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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 nfpa.org/cfaitms.

 

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!

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