing the “how to’s” that will help you comply with existing standards.


For example, NFPA 350 includes information on identification of hazards that are not just inside the space but that may be adjacent or introduced into the space. It also provides detailed procedures for the selection, calibration and use of gas monitoring equipment and addresses the organizational aspects of confined space rescue that may be present in a fire department but not necessarily for on-site rescue teams.


Register for the free event today.  Hope you can join me and learn how NFPA 350 can help you improve confined space safety.


Close to 100 fire chiefs attended the 50th Annual Meeting of the New England Division of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (NEDIAFC) at NFPA’s conference center in Quincy, Massachusetts this week. Top fire leaders hailed from six New England states; attendees included active chiefs, retired leaders and aspiring commanders.


After welcome remarks from NEDIAFC leaders and NFPA staff, Boston Fire Department (BFD) Commissioner Joe Finn spoke to the crowd about his department’s crusade to raise awareness about cancer in the fire service. BFD has created powerful videos on the effects of cancer within their department and prevention tips for optimal safety, and has garnered significant media exposure including a key feature in Boston Magazine this month. Earlier this year, the Division of Population Sciences at Dana-Farber and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health announced that they are working with BFD to determine how firefighters are affected by diesel exhaust fumes in fire stations and the toll that 24-hour shifts, irregular sleeping patterns and eating habits have on first responders’ health.


Finn then shared lessons learned from the Back Bay fire that killed two firefighters two years ago this weekend. NFPA assisted both the city and state with guidance based on NFPA 51B, Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work, and worked with BFD to create new hot work permitting and training requirements in the city. The commissioner received rave reviews for his candor, insight and leadership perspective.


Real world, relevant information-sharing continued today with Deputy Chief Richard Wales and Assistant Chief Hezedean Smith from Orlando Fire speaking about the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since the September 11th attacks. The terrorist attack at the Pulse Night Club in their city killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. Increasingly, the fire service is being called upon to respond to new threats and atypical emergencies so the audience was highly engaged in the officers’ presentation. The pair discussed the tactical, operations, communications, firefighter mental health, equipment and community partnership takeaways from that tragic incident; and the ways their department is training so that they can effectively prepare and respond to active shooter incidents and other mass casualties in their community.


Tours of the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services Special Operations Rehab Unit were also available for attendees. The vehicle provides resources to facilitate proper firefighter/rescuer rehab including heat, air conditioning, fluids, rehab supplies, and medical monitoring equipment to assist local EMS. NEDIAFC members also discussed chapter priorities during the annual meeting portion of the program, and enjoyed a celebration hosted by organization president, Steven Locke of Burlington, Vermont Fire.


NFPA was a host and corporate sponsor of the annual meeting and educational sessions, along with platinum corporate sponsor AT&T. Another 15 national and regional businesses supported the program via sponsorships and exhibit opportunities.

The Certified Fire Aalarm ITM Specialist LogoIn 2016, NFPA surveyed several thousand facility managers to see how we could help support them in their careers. The results of this survey overwhelmingly pointed to a desire for professional credentials that span a wide range of topics and that could provide recognition of competency, demonstrate a commitment to the profession, and help with job advancement.


To that end, NFPA is pleased to announce the Certified Fire Alarm ITM Specialist Program (CFAITMS). This certification was developed by a diverse and talented group of facility management professionals from across the country. The certification was designed to confirm a facility manager's knowledge of the challenges associated with managing an effective fire alarm ITM program, and that they are able to keep their facility in compliance with the 2016 edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.


Rodney Schauf, director of engineering for the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, who was part of the group that helped develop the certification, believes that "the CFAITMS certification is one more tool that allows the facility manager to ensure they are doing the right thing to protect people and assets where they work. Ensuring that systems are not impacted by changes in the property, or overlooked in the everyday workload we all experience, this cannot help but make the built environment safer for everybody."


Gain the confidence you need to advance your career and get the recognition you deserve as an expert in your field. For more information about the CFAITMS certification, visit


Questions? Contact us here and we'll be happy to answer them!

The NFPA Standards Council considered the issuance of  a proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) on the 2017 edition of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code.  This TIA was issued by the Council on March 14, 2017:


  • NFPA 70, TIA 17-3, referencing 770.110(A)(2)


Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) are amendments to an NFPA Standard processed in accordance with Section 5 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. They have not gone through the entire standards development process of being published in a First Draft Report and Second Draft Report for review and comment. TIAs are effective only between editions of the Standard. A TIA automatically becomes a public input for the next edition of the Standard, as such is then subject to all of the procedures of the standards development process.  TIAs are published in NFPA News, NFCSS, and any further distribution of the Standard after being issued by the Standards Council.

It's been a busy week in fire news.  Earlier this week an eight alarm fire, fueled by high winds and dry conditions, devastated a neighborhood in Overland Park, Kansas. The fast-moving fire destroyed one four-story apartment building, damaged another and sparked additional fires at 17 single-family residences nearby.  This past Wednesday, March 22, about 20 minutes from NFPA, a seven alarm fire tore through an abandoned warehouse in Rockland, MA.  The fire was contained to the warehouse but forced the evacuation of 20 nearby homes.  Both fires highlight the importance of two requirements in NFPA 1, Fire Code; safeguards during construction and fires in vacant/abandoned buildings


Another important issue and often a contributor to these fires, is smoking. According to NFPA's report. "The Smoking-Material Fire Problem" published in July 2013:

  • There were an estimated 90,000 smoking-material fires in the United States in 2011. These fires caused 540 civilian deaths, 1,640 civilian injuries and $621 million in direct property damage.
  • One out of four fatal victims of smoking-material fires is not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire.
  • Most deaths result from fires that started in bedrooms (40%), or in living rooms, family rooms or dens (35%).
  • Nearly half (46%) fatal home smoking-material fire victims were age 65 or older.


Home structure fires dominated all these measures of fire loss in 2011 except for fire incidents. In 2011, an estimated 17,600 smoking-material home structure fires caused 490 civilian deaths (19% of all home structure fire deaths), 1,370 civilian injuries and $516 million in direct property damage. The other 72,400 smoking-material fires in 2011 were mostly outdoor fires (60,200 fires in trash, vegetation and other outdoor combustibles).


It is clear that smoking materials are still a major part of the problem in the United States.  For the purposes of NFPA 1, Fire Code, smoking is defined as carrying lighted pipes, cigars, cigarettes, tobacco, or any other lighted type of smoking substance through an area. People might mistakenly believe that they actually have to be smoking a tobacco product in order to violate the non-smoking designation. Certain areas are often designated as non-smoking areas because of the presence of combustible materials or the possible presence of flammable vapors or gas. Carrying lighted tobacco products through, or depositing them in, non-smoking areas can be as dangerous as actually using the products in proximity to such materials, vapors, or gases.



NFPA 1 addresses provisions for smoking in Section 10.9 of the Code.  Both fire code officials as well as building owners/staff play an important role in making sure that smoking is controlled and regulated at a building site.  Where smoking is considered a fire hazard, the AHJ is authorized to order the owner in writing to post "No Smoking" signs in conspicuous, desigated, locations where smoking is prohibited.  The “No Smoking” sign should be large enough to be readily seen, and either the sign or the lettering on the sign should be of a color that contrasts with the background of the location where it is posted. The sign text also needs to be in languages appropriate for the building occupants. In areas where smoking is permitted, noncombustible ashtrays must be provided to reduce the likelihood of the careless disposal of smoking materials igniting combustible materials in the area.


Finally, the removal or destruction of any required "No Smoking" sign is prohibited.  AHJs will be looking for appropriate signage when performing inspections.  Building owners and/or staff should be aware of the signage location and make sure that signage is being maintained.  Smoking or depositing any lighted or smoldering substance in a place where required "No Smoking" signs are posted is prohibited. 


Are designated smoking areas hard to control in your building? How have you as the AHJ or building owner had to address code violations related to smoking?  Have you had a fire occur from smoking materials?


Happy Friday!  Stay safe!

Augusta, Georgia - March 22, 1916

The remains of the Haughton Grammar School in Augusta, Georgia after the Augusta Conflagration.


In today's post the NFPA Archives takes a look back at the avoidable tragedy that occurred in Augusta, Georgia during the span of two days in March 22-23, 1916. The initial cause of the fire is unknown. However, the city streets were full of inflammable cotton (in violation of city ordinances at the time) and the roofs were primarily wooden shingled. As a result of this fire, the building code recommended by the National Board of Fire Underwriters was adopted by the city on April 5, 1916.


From Augusta, Georgia Conflagration March 22-23, 1916. Boston: NFPA, 1916:


"The interval between the start of the fire and its control covered a period of ten hours and forty minutes and in its course of destruction it covered an area of one-quarter square mile, or about 160 acres, destroyed 141 business buildings and 541 dwellings and gutted two buildings of fire-resistive construction. There were several narrow escapes of life; 600 families and 3,000 persons were made homeless and about 1,000 were thrown out of employment. The property loss is about $4,250,000 with insurance loss of about $3,500,000. Among some of the notable buildings destroyed were St. Paul's Episcopal Church, which was 128 years old; two city schools, Y. W. C. A. Building, Commercial Club, and some of the oldest and best dwellings in the city.


