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September 11, 2017 Previous day Next day

As floodwaters recede and communities in Texas and Florida begin the slow task of rebuilding neighborhoods and businesses in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, President Jim Pauley has affirmed NFPA support to residents and first responders as they engage in recovery efforts.



NFPA offers a number of resources for residents, including tips, toolkits and emergency planning information, in addition to key action steps they can take when returning home to help reduce the risk of injury from electrical hazards due to the submersion of electrical systems and appliances in floodwaters. These steps include:

  • If your home has experienced flooding, it’s important to keep your power off until a professional electrician has inspected your entire home for safety, including appliances. Water can damage the internal components in electrical appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, and cause shock and fire hazards. Have a qualified electrician come visit your home and determine what electrical equipment should be replaced and what can be reconditioned.
  • If you smell gas in your home or neighborhood, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches or engage in any activity that could create a spark.
  • Treat all downed wires as if they are live even if you don’t see any sparks, and especially if there is standing water nearby. Alert authorities immediately if you see downed wires in your area.
  • In the event that electricity may not be available to your home yet and you have not experienced any water in your home, generators are a viable option to power some of your small appliances. However, if used improperly they also pose a fire hazard, risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution. Tips for safe use of generators.


NFPA also provides guidelines for electrical professionals to help prevent equipment failures and worker injuries when they are tasked with recovering electrical equipment after a disaster:


Additional disaster-related safety information and resources include:


Find these and other NFPA tips and resources by visiting

Earlier this year, NFPA introduced the concept of "It's a big world. Let's protect it together." As the 16th anniversary of 9/11 approached, I couldn't help but think of all of the amazing people from the fire service that have worked together with the NFPA to make sure the world has, and continues to become, safer.


One of those people stood out in my mind for his unique story and perspective. Stephen King, whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know through his role as the Chair on the Technical Committee for NFPA 1971 and NFPA 1851, was the FDNY Chief of Safety, and 9/11/2001 was his last day on the job.


In honor of remembering why it is our mission to protect the world together, I asked Steve if he would be willing to share a remembrance of that day 16 years ago. The below is what he wanted to share with the NFPA family.


9/11/2001 – A Remembrance

As I drove to work on September 11th, 2001, I remember thinking that it was an incredibly beautiful morning.  The New York skyline was crystal clear on the horizon even though I was still many miles from the city line.  The twin towers stood tall and proud welcoming everyone to the city.


I arrived at my headquarters a little before 8 A.M.  I was reporting for duty as the citywide safety chief for a 24 hour shift.  From my office windows I could look out directly at the twin towers looming tall in the sky just across the East River. It was so close that I felt that if I leaned out of the window I could almost touch the towers.


It was my first tour back after finishing several weeks of vacation so that I could take care of my wife who was terminally ill.  I wanted to continue to stay home with her, but she understood that I had an important job in the FDNY and that I was needed back.


I started the tour the same way firefighters start the job throughout our country.  I headed straight to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee and to find my relief so he could brief me on events in the city during the last 24 hours.  After debriefing I made my way back to my office which was right down the hall.  As soon as I entered the room I saw a massive explosion in the North Tower that seemed to engulf at least ten stories.  My heart sunk immediately.  In 34 years on the department I had never seen anything like it even though I had worked through the “war years” in the city.  I immediately turned to my aide Bobby Crawford and told him “Let’s get going”.  Usually when there is a fire or emergency you get notified by a “ticket” to respond.  There was no reason to wait for a ticket for this because there was no doubt that we wouldn’t be assigned to this alarm.


Within minutes we were on the Manhattan Bridge with a clear view of the towers the entire way.  If I thought that it looked foreboding before, now it was much worse.  I could see many workers from the building either leaning as far out the windows as they could to avoid the intense heat and smoke or outright choosing to jump.  I remember thinking it was unlike anything I had ever witnessed in my career or even thought was possible. It seemed to me like a terrible nightmare but it was very real and I knew it. There would be no putting this fire out. FDNY had known for years that any fire of this magnitude in a high-rise would be almost impossible to extinguish. Too many floors with too much fire.  Fire being fueled by jet fuel.


