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ABC News


BMW car owners are a little on edge these days with news outlets across the country reporting that the popular German cars are bursting into flames while parked, in some cases, for days. The resulting damage has been extensive, especially when the vehicles were parked in attached garages or close to residences.


ABC News’ investigative team unearthed more than 40 such BMW fires .Their investigation focused on 17 BMW vehicle fire cases, spanned five years, referenced different models and factored in information found at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Carfax, an online vehicle history site. If there was an open recall for a fire-related issue, the incident was eliminated from the list.


NFPA has fielded inquiries this week about BMW fire incidents and taken requests for relevant research or data about the car brand. NFPA does not have specific information on BMW fires, but estimates of highway vehicle fires, including cars and trucks, are included in the U.S. Fire Loss Report.


This is not the first time that concern has been raised about vehicle fires starting after the vehicle has been shut off. NHTSA has received several complaints about other brands catching fire while parked. A 2012 article by the Center for Auto Safety describes Ford cruise control deactivation switch recalls and history.

NHTSA can order recalls after completing an investigation. To open an investigation, they need specific information. If you have had a similar incident, or if your car or truck has a safety defect, you can report it at You will be asked to provide your VIN, vehicle make and model, and any documentation you can share, such as a police report. If you have concerns about any type of vehicle, you can search that site for recalls, investigations or complaints.

Safety in our school laboratories should be a top priority to protect our children. Yesterday, a common school experiment using chemicals and fire to create a rainbow of colors has gone wrong…once again…resulting in the injury of 12 Texas preschoolers.


Dangers in the school lab prompted the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) to produce a 2013 safety video entitled “After the Rainbow”, focused on potential dangers in high school laboratories. Subsequently, in January 2014, the American Chemical Society issued a safety alert on the "rainbow" demonstration.


NFPA Codes and Standards address this topic as well. NFPA 45 is a Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals, 2015 edition. Chapter 12 addresses Educational and Instructional Laboratory Operations with general requirements including a documented hazard risk assessment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and a safety barrier. Section 12.3.2 specifically addresses standards for the performance of experiments or demonstrations. Laboratories can be an educational environment for our children, but it needs to be done safely.


Teachers have an obligation and responsibility to teach and perform safe laboratory practices. The NFPA addressed this issue in the NFPA Journal article Unsafe Science. The safety habits that children develop in school laboratories will last them their entire life…to the rainbow’s end.

Have you ever had a sunburn? Is a bad sunburn really that bad? The answer to that question will depend on who you ask. If you ask a person not likely to be exposed to the possibility of the burn, they probably will say no. If you ask a person who has been burned, they will probably say yes. The following assumes that you have read each of my posts about the authority having jurisdiction, consensus standards, risks to workers, and workers having some say regarding their safety.

The minimum standard is that should an arc flash occur while you are performing a task on justified energized electrical equipment that you be able to survive without permanent physical damage. Think about this. For anything other than an electrically safe work condition (which your employer has determined not appropriate for the task assigned to you), the standard does not prevent injury to you. While compliant and properly rated PPE increases the possibility that you emerge from an incident unscathed, you are not guaranteed to be uninjured. The severity of the burn injury permitted by the standard is limited by the 1.2 cal/cm2 incident energy. Why is 1.2 cal/cm2 used? Testing determined that this is the level where exposed skin can suffer a second-degree burn.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a second-degree burn as: a burn marked by pain, blistering, and superficial destruction of dermis with edema and hyperemia of the tissues beneath the burn. This type of burn results in red, white, or splotchy skin, swelling, and blisters. A second-degree burn penetrates the second layer of skin. When the first layer is destroyed, it separates from the second layer. The raw nerves in the second skin layer make this burn painful. If a second-degree burn is larger than 3 inches in diameter or is on the hands, feet, face, groin, buttocks, or a major joint, the Mayo Clinic suggests treating it as a major burn and getting immediate medical help.

Those of you who think that arc-flash PPE will prevent an injury are wrong. Testing determines the incident energy level at which the PPE has a 50% probability of successfully preventing an injury. Half of the time there is a possibility of a second-degree burn if the rating is based on the arc thermal performance value (ATPV) and the incident energy exposure does not exceed that rating. Remember back to my post on consensus standards. It discussed how you determined the incident energy level and whether PPE rated for that exact level was a best practice. The arc-rated PPE that you are wearing has an increased probability of success if subjected to an incident energy lower than its rating. This also ties into my last blog on compliant PPE because if your employer has provided you with substandard equipment, the severity of your injury will most likely be greatly increased.

Another side point to this discussion is that the working distance for equipment is generally stated as 18 or 36 inches. If the incident energy is calculated to be below 1.2 cal/cm2 at this distance, how much closer to the origin of an arc-flash are your hands, arms or head when you perform the energized task? Those body parts could suffer worse than a second-degree burn if not protected.

Compliant and properly rated PPE should limit your injury to a second-degree burn when a higher incident energy is present during an incident. The minimum requirements of the consensus standard use 1.2 cal/cm2 because there is a probability that you will not suffer a permanent physical injury. The standard has no requirement to provide you with arc-flash protection below 1.2 cal/cm2. Only you and your employer can decide if a second-degree burn is acceptable.

For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange.


Next Time: Working below 1.2 cal/cm2

In 1929, a float designed and built by William Aitken, a firefighter attached to Engine Co. No. 2 of the Newark, New Jersey Fire Department, depicting the slogan "Prevent Fire" won eight baby parade prizes within three months in eight different New Jersey municipalities.


A Prize Winning Float

"Firefighters" Billy Aitken, James McNichols and Edward O'Brien operate a prize winning float.


From the NFPA Quarterly v.23, no. 2, 1929:


"Mr. Aitken's son, Billy, five years old, by right of heritage, does the rescue act on the float. His career started in June [1929] when Mr. Aitken entered the float in the Orange baby parade. The float is designed like a house, with fire coming out of the roof. There's a girl in the picture too. She is a beautiful doll-baby calling for help from an upstairs window. The gallant fireman rushes up a ladder to rescue, puts out the fire and saves the child.


On the float stand a small fire engine, hose cart and chief's car. A hose is attached to a fire hydrant and the nozzle is held by the fireman on the ladder. Billy's two cousins, James McNichols and Edward O'Brien, both of Orange, attired in regulation fire costume, pull the float. A bell and siren ring continuously."


For more information regarding this or other moments in fire history, 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.


Non-fire electrical incidents

Posted by bprince Employee May 18, 2017

May is Electrical Safety Month and what better way to raise awareness of potential electrical hazards and the importance of electrical safety than with NFPA's new Non-Fire Electrical Incidents Report? This report states that local fire departments respond to an estimated 385,700 non-fire electrical incidents each year. These incidents can involve downed power lines, electrical failures, electrical rescue, and electrocution or potential electrocution. It is also stated that according to our 2017 Electrical Fires report, some type of electrical failure or malfunction caused an estimated average of 61,300 structure fires, 430 civilian deaths, 1,600 civilian injuries, and $2 billion in direct property damage each year. Preventing electrical failures can prevent most of these fires!


Did you know?

Nearly half (47%) of local fire department responses to electrocutions or potential electrocutions occurred in residential properties.


Click here to view the report!

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