As before suggested the underlying conditions of poor construction which made such a catastrophe possible are generally present to a large extent in the remaining part of the mercantile and dwelling districts and
are considerably more pronounced in some sections of the city which were not destroyed."


For more information regarding this story and other NFPA or fire related history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA LibraryThe 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.


This is a continuation of my last blog on normal operating conditions. Safe use of equipment under NFPA 70E is based on the equipment meeting these conditions. Although the conditions are a starting point for all electrical work, the conditions are necessary before an employee operates the equipment for its normal function.  Properly installed, properly maintained and closed doors were addressed in the previous blog.

Covers in place and secure – This takes a little judgement of the operator. Remember that this is also in the section addressing normal operation. Using the example of the access door for the panelboard circuit breaker, the hinged door is on a bolted cover that is intended to stay in place when operating the breaker. You must make sure that any equipment covers are properly secured. This will require proper training of the person interacting with the equipment. If the covers are absent or unsecured, your employee is potentially at risk of an injury if they attempt normal operation of that equipment.  This safety issue is not addressing the tasks that require an energized work permit. This covers the person operating a HID breaker to turn the factory lights on each morning, for example.

No signs of impending failure – This is a tough one. Typically the employer/owner is not aware of the condition of individual equipment in their facility.  The burden of determining this is often the responsibility of the person (think AHJ) interacting with the equipment since conditions can change on a daily basis. This involves training that person to understand the potential failure modes and to identify signs of the impending failure of the equipment. These signs vary greatly by the type of electrical equipment.  The smell of ozone, presence of smoke, sound of arcing, visible damage, or warning lights are all possible indication of potential equipment failure.  If any of the signs are present, that person is potentially putting themselves at risk of an injury if they attempt normal operation of that equipment.  This safety issue is not addressing the tasks that require an energized work permit. This covers the person operating a HID breaker to turn the factory lights on each morning, for example.

Instructions – Regardless of the equipment meeting the normal operating conditions, for an employee to safely interact with equipment they must understand the conditions, methods, functions and sequences for safely operating the equipment. Equipment typically is supplied with manufacturer’s operating instructions. If the equipment is listed, these instructions typically include the specifics necessary to operate the equipment within the parameters of that listing. Operating equipment contrary to the instructions puts the employee at risk of an injury whenever they attempt to operate of that equipment. This covers the person operating any electrical equipment including proprietary or production line equipment.

There is no reason to believe that normal operation of equipment meeting these conditions inherently presents a unacceptable risk of injury to a person. No interaction with equipment would be permitted if it did. A computer, light switch or elevator would be a hazard with an unacceptable risk level. Society has come to terms with the concept that normal operation of equipment does not pose an unacceptable risk of injury to persons under these conditions.  In your facility, you are responsible for assuring that the conditions which permit normal operation have been meet before allowing your employees to interact with your equipment.

Next time: Does normal operation cover everything that a manufacturer claims the equipment can do?

photo credit to Kctv5


Three major fires this year have cast a spotlight on fires in apartments under construction and a need for the safety measures defined in codes and standards like NFPA 241: Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations which is referenced in both NFPA 1: Fire Code and the International Fire Code.


In early February, fire ripped through an upscale apartment complex under construction in Maplewood, New Jersey. Over 120 firefighters fought the blaze that destroyed roughly two-thirds of the 235-unit complex. Last week, Raleigh, North Carolina experienced their biggest fire in the downtown area in nearly a century, when fire quickly consumed a five-story apartment building and damaged nine buildings in total. Then yesterday, an eight alarm inferno, fueled by high winds and dry conditions, devastated a neighborhood in Overland Park, Kansas. The fast-moving fire destroyed one four-story apartment building, damaged another and sparked additional fires at 17 single-family residences nearby.


The common thread for these fires? Each took place in wood-framed apartment complexes that were under construction. Without passive fire protection measures like sheetrock and other finishes installed yet, flames quickly spread to exposed lumber and plywood causing extensive damage to the apartment buildings and abutting structures.

In Raleigh, news outlets reported that the 240-unit Metropolitan apartment complex had been inspected nearly 50 times, with the most recent visit occurring just three days before Thursday’s fire. So what were inspectors using as a guidepost? The building plan? Or the building’s overall fire safety program, as required in NFPA 241?


Organizations like the American Wood Council have proactively emphasized the importance of building and life safety codes during construction, as wood-clad design and sustainable products grow in popularity. NFPA 241, in particular, ensures that fire safety standards are maintained throughout the building process. It requires building owners to create an overall construction fire safety program and designate a fire prevention manager to oversee all fire-prevention efforts during construction. Key considerations of NFPA 241 include:

  • The development of a program that includes on-site security, fire protection systems, organization and training of a fire brigade, and the establishment of a pre-fire plan with the local fire department.
  • The owner is required to appoint a person who is responsible for the fire prevention program and ensure that it is carried out to completion. This individual will have knowledge of the applicable fire protection standards, available fire protection systems, and fire inspection procedures. Where guard service is provided, the fire prevention program manager will be responsible for that guard service. The role entails many other responsibilities including weekly self-inspections and records management, adequate provision of fire protection devices and maintenance of such equipment, proper training in the use of fire protection equipment and the supervision of the permit system.


These recent incidents demonstrate that the threat of fire is real on construction sites and when jobs feature combustible construction. The current issue of NFPA Journal® looks at these two factors in the article, Burned Again about real estate developer Avalon Bay, owners of the New Jersey complex that burned earlier this year and two other communities that have experienced large fires since 2000.


An NFPA research report shows that U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 830 fires in multi-unit residential properties under construction. These fires caused an estimated average of 12 civilian injuries, 70 firefighter injuries, and $56 million in direct property damage per year.

Three members of NFPA’s executive leadership team, NFPA’s Middle East liaison and the Research Director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Foundation) are meeting in the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait this week to discuss global innovation, stakeholder needs and the ways that NFPA is collaborating with authorities and business representatives throughout the Persian Gulf.

NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley, vice president for Field Operations Don Bliss, vice president and chief engineer Chris Dubay, Amanda Kimball of the Foundation and Middle East representative Drew Azzara are meeting with members of a newly established Middle East Advisory Committee in Abu Dhabi this week. The Middle East Advisory Committee is made up of regionally-based AHJs, engineering firms, fire organizations, Civil Defence leaders, real estate holding companies, petrochemical organizations, NFPA instructors, and testing labs. The mission of the advisory group and the focus of discussion this week is addressing Middle East fire challenges, as well as potential life safety issues related to energy storage, performance-based design, and large-scale industrial facilities.

Prior to convening the advisory committee in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, NFPA representatives are meeting with Civil Defence leaders in Oman and Kuwait to discuss ways that NFPA can further support their fire safety initiatives. NFPA executives will also tour the UAE Civil Defence Academy. Much of the training at the UAE CD Academy is based on NFPA standards for building and life safety, as well as firefighter professional qualifications and operations.

Kimball is in Dubai this week to attend the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) Middle East Conference. A member of the SFPE Board, she will present a program at the conference on Research in Fire Protection Engineering and its impact on codes and standards. She will also co-host a Women in Fire Safety Meet and Greet Reception, sponsored by NFPA and Tyco. Both organizations are ardent supporters of STEM and women in engineering advocacy efforts.


NFPA has been working with government agencies, fire protection organizations and corporations in the Middle East for more than two decades to share code insight and best practices, with an emphasis on life safety and fire protection systems. Numerous NFPA codes and standards have been incorporated into building and fire codes throughout the Gulf region.

We're not even a fourth of the way through 2017, and the United States has already seen a series of devastating wildfires. The incidents stress the importance of wildfire preparedness, which among local fire departments is lacking, according to a recent NFPA report. I wrote about the report in "Not Ready for Prime Time," an article in the current issue of NFPA Journal


The report, "Wildland/Urban Interface: Fire Department Wildfire Preparedness and Readiness Capabilities," found deficiencies in firefighter safety, training, and equipment related to wildland firefighting. Forty-six senior fire officials from departments across the country were interviewed for the report, and some of their quotes are included in my article. "[Wildfire] training is sorely needed," said one fire official from Nevada. Another from Florida spoke of the need to improve respiratory protection for firefighters engaged in wildland firefighting.  


The full report, which was released in January, can be downloaded from NFPA's wildland fire reports and statistics page


Earlier this month, seven people died in wildfires that swept across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, torching over a million acres of land, killing cattle, and crippling ranchers' livelihood. At the same time, brush fires challenged firefighters in Florida, and just this weekend, hundreds were evacuated from their homes as a wildfire spread through Colorado

NFPA's latest report on Home Structure Fires that Began with Upholstered Furniture states that upholstered furniture has long been the leading item first ignited in terms of home fire deaths. Upholstered furniture was the item first ignited in an average of 5,630 reported home structure fires each year and caused an estimated annual average of 440 civilian deaths, 700 civilian injuries, and $269 million in direct property damage. On average, one in 13 reported upholstered furniture fires resulted in death. Overall, fires beginning with upholstered furniture accounted for 18% of home fire deaths.


