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2017

The Marine Chemist Qualification Board (MCQB) is appointed by the Board of Directors of the National Fire Protection Association.  They are the group that approves the Marine Chemist's Recertification, the Registration to become a Marine Chemist Trainee and the Initial Certification of a Marine Chemist Trainee as well as address occurrences and Rules changes.

It's not easy to become a certificated Marine Chemist.  The interested candidate must first apply to the NFPA Marine Field Service Department to become registered as a Marine Chemist Trainee.  They must pay a fee to the contract manager Marine Gas Hazards Control Program (MGHCP) and sign a Declaration complying with the Marine Chemist Rules.  Once approved by the Marine Chemist Qualification Board (MCQB) members the applicant is required to:

  • Have earned a Bachelor's Degree and complete at least six (6) months of supervised training by three (3) Marine Chemists who have been certified as a Marine Chemist for at least two (2) years.
  • Have completed and passed eighteen (18) training modules and exams.
  • Have completed three hundred (300) hours of supervised training aboard a variety of types of both ocean-going and inland vessels.
  • Have completed at least three (3) years employment experience in the analysis of physical samples in a lab or similar work environment accepted by the MCQB members.

Once all of the above requirements have been met, the Marine Chemist Trainee may apply for Initial Certification to be interviewed and approved by the MCQB members. Upon final approval by ballot from the MCQB members, the Initial Certification candidate is then issued a Marine Chemist's certificate as required by the Standard for the Control of Gas Hazards on Vessels, (NFPA 306).

The Marine Chemist Qualification Board meets three times a year at various locations – most recently at our NFPA headquarters where I was finally able to meet them in person.

Hello – Happy Friday!  Today’s post comes to you from Brian O'Connor, Fire Protection Engineer in the Fire Protection Systems Department, at NFPA.  Special thanks to Brian for his contribution to this blog while I am out on maternity leave, and discussing one of the many important subjects addressed in the Fire Code.

 

Looking for information on what occupancies require fire extinguishers?  Check out this post first!

 

Brian O’Connor here to help continue the legacy of NFPA’s #FireCodefridays. I am the Staff Liaison for NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, and today I will be talking about some of the location and placement requirements for portable fire extinguishers.

 

In NFPA 1, portable fire extinguisher requirements are located in section 13.6 under chapter 13, Fire Protection Systems.

 

 

Location and Placement:

The first step in figuring out where to place your fire extinguisher is to size up your building and see what types of hazards are around. If you have a kitchen area then a class K rated fire extinguisher should be nearby, for flammable liquids a class B rated extinguisher, if there is potential for energized electrical equipment to be involved one would use a class C rated extinguisher, etc.

 

Common sense and NFPA 10 say that the fire extinguisher should be located where they are readily accessible and available in the event of a fire. These are typically located along normal paths of travel so that you can grab one with ease in the event of a fire.

 

Fire extinguishers should be visible, but if visual obstructions cannot be avoided then arrows, lights or signs to help indicate where a fire extinguisher is located. This cuts down on response time and could play a critical role in getting the fire under control or extinguished.

 

When looking at how to place your extinguisher in the location that you have decided, one thing to consider is the elevation. The bottom of the extinguisher needs to be at least 4in off the ground and the top not more than 5ft from the ground, unless it is heavier than 40lbs. In the case where it is heavier than 40lbs, the top of the extinguisher cannot be more than 3.5ft above the floor. This includes extinguishers in cabinets but does not include wheeled extinguishers.

 

One question that I often get is about fire extinguishers that are subject to malicious use. In these situations cabinets are allowed to be locked but there still needs to be a means of emergency access. This is done through several ways, the most common being breakable glass doors on the front with a small mallet attached.

 

The above requirements apply to all portable fire extinguishers but there are different location requirements for extinguishers for different class fire hazards.

 

Class A,

Required anywhere ordinary combustibles are present. The minimum number of fire extinguishers you need per floor is outlined in table 13.6.3.2.1.1. To find this number one would take the total floor area and divide it by the maximum floor area to be protected per extinguisher. For example, if there is a 67,000 ft2 light hazard area, take this and divide it by the maximum floor area for an extinguisher (11,250ft2) then one would find that a minimum of 6 fire extinguishers with at least a 4A rating (3,000ft2 * 4 = 12,000ft2) is required. 2A rated portable fire extinguishers are permitted as well but then the requirement of having a maximum floor area per unit of “A rating” decreases the maximum floor area per extinguisher from 11,250ft2 to 6000ft2 (3,000ft2 * 2 = 6,000ft2). In this case one would need a minimum of 12 fire extinguishers to cover an area of 67,000ft2 (67,000ft2/6,000ft2 = 11.2).  In addition to the requirements in table 13.6.3.2.1.1, fire extinguishers for class A hazards must be locates as to not exceed a 75ft travel distance.

 

Class B

Required where there is a potential for flammable liquids fires. Table 13.6.3.3.1.1 is a more straightforward table that lays out the maximum travel distance to extinguishers based on the type of hazard (low, moderate or high) and the extinguisher rating. Travel distance to extinguisher can’t be more than 30ft or 50ft depending on the extinguisher rating and type of hazard.

 

Class C

Required where energized electrical equipment can be encountered. An extinguisher is rated Class C in addition to a Class A or B, so you would follow the distance requirements for either the Class A or Class B hazards.

 

Class D

Required in areas where there is a potential for fires involving combustible metals. Class D rated portable fire extinguishers should not be placed more than 75ft of travel distance from the hazard.

 

Class K

Required where there is a potential for fires involving combustible cooking media (vegetable or animal oils and fats). They should not be located further than 30ft from hazard.

 

I hope this sheds some light on the location and placement of fire extinguishers. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to post a message below!

 

Thanks, Brian!  And thanks for reading! Happy Friday, stay safe.

Columbus Workshop - Campaign for Fire Service Contamination

This past week in Columbus, OH a milestone workshop was held that is destined to have long-term influence on the fire service of today and tomorrow. This was the Workshop for the “Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control”, which is a one year research project administered by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. The workshop also included additional focus on two other related Foundation research projects: “Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study” and “PPE Cleaning Validation”.  

