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NFPA 70E® Standard for Electrical Safety In The Workplace® continues to evolve and shape the way employers and employees approach electrical safety. Recent revisions place added emphasis on performing an arc-flash risk assessment as a critical part of every task being performed. Available in the newly released 2018 edition of 70E, Table 130.5(C) examines the Likelihood of Occurrence of an Arc-Flash can be used as a better tool in keeping workers safe.


Last week I covered this topic during my NFPA Live, an exclusive for NFPA Members. During the live event I got this follow-up question. I'm now sharing it with you. I hope you find some value in it.
NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!

ABC News photo


When you work at NFPA, you are struck by fire trends that would escape the average person who works in pharmaceuticals, banking, business or a tech start-up. A recent news story reminded me of that, and made me wonder, “Why do we continue to see the same fire challenges over and over again?”


On Thursday morning, there was a devastating fire at a fireworks factory just outside of Jakarta, Indonesia. Sparks from a welding job ignited fireworks and a horrific blaze broke out. At least 47 were killed and dozens more were injured. Some experienced burns over 80% of their body. The death toll is expected to rise.


Workers were unable to escape, prompting residents and police to break down walls in an attempt to free trapped victims. The explosion is being regarded as one of Indonesia's worst industrial disasters on record.


This is not the first time I have read or written about firework factory fires in my two years at NFPA. Earlier this year, I reported on an explosion in a Northern Portugal fireworks factory that took the lives of six. My colleague, who manages international relationships for NFPA, also posted a blog about a blast in a densely populated fireworks marketplace in Tultepec, Mexico right before Christmas. At least 42 people were killed and dozens were injured in that explosion. There have been other catastrophic fires linked to firework factory explosions.

ABC News reports that the cause behind the recent fatal event at the Tangerang plant was welding. This is another persistent fire concern that has been on NFPA’s radar. NFPA 51B, the Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work offers provisions to prevent injury, loss of life, and loss of property during welding, heat treating, grinding, and similar applications producing or using sparks, flames, or heat.


NFPA has taken steps to inform audiences about hot work best practices and safety precautions, and has reported on several incidents recently. In August, welders working on a Virginia rooftop caused harm at a country club. NFPA has also been collaborating with Boston Fire and local labor leaders on a hot work safety program. This certificate program was created in the aftermath of a Back Bay fire that took the lives of two firefighters in March 2014. So far this year, more than 20,000 trade workers have taken this hot work training so that they can pull permits and work safely within Boston city limits.


NFPA 1124, the Code for the Manufacture, Transportation and Storage of Fireworks and Pyrotechnic Articles, establishes fire and life safety requirements for the manufacture, transportation, and storage of fireworks, pyrotechnic articles, and any components containing pyrotechnic or explosive compositions. It does not apply to the retail sales, associated storage or the use of consumer fireworks by the general public. NFPA 1123, Code for Fireworks Display addresses the professional use of fireworks including set up and outdoor fireworks operations.


According to the ABC news report, Jakarta police official Nico Afinta said Thursday’s fire in Indonesia could have been prevented if the factory owner had observed safety protocols. Sound familiar?

drone, NFPA 2400
For public safety departments this question may seem more like a 1980’s movie plot, however, recent years and the even more recent executive order signed by President Donald Trump last Wednesday makes this a very real and plausible question.
Prior to Wednesday’s developments, fire departments, law enforcement agencies and EMS providers have explored Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Operations [otherwise known as drones, Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aircraft] via certification through FAA 14 CFR Part 107, or a FAA — Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COA). However, both come with certain restrictions and limitations. Although we can’t comment on the exact details of what extra new avenues a Public Safety Department can explore based on this order, the fact that the presidential order is aimed at local governments and allowing more freedom to test and explore UAS applications via waiver’s through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), this can only result in an increase in the experimentation, use and adoption of UAS within the Public Safety Community. What we can now explore today is different from last week and will likely be ever changing in the weeks that follow. 
So what’s NFPA doing to help Public Safety Departments enter the UAS arena? Well we are putting together a standard, NFPA® 2400, Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Used for Public Safety Operations. This standard is being developed by representatives from all types of public safety departments with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including the fire service, law enforcement, and emergency medical services. It covers everything from organization deployment to professional qualifications to UAS maintenance. (Download our fact sheet for some useful tools and sources you can use right now, and additional exclusive NFPA membership content that shares the concepts discussed by the technical committee.)
The committee responsible for developing NFPA 2400 will be meeting this November to discuss industry suggestions to NFPA 2400. Stay tuned for more NFPA UAS activity as there is much more to come. Fly safe and land softly.  