Did you know?

Candles, matches and lighters were involved in 20% of the fires and 12% of the deaths.


Click on the link above to download the report. You will find valuable information including:

  • Civilian fire death trends by year
  • Leading causes of these fires and civilian deaths
  • Extent of fire spread
  • What equipment was involved in ignition
  • And more!


The March/June issue of NFPA Journal features a preview of the 2017 NFPA Conference & Expo. The educational component of this year’s conference has been reimagined and strengthened with sessions on topics such as:


  • The Marijuana Industry- A Chronic Problem
  • Firefighter Health - Reducing Cancer in Firefighters
  • Drones - Unmanned Aerial Systems 
  • Emerging Technology - Energy Storage Systems


In addition to new topics, several meaningful tweaks have been made in 2017 NFPA Conference & Expo including these four big changes...READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE.


For more information on the event go to:

e are trying to understand the use, application, and value of a comprehensive Fire Protection Handbook. Please take 5 minutes to answer a brief survey that will help us consider ways to update the publication and make it even more valuable. 


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firefighters cancer boston Glenn Preston

Firefighter Glenn Preston found out he had developed cancer at 39./Photography by Ken Richardson


In the March 2017 issue of Boston Magazine, “Why Cancer Is Killing Boston’s Firefighters” addresses the high cancer rate among members of the Boston Fire Department. Outlining the inherent health risks posed by firefighting, the article explores factors that contribute to today’s increased cancer rates within the BFD, as well as other Massachusetts departments.

The article also addresses the growing number of cancer diagnoses among younger firefighters. Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn stated that at least once a month he learns that yet another member of his crew who is diagnosed with cancer. “It blows my mind,” he said. “There are guys who are 40 or 45 years old, and some of them have been on the fire department for just 10 or 15 years.” One firefighter interviewed for the story learned that he had a malignant tumor "the size of a small banana" at the age of 39.

Boston is not the only fire department facing these issues. Sadly, BFD's experience is reflective of increased cancer rates among fire departments nationwide. The Research Foundation is addressing these issues through three related projects.


The first edition of NFPA 400, published in 2010 incorporated a number of existing NFPA hazardous materials code into a single code and utilizes the MAQ (maximum allowable quantity) concept to provide fundamental safeguards for the storage, use, and handling of hazardous materials such as ammonium nitrate, corrosives, flammable solids, organic peroxides, oxidizers, pyrophoric materials, toxic and highly toxics, unstable reactives and water reactives.


The first draft report on NFPA 400 Hazardous Materials Code was recently posted and is open for public comment at until May 10, 2017. The technical committee is seeking comments on a number of proposed changes made at the First Draft meeting (First Revisions) as well as on Committee Inputs.  Highlights of changes made at first draft include requirements for the storage of ammonium nitrate in railcars and the division of Class II Organic Peroxides into two classes, IIA and IIB, based on differences in burning rates. Key changes proposed in committee inputs include the consolidation of occupancy tables into a single table to improve ease of document use and the reclassification of a number of organic peroxides in Annex F.  To stay informed about upcoming meetings and document revisions sign up for email alerts located above the information tabs at


Eating and Drinking FiresNFPA's latest report on Structure Fires in Eating and Drinking Establishments states that U.S. fire departments responded to 8,410 fires in 2014; the most since 2002. These fires caused average annual losses of $165 million in direct property damage each year, and three out of five (61%) of these fires involved cooking equipment.


Did you know?

Failure to clean was a factor in 22% of these fires.


Click on the link above to download the report. You will find information including:

  • Cause of ignition and factors contributing to ignition
  • First item ignited
  • Extent of flame damage
  • Number and percent of fires by day of week and time of day 
  • And more!

Top o' the Friday morning to you!  Happy St. Patrick's Day! Last week I wrote about one of the new technical changes coming to the 2018 edition of NFPA 1, Fire Code.  Continuing the discussion of new changes coming in the next edition, this week I'll talk about the outdoor storage of wood pallets, also a significant revision coming in the 2018 edition.


Photo of wood pallet recycling facility.  Photo courtesy of Robert Davidson, Davidson Code Concepts


Currently, Section 34.10 addresses the outdoor storage of idle pallets. This will be updated for 2018 with a section to specifically apply to the storage of wood and wood composite pallets or listed pallets equivalent to wood at pallet manufacturing and pallet recycling facility sites with a proposed new Section 34.10.4.  Initial changes were proposed at the First Draft stage and further refinements were made at the Second Draft stage in response to the public comments. 


Outdoor pallet storage areas for manufacturing and recyclers of pallets will be "exempt" from the requirements for idle pallets currently in NFPA 1 because pallets are not idle, nor managed in an idle fashion, at these types facilities. The new provisions of 34.10.4 take into consideration the following characteristics of manufacturing and pallet recycling facility sites:

  • Pallet manufacturers and recyclers have intimate knowledge of their pallet inventory, as it is considered an asset
  • The storage areas are fluid environments where pallets are being moved and replaced on a daily basis.
  • The outdoor storage area of pallet manufacturing and recycling facilities is an active management environment.
  • Personnel are a constant presence within the storage area so that fire hazards can be identified and reported to take immediate corrective action.
  • Storage yards are organized by pallet type and into recycle streams for high operational efficiency, kept sufficiently free of waste and debris, and perimeters are well maintained.


The intent of the new section is to reduce the likelihood of fire at pallet manufacturing and recycling facilities through best practices. In the event that a fire does occur, measures are described that will mitigate the spread of fire to adjoining structures and properties through the establishment of pallet pile spacing between buildings and property lines.


New Section 34.10.4 will require that each site maintain a current site plan that is to be submitted to the local AHJ for review and approval.  The site plan will include details such as lot lines, utilities, building construction, fire protection systems, available water supply, hazardous material storage, location of pallet storage, FD access, and others.  In addition to the required site plan, the owner (or designated representative) of the facility is required to submit a fire prevention plan for review and approval by the local AHJ.  This plan will include frequency of walk through inspections to verify the fire prevention plan as well as pallet stack heigh, area, and setbacks, hot work permits, preventative maintenance programs, and fire protection system ITM.  The new section will also address training, security management plans, pallet stack height, size of pallet arrays, and water supplies.


For more information on the new 2018 provisions you can view the Second Draft Report here.


Happy Friday, stay safe!

New Research fact sheet provides an overview of the US fire problem

fact sheet inageWhere do you turn when you’re looking for a quick summary of the fire problem without too many details? Try NFPA’s new fact sheet, ”An Overview of the U.S. fire problem.”  

NFPA’s Research, Data, and Analytics Division produces a wide variety of statistical reports. The most recent big picture estimates of fire department responses to fires by general types of fires and properties are found in Fire Loss in the United States. Estimates of civilian deaths and injuries and property damage are also provided.

 Other reports provide information about firefighter fatalities and injuries.  Many of our reports address fires of specific causes or specific occupancies. Most of our reports use the detailed information collected by the US Fire Administration’s National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) combined with the results of NFPA’s annual fire department experience survey to create national estimates of specific fire problems.  Because the majority of fire deaths and injuries are caused by home fires, these fires get more attention in our reports of fire causes and in this fact sheet.  

Most of the statistical reports about the various aspects of the fire problems also have fact sheets to provide answers to the most common statistical questions about the topics. Let us know how these fact sheets are working for you.  What other fact sheets would you like to see? 

In honor of Stella (the overly enthusiastic Nor'easter that managed to shut down a good portion of the Northeastern United States this week and cover us all in a frosty coating), we are highlighting the efforts made by all of the hard working men and women who braved the weather and maintained the roads for our emergency service professionals.



New York City snowplows in February, 1921

New York City shows off its powerful new snowplows in this photograph from February, 1921.


The winter of 1920 was a difficult one with a series of heavy snowstorms throughout the eastern portion of the United States. Although there were no large fires during these storms, the fire departments at the time saw the potential danger that snow-blocked roadways might cause.


From NFPA Quarterly v.14, no.4, 1921:

"The fire fighting equipment was helpless because of the blockade of snow and ice on the streets. Through delays of slow and clumsy methods of removal much snow turned to solid ice, making the difficulty in clearing streets even greater. Weeks elapsed before the city was again on a normal traffic basis. The lesson taught at the time was taken to heart and a series of investigations were conducted by New York officials as to proper equipment for quickly disposing of snow as fast as it fell. To wait until the snowfall had engulfed the city, before starting to clear it away, was obviously the wrong procedure. As a result of these investigations, the city was equipped last fall with 150 ploughs of the caterpillar tractor type and 212 five ton power dumping trucks. One hundred and fourteen of the ploughs were placed under the control of the Fire Department."


For more information regarding this story and other NFPA or fire related history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA LibraryThe 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.