 

Why is this a big deal? Within the fire service, not using SCBA and wearing soiled PPE have long been considered badges of toughness and bravery. But for a growing number of fire service members, this perception has been deadly. Fire fighters who for years didn’t regularly wear SCBA or clean their personal protective equipment (PPE) after returning from fire fighting incidents have developed various forms of cancer and other long-term illnesses. This includes young fire fighters with far fewer years of contaminant exposure, as well as perceived clustering of rare forms of cancer.
 
The Columbus Workshop brought together approximately 60 people from diverse stakeholder groups. There were representatives from all parts of the fire service, researchers, regulators, health and safety officers, Independent Service Providers (ISPs), equipment providers, among others. This is an important issue, and there is a growing interest across the fire service to help positively move the needle.
 
The Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control is focused on instilling contamination control as an A to Z concept, similar to other sectors that already rigorously address contamination control (e.g., health care, military, nuclear power, etc.). This should not be something that is only an afterthought from the fire ground. The specific goal of the workshop was to inform the design of a proposed on-line, interactive, information clearinghouse, and to address the related tools that are being developed to assist the fire service in limiting the spread of harmful fire ground contaminants, with the ultimate goal of improving fire fighter long-term health.  

 

The workshop focused on optimum best practices, design of fire stations and equipment, applicable codes and standards, targeted literature database for researchers, and similar topics. For example, one presentation addressed the issue of fire station design and how it serves a pivotal role in contamination control and health and wellness of fire fighters. Fire fighters spend extensive time in stations that significantly magnifies their exposures. Presently, NFPA standards have minimal information on fire station design to reduce or eliminate exposure to contaminants.  

 

The Columbus Workshop was a whirlwind of rich information, progressive activity, and dedicated passion. In late summer, the Proceedings from the Workshop will be made available and posted at the Foundation’s web page at: www.nfpa.org/Contamination. This effort was encouraging and we are making progress, but the challenges remain enormous and in truth the work is just beginning.

An electrical hazard either exists or it does not. Under most circumstances 50 volts or greater is considered to be a shock hazard, and an incident energy of 1.2 cal/cm2 or greater is consider to be a thermal (arc-flash) hazard. When an electrical hazard exists there is always some level of risk of injury, however minimal. The hierarchy of risk controls can be used to affect the hazard or lower the risk. My next few blogs will address the six risk controls in NFPA 70E, Electrical Safety in the Workplace, required to be implemented when the risk assessment reveals that additional protective measures are necessary. The hierarchy of risk controls is:
(1) Elimination
(2) Substitution
(3) Engineering controls
(4) Awareness
(5) Administrative controls
(6) Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Human factors are generally recognized as one of the leading causes of injuries. Employees do not intentionally initiate an electrical incident that results in a “near miss” or an injury. Human error can be either a conscious or inadvertent act. An employee could decide not to follow the standard procedure or not to don the appropriate PPE. They may take their eyes off the task at hand or they may drop a tool. The first three controls are the most effective since they are least affected by human interaction. The last three controls rely on the action of a human and therefore are the least effective. The proper use of the hierarchy is emphasized by the additional 2018 edition requirement that human error be taken into account.
Elimination
When an electrical hazard is identified and the risk of injury from that hazard is unacceptable, this highest control level must be considered. In the electrical system design and equipment selection phase, it is easier to utilize elimination to limit the risk associated with anticipated justified energized work. During the electrical system design stage, methods should be employed to eliminate the hazard or risk in its entirety. In this first context, elimination is the removal of the electrical hazard so that it does not exist at any time. If there is no hazard, there is no risk of injury. This removes the potential for human error when interacting with the equipment. Elimination is often not an option for installed equipment.
Elimination of the shock hazard at the design stage could be utilizing a 24 Vdc control system rather than a 120 Vac system. This eliminates the shock hazard and greatly minimizes the risk of an electrical injury. Elimination of the risk of injury rather than elimination of the hazard is another possibility. NFPA 70E addresses safe work practices for the employee conducting a task where there is a hazard. The risk of injury is minimized when the employee is not in proximity to the hazard. For example, the use of a remote racking system would not place the employee at risk of injury if an incident were to occur.
As effective as elimination is, it is not foolproof. Equipment could be constructed incorrectly. Incorrect or insufficient maintenance could defeat this control method. Substandard or counterfeit equipment must be avoided. However, elimination of the hazard or risk provides the greatest opportunity for you to protect your employees. 
Next up: Substitution and engineering controls.

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The ADA is an important moment in building code history. The benefits of the ADA extend to a broad range of people in all areas of society. Developing and enforcing building regulations for accessibility continues to be a struggle and some of the first steps were made twenty-seven years ago.

 

Signing of the ADA July 26, 1990   

 

"The ADA is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life -- to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin - and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- the ADA is an 'equal opportunity' law for people with disabilities." 

 

First page

 

 

For more information regarding 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.

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for the 2017 edition of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®, are being published for public review and comment:
Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the September 14, 2017 comment closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

fire and life safety, workshop

NFPA works daily with a committed group of professionals who are responsible for maintaining fire and life safety in their facilities worldwide. Often those facilities are located in domestic and global jurisdictions with varying levels of safety enforcement capabilities.


Many of you have developed your own programs to address this challenge in order to maintain the level of safety in your facilities that is consistent with your company’s brand and safety philosophy. On August 29th at our headquarters in Quincy, we have invited a small group of corporate fire and life safety professionals to meet to discuss these issues and share best practices. NFPA hopes to learn from this discussion and identify ways that we might support you going forward.


Here is more information on the event – please join us.

One week left to register to receive the benefit of the early bird rates for the joint conference AUBE ’17/SUPDET® 2017, which will take place September 12-14 in College Park, MD, USA.
This year's program will feature over 80 presentations over a three day period focused on the latest development in research, technology, and applications for the fire protection community, and how they can be put to use by the fire protection community. o AUBE ‘17/SUPDET 2017 will feature a variety of topics, including smoke aerosol characterization for detection applications, new detection technologies, and detection of wild fires.
Some other areas of focus are new suppression research, new statistics and tests related to unwanted alarms, relevant standard updates, smart applications, unique modeling investigations, research on oxygen reduction systems, and fire protection in aircraft, vehicles, and tunnels.
The combination of these two international conferences continues the tradition of presenting the latest developments in research, technology and applications for the fire protection community.
REGISTER TODAY to receive the early rates, which are effective until 28 July. For additional program, hotel and registration details, visit: www.nfpa.org/2017supdetaube. We hope to see you there!