Why is it that structural fire engineering is rarely used in major building design projects in the U.S.?


That question was addressed last week in Alexandria, Virginia at a workshop co-sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction and the Applied Technology Research Council. The fire engineering design of hi-rise buildings and other unique structures around the world are routinely based on engineering principles. Structural members, connections and systems are designed to withstand fires appropriate to the occupancy, loads and protection provided. Global fire engineering firms integrate this dimension of fire engineering (which is in many respects better researched and understood than other aspects of the complex fire problem) in their overall approach to fire safety design. At the workshop, several UK-based fire engineering firms and a few American ones gave examples of such projects, illustrating where the application of typical standard fire resistance ratings are clearly not appropriate and in some cases are less than conservative.


The Fire Protection Research Foundation has contributed to the development of sound fire engineering methods, most recently with a study focused on the contribution of exposed structural timber to compartment fire growth.


So what’s holding us back? The workshop identified a number of possible barriers including a lack of widespread structural fire engineering curriculum elements in academia, a lack of widespread awareness about the engineered approach that ensures safer buildings, and a lack of a financial incentive to move away from a prescriptive approach.


In the end, the 40 people in room agreed that in light of recent major fire events around the world, the need to ensure that our hi-rise buildings are safe has never been clearer.



When it comes to fire news, emergency response incidents, and issues facing the fire service – The Western Fire Chiefs Association’s (WFCA) Daily Dispatch is the go-to source for more than 70,000 fire chiefs and aspiring chief officers. So, it only makes sense that WFCA would align with NFPA to share timely Daily Dispatch news updates on the 1st Responder Connection App which has been downloaded by thousands since its debut in June.


NFPA's 1st Responder Connection App is quickly becoming a must-have tool for those interested in incident response, firefighter health and safety, wildfire, smart technology, public safety education, and the codes and standards designed to keep the public and first responders safe. By adding the news ticker to its app, NFPA has increased its palm-of-your-hand information and knowledge value proposition.


During his opening remarks at the NFPA Responder Forum today, President and CEO Jim Pauley informed attendees from 13 different fire organizations about the new alliance with Daily Dispatch. Stating that the updated version of the  app, “Now offers users the latest fire service news, as well as an extensive cache of emergency response content.”

The Daily Dispatch launched in 2004, initially in Oregon, then spread to the Western states and expanded nationally. This is the first time they have shared their editorial highlights via another app. “I was very happy that NFPA thought of the Western Fire Chiefs as a partner to add our news feed to their app. We always look forward to working with NFPA,” David Van Bellegooijen, General Manager with the Western Fire Chiefs Association said. “It is a natural partnership. We see the Daily Dispatch as a training tool that allows the fire service to learn from the experience of others-from best practices to local challenges and issues."


It’s clear that the modern day fire service wants convenient access to information that will help them do their job. In its first five months, the app has offered users best practices, safety tips, and relevant emergency response content; the Daily Dispatch will provide additional job-related insight. Moving forward, the 1st Responder Connection App and the new partnership with Daily Dispatch will continue to evolve to meet the demands of the fire service.

Download the NFPA 1st Responder Connection App for free via Apple or Android today.


Cyrus Cutrer visited the NFPA Research Library & Archives several times over the week of October 16th while his father, Peter Cutrer, taught CFI-I (Certified Fire Inspector). Cyrus explored the public library space on the main floor, the Charles S. Morgan Technical collection in the lower level, and the archive rooms. He had up-close access to an ancient Sparky the Fire Dog, leather fire buckets, wooden fire alarm, helmets, nozzles, and more.

Being an exceedingly curious person and polite to a fault, Cyrus convinced Linda Wells, the library manager, to give him a tour of the entirety of 1 Batterymarch Park. Along the route they discussed the work that NFPA does in addition to “writing the codes.” The highlight of his tour was a conversation with Jim Pauley, where they discussed each of the challenge coins on display in his office.

Cyrus put together a 20 page slide show of NFPA which he confidently presented in the 1896 conference room to participants in the training session and NFPA staff. Cyrus delivered like a pro.

Come back any time, Cyrus. Just be prepared that next time we will put you to work!


Dozens of fire marshals from the United States and abroad gathered at NFPA’s Massachusetts headquarters last week for the 2017 State Fire Marshals Forum. Presentations and discussion at the two-day event centered on timely fire service concerns such as firefighter cancer and energy storage systems.