It’s a scenario we’ve seen time and time again: occupants unable to escape a burning building because of locked egress doors. A fundamental tenet of the Life Safety Code is free egress; occupants must be able to get out of the building without the use of any keys, tools, special knowledge, or effort (with a handful of exceptions). The Code has its roots in fires such as the historic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City on March 25, 1911, which killed 146 garment workers, most of them young, immigrant women, who were unable to escape because the owners locked the stairwell doors. And just a week ago, 40 teenage girls died in a Guatemala youth shelter fire when the girls were locked in a classroom during a series of disturbances.  


The Code is very clear: an occupant must be able to open an egress door with not more than one latch and/or lock releasing operation (residential dwelling units can have two operations, or three if existing). Operation of the releasing mechanism must be readily obvious under all lighting conditions, including no light. If you encounter anything other than this arrangement, it needs to be closely looked at. Only a few exceptions to the free egress rule exist in NFPA 101. The most obvious applies to detention and correctional occupancies, which are sub-classified based on five “use conditions.” Depending on the use condition, certain doors can be locked against egress. Additional life safety features must be provided commensurate with the use condition. Related to detention and correctional occupancies, some other occupancies are permitted to have lockups to temporarily secure occupants (e.g., a holding cell in a police station that does not meet the criteria of a full-fledged detention and correctional occupancy). Assuming the youth home in Guatemala was classified as a dormitory, Chapter 29 permits lockups in existing hotels and dormitories, subject to the special lockup provisions in 23.4.5. Lockup requirements vary and can include: staff training and capability to quickly release locks, detention-grade hardware on locked doors, automatic smoke detection, and automatic emergency forces notification.


Similarly, doors in health care occupancies (hospitals, nursing homes, and limited care facilities) have long been permitted to be locked in the direction of egress for patient and staff safety based on patient clinical needs. Examples include locking doors in the direction of egress in a psychiatric or dementia care unit. In such cases, staff must be able to readily unlock doors and undergo regular training as part of the facility’s emergency action plan. More recently, in the 2009 edition, the Code introduced provisions to allow locking of egress doors in health care occupancies for “patient special needs.” These criteria are intended to address the need to lock doors from newborn nurseries to prevent infant abductions. The provisions include a series of enhanced life safety features to ensure the locks can be quickly released in the event of an emergency.


Other exceptions to the free egress rule include special locking arrangements: delayed-egress locking systems (which will be known as “delayed-egress electrical locking systems” in the 2018 edition –, access-controlled egress door assemblies (which will be known as “sensor-release of electrical locking systems” –, and elevator lobby exit access door assemblies locking ( Where these special locking arrangements are utilized, the additional life safety requirements that accompany them must also be implemented.


Ensuring egress doors are not compromised needs to be a top priority. Don’t be misled into thinking that security takes precedence over life safety. The Code recognizes the need for balance; see the special locking provisions described above. They can effectively enhance security while still maintained the needed level of life safety from fire. Coming in the 2018 edition, the Code will provide criteria for locking devices to prevent unwanted entry in locations such as school classrooms, recognizing the modern threat of active shooter scenarios. Like the other special locking arrangements, the use of such devices will also require a series of life safety requirements to be met. Honor the lives lost in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and the Guatemala youth shelter by being vigilant in the enforcement of, and compliance with, the Code’s free egress provisions.


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.”


Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

Hollywood, Manchester by the Sea, movie, fire safety

While the Oscars may be over, many of the movies that were up for this coveted award very much remain in the hearts and minds of viewers. Their themes, storylines and characters have touched us in some profound way and still have us talking.


One such movie, Manchester by the Sea, starring Casey Affleck, hits close to home for many of us who advocate for fire safety. In the film, we see the painful and long-term impact fire can have on an individual, a family and a community. It is, by all accounts, an important reminder that the fire problem still looms large and has the power to destroy lives.

The latest “Outreach” column in NFPA Journal takes a look at the movie and explains how Hollywood gets this one right in its effort to show the true effects of fire and loss.

Are you planning to see the movie? Or maybe you're one of the many fire safety advocates and fire service professionals who has seen it? If you have, read this month's column, "Getting Fire Right," and tell us what you think. What effect has this film had on you, on your job or your role in the community? We'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions.


Dining Guide

Posted by klombardi Employee Mar 13, 2017

If your looking to get out and explore some of Boston here is a guide on where to eat near the Boston Convention and Exhibit Center (BCEC). The guide has everything from casual to fine dining whatever suites your palette.



In a previous blog, I wrote about a new surveillance system to collect data on wildland firefighter fatalities (the Wildland Firefighter On-Duty Death Surveillance System) under the aegis of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  As mentioned, NFPA’s Fire Incident Data Organization (FIDO) is one of three separate sources of information on wildland firefighter deaths that will be utilized in this effort.  I want to follow up in this blog with a brief description of some of the new system’s mechanics, as well as early findings. 


A starting point is to identify the criteria that NIOSH has established for determining just what counts as a wildland firefighter death, a necessity that emerged when NIOSH researchers found discrepancies between the numbers of fatalities reported by the three information sources owing to differences in how the deaths were defined. 


Consequently, NIOSH drew up a multi-part case definition to ensure consistency of its fatality data.  Here, fatalities are defined as any fatal injury or illness sustained among wildland fire fighters while on-duty at a wildland fire-related event or while performing wildland fire duties in the U.S.; wildland fire is defined as a non-structure fire occurring in vegetation or natural fuel, including prescribed fire and wildfire, and wildland firefighter is distinguished as a person with a principal function of fire suppression, whether in a career or volunteer capacity.  NIOSH also further defines on-duty as:


-- a wildland fire or non-fire activity

--the act of responding to or returning from a wildland fire; performing other officially assigned wildland fire or wildland fire fighter duties

--being on call, under orders, or on standby duty, other than at one’s own home or place of business, and

--events covered under the Hometown Heroes Survivors’ Benefits Act of 2003.


As deaths and incident details are received from the three data sources, they’re entered into the NIOSH surveillance system, sometimes after follow-up to reconcile conflicting information. Drawing on the three data sources, the NIOSH surveillance system has identified 247 wildland fire fighter deaths that occurred between 2001 and 2012.  Already, the strength of combining data sources is suggested by what NIOSH found when comparing its injury count to those of the individual data sources.  NIOSH reports that 181 of the 247 deaths (73%) were captured by all three data sources, while 31 of the deaths (13%) were commonly identified two data sources, and 35 deaths (14%) were identified in one source only. 


Moving forward, the payoff of the surveillance system will be determined by how effectively it can be used by partners who can leverage the data to target high risk practices or populations, identify training needs, promote protective factors, evaluate prevention outcomes, inform policy, or contribute in other ways to the ultimate goal of reducing wildland firefighter deaths.


For more on the NIOSH wildland firefighter fatality surveillance initiative, see:

This week, representatives from the fire service in Mexico will convene at the 13th Annual NFPA Mexico Fire Expo, the premiere event for fire and life safety in Mexico. The conference is held in conjunction with Expo Seguridad and Expo Seguridad Industrial, and brings together fire professionals, installers, consulting engineers and service providers interested in purchasing and installing fire and life safety products. The goal is to provide stakeholders in Mexico with the necessary educational information, networking opportunities and solutions they need to protect property and manage safe, successful and resilient buildings, campuses, factories and complexes.

The trio of complimentary events attracted nearly 17,500 attendees last year, with more than 5,300 interested in new products and services related to fire protection. The interrelated industry conference has had a history of fostering great synergies and forward-thinking perspective among attendees. More than 400 exhibitors will showcase products, new technologies and services at the conference aimed at keeping people and property safe from fire and related hazards.


For the first time, NFPA code training sessions have been added to the agenda, making it a single, all-encompassing event. Instructors will deliver three days of training before the Expo begins in the late afternoon each day. Training on NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems will focus on locating and applying installation requirements to help ensure the proper functioning of water-based sprinkler systems. Attendees will also learn about NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code so they can navigate, locate and interpret code provisions and apply them in their daily work. They will also learn how to improve the quality of signaling system applications as an integral part of fire protection.

NFPA’s Mexico Fire Expo runs March 14-16 at Citibanmex Center in Mexico City.

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


  • NFPA 70, proposed TIA No. 1262, referencing 220.12 Exception No. 2 of the 2017 edition
    Comment closing date: May 18, 2017 


Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by the May 18, 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.

Back in January the NFPA 1 Second Draft Report was posted online for public review.  This report summarizes the actions of the committee from their Second Draft meeting as well as provides a complete updated draft of the Code showing all of the revisions and responses to public comments.  Internally, we are now processing any NITMAMs (notice of intent to make a motion) that were received for NFPA 1 and a report on those motions that qualify for presentation at the Association Technical Meeting in June will be posted mid-April.


But, why wait any longer to check out some of the new requirements coming to the 2018 edition... 


Chapter 52, formally titled Stationary Storage Battery Systems, is being renamed to Energy Storage Systems and is undergoing a complete reorganization and rewrite for the 2018 edition.  The purpose of this rewrite is to recognize both established battery technologies and new technologies. This rewrite reflects existing and new applications of these energy storage systems.