Image via 13newsnow.com

Three people died and six were injured in a fire at a senior housing complex in Chesapeake, Virginia on Saturday, July 15th. The cause of the fire is reported to be a lightning strike somewhere in the vicinity of the roof of the three-story building. According to media reports, the building, which was constructed in the early 1990s, was protected by automatic sprinklers in the living areas but lacked sprinklers in the attic. This sounds like a residential sprinkler system, probably based on NFPA 13R, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies, although I haven’t confirmed this. Residential sprinkler systems are intended to provide for occupant life safety by controlling or extinguishing the majority of residential fires where they start, which is within living areas. Unoccupied spaces, such as attics and garages, are generally not required to be sprinklered so as to not require freeze-protection and minimize cost. Since the Chesapeake fire apparently started in the area of the roof, there was no way for the sprinkler system to control it. Compounding the problem, the Chesapeake apartment building reportedly lacked a fire alarm system. Media reports indicate the building had alarms “connected to the sprinklers” – that sounds like an outside sprinkler waterflow alarm, which is not intended to notify building occupants of a fire.

 

The 1991 edition of the Life Safety Code was the first edition to mandate automatic sprinklers in new apartment buildings, with a handful of exceptions based on the means of egress arrangement. In that respect, the Chesapeake apartment building’s residential sprinkler system was state-of-the-art. That edition of the Code, however, also required a fire alarm system. Again, media reports indicate the code under which the Chesapeake apartment building was constructed did not require a fire alarm system. We’ll never know if a fire alarm system would have made a difference to the three individuals who did not survive Saturday’s fire.

 

The protection of senior housing apartments is an issue the NFPA 101 technical committees have been wrestling with for many years. Special requirements for apartments for the elderly were included in one edition of the Code: the 1981 edition. These requirements were deleted for the subsequent 1985 edition as the requirements were deemed to be discriminatory. The Code assumes occupants of residential occupancies are able to evacuate using the provided means of escape and means of egress. In reality, there is the potential that not all residents will have that ability in any apartment building, and especially in housing designed for seniors.

 

So where do we go from here? It will be up to the NFPA 101 technical committee responsible for the apartment building requirements to determine what, if any, changes need to be made to the Code. Is it a case where the Code adequately protects all apartment buildings, including senior housing, and the Chesapeake fire was a one-off event that we just have to accept from time to time? Or, are the current requirements inadequate? It’s interesting to note that for the 2018 edition, the Code recognizes that in apartment buildings of combustible construction, where the roof is more than 55 ft (17 m) above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access, some form of attic protection is needed. The protection options include sprinklers in the attic, the use of noncombustible materials or fire-retardant treated wood for attic construction, or filling the attic with noncombustible insulation. It doesn’t appear the Chesapeake apartment building met the 55-ft (17-m) roof height threshold, so this new requirement likely would not have made a difference there. If it’s determined that the Code requirements need to be enhanced, there’s no reason why this concept couldn’t be applied to any new apartment building. Yes, additional protection features have costs associated with them. Last Saturday’s fire in Chesapeake had a significantly greater, tragic cost.

 

What can you do? If fire protection and life safety are important to you, it’s incumbent on you to participate in the code development process. You don’t necessarily need to travel to committee meetings (although we’d be happy to see you there); you can participate by submitting public input and public comments for code revisions. NFPA is about to issue the 2018 edition of NFPA 101 on August 15th. Soon thereafter, NFPA will begin accepting public input for the 2021 edition. (Details on the public input process can be found here.) I’ll be blunt when I say I see very little fire service participation in the public input process. This is a challenge to all fire service organizations out there to step up your participation and submit public input. It’s not only the public’s safety, but also your safety that is directly impacted by the requirements of model codes and standards such as NFPA 101. I speak from personal experience when I say if you make your voice heard, you can make a difference.

 

Between the recent fire in Chesapeake, the horrific June 14 Grenfell Tower inferno in London that claimed 80 lives, the May 15 high-rise apartment building fire in Pittsburgh that left one person dead, and the July 14 high-rise apartment building fire in Honolulu that killed three people, it’s been a difficult couple months with respect to residential fire deaths. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.

 

I’ve asked the question before: we can do nothing and go on, status-quo, or we can take action (by “we” I mean “you” because I can’t change the codes; only you can). In response to these recent fires, NFPA President Jim Pauley has called on legislators to enact the requirement of NFPA 1, Fire Code, to install automatic sprinklers in all high-rise buildings, regardless of occupancy, both new and existing. I can’t help but notice the disconnect between NFPA 1 and NFPA 101, which also requires existing high-rise apartment buildings to be sprinklered unless they’re provided with something called an engineered life safety system. The stated reason for the disconnect? They’re different codes with different scopes. While that’s true, if NFPA’s president is calling for all existing high-rise buildings to be sprinklered, NFPA 101 should perhaps take a hard look at that exemption. Once again, your voice could make a difference.

 

The fire protection community can be proud of the strides it has made in reducing fire deaths in recent decades, but I’m feeling anything but proud after the last couple months. I know we can do better. I can raise awareness because NFPA gives me a platform to do so, but if you think change is needed, it’s up to you to make it happen. Get after it.

 

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 www.nfpa.org/101 and click on “Free access to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101.”

 

Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

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

 

NFPA_news.jpgIn this issue:

      • Comments sought on proposed TIAs to NFPA 1582 and NFPA 1994
      • New project on fire test for wall panels being considered
      • Current and new committees seeking members
      • Committees seeking public input
      • Committee meetings calendar

 

Subscribe today! NFPA News is a free monthly codes and standards 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.

In the event of a fire, a sloped ceiling may alter sprinkler performance from expected results for a conventional horizontal ceiling configuration. This webinar will address the storage protection under sloped ceilings. A detailed computational study using the CFD code FireFOAM has been performed to understand ceiling configuration effects (construction details, etc.) and sprinkler configuration effects (stand-off distance, etc.) on suppression performance to support the development of a large-scale fire test plan to inform NFPA 13 for sloped ceiling storage protection. You can also read more about the Fire Protection Research Foundation projects on Storage Under Sloped Ceilings Phase 1 and Phase 2.