We arrived at the towers in nine minutes, well before the second plane hit the South Tower.  We transmitted our arrival to headquarters, pulling our vehicle dangerously close to the North Tower, too close. Bobby quickly realized that our position put us in immediate danger from falling aircraft and building debris and people who were jumping.  He backed the car further away from the tower, placing it under a building undergoing construction.  The building had a scaffold offering enough protection to allow us to open the trunk of our car and put on our equipment without being hit. At this time there was so much debris and bodies falling that we had to look up into the air to avoid being hit while trying to run into the tower.


Once inside I reported to the lobby command center and was issued orders to go up the “B” staircase looking to see how the evacuation was unfolding and if there was any signs of panic from the many civilians rushing, rather calmly, to exit the tower. As we slowly made our way up we could see many of the civilians taking the time to pat a firefighter on the shoulder or to whisper “God Bless You”.  They couldn’t believe that firefighters were going up.  It was a memory that will stay with me always. Bobby and I continued up to the eighth floor where I took a moment to try to give my report to the Command Chief, via our department issued handi-talkies.  It was useless.  There was too much radio traffic with many transmissions either being unable to transmit or unheard.  I decided that we would have to go back down to the command center to relate the status of the evacuation in person.  I told Bobby to follow me down.  With all the people exiting via the staircase Bobby and I became separated somehow.  I didn’t realize that Bobby wasn’t behind me until I reached the command center. I tried almost continuously to make contact with him via the handi-talkie but it never happened.  Bobby Crawford never made it out alive.


While it was never discussed directly, I knew that all the chiefs were thinking the same thing.  If the fire continued to burn it would eventually cause the steel girders which supported the floors and exterior walls to fail.  Steel starts to soften and fail quickly at around 1000 degrees and a fire fueled by jet fuel burns at around 2000 degrees.  This was almost certainly going to be my last day alive! There was no way any of us were going to survive this.  Those of us at the command post knew that we would not abandon the firefighters that we sending up the stairwells; we were all in this together.


While all this was going on, I couldn’t help but remember the destruction that I witnessed when I responded to the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.  I remember the many sub floors that were destroyed.  These same sub floors gave much needed lateral support to the massive vertical girders which held the towers up. There was genuine concern that these vertical girders would buckle without this lateral support, leading to a collapse of the tower.  I vividly recall trying to remind myself to pay attention to all that was going on because no matter how long I continued to work in the department nothing could ever begin to approach the magnitude of the destruction I witnessed that day. I couldn’t have been more wrong.


As an aside, I always found it interesting that even though my job required me to take in all major events that occurred within the city, that was the only two times I ever responded to the World Trade Center. 


At some point, upon my arrival back at the command post, we received a report that a second aircraft hit the South Tower.  This couldn’t just be a terrible accident.  We had to be under attack.  I remember thinking it couldn’t get any worse.  How could any of us survive this?


Shortly after, while assisting at the command post, there was a radio transmission. It stated “Oh my God!  The Towers coming down.”  With no other information available to me I immediately assumed that this was the North Tower, the tower I was in.  Even if I couldn’t believe what I heard transmitted, I could start to hear a deep rumbling coming from above.  It sounded like the noise you heard when you waited for the subway train to come into the station.  It was getting steadily louder.  You could sense the air pressure compressing. I remember thinking there would be no escaping death now! Of course that sound was the South Tower collapsing.  The tower that was hit second was coming down first.  At that point I didn’t understand what was happening.  In my mind and in many of our minds it was our tower coming down. How could it not be?  We could hear it and feel it.


They say it took ten or eleven seconds for the South Tower to come down completely.  Mere seconds! Yet I distinctly remember seeing before my eyes my complete life unfolding. Everything from my childhood, my school days, time in the Navy, raising our children, my entire life.  I could write a 300 page novel about those ten seconds.