Newly updated Chapter 52 will be organized into two main sections. Section 52.2 will address stationary storage battery systems having an electrolyte capacity of more than 100 gal (378.5 L) in sprinklered buildings or 50 gal (189.3 L) in unsprinklered buildings for flooded lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, and valve-regulated lead–acid (VRLA) batteries or used for facility standby power, emergency power, or uninterrupted power supplies. Section 52.3 is brand new for the 2018 edition and will address additional battery technologies. Specifically, it will cover energy storage systems having a capacity greater than that indicated in the table below:


More specifically, Section 52.2 will cover the following issues related to lead acid and nickel-cadmium batteries:
  • safety venting
  • thermal runaway
  • location and occupancy separation
  • spill control
  • neutralization
  • ventilation
  • signage
  • seismic protection
  • detection


Section 52.3 will address the following topics for other battery technologies:

  • stationary storage battery systems and capacitor energy storage systems
  • location and occupancy separation
  • outdoor installations
  • means of egress
  • maximum allowable quantities
  • battery arrays
  • hazard mitigation
  • listings
  • suppression and detection
  • ventilation
  • spill control
  • impact protection

The revision to Chapter 52 represents a piece of the effort that NFPA is putting forth to develop resources for its stakeholders related to energy storage systems and newer battery technologies.  The January/February 2016 edition of NFPA Journal contains a headline story highlighting the emerging safety questions facing enforcers and first responders as energy storage systems begin to revolutionize power management.  In addition, as these systems are rapidly becoming a reality across the United States and to help the fire service handle the unique challenges presented by these new technologies, NFPA has developed the Energy Storage System Safety Training CourseNFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems is a new standard being developed to formally address these technologies.  NFPA 1 will evaluate NFPA 855 at their next meeting to check for consistency and/or extract provisions from the standard.


Look for future #FireCodefriday posts about additional new requirements coming to NFPA 1, 2018!


Happy Friday, stay safe!



52.2 and Ta

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has appointed NFPA Responder Forum scholarship candidate, Jonathan Jones, as the state fire marshal. The cabinet-level position comes with regulatory responsibility to ensure compliance with state fire safety regulations. He will take over the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation's division of fire and life safety, and oversee the state's Fire Academy and Emergency Response Task Force.


Jones has been a member of the NFPA Responder Forum since its inception in 2015, and worked closely with NFPA when he was chair of the South Carolina Sprinkler Coalition. A 23-year veteran of the fire service, he became a volunteer firefighter at age 17 (following in his father's footsteps), held part-time firefighter roles during college and most recently held the position of Clarendon County Fire deputy chief. He is a former State Firefighters Association president who was inducted into the organization's Firefighters Hall of Fame. Jones has instructed at the state Fire Academy, served as one of Clarendon County's recruit class instructors, and has played a key role in showing young people the value they can add to the volunteer fire service.


Jones told Manning Live that he enjoys helping people. “The fire service, in a nutshell, is all about people,” he said. “It’s not about you, not about the shiny fire truck. It’s about people. I also enjoy working at the leadership level, because I believe we can inspire others to take these same types of positions in life.” 


Jones has shown his leadership prowess during his two years with the Responder Forum by taking initiative, being a highly engaged participant, and by spearheading the Forum's Umanned Aircraft Systems white paper project in 2015/2016.


Congratulations, Jonathan!

Fire Alarms and At Risk Populations reportTo understand the impact of fire alarm notification signals on individuals with sound and light sensitivities, the Foundation conducted an initial literature review to determine what information could be found on this topic. This literature review discovered that there was very limited information on the topic, and the NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code Technical Committee needed more technical information to develop guidance on how to address this issue. This project gathers additional information on how fire alarm notification signals impact high risk populations by conducting targeted interviews with experts (e.g. teachers, therapists, etc.)


"Fire Alarms and At Risk Populations" authored by Bryan L. Hoskins, Ph.D. and Duane C. Helmberger from Oklahoma State University, can now be downloaded free of charge from the Research Foundation website. 

As I put this blog together I realized that it would be lengthier than I expected. So bear with me for two blogs regarding this issue. Normal operation seems like an easy concept to grasp but the number of questions regarding this issue is astounding.

NFPA 70E® does not define normal operation. Regardless of what you considered to be “normal operation” of your equipment, NFPA 70E has conditions before it is permitted to occur. These are properly installed, properly maintained, closed and secured doors, covers in place and secure, and no sign of impending failure. Normal operation is also a condition addressed in the manufacturer’s operating instructions. What do these mean? (Remember back to one of my first blogs where you are the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for NFPA 70E. It comes into play here.)

Properly installed – Someone will need to determine that the equipment installation meets not only any applicable standard but also any requirements set by the manufacturer. This is not limited to electrical standards since things like improperly installed pressure systems for electrical equipment may affect the electrical safety of that equipment. Often building systems are inspected by an authority outside of the employer/owner. A lot of equipment that falls under NFPA 70E does not have the local electrical inspector verifying that the installation follows any rules. Equipment is installed by an employee or sometimes by an outside contractor. There is no governmental oversight. How do you enforce the National Electrical Code® for equipment installed by an employee? You must make sure that any equipment is properly installed. If not you are potentially putting your employee at risk of an injury if they attempt normal operation of that equipment. This safety issue is not addressing the tasks that require an energized work permit. This covers the person operating a HID breaker to turn the factory lights on each morning, for example.

Properly maintained – Equipment was in a new condition when it was installed and at that time everything is expected to be in order. The fact is that the equipment slowly begins to show signs of wear and tear. Motors, circuit breakers, even transformers are not pieces of equipment that should be left alone. They require maintenance. Most manufacturers will provide recommendations on what is minimally required to maintain their equipment. Some industries provide guidance on maintenance. NFPA® 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance contains a wealth of information on the subject. Proper maintenance is not just the act of fixing, adjusting or filling fluids. There is a time aspect that is just as important. A piece of equipment may only need proper maintenance every year or two in one installation. That same piece of equipment in another installation may require monthly maintenance to be considered properly maintained. You must make sure that any equipment is properly maintained. If not you are potentially putting your employee at risk of an injury if they attempt normal operation of that equipment. This safety issue is not addressing the tasks that require an energized work permit. This covers the person operating a HID breaker to turn the factory lights on each morning, for example.

Closed and secured doors – This one causes a lot of heartburn to some. This takes a little judgement of the operator. Use the knowledge that this is in the section addressing normal operation. A hinged door to get access to a panelboard is meant to be opened for someone to gain access for the normal operation of that HID circuit breaker. That is not the same for an access door that is intended to be closed and secured during operation of a transformer. You must make sure that equipment doors are properly secured. This will require proper training of the person interacting with the equipment. If the inappropriate doors are open, your employee is potentially at risk of an injury if they attempt normal operation of that equipment. This safety issue is not addressing the tasks that require an energized work permit. This covers the person operating a HID breaker to turn the factory lights on each morning, for example.

Next Time: The rest of the things needed before normal operation is consider safe (PART 2).


Missouri Athletic Club and Boatmen's Bank Fire on March 9, 1914

37 people lost their lives in a fire at the Missouri Athletic Club & Boatmen's Bank on March 9, 1914.


At 1:58 AM on March 9, 1914, a night watchman discovered flames and turned in the first alarm at Boatmen's Bank in St. Louis, MO. The rest of the 7 floor building was occupied by the Missouri Athletic Club, which housed guests on the fifth and sixth floors.


From the NFPA Quarterly v.7, no. 4, 1914:


"The guests were first awakened by the ringing of the telephones in their rooms and the cries of fire called by the night clerk. Some of the guests on the fifth and sixth floors, who had apparently found their way to the fire escape cut off, rushed into sleeping rooms on the west side of the building and leaped from the windows to the adjoining four-story building occupied by the St. Louis Seed Company. Many were injured in this manner. A number of bodies were located close to the windows on the third and fourth floors which showed that they had endeavored to reach the fire escape which was located directly in front of the Club windows in the Washington Avenue side.


This fire adds one more to a long list where buildings of this character have burned with fatal results which could, unquestionably, have been prevented if a properly maintained automatic sprinkler system had been installed. The open elevators, poor fire escapes and similar features aided in the spread of flames and failed, as usual in their function of providing a safe means of egress."


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.

A fire at an assisted living facility in the early morning hours of last Friday serves as a stark reminder that we still have work to do. Three occupants died (two initially, and a third in the hospital on Monday), and three were critically injured, when fire struck the Kozy Kottage assisted living facility in West Baltimore, MD. A seventh occupant was rescued and refused treatment. According to media reports, the eight-bed facility was housed in a 2,500 sq-ft house built in 1924 and converted to a board and care occupancy in 2008. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.


It’s too soon to know what caused these fatalities, but one thing is certain: something went wrong. If there are lessons to be learned from this fire, NFPA will do what it can to uncover them to hopefully prevent such occurrences from occurring in the future.