 

When: Tuesday, August 1, 12:30-2:00 pm ET

Presenters:

  •       Prateep Chatterjee, FM Global
  •       Justin Geiman, Fire and Risk Alliance
  •       Andre Marshall, University of Maryland

 

Register for the webinar today.

Today we look back at an oil field fire that occurred in Tampico, Mexico on July 19, 1921. The fire burned for more than five days before it was finally brought under control. 

 

Tampico Oil Field Fire, July 1921

Photograph of oil field fire in Tampico, Mexico on July 19, 1921.

 

From the NFPA Quarterly v.15, no.2, 1921:

 

The well in the foreground came in on the morning of July 19 flowing more than 40,000 barrels of oil daily, accompanied by considerable gas. While the crew was still working on this well, the well shown at the right of the picture came in, flowing more than 40,000 barrels daily. The oil was carried by the wind to the boilers of the well seen dimly in the background. The boilers of this well had previously been shut off to avoid endangering the first well but the fire under them was probably not entirely extinguished. The oil was ignited and before the crew could close the valve the heat became so intense that the men were compelled to withdraw. The crew of the well in the foreground managed to get their tools out and were closing the valve when this well caught from the flames and the heat of the other. As a result of the heat from the two wells various bunkhouses and six rigs were destroyed. The flames reached a height of 500 to 600 feet. On Sunday, July twenty-fourth, efforts to put out the fire were successful. The valves were luckily uninjured by the intense fire and two men with heads and bodies protected by heavy clothing and followed by two others spraying water from a hose on them succeeded in reaching the valve stems of both wells and closed them.

 

 

For more information regarding this and 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.

Hawaii high-rise fire

Image via Today.com

Over the weekend, we were faced once again with another fire tragedy. A high rise condominium in Honolulu, Hawaii caught fire resulting in the death of three individuals and four serious injuries, including one firefighter. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and and to the fire service as they continue to deal with the physiological impact that accompanies any fire tragedy.

 

Once again, we are all asking how this can happen in today’s modern times. I am convinced this is yet another example of how we have become complacent about the threat of fire. We have recognized the danger posed by unsprinklered high-rise buildings. Countless examples have taught us that over the years. NFPA 1 – Fire Code recognizes this through a requirement that all existing high-rise buildings be provided with sprinkler protection. The technical committees – committees made up of a wide range of interests including the fire service, engineers, installers, manufacturers, insurers, enforcers and owners - involved in writing this provision didn’t arrive at this requirement lightly. They looked at the expectation of protection of the public from fire in an environment where quick evacuation can be difficult.

 

However, this particular provision, which would require the retrofit of sprinklers, often gets deleted during the local adoption process – as it did in Hawaii. Though the provisions are usually supported by the fire service, the economic interests have been generally successful at convincing policy makers that the economics should outweigh the safety. Policy makers go along with the logic, right up until a tragedy happens. Then they ask, “How can this happen?” Fire safety isn’t free.

 

The NFPA standards system does a very good job at reviewing, analyzing and arriving at consensus around what technical requirements and at what cost make the most sense to provide an expected level of safety. It has strong public input and review, balanced committees where no single interest can dominate, and considers solid research to better understand the problem and solutions. The result is solid standards that reflect the broadest thinking.

 

These standards then need to be adopted and enforced to provide the public and first responders with the latest information and technical advances to reduce loss of life and property.

 

The job of government and policy makers is to create policy that will keep the public safe and meet the public expectation that their government is protecting them with sound policies. Substituting economic and political judgement to remove requirements that have been well thought out and vetted through a visible and public process abandons a time-tested system that works, leading to a breakdown in the safety system and ensuing tragedies. Hawaii is the latest example.

 

All workers at job sites where hot work activities are performed in Boston must take NFPA Hot Work Safety Training and earn an NFPA Hot Work Safety Certificate by September 1, 2017.

 

Over the last few months, more than 16,000 workers in the Boston area have taken the mandatory NFPA hot work training.

 

The Boston Hot Work Safety Certificate Program was created by NFPA in cooperation with the City of Boston Inspectional Services Division, the Boston Fire Department, and the Boston Metropolitan District Building Trades Council to better inform the construction industry about the dangers and safety procedures associated with hot work. Participants obtain a certificate after successfully completing a learning assessment.

 

The training was created in response to a tragic March 2014 fire that was started by hot work operations and took the lives of two Boston firefighters. Classes are conducted by instructors who have been trained by NFPA. Sessions cover hot work types; common fuel and ignition sources, relevant standards, regulations, and ordinances; the duties and responsibilities of each person on the hot work team; and understanding a hot work permit. The state of Massachusetts is also looking at hot work training.

 

If you work in the Boston area, be sure to get training before September 1. For additional information on this topic, check out the feature Hot Work, Safe Work plus a sidebar story on 5 hot work misconceptions in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal®, and refer to NFPA 51B Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work.

Hello – Happy Friday!  Today’s post comes to you from Jacqueline Wilmot, Fire Protection Engineer in the Fire Protection Systems Department, at NFPA.  Special thanks to Jacqueline for her contribution to this blog while I am out on maternity leave, and discussing one of the many important subjects addressed in the Fire Code.

 

In a 2012 reported titled “Structure Fires in Eating and Drinking Establishments” by Ben Evarts, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 7, 640 structure fires per year in eating and drinking establishments between 2006 and 2010. These fires caused an average annual loss of two civilian deaths, 115 civilian injuries and $246 million in direct property damage. Provided with this information, it’s no wonder why fire protection is at the top of the menu for many people in the restaurant industry.

 

Section 50.5 of NFPA 1 extracts material from NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations, which is a standard that provides preventative and operative minimum fire safety requirements related to the design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of all public and private cooking operations. More specifically, NFPA 96 provides users with the requirements for exhaust systems, clearance requirements, construction materials for hoods, types of fire extinguishing equipment, routine cleaning, employee training, solid fuel cooking,  and the inspection, testing, and maintenance of the equipment in the facility.

 

Since 1 in every 5 of the fires cited in Evart’s report had a failure to clean as a factor contributing to its ignition, we will close in on Chapter 50.5 of NFPA 1 which provides the minimum requirements for the procedures for the use, inspection, testing, and maintenance of equipment.

 

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the ITM of cooking equipment occurs in the frequency of which exhaust systems need to be inspected and/or cleaned.

