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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.

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