This year's forum saw the return of Canadian fire marshals, who did not attend last year's event, and the inclusion of fire marshals from Latin America for the first time ever. "It was a great opportunity for all of the attendees to work with their peers and network," said Steven Sawyer, NFPA's fire code regional director and executive secretary of the International Fire Marshals Association, who organized the event. "In advance, we invited attendees to identify the topics that matter most to them—and that proved to be a formula for success. This year’s program addressed persistent enforcement challenges and offered insight on some of the new hazards that AHJs and others are dealing with today."


The forum agenda included presentations by staff at NFPA and the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) on firefighter cancer and contamination, energy storage systems, economic analysis, tall wood buildings, data collection, community risk reduction, and more. Other topics discussed included fires in buildings under construction and combustible exterior wall assemblies. "The forum is all about helping enforcers and making them more effective and efficient in doing their important work," said Casey Grant, executive director of the FPRF.


NFPA offers a host of resources on everything that was discussed at the forum.


For example, it is the only organization to maintain a comprehensive list of resources, including training, on energy storage systems. NFPA also has webpages containing resources on construction fires and combustible exterior wall assemblies—topics that are addressed by NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations, and NFPA 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components, respectively.


Additionally, NFPA Journal has published feature articles on many of these topics; its May/June 2017 cover story, "Facing Cancer," for instance, draws attention to firefighter cancer, while its March/April 2017 cover story, "The Outliers," touches on tall wood buildings.

The following six proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 30B, Code for the Manufacture and Storage of Aerosol Products; NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code; NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®;  and NFPA 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components, are being published for public review and comment:  
Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the closing dates listed. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.  

I was introduced to model codes as a graduate intern fire protection engineer at Schirmer Engineering (now Jensen Hughes) outside of Washington DC in 1991. Since that time, for almost 27 years (I know many of you have been doing this longer than me), I have calculated the occupant load of business use areas using a factor of 100 sq-ft/person (gross). That’s how it always was and how I figured it would always be. And it was simple. 3000 sq-ft of office area? Occupant load is 30. 10,000 sq-ft? Occupant load is 100. Simple, but perhaps overly conservative.


The 100 sq-ft/person factor first appeared in the 1934 edition of NFPA 101, which was then known as the Building Exits Code. Subsequent studies by the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and other entities found that this factor is generally conservative because it is a gross factor and does not permit any reduction for corridors, closets, restrooms, or other non-occupied spaces. Later studies performed between 1966 and 1992 found the actual occupant density in business occupancies ranged from 150 to 248 sq-ft/person. The 248 sq-ft/person factor was reaffirmed by a 1993 study of 23 federal government and private sector office buildings.


nfpa 101 concentrated office


Based on these studies and a 2012 Fire Protection Research Foundation report, the Technical Committee on Mercantile and Business Occupancies floated a revision to the business factor by creating a committee input (CI) at the first draft stage for the 2018 edition of NFPA 101 to change it from 100 to 150 sq-ft/person for the purpose of soliciting public comments. A total of five public comments were received, some in favor of the revision, and some against (see the NFPA 101-2018 Second Draft Report for details). At this point, the technical committee was not convinced the revision was appropriate and did not move the CI forward as a second revision, meaning the 100 sq-ft/person factor would remain.


Representatives of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), however, disagreed, and took advantage of the entire NFPA process to revise the Code by submitting a notice of intent to make a motion (NITMAM) and debate the issue with the NFPA membership at the NFPA Annual Technical Meeting (sometimes called the “tech session”) this past June in Boston. The NITMAM was certified, making it a certified amending motion (CAM), and was openly debated on the floor of the tech session. The membership present agreed with the GSA reps and voted to revise the business factor from 100 to 150 sq-ft/person. In order to make the change in the Code, the technical committee got one more chance to have its say via a ballot of the amendment. At this point, the committee ballot passed, meaning they now agree with the revision, and it has been incorporated into Table


huddle room, NFPA 101


Recognizing that the new factor will reduce the occupant loads of business occupancies, new factors have been added to address collaboration rooms, which are small meeting spaces sometimes referred to as “huddle rooms.” Traditional private offices are going by the wayside in many cases. Designers are opting for more open workspaces. Sometimes, however, there is a need for private, quiet space, and these collaboration rooms can have an occupant density greater than 150 sq-ft/person. If the collaboration room is relatively small (not more than 450 sq-ft), the occupant load factor is 30 sq-ft/person. If it is larger than 450 sq-ft, it is treated like a conference room and the factor is 15 sq-ft/person. Although the Code doesn’t specify these are “net” factors, I would apply them in that way. For example, if I have a 10,000 sq-ft floor of office space that includes five collaboration rooms, each 200 sq-ft in area, I would calculate the occupant load of the floor as follows:


  • Collaboration rooms: [(5) X (200 sq-ft)] / (30 sq-ft/person) = 33.3 people (33 using standard rounding)
  • Remainder (office area): (10,000 sq-ft – 1000 sq-ft) / (150 sq-ft/person) = 60 people
  • TOTAL: 33 + 60 = 93 people


Using the former business factor, the occupant load would have been 100, so there is not much of a difference in this case because of the collaboration rooms, but the difference will be greater as the floor area increases. The net effect is the reduced occupant load might impact the required number and capacity of means of egress, and might also impact the need for fire alarm systems and emergency lighting, the requirements for which are driven by occupant load in business occupancies.


Note that the owner can always increase the occupant load as long as all Code requirements are met for the greater number of occupants. The factor for concentrated business use, 50 sq-ft/person, which was introduced in the 2015 edition of the Code, also remains.


This was a good example of a proponent for a code revision successfully utilizing the complete NFPA open-consensus process to make NFPA 101 more accurately reflect real world conditions. Although I’ll miss being able to divide the floor area by 100. My calculator will now be getting more of a workout.


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 and click on “FREE ACCESS.”

Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH


It is hard to believe that this blog has entered its second year. Thank you for taking the time to read them. I hope that my comments, if they have been doing nothing else, have made you think differently about how you look at electrical safety. That what you do regardless of your position at your company does play a role in creating a safer work environment. That you consider an electrically safe work condition to be your first choice. That the simple fact of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®, being to protect the employee from electrical injury is a major theme. Keep this in mind when trying to apply the minimum requirements. If everyone works towards that goal all employees should be returning home at the end of each day.

Although electrical safety should always be a serious issue, this blog offers a humorous viewpoint. When I began my electrical safety career decades ago, I was ignorant of any electrical safety procedures. It was the Wild West. Safety was not part of the electrical engineer curriculum. Test by touch and bare hand work were commonplace. A coworker’s view of your bravado was determined by your ability to handle a shock. Everyone knew of someone who had been electrocuted. Safety typically meant preventing an injury to someone using the equipment not the person working on it. NFPA 70, National Electrical Code® covered installations and NFPA 70E was just published with a chapter covering safety-related work practices. When I arrived at my first job at a research and test laboratory I was given a copy of the ten commandments of electrical safety. It was published in Orbit, the Journal of the Rutherford High Energy Laboratory, Didcot, England (31 January 1965) p.12. There are others out there but I am pretty sure that this one was the start of it all. It may have been originally written for laughs but there is some truth to what was included. These commandments contain requirements now included in NFPA 70E; lockout/tagout, electrically safe work condition, discharge of stored energy, proper test equipment and test before touch were in there decades before NFPA 70E. Enjoy.

Ten Commandments of Electrical Safety
I. Bewareth of the lightning that lurks in an undischarged capacitor lest it cause thee to be bounced upon thy backside in a most ungainly manner.
II. Causeth thou the switch that supplies large quantities of juice to be opened and thusly tagged, so thy days may be long on this earthly vale of tears.
III. Proveth to thyself that all circuits that radiateth and upon which thou worketh are grounded lest they lift thee to high-frequency potential and cause thee to radiate also.
IV. Taketh care thou useth the proper method when thou taketh the measure of high-voltage circuits so that thou doth not incinerate both thee and the meter, for verily though thou hast no account number and can be easily replaced, the meter doth have one and as a consequence bringeth much woe upon the supply department.
V. Tarry thee not amongst those who engage in intentional shocks for they are surely non-believers and are not long for this world.
VI. Taketh care thou tampereth not with interlocks and safety devices, for this incureth the wrath of thy seniors and bringeth the fury of the safety officer down upon thy head and shoulders.
VII. Worketh thee not on energized equipment, for if thou doeth, thy mates will surely be buying lunch without thee and thy space at the table will be filled by another.
VIII. Verily, verily I say unto thee, never service high-voltage equipment alone, for electric cooking is a slothful process, and thou might sizzle in thy own fat for hours on end before thy Maker sees fit to end thy misery and drag thee into His fold.
IX. Trifle thee not with radioactive tubes and substances lest thou commence to glow in the dark like a lightning bug.
X. Commit thee to memory the works of the prophets, which are written in the