 

Section 50.5.4 requires the entire exhaust system to be inspected for grease buildup by a properly trained, qualified, and certified person(s) acceptable to the AHJ and in accordance with Table 50.5.4. 

 

 

Unfortunately many people make the mistake of interchanging the word “inspected” for “cleaned”.

 

Section 50.5.6.1 delineates between the inspection frequency and when cleaning is required. It states that if upon inspection, the exhaust system is found to be contaminated with deposits from grease-laden vapors, the contaminated portions of the exhaust systems shall be cleaned by a properly trained, qualified, and certified person(s) acceptable to the AHJ. This requirement delineates between the inspection frequency and when cleaning is required.

 

How do you know if your exhaust system is contaminated with deposits from grease?

 

The methods of measurement is a depth gauge comb, which is scraped along the duct surface and for example, a measured depth of 0.078 inches indicates the need to remove the deposition risk.

 

Who is a “trained” “qualified”, and “certified” person?

 

The definition of “certified” simply specifies that it is a stated recognition and approval that the person has demonstrated an acceptable level of competency. The level of competency that is demonstrated is typically specified by a third-party certifier. While a person might be certified, it is left to the AHJ to determine the acceptability of the certification.

 

Thank you for reading. Happy Friday, stay safe!

The 2015 edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace introduced a requirement that risk controls be implemented during the course of the risk assessment. That edition included a possible hierarchy of risk controls as an informational note. The 2018 edition will move that specific hierarchy into mandatory text. This is a minor change since a hierarchy had to be applied already. If you have been using another hierarchy of controls you will need to modify your risk assessment process to include these new controls.
What is surprising is how often this requirement is overlooked. Everyone wants to jump into the tables or to just calculate the incident energy. To do either is not following the requirements in addition to possibly putting the employee at greater risk. It cannot be stated enough times, PPE is the last line of defense which may minimize the injury to the employee. PPE should never be the first or only risk control used. It does not necessarily prevent injury nor does it prevent an incident from occurring.
A risk assessment is not simply the determination that a hazard is present and that PPE will be used to protect from that hazard. Risk assessment is an overall process that identifies hazards, estimates the potential severity of injury or damage to health, estimates the likelihood of occurrence of injury or damage to health, and determines if protective measures are required. If additional protective measures are necessary, the hierarchy of risk controls must be implemented. A risk assessment is not justification to perform energized electrical work. Regardless of the use of hierarchy of risk controls the primary work procedure must be establishing an electrically safe work condition.
The hierarchy of risk controls must be used whether the PPE category method or the incident energy analysis method is used for an arc-flash risk assessment. The hierarchy of risk controls applies not only to arc-flash risk assessments but also to shock risk assessments. The hierarchy is used to minimize the risk to the employee when establishing an electrically safe work condition. When energized work is justified, the hierarchy is used to minimize the risk during the performance of the assigned task. The required hierarchy of risk controls in descending order of effectiveness is:
(1) Elimination
(2) Substitution
(3) Engineering controls
(4) Awareness
(5) Administrative controls
(6) Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Being a hierarchy, the risk assessment must start with elimination then work its way down the list until the hazard or risk of injury is brought down to an acceptable level. The risk assessment is not a onetime step through the risk controls. For example, a substitution should be revaluated to determine its effectiveness. It may be possible to apply a subsequent substitution to further minimize the risk. A risk assessment may get down to administrative controls but may still present an unacceptable level of risk thereby requiring another run through the entire hierarchy. A risk assessment that results in a hazard or unacceptable risk of injury to the employee should be reassessed and the hierarchy of risk controls applied again. Once the risk assessment process has minimized the hazard or risk, PPE should be selected for any residual hazard and risk. The ability to use PPE should never be employed as justification to skip the first five control methods.
There are many methods of conducting risk assessments and the process is not detailed in NFPA 70E since one method may not be appropriate for all risks or hazards. You must select and document the procedure you use. You are required to run through the hierarchy of risk controls as part of your risk assessment. The process may need to be repeated to achieve the best result. Controls that you employ may or may not remove or lower the hazard. Others may only lower the risk to the employee. The result may not be that the employee can wear lower rated PPE or use fewer pieces of PPE. What it will mean is that you have done everything possible to protect your employee when you have decided to put them at risk while performing justified energized electrical work.
Next time: The most effective risk control.
Why areas of refuge?
The Life Safety Code is not an accessibility code. Accessibility for persons with disabilities is addressed by other laws and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, the Code does recognize that many buildings are designed to accommodate people with severe mobility impairments (defined by the Code as the ability to move to stairs but without the ability to use the stairs). In such buildings, the Code might require accessible means egress to be provided. Simply stated, if a building is going to be made accessible to occupants with severe mobility impairments, it might need to be provided with an accessible path(s) of travel to the public way or to a safe location within the building. Areas of refuge are sometimes used to provide such safe locations within the building.
What is an area of refuge?
Two parts of the Code tell us what an area of refuge is. The first is the definition in 3.3.22 (2015 edition):
3.3.22* Area of Refuge. An area that is either (1) a story in a building where the building is protected throughout by an approved, supervised automatic sprinkler system and has not less than two accessible rooms or spaces separated from each other by smoke-resisting partitions; or (2) a space located in a path of travel leading to a public way that is protected from the effects of fire, either by means of separation from other spaces in the same building or by virtue of location, thereby permitting a delay in egress travel from any level. (SAF-MEA)
Part (1) of the definition indicates a floor of a fully sprinklered building is an area of refuge. It is assumed that an occupant with severe mobility impairment, if unable to get to the public way on their own, can remain on the floor of fire origin during the emergency because the automatic sprinkler system will either extinguish, or at least control, the fire. The one caveat is that the occupant must have access to a room other than the room of fire origin separated by smoke-resisting partitions to get away from the immediate effects of the fire (e.g., smoke, heat, and steam from the water discharged on the fire). Part (2) of the definition refers to what has been traditionally thought of as an area of refuge. The detailed requirements for these areas of refuge are found in 7.2.12. Areas of refuge described in Part (2) can be created by horizontal exits, or they can be fire rated enclosures that provide a means to get to the public way, perhaps with assistance, using an extra-wide stair or specially protected elevator, without having to leave the area of refuge and potentially re-enter the room or area of fire origin. If the sprinkler option in Part (1) of the definition is used, standard stairs and elevators can be utilized; this might serve as an incentive for building owners to install sprinklers where they are not otherwise required. In all cases, irrespective of sprinklers, areas of refuge require two-way communications systems to allow occupants with severe mobility impairments to let emergency personnel know they are in the building and require evacuation assistance.
When are areas of refuge needed?
In the context of the Life Safety Code, areas of refuge are means of egress components in the same way that doors, stairs, and ramps are means of egress components. As such, 7.2.12 does not mandate their use; they are permitted components in all occupancies. Areas of refuge become required when they serve as the termination points of accessible means of egress, which is defined in 3.3.172.1 as:
3.3.172.1 Accessible Means of Egress. A means of egress that provides an accessible route to an area of refuge, a horizontal exit, or a public way. (SAF-MEA)
The key question then becomes, “When are accessible means of egress required?” To answer that question, we have to look at 7.5.4, which requires accessible means of egress from areas accessible to people with severe mobility impairments, other than in existing buildings. Key point here: NFPA 101 exempts existing buildings from the requirements for accessible means of egress, so areas of refuge are not required in existing buildings by the Code.
If the ground floor of a building is accessible, accessible means of egress can likely be provided via a level or ramped path of travel that complies with ICC/ANSI A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, leading out to the public way – no areas of refuge are needed. On floors accessed by occupants with severe mobility impairment via elevators, areas of refuge will likely be needed to satisfy the requirement for accessible means of egress. Again, the areas of refuge can be elevator lobbies with specially protected elevators or oversized stair landings with extra-wide stairs… or horizontal exits can be used… or the building can be sprinklered and the owner no longer needs to worry about special (read expensive) stairs and/or elevators.
NFPA’s technical committees and staff work closely with the disability community to ensure its codes and standards, including NFPA 101, work in concert with other laws and regulations affecting accessibility. A concerted effort is made to avoid conflicts with other accessibility rules. It is NFPA’s goal to develop codes that will protect the broadest population possible, from the very young to the elderly, and from fully mobile occupants to those with severe mobility impairments.
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 www.nfpa.org/101 and click on “Free access to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101.”
Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