Fire fatalities in board and care facilities are nothing new. The Life Safety Code Handbook provides a summary of multiple-death (defined as three or more deaths) fires in these occupancies dating back to 1990:


Commentary Table 32/33.1 Residential Board and Care Multiple-Death Fires











Bessemer, AL1






Colorado Springs, CO1



Detroit, MI1









Broward County, FL1



Mississauga, Ontario1


















Laurinberg, NC1



Shelby County, TN1



Ste. Genevieve, Quebec1






Harveys Lake, PA1



Arlington, WA1


















Wells, NY



Marina, CA



San Antonio, TX


1NFPA fire investigation report.

Source: NFPA, Fire Incident Data Organization (FIDO).


The list is long and ugly. The 1990s were really bad, with 115 of the 154 deaths reported above. The 2000s significantly improved with 30 fatalities. The 2010s started with 9 deaths through 2013; we’ll be updating the table for the 2018 edition of the Handbook.


Some of the lessons learned from these fires have been incorporated into NFPA 101. For example, when the board and care provisions were written in the 1980s, the requirements for a facility were based on the facility’s evacuation capability, which refers to the occupants’ ability to evacuate, as a group, in the event of a fire. Evacuation capability was classified as prompt, slow, or impractical. As evacuation capability decreased, requirements for life safety features increased – makes sense. The problem with this approach, however, is a facility’s evacuation capability isn’t constant; it’s dynamic, and can change over the life of the building. A facility might have a prompt evacuation capability today, but as the residents age-in-place, it could degrade to slow, or even impractical. A change in evacuation capability can result in needed changes to the building. In many cases, this wasn’t happening. NFPA responded by revising the Code to eliminate the evacuation capability-based criteria for new construction in the 2003 edition. All new board and care facilities are now required to be provided with life safety features that assume the evacuation capability is impractical. The existing board and care provisions have maintained the evacuation capability criteria so as to not unnecessarily put existing facilities out of compliance with the adoption of a new edition. It is critical, however, that existing facilities ensure that the protection in place is appropriate for the evacuation capability of their occupants.


As another example, the Wells, NY deaths in 2009 cited above were caused when a fire started in an attached, screened-in porch, traveled up an exterior wall, and got into the unprotected attic space. The building was protected by a residential sprinkler system, but the attic was unprotected, as permitted by the residential sprinkler installation standards. In response to this fire, additional attic protection requirements were added for the 2012 edition. Options include heat detection in the attic, attic sprinklers, non-combustible or limited-combustible construction, and the use of fire-retardant treated wood.


I will continue to follow the fire in Baltimore and will keep the Technical Committee on Board and Care Facilities apprised of any lessons learned. If there are gaps in the code, I have a responsibility to do whatever I can to get them filled. But it’s important to remember, NFPA staff members are the only people in the world who can’t vote on revisions to our codes and standards. If changes are needed, it’s up to you, NFPA’s stakeholders, to participate in the process.


Thanks for reading. 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.”


Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

NFPA 80, fire doors, swinging fire doors, quiz

How much do you know about the inspection, testing and maintenance requirements for swinging fire doors?


Take our quick quiz and test your knowledge of the use of NFPA 80: Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. The quiz is based on the 2016 edition of NFPA 80.

Organizers of a new NFPA pitch event highlighting smart technology solutions for first responders were among the speakers at a Washington, DC innovation showcase last week that was reported on in a Forbes article.

Since October, NFPA has been engaged in ongoing dialogue with entrepreneurs looking to support the needs of the fire service via the EMERGE Accelerator Program, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The wearable technology start-up program is in its second year and is supported by the DHS Science and Technology division, the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), a Virginia non-profit driver of innovation and start up development; TechNexus, a collaborative that works with the corporate and global entrepreneurial ecosystem; and the U.S. Department of Energy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory whose interests lie in energy, the environment and national security issues. NFPA offers the program and the start-ups insight on the fire service; access to first responders; and knowledge about codes, standards, research and data.

During the annual NFPA Conference & Expo (C&E) at the Boston Convention and Exposition Center, NFPA will host a special first responder event-within-an-event. The June 6th program will include guest speakers, firefighter health and wellness sessions, fire-related educational content, admission to the Expo, an opportunity to weigh in on new technology that will help first responders do their job, and a networking reception. Each year, nearly 8,000 people attend the general session, educational sessions and Expo at C&E, representing a variety of disciplines including the fire service, engineering, manufacturing, the electrical industry, standards organizations, public education, and the enforcement community.

During the tech challenge, new ventures will introduce their products to a roomful of key stakeholders via 2-3 minute "product pitches". The audience will vote for their favorite option via real-time text messaging. A reception will follow, allowing members of the fire service to see the products up close and talk with the inventors about real-world application.


In addition to serving the first responder community, some of the innovative solutions may also work for more lucrative markets like the defense industry, energy sector, utility companies and transportation resources.

The 10 startups in this year's EMERGE program include:

Augmate - a management platform for wearable devices that helps IT departments track users and their devices, collect sensor data, communicate with workers, and control approved applications and situational connectivity.
CommandWear Systems - integrating location and biometrics data from devices to provide personnel tracking, two-way text communication and video sharing to facilitate planning, mission execution, and review operations among teams.
HAAS Alert - a mobile vehicle-to-vehicle communication platform that uses acoustic sensors to pick up environmental and situational noise, and location data to connect people, vehicles, and things in cities, streamlining the disaster and emergency notification process to keep communities safe.
Human Systems Integration - a system that includes remote physiological monitoring, providing a plug and play wearable situational awareness and communications platform.
Lumenus - smart clothing that uses LED lighting and connectivity to improve visibility of consumers and industrial workers.
LuminAID - Durable, low cost, and low profile inflatable solar lamps that can be stored efficiently and easily deployed.
Pear Sports - a coaching and training application that uses biometric signals like heart rate, VO2 max, location, and environmental data to build training programs that improve the long-term health of users.
Six15 Technologies - rugged wearable devices for military and industrial use that stream video and display data using augmented reality overlays for better situational awareness.
Vault RMS - a digital tool that leverages biometric and situational data from wearable devices and other inputs to build a long-term health profile of workers exposed to health-compromising environments, driving improvements in health, safety, and overall worker productivity.
Visual Semantics - software that integrates with cloud-enabled wearable cameras and heads-up displays to provide real-time facial recognition and alerts to help first responders more intelligently assess and react to situations in the field.

Look for more details about this special one-day program for the fire services, including new tech challenge profiles in the months to come via blog and coverage in NFPA Journal.

The following three proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code, and NFPA 654, Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids, are being published for public review and comment:


  • NFPA 70E, proposed TIA No. 1253R, referencing Annex H.2 of the proposed 2018 edition
    Comment closing date: April 13, 2017 
    Please note:  The text proposed by TIA No. 1253 inadvertently did not show the complete revisions intended by the submitter as originally published.  Please review the corrected TIA (No. 1253R) text being balloted by the Technical Committee.
  • NFPA 99, proposed TIA No. 1252, referencing and of the 2015 and proposed 2018 editions
    Comment closing date: May 18, 2017
  • NFPA 654, proposed TIA No. 1259, referencing of the 2017 edition
    Comment closing date: April 13, 2017


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

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


NFPA_news.jpgIn this issue:

  • Comments sought on Proposed Tentative Interim Amendments to NFPA 70E and NFPA 654
  • Court ruling supports development of public health and safety standards
  • Errata issued on NFPA 13
  • Quick guide to NFPA 101/NFPA 5000 occupancy types
  • News in brief
  • Committees seeking public input
  • Committee meetings calendar
  • Committees seeking members  


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.

Don't forget to register by March 31st to experience the Safety Revolution in Boston, June 4-7th. 

We have teamed up with Domino's Pizza yet again to deliver a special message to customers this daylight saving time: remember to change your smoke alarm batteries when you change your clocks. Daylight saving time is a great time to remember to change your smoke alarm batteries after you set your clocks ahead. This small step is an easy one and it can help save lives.



Having working smoke alarms reduces the risk of dying in a fire in half. On average, three out of every five home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38 percent) or no working smoke alarms (21 percent).


Stay safe with these additional safety tips:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
    Test smoke alarms once a month by pushing the test button.
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • For smoke alarms that don't have non-replaceable (long-life) batteries, replace the batteries at least once a year. If the alarm chirps, replace only the battery.
  • Be sure the smoke alarm includes the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Develop and practice a home escape plan with all members of the household.

The opening images of a new video by STAT—a Boston Globe-run news organization that focuses on science and medicine—are striking, to say the least: a shirtless man whose right arm is partially covered in scales, as if he’s slowly morphing into a human-reptile hybrid.


The man is Josué Bezerra Jr., an electrical supervisor who recently suffered burns on the job. Bezerra is one of a handful of burn survivors to take part in a Brazilian study in which participants’ wounds are wrapped in strips of sterilized skin from tilapia fish. The skin, encrusted by a mélange of shimmering scales, adheres to the wound and forms a protective barrier, keeping contamination out and locking in moisture and proteins needed for healing, according to a doctor interviewed by STAT. The innovative procedure has the potential to revolutionize burn treatment in countries where donated human skin is not available.