Suddenly the noise stopped.  I seemed to still be alive unless I was dreaming.  I was covered in debris and engulfed in smoke and heavy dust unable to see or barely breathe.  Somehow I had shattered my left knee.  I wasn’t alone.  There were some other voices, not many.  It was impossible to see anyone.  Our sounds brought us together and we decided if we were to get out it had to be quickly.  All of us were having extreme difficulty breathing.  Since we couldn’t see we grabbed onto each other’s fire coats and tried to find a way out.  Eventually we found it.  Once outside I quickly became detached from everyone else.  My leg injury was making it impossible to keep up with anyone else.  Outside was a world of grey-white.  You couldn’t see far at all and definitely couldn’t see up.  It was like I was floating in some cloud. Debris was still falling around me. I had to try to get away from the other tower.  It was only a matter of time before the second tower would fall. 


I had only gotten a short distance away when I could hear the second tower starting to come down.  I would be caught in the collapse.  Where to go?  I saw a subway entrance across the street from me.  Could I make it in time?   I had to try.  As soon as I reached the subway entrance I threw myself down the stairs.  There was no time to walk.  I was starting to get hit by small debris. The best I could do was sit along the wall immediately adjacent to the staircase.  Within seconds I was being covered by debris which came tumbling down the stairs.  When it stopped I couldn’t see my legs.  Did I really manage to survive both collapses? I just sat there for a while basically giving up, thinking was I really already dead and I just didn’t know it?  Finally I started removing the debris from my legs.  I really could not get myself up to walk and I don’t quite remember how I ended up in the street.  I think I passed out at some point. 


The next thing that I recall was someone poking at my shoulder.  It was a doctor wearing a white uniform.  He arrived with an ambulance. I was very confused at this time.  I remember riding in the ambulance with several people working quickly on me trying to ascertain the extent of my injuries.  It was chaos to me.  I started to go unconscious.  I remember feeling like I was floating a couple of feet above myself in the ambulance, looking down at the doctor and nurses working on me. I thought it doesn’t look good at all.  I think I came about as close as you could to dying in that ambulance.  And I was watching it all.  I thought that I had to be already dead.


The next thing I remember was awakening in a hospital emergency room somewhere.  A nurse standing over me asked if there was anything that I needed.  I told her that I wanted my rosary beads that I always kept in my fire coat.  She told me that all of my gear was missing and that while they knew I was a firefighter, they had no idea who I was.  I passed out again.  I don’t know how long.  When I next awoke I found a pair of rosary beads in my hands and two Franciscan priests praying over me.  I passed out again.  When I awoke next there was a detective in my room waiting to find out who I was.  After asking me several questions he asked me if I wanted to phone anybody.  At this point I wasn’t sure where I was and certainly had no idea of how much time had passed since I was found in the street.  The detective handed me a phone.  I remember calling home and my wife answering the phone and bursting out crying the second I said “Hi”.  She had been told that I was missing in action and that I probably didn’t survive.  She told me days later that it was the worst thing that she ever had to go through in her life.


What I remember most that day was the incredible bravery of all the first responders and their willingness to run into the towers when everyone else was trying desperately to get out.  I remember the occupants, while desperately trying to leave the towers, taking time to help those who were having difficulty making their way out.


I will forever remember the many, many friends and colleagues that I lost that day. All of them, heroes!


Stephen J. King
Former Chief of Safety, FDNY

Retired on disability due to injuries sustained on 9/11, his last day of work.