In the past year, a number of different requests for tools to assess community risk have been presented to the research group at NFPA. 

 

The first was an outcome from a workshop we held in late 2015 which explored how various jurisdictions are using data for their inspection programs.   Innovative jurisdictions like Kitsap County, WA, have developed tools to characterize the risk in properties in their jurisdiction based on local data.  Understanding the value of these tools, NFPA is currently developing a Property Inspection Prioritization tool, PIP, which uses an AI approach based on feedback from enforcement community members to prioritize risk factors and generate inspection priorities. 

 

In response to a different need, the Research Foundation is currently conducting a project focused on reducing the risk of electric shock drowning in marinas and boatyards.  Here too, a risk assessment tool is being developed by the Foundation’s contractor, WPI, based on identifying the factors contributing to this electrical hazard.  The project is also exploring mitigation methods that may be effective in addressing this complex problem.

Most recently, in response to a number of recent catastrophic fires in highrise buildings clad in combustible wall assemblies, NFPA has just initiated a project to develop a risk assessment tool for authorities to assess the relative risk of these structures in their jurisdiction.  The project, which will be conducted by a team of global fire protection engineers by year end, will also present a range of short, medium and long term mitigation strategies.

 

What these projects illustrate is our emerging ability to create data-informed tools to support decision making for local jurisdictions as they assess their community’s risks.   As we roll these tools out we will learn from them andlook to see what more we can do.

During the early 1900's Northern Ontario was busy and full of miners, trappers, loggers, and engineers. Many were attracted to Porcupine Lake because of the recent gold rush further south. On July 11, 1911, a brush fire started in South Porcupine, Ontario and spread for 22 miles (36 km).

 

Refugees using boats to escape the Great Porcupine Fire, July 11, 1911

Refugees embarking in a boat on Porcupine Lake to escape from the Great Forest Fire of 1911.

(Porcupine District, Ontario, Canada - July 11, 1911) Image Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada

 

From an article printed in Toronto's The Globe on July 12, 1911:

 

A great disaster has befallen the north country as a result of the terrible heat and lack of rain. The whole country is burning up with bush fires everywhere. They have been in progress for a week, and reached a climax today, licking up in their path everything before them. Fanned by a terrible gale of wind, te flames swooped down on the villages and mining camps, and the loss of property will run into enormous figures, while the death toll must be great, as Porcupine district, where the fire is at its worst, contains thousands of prospectors, whose camps are scattered over a wide area of country heavily timbered.

 

 

For more information regarding this and 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.

Last year, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) officially adopted the 2012 editions of NFPA 101®: Life Safety Code® and NFPA 99: Health Care Facilities Code.

In addition, CMS also developed a series of Fire Safety Survey forms for the facility or the survey team to use when implementing the new adoption within their healthcare facility. These CMS forms will help them to identify potential deficiencies.

For ease and efficiency, the NFPA created an interactive version of the CMS2786R Fire Safety Survey Report. Utilizing the NFPA Interactive CMS 2786R, Fire Safety Survey Report, facility managers and / or surveyors can cross-reference applicable provisions with direct access to the full 2012 editions of NFPA 99: Health Care Facilities Code and NFPA 101: Life Safety Code.

With this dynamic tool a facility manager and / or surveyor can instantly call up same information found on the CMS form used by CMS and state officials, along with code content from NFPA 101 and NFPA 99 as reference within the K-tag summary field.

The NFPA Interactive CMS 2786R, Fire Safety Survey is a must for facility managers, and is available as PDF on computer or mobile devices. Quickly edit and validate data on the fly.

And with its unique ability to instantly call up same the information found on the CMS form used by CMS and state officials as well as code content from NFPA 101 and NFPA 99 as referenced within the K-tag summary field, the NFPA Interactive CMS 2786R, Fire Safety Survey Report is a must for facility managers.

Check out this new dynamic tool, brought to you by the NFPA here:

http://catalog.nfpa.org/The-NFPA-Interactive-CMS-2786R-Fire-Safety-Survey-Report-P17768.aspx

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment  (TIA) for NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments, is being published for public review and comment:

 

 

Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by the August 17, 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.