While studies like the one in Brazil are important and fascinating, the fact remains that no burn treatment will be as effective as never having been burned in the first place. Even in medically advanced countries, burn injuries are often devastating—even life-changing—which is why home fire sprinklers are so important. To learn more about the need for home fire sprinklers and to watch moving videos from fire service members and burn survivors about how burns affected their lives, visit the Faces of Fire page, a campaign of NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative.


Next week GT Research and the Solar Energy Industry will release their U.S. Solar Market Insight report indicating that the U.S. solar market experienced its biggest year with a 95 percent increase in megawatts installed, year over year. Solar was the No. 1 source of new electricity in 2016, accounting for 39 percent of the new additions.


The exponential growth of photovoltaics (PV) is not without concern, particularly as it relates to fires and firefighter safety. Upon arrival at a fire incident, the fire department typically cuts power to a building. Solar panels are required to feature shut-offs but in an emergency situation, it may not always be possible for firefighters to hit the switch. And of course, there is a good chance, day or night, that the units will still be energized. The constant state of electricity leaves firefighters at risk for electrocution. The weight of solar panels on a roof that needs to be vented is also a big concern. Fire departments usually attack fire from inside, but if they cannot vertically vent the roof above a fire due to solar panel placement, they will have to revisit their tactics and tackle it from the outside. If they attempt to fight the fire on the roof, they contend with the possibility of tripping over panels, or a roof collapse. NFPA Journal® covered these concerns and more in the article, Perfect Storm.


Last month, the Madison, Illinois Fire Department installed 236 solar panels at their station. They received nearly $270,000 in grant money to save money on their electrical bill. Additionally, the PV installation provides a great opportunity for local fire officials to deliver hands-on first responder training to Madison firefighters and other departments in the region. The station utilized several different solar panel types so that firefighters could get a broad understanding of products and hazards. 


NFPA has great PV resources. Visit the PV systems landing page to learn more about the five NFPA codes that reference photovoltaics, research reports, articles, podcasts, international efforts, and other tools in one convenient location.

Picture courtesy of The Oregonian


A portable space heater being used as a replacement for a malfunctioning fireplace is responsible for the fire that killed six, including five children, in Riddle, Oregon. According to news reports, combustible materials were placed too close to the heater that started the fire. One survivor suffered burns to his body.


This tragedy is an unfortunate reminder that space heaters have the potential to be very dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken. Last month, NBC’s Today Show featured a report on just how fast-moving and devastating space heater fires can be.


According to an NFPA research report on home fires involving heating equipment, space heaters are involved in two of every five fires started by home heating equipment. Moreover, they are by far the most dangerous and destructive types of fire, accounting for 84% of civilian deaths, 75% of civilian injuries, and 52% of direct property damage.


NFPA developed a safety tip sheet to help make sure users take the appropriate precautions when using space heaters. To find out more about the causes of home fires, visit NFPA’s report on residential home fires

I don't find March too appealing. It's a long, cold month. Today it has barely reached 32 degrees with a balmy windchill of 22 degrees here in Quincy, MA.  Last week us New Englanders were soaking up the sun and near record heat.  How quickly things change up here! Good thing spring is on its way.  What better time to conduct maintenance on fire protection systems or check compliance with Fire Code requirements. 


Today's focus is provisions for portable fire extinguishers.  One of the more common questions I get about fire extinguishers is "where are they required?"  Section 13.6 of NFPA 1, Fire Code, addresses the provisions for portable fire extinguishers.  Most of the requirements are extracted from NFPA's source document for this equipment which is NFPA 10.  The provisions for selection, installation, inspection, maintenance, recharging and testing of portable fire extinguishers all resides in NFPA 10 and is extracted info the Fire Code.



However, within the section extracted from NFPA 10 is Section which determines first where fire extinguishers are required, and is governed by NFPA 1:* Where Required. Fire extinguishers shall be provided where required by this Code as specified in Table
and the referenced codes and standards listed in Chapter 2.



Portable fire extinguishers are required by the Code to be installed in the occupancies specified by Table  The Code requires portable fire extinguishers in buildings of every occupancy classification other than one- and two-family dwellings, whereas NFPA 101 requires portable fire extinguishers in far fewer occupancies. The different requirements of NFPA 1 and NFPA 101 are sometimes, incorrectly, perceived as a conflict, but they are not. The scope of NFPA 1 includes occupant safety, emergency responder safety, and property protection; the scope of NFPA 101 is limited to occupant life safety. The broader scope of NFPA 1 warrants different protection requirements — in this case, more stringent requirements than those of NFPA 101 for the installation of portable fire extinguishers. By meeting the more stringent requirements for portable fire extinguishers of NFPA 1, the requirements of NFPA 101 are also met. A conflict would exist only if one code required portable fire extinguishers and another code prohibited them.


Do you require portable fire extinguishers in your facility? What common issues have you seen with the portable fire extinguishers?  Training?  Inspection?  Recharging?


Thanks for reading.  Happy Friday!


Download our free fire extinguisher resource to see which occupancies require extinguishers and where they should be placed within them.

A Michigan man was awarded $5 million after suffering burns to half his body in a food truck flash fire. Gary Leonard sued his sister and her companies. He was helping his sister prepare her food truck for a festival in 2013 when his lighter lit gas escaping from an unmarked valve, and caused an explosion. The injuries left Leonard hospitalized for three months in an induced coma, with many lingering health problems.


This incident, along with one in Philadelphia in 2014 that resulted in the death of a mother and her child, prompted Grand Rapids attorney Paul Janes to call for the need for food truck safety inspections.


In recent years, the safety issues associated with food trucks have been championed by NFPA and other safety-conscious authorities across the country. Following the tragic incident in Philadelphia, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) put together a proposal for a new chapter of NFPA 96, the Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations for the ventilation and fire protection controls in these types of operations. The IFMA proposal was highlighted in the NFPA Journal article “All Up in Our Grill”. NFPA 58, LP-Gas Code (propane), addresses safety as it relates to LP-Gas in these types of installations. Additionally, NFPA 1, Fire Code, includes new language regarding mobile and temporary cooking operations.


To spread awareness about related protocols and hazards, NFPA has created a food truck public education page with links to codes, a tip sheet and other relevant resources.  


Got Propane?

Posted by dbaio Employee Mar 2, 2017

Happy March! Unfortunately, winter isn’t over yet…we still have cold weather and the potential for more snow & ice ahead. To heat our homes and offices, propane is a popular and clean fuel to use. However, propane also has some inherently hazardous properties. Did you know that propane is heavier than air? And, it is highly flammable? When propane leaks, it pools on the floor and looks for an ignition sources…a pilot light, an electrical outlet etc.


An odorizer (ethyl mercaptan) is added to propane so that people can smell the gas and detect a leak. Instead of trusting our noses, inexpensive fixed gas detectors are available at the local stores for use 24 hours/7 days/week. It is a much better alternative to our nose! Another suggestion is to regularly inspect your fuel lines. The accumulation of snow and ice can also compromise external fuel lines so it is just one more things to be aware of. Enjoy the rest of winter and stay warm & safe!


For more information on propane, visit Please reference NFPA 54 National Fuel Gas Code or NFPA 58 Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code


Today marks the 360th anniversary of one of the deadliest fires in history. On March 2, 1657, a fire began in Edo, Japan—what is now Tokyo—that would destroy almost two-thirds of the city and kill thousands. Death toll estimates range from 30,000 to 200,000, but tend to hover around 100,000.


Details on the Great Fire of Meireki, as it’s known, are scarce. But according to at least one source, a book on the history of tuberculosis in Japan, it began after a Buddhist priest set fire to a kimono whose three previous owners died after showing signs of tuberculosis. (TB is an unlikely cause of these deaths, if they happened at all, since clothing doesn’t carry the disease, according to the CDC.)


The fire then spread rapidly through the city, which housed structures made of wood and paper that were “bone-dry” at the time because of a drought, according to a book on disaster education and management. The fire reportedly smoldered for three days, and in its aftermath, the Japanese military government of the time, the shogunate, implemented new safety measures to thwart future catastrophic fires, such as building wider roads and embankments to act as firebreaks and relocating temples and other important buildings to the outskirts of the city.

Mice caused this firePictured: The point of origin of a fire that occurred in 1923, in a tenant manufacturing building in Everett, MA.


From the NFPA Quarterly v.17, no. 1, 1923:

"The fire started inside of a hollow wooden partition on the fifth floor. The photograph shows one side of the partition removed. Traces of mice nests and refuse brought in by mice were clearly visible after the fire. The building [was] known to be infested with mice as other hollow partitions removed after the fire disclosed mice nests similar to the one which caused the fire... Three sprinkler heads operated and extinguished the fire shortly after it broke through the partition."


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.