In the midst of a very active and powerful hurricane season, many building owners and managers of industrial and commercial facilities are facing the daunting process of disaster recovery. In determining the best means of restoring electrical systems and equipment to full operation, a decision must be made whether to repair or replace each damaged piece of equipment. Chapter 32, Electrical Disaster Recovery, of NFPA 70B: Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, 2016 edition, is now available as a free, standalone, downloadable resource from NFPA and includes the following guidance on making these important assessmentsNFPA 70B, 70B

  • Seek the services of qualified equipment assessment personnel, whether manufacturer representatives or subject matter experts.
  • Establish priorities for each system and/or piece of equipment. This will become important as you consider lead times and resource allocation for different recovery options.
  • Determine the availability of parts, direct replacement equipment, and/or dissimilar replacement equipment. It could be necessary to modify the existing system in order to accommodate a different model or a newer technology as a replacement.
  • Understand the effect of each recovery option on the future performance of the equipment and the system, as well as the ability of the original manufacturer to support the equipment. Equipment performance could be compromised as a result of repairs.
  • Consider the lead time and financial impact of each recovery option. Costs associated with an extended downtime could exceed the additional material and labor costs associated with a more rapid recovery solution.
  • Determine whether the repair contractor is qualified to do the work and whether the repairs can be made on site.
  • Consider the age of the damaged equipment and any planned obsolescence.
  • Verify that the authority having jurisdiction will allow repair or replacement of the affected equipment.
  • Review the list of other industry standards and guidelines in 32.2.8 for pertinent information.


Even with these factors in mind, the choice between repair and replace will not always be a simple one. However, following these simple suggestions can be the difference between an impossible task and an informed decision.


Remember to always document the details of the recovery process in a project summary report. See 32.2.16.


The complete current edition of NFPA 70B and related resources are available for free access or to purchase at


Additional disaster-related resources can be found on NFPA's disaster webpage, including tip sheets, related code information, articles, and more.

5 things a facility manager should consider when preparing, responding, and recovering from a major hurricane
We have just experienced two major hurricanes here in the United States over the last several weeks, and are sure that there will be more natural disasters in our future. The responsibility for preparedness is a whole-community approach that rests on the shoulders of many stakeholders.  Each segment of the community has a role in prevention, mitigation, response, continuity and recovery that can be addressed in a holistic manner.  Facility managers are a vital cog in this chain. NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs, one of NFPA’s most widely implemented standards, establishes a common set of criteria that sets a foundation for disaster management, emergency management, and business continuity programs using a total program approach (plus the PDF version of this standard is free to download!). 
Here are five things to consider as you prepare, respond, and recover from a major hurricane:   
1) The most important thing to do is prepare and know you are part of a larger community and you need to help each other.  As outlined in chapter 5 of NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity/Continuity of Operations Programs conduct a risk assessment, business impact analysis, and resource needs assessment before the event occurs. This will give you an idea of what you are facing and what you will need prior to the event.  
2) Know your stakeholders; These are the people that utilize your facility every day. Poll them to know what their plans are and let them know what yours are. Keep track of those that are staying and make sure to account for anyone with access and functional needs. 
3) Talk to your neighbors; keep track of local emergency management’s instructions and follow them. If you have capabilities and services to offer, let them know. Also, if you have resource needs, let them know. Being a good neighbor for others may save the life of one of your stakeholders or that of one of your neighbors in the event of a disaster. 
4) Communicate;  As early as possible, activate your plan and make sure that your stakeholders are aware of it.  Assure that they know their roles and expectations if any.  If you are operating a facility that is a critical infrastructure location, make sure that your on-duty staff have (to the best of their ability) secured the safety of their family and pets so that they can focus on the tasks at hand. Be sure that your support of this effort is communicated to them.  For more see NFPA 1600 Annex K.
5.) Trust the plan, but don’t let it hold you back; Even the best and smartest emergency preparedness planner can’t think of everything, and we know that mother nature isn’t interested in their best intentions.  Your plan may be a script, but you will need to be flexible and make decisions and improvisations based on the need of the event.   
At the end of the day remember:   
  • The time of the emergency is not when you should be exchanging business cards for the first time with your local partners. 
  • Take care of you and your own first, so you can focus on the rest. 
  • All plans and activities are fluid and dynamic based on the needs of the event.    


Photo courtesy of the United States Navy.

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