A few weeks ago, we received an inquiry in the Research, Data and Analytics Division for data on the number of fires in U.S. fire stations.  The request originated with a reporter, who may have been inspired to follow up on a recent news report of a fire at a volunteer fire station in Missouri that destroyed the building and the department’s three vehicles.  In any case, it wasn’t a question I’d encountered before or given much thought to, but it was certainly a reasonable question and merited running the numbers. 

 

So what did we learn?

 

Using data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) and the NFPA Fire Experience survey, we estimate that between 2010 and 2014, there were an average of 100 structure fires at U.S. fire departments each year, with direct property damage each year estimated at $2.5 million.  There were no fatalities resulting from these fires.  The data also indicate that there were another 170 vehicle fires at fire stations each year over the same time period, with an annual average of $2.1 million in direct property damage and one civilian injury associated with these fires.  It’s worth noting that the vehicles on fire station grounds could include personal as well as official vehicles. 

 

One-third of the fire station structure fires (32% of total) originated in a kitchen or cooking area.   This is often the case with occupancies that have kitchen facilities.  Almost one-quarter (23%) of the structure fires had incident type codes that indicated a cooking fire confined to the object of origin. Cooking fires accounted for just 3% of direct property damage associated with fire station fires.  The second leading area of origin was garage or vehicle storage area, with 9% of fires and 8% of direct property damage, followed by fires originating in an office, with 6% of fires -- but 15% of direct property damage.  Vehicle fires most often originated in the vehicle’s engine area, running gear, or wheel area of the vehicle (44% of total), with another 18% originating in the passenger area, and 12% in the cargo or trunk area. 

 

As with other types of properties, fire stations are at risk of fire, whether due to mechanical or electrical failure, cooking materials, arson, or due to some other factor.  Fortunately, many of these fires are small and don’t substantially impact fire department services.  But in other cases, the fires may cause significant damage to vehicles, equipment, and infrastructure, and thereby threaten to disrupt vital services, as well as potentially undermine the health and safety of firefighter health and safety.  Prevention efforts are accordingly as important inside the fire station as they are in the community.

Hello – Happy Friday!  Today’s post comes to you from Laura Moreno, Engineer in the Industrial and Chemical Engineering Department, at NFPA.  Special thanks to Laura for her contribution to this blog while I am out on maternity leave, and discussing one of the many important subjects addressed in the Fire Code.

 

NFPA 1, Fire Code, 2015 edition, requires a permit for conducting hot work, and Chapter 41 of the Code mentions the Permit Authorizing Individual. Who is this Permit Authorizing Individual (PAI), and how does that differ from the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)?

 

The Permit Authorizing Individual (PAI) is someone designated by management who is responsible for safe hot work and authorizes the hot work. That can be the job supervisor, foreperson, property owner or representative, or health and safety administrator. On the other hand, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) is an organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing a code or standard. That could be a federal, state, or local official, fire marshal, building official, or even an insurance company representative.

 

The intent of our hot work standard (NFPA 51B, Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work) and therefore NFPA 1 which extracts the requirements from the 2014 edition of NFPA 51B, is that the PAI goes through the permit process internally to make sure that the area is safe for hot work. He or she checks to see if there is an alternative to hot work, that the combustibles are protected or moved away from ignition sources, and that a fire watch is there if needed. Then, a permit can be authorized. We have a flow chart (see A.41.3.4 of NFPA 1) that helps you and the PAI determine if a hot work permit is required- for example, can the hot work be done in an area like a maintenance shop that is maintained fire-safe? Then you don’t need a hot work permit.

Some cities, like Boston, have a hot work permit process where the hot work team needs to apply for a permit through the city (or Authority Having Jurisdiction) before starting hot work. Starting January 2017, they require all hot work permit applicants to have received NFPA Hot Work Safety Training.   In cases like this, you should go through the internal permitting process first with your PAI, and then you will have all the information you need when you file a permit with your AHJ.

 

 

For more information on hot work check out the May/June 2017 edition of NFPA Journal which discusses key lessons from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board investigations of hot work incidents.  Or, sign up for NFPA's one day Hot Work Safety Certificate program.

 

Happy Friday, thanks for reading!  Stay safe.

On July 13th, from 1:55 - 3:30pm ET, the American Wood Council will be hosting a free webinar on Fire Protection during Construction. This 90-minute webinar will introduce attendees to several of the recent major fires and their causes, the many fire-related hazards that exist on a construction site, the International Building and Fire Code and NFPA requirements for fire protection safeguards during construction and solutions for developing simple fire safety strategies. There also will be information on building materials and construction industry efforts to reduce fire losses.


Learning objectives for the webinar include: 
• Identify recent major fires and their reported causes
• Identify the I Code regulations and linkage to NFPA 241 for fire safety during building construction alteration and demolitions
• Develop a model fire plan for buildings under construction, alteration or demolition
• Identify existing building materials and construction industry resources for training, education and mitigation

 

NFPA's Division Director for the Technical Services department, Guy Colonna, will be one of the webinar presenters. He has served as Staff Liaison to committees dealing with safeguards at dust hazard process locations, explosion protection systems including venting of deflagrations, and chemical classification and is the editor of the NFPA Guide to Combustible Dusts. He currently manages the NFPA hot work training program conducted in collaboration with the Boston Fire Department.

 

Allan B. Fraser, CBI, CPCA, is NFPA’s Senior Building Code Specialist and will co-present next Thursday. His projects include staffing six technical committees and NFPA’s “Disability Access Review and Advisory Committee". He represents NFPA on a number of committees of other organizations. He’s been on State and Regional Technical Committees, taught Building Code at professional seminars and continuing education programs and holds both State and National Certification.

 

Rob Neale, the International Code Council Vice President for Government Relations: National Fire Service Activities will round out the panel. Education credits will be awarded as well. 

 

Register today for this webinar.

NFPA is considering the development of an ANSI Accredited Standard addressing the combustibility of exterior and interior wall panels. This test method would be based on the existing 16 ft. Parallel Panel Test from the FM Approvals Standard 4880, involving two facing vertical wall panels exposed to a 360 kW propane gas ignition source, representing a direct adjacent exposure. The parallel panel placement creates a re-radiation effect, representing severe exposures. The pass/fail criteria would be based on heat release rates measured under a calorimeter (1.5 MW minimum). This test would provide a cost effective solution to the other larger full-scale tests, such as the 25 to 50 ft high corner tests.