You’ll sometimes hear users of the Life Safety Code refer to hazardous areas, protection from hazards, special hazards, and other variations on the same theme. So what exactly is a hazardous area and what sort of protection does it need? The answer, as in the majority of cases when we’re talking about codes, is: “It depends.” Remember that NFPA 101 predicates its requirements on the risk to a building’s occupants, which varies depending on occupant characteristics. Workers in an office building have different characteristics with regard to life safety than, say, patients in a hospital. Because occupant risks vary from occupancy to occupancy, so do hazardous area protection requirements.


In general, any area having a degree of fire hazard greater than that normally associated with the general occupancy is considered a hazardous area, as described in Section 8.7 of the 2015 edition of NFPA 101. You don’t necessarily need a room full of flammable liquids to be considered a hazardous area. In fact, in many cases, a storage room with ordinary combustibles is considered a hazardous area due to the concentrated fuel load. The occupancy chapters list specific areas that must be protected as hazardous areas. In all cases, the AHJ can also judge an area to be hazardous and mandate the requisite protection. Where an area is deemed to hazardous, it can be protected by one of three means:

  1. Separation from the remainder of the building by 1-hour fire barriers
  2. Installation of automatic sprinklers and separation by smoke partitions (some existing occupancies exempt the smoke partitions)
  3. A combination of fire barriers and sprinklers where the hazard is deemed to be severe

The occupancy-specific hazardous area protection requirements are usually in the X.3.2 subsection of the applicable occupancy chapter, where X is the chapter number. If we want to determine the protection requirements for a storage room in a new business occupancy, we would go to 38.3.2 and see the following:* General. Hazardous areas including, but not limited

to, areas used for general storage, boiler or furnace rooms,

and maintenance shops that include woodworking and painting

areas shall be protected in accordance with Section 8.7.


Based on the usual life safety characteristics of business occupants, a storage room can be protected by any of the means described in Section 8.7. This gives the designer the choice of providing a 1-hour separation, or providing automatic sprinklers with a smoke partition separation. Either method will provide the necessary protection.

On the other hand, if we wanted to know the protection requirements for a storage room in a new hospital, we would go to 18.3.2 and find the following: The following areas shall be considered hazardous

areas and shall be protected by fire barriers having a minimum

1-hour fire resistance rating in accordance with Section 8.3:

(1) Boiler and fuel-fired heater rooms

(2) Central/bulk laundries larger than 100 ft2 (9.3 m2)

(3) Paint shops employing hazardous substances and materials

in quantities less than those that would be classified as

a severe hazard

(4) Physical plant maintenance shops

(5) Rooms with soiled linen in volume exceeding 64 gal (242 L)

(6) Rooms with collected trash in volume exceeding 64 gal

(242 L)

(7) Storage rooms larger than 100 ft2 (9.3 m2) and storing

combustible material


If the storage room is larger than 10 ft X 10 ft and contains combustibles, it needs to be separated from the remainder of the hospital by 1-hr fire barriers; and, by the way, it will also require automatic sprinklers because all new health care occupancies must be fully sprinklered. The requirement for 1-hour separation and sprinklers implies that storage of combustibles in a hospital poses a severe hazard to the occupants due to their inability to self-evacuate in the event of a fire.


High-hazard contents are those materials in a building that are subject to very rapid fire development or pose an explosion hazard. Protection of high-hazard contents usually involves reviewing the code or standard that applies to the specific hazard (e.g., NFPA 30 for the protection of flammable and combustible liquids).


It’s important to note that NFPA 101 currently only considers fire hazard; other hazards, such as health and physical hazards (e.g., corrosives and radiological hazards) are not addressed by the Code. The upcoming 2018 edition of NFPA 101 will start to introduce broader hazardous material protection requirements – stay tuned.


In summary, to determine whether an area is a hazardous area requiring any special protection, the occupancy classification must be known, and the appropriate occupancy-specific requirements must be reviewed. If there’s ever a question, the general provisions in Section 8.7 always apply such that if the AHJ believes an area is a hazardous area, it’s a hazardous area. Where separation by fire barriers or smoke partitions are required, the doors have to meet the applicable requirements, and always need to be self-closing – no wooden wedges!


Be sure to protect those hazardous areas. If you do, you’ll – 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.”


Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

More and more U.S. municipal fire departments are being called upon to respond to wildfire incidents. Is your fire department one of them? Do they have the capability to handle these unusually challenging events?


This question was the focus of a recent webinar hosted by NFPA’s Hylton Haynes, a senior research analyst and Tom McGowan, senior fire service specialist. The two discussed the findings from NFPA’s 2015 Fourth Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service survey that address wildfire preparedness in local fire departments. Progress has definitely been made in the area, but the data also tells us there's a lot more work that still has to be done. The webinar takes a look at the following areas of need including:


• Personnel and capabilities
• Training
• Health and wellness
• Personal protective clothing
• The use of auxiliary (support) roles when responding to wildfire events
• Community risk reduction


If you weren't able to join us for the webinar back on February 22nd, we invite you to take advantage of the video here on Xchange. See how your answers compare to those who completed the survey and learn what challenges fire departments across the U.S., like yours, face when it comes to wildfire mitigation, safety and response.


The following is a video preview:



You can watch the full video for free if you are logged into Xchange.

If you haven’t registered for Xchange yet, it’s really easy to do. Just look for the login link above to login or register for your free account. 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!

I have a masters degree in fire protection engineering. Why I keep setting off my smoke detectors when I start a fire in my wood stove?

(Note: Yes, there is a difference between smoke alarms and smoke detectors. I recently upgraded to a monitored smoke detection system because it helps me feel better when my dogs are home alone.)

Well it's mostly because I'm cheap. My husband and I love finding new ways to save money and installing a wood burning stove a few years ago was one of our best investments. My husband/lumberjack mostly gets wood for free and splits it himself. We were saving a ton...until lately. With the recent addition of twin toddlers in my household, I've found it less appealing to lug firewood through the house and open up a burning stove adjacent to the living room their playroom. Here is some data to prove my laziness during the last few years (yes, I track this stuff-nerd alert!) :

Luckily oil prices went down, so the spending hasn't been too horrible.

(ok enough graphs)


Anyway, I'm working from home today with the kids in daycare. It was a perfect morning to fire up the wood stove. I built my top-down fire and then filled my house with smoke. Luckily I was paying close attention, but if not, my smoke detection system would have made sure I was notified. Why did this happen? The stack effect.


It was around 37 degrees outside this morning and 68 degrees inside my house. The cold air inside of the chimney is denser (closely spaced molecules, less energy) than the air inside my house (more energy, more movement, wider spaced molecules). When I opened the wood stove door, the heavy cold air moved down the chimney into my living room, creating a downward draft (like when you open the freezer and the cold air drops to the floor). When I lit the fire in the wood stove, the rising heat and smoke were not enough to reverse the direction of the draft, causing the smoke to spill out of the stove and into my living room- setting off the smoke detectors. In more scientific terms, the pressure difference between my living room and chimney caused a stack effect. I did the math and found there was only a pressure difference of 0.003 in. W.G. Not much, but enough to cause a problem this morning.


The stack effect can have much bigger implications in tall buildings- especially ones in climates with extreme temperatures. If a 100 ft tall building in Texas is conditioned to 70 degrees but it's 100 degrees outside, there can be a reverse stack effect of negative 0.01 in. W.G  which can cause the smoke from a fire to push downward instead of rising up, which is why smoke control and venting systems are so important in tall buildings.


So the lesson I've learned had to learn a few times... is to let the wood stove draft for a few minutes before starting a fire and burn a few pieces of newspaper to help warm up the chimney.


Want to learn more? Check out NFPA's resources on:

Wood Stove/Fireplace Tip Sheet

Fire Alarm Tip Sheet

Smoke Control Systems

The issue of firefighter cancer has been widely covered in recent years, and rightly so. One department in particular, Boston Fire (BFD), has proactively and creatively advocated for firefighter health and wellness, as well as public education about firefighter exposure. Their powerful videos chronicling firefighter deaths from cancer within their department and promoting firefighter cancer prevention strategies have received tens-of-thousands of views and fostered meaningful conversation across the nation.


BFD has once again found a way to explore and expound to the masses about the toxins that firefighters encounter as part of their occupation. Working with the Center for Community Based Research in the Division of Population Sciences at Dana-Farber and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, BFD and Boston Firefighters’ Union Local 718 are assessing the impact that daily routines have on firefighter health. In particular, scientists are looking at how firefighters are affected by diesel exhaust fumes that permeate the fire station. Researchers are taking into account Boston’s historic building design, as well as a new firehouse in neighboring Arlington that will serve as a control site for the study. The project will also look at firefighter behaviors including 24-hour shifts, sleeping patterns and eating habits.

NFPA and Technical Committees responsible for vetting occupational exposure codes are aware of the hazards that lurk in firehouses, apparatus and PPE; and are considering chronic, low risk contamination during the standards process. Additionally, the Fire Protection Research Foundation is currently working with F.I.E.R.O. and other partners on a Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control project that is focused on the entire spectrum of contamination control for all firefighter activities, including before, during and after a fire or hazardous event. The one-year research effort is being funded through an AFG Fire Prevention & Safety Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency; and will be completed in September of this year.

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