NFPA is seeking comments from all interested organizations and individuals to gauge whether support exists for standards development on a new wall panel fire test. Specifically, please submit your comments to the following:

 

1. Are you, or your organization, in favor of the development of an NFPA Standard pertaining to a fire test for wall panels?
2. Please state your reason(s) for supporting or opposing such standards development.
3. Are you, or your organization, in favor of the development of an NFPA Standard to establish a new fire test for wall panels?

 

Please submit all comments, in support or opposition, to the proposed standards development of fire test for wall panels by the deadline of September 12, 2017.

The astonishing images of London's Grenfell Tower in flames--and the 80 deaths that followed--got the attention of Florida Governor Rick Scott. While sensitive to regulations, Scott couldn't turn a blind eye to the horror that unfolded, partly due to the building's lack of fire sprinklers. He quickly vetoed a bill that sailed through the state legislature that would once again delay installing fire sprinklers in certain residences.

 

"Safety issues are critically important, as they can be the difference between life or death," Scott said in a statement about his veto. "Fire sprinklers and enhanced life safety systems are particularly effective in improving the safety of occupants in high-rise buildings and ensure the greatest protection of the emergency responders who bravely conduct firefighting and rescue operations.

 

"The recent London high-rise fire...illustrates the importance of life safety protections."

 

The new legislation would have delayed a sprinkler retrofit requirement set to begin in 2019 for condos built before 1994 and higher than 75 feet. (The requirement deadline had already been extended twice by the legislature.) It would also, according to news reports, have given condo residents the option to opt-out of the requirement. State law requires condos built after 1994 to install fire sprinklers.

 

Urging Scott to veto the bill was the state's Division of State Fire Marshal, Florida Fire Chiefs Association, and the Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “This legislation extends the compliance deadline, once again, and allows condominium residents to opt out of fire sprinklers...which creates an extremely dangerous environment for both residents and first responders responding in the event of an emergency,” the letter stated. The Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition also champions for fire sprinklers in all residences.

 

Regarding complaints about cost, Julius Halas, director of the Division of State Fire Marshal, said such complaints were disingenuous. "They've had 17 years [since the law was originally passed to retrofit their condos]. They still have two-and-a-half years," he told the Sun Sentinel. 

 

A real estate agent also told the publication that newly installed sprinklers will "make the property more appealing. It will ultimately be a benefit to any owner." 

 


Please sent a tweet to Florida Governor Rick Scott, thanking him for vetoing anti-sprinkler legislation and understanding the necessity of fire sprinklers.

The arrival of summer brings more than the prospect of outdoor activities and family vacations. 

 

For firefighters, summer is a time when the already intense physical demands of firefighting become still more challenging.  As we know, lifting and carrying heavy firefighting equipment and performing such tasks as rescues, extinguishment, and forcible entry – all while wearing cumbersome turnout gear and personal protective equipment – is arduous in the best of circumstances.  Add hot and humid weather conditions to the equation and the work of fighting fires can easily become relentlessly taxing. 

 

In our most recent report on Patterns of Firefighter Fireground Injuries during 2010-2014, we found that July was the peak month for injuries, with an estimated monthly average of 3,140 injuries (10% of the annual total).  It’s reasonable to assume that the influence of weather conditions on the firefighter work environment had something to do with this finding.  The types of injuries that occurred in July also suggested the influence of hot and humid seasonal conditions.  For instance, the report found that July had the highest share of injuries involving exhaustion/fatigue symptoms (15% of the annual total), as well as the highest share of injuries caused by strain or sprain (34% of the total).  Each of these outcomes can be reasonably associated with hotter weather-related work environments.   

 

It’s important to keep in mind that the direct effects of working in hot weather are only part of the issue here.  While heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and other heat-related outcomes represent serious health threats in their own right, the ability of firefighters to make good decisions and maintain situational awareness can also be compromised by fatigue that is exacerbated in hot weather conditions.  In the fireground environment, where situations are dynamic and the consequences of miscalculation can prove fatal, it’s essential that fire departments have a program in place that recognizes the mental as well as physical implications of extreme weather conditions.

 

There are a number of steps that fire departments should take in order to safeguard firefighter safety and health when temperatures begin to soar – and it’s important to emphasize that this extra care extends to training, as well as fires in the community. At the top of this list, ensuring that firefighters are in good physical shape, always a critical factor, takes on additional importance in the summer months.  Also important are ensuring proper hydration, rest and rehabilitation, adequate staffing, and medical monitoring by safety officers. 

 

Hazards are always going to be part of firefighting, and weather conditions will be what they are.  But planning, preparation, and standardized protocols can minimize risk for firefighters during emergency response and training, in hot weather months and throughout the year.  Guidance on safety procedures is available in NFPA 1584 Standard on the Rehabilitation Process for Members during Emergency Operations and Training Exercises.

Research tells us that firefighters face a higher risk of many types of cancers, especially respiratory, digestive, and urinary system cancers. As the number of firefighters and their families affected by occupational cancer steadily increases, improving education, prevention measures and support are imperative. 

 

NFPA will be participating in the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Symposium that is being held in Phoenix, Arizona from September 7-8, 2017. Presentations and workshops (including one by NFPA's Casey Grant) will cover current research, best practices in prevention strategies, presumptive legislation, available benefits, and other relevant topics. 

 

If you are interested in attending and learning what steps you and your organization can take to reduce the risk of occupational cancers, get more information and register. Be sure to use discount code NFPA to save $50 of your registration! ,Contact Tricia Sanborn at tsanborn@firehero.org or 410-353-0216 with any questions. 

This week the NFPA Library and Archives wishes everyone a safe and happy Fourth of July with a friendly reminder from the past about the dangers of consumer fireworks. 

July 5th Inventory 1916

 

From the NFPA Quarterly v.10, no.1, 1916:

 

"Members in all parts of the U.S. cooperated this year as usual in the circulation of the Association's Independence Day bulletin. Manager Clem E. Wheeler of the Wisconsin Inspection Bureau distributed ten thousand copies in Wisconsin. The newspapers generally report a 'safe and sane' day, but later reports may modify this.New York had thirty fires against last year's twenty-four. Milwaukee had six, while ten years ago she had thirty-two. San Francisco had fifty-six, reckoned the worst Fourth of July since 1905."

 

 

For more information regarding 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.

 

Free resources on Fireworks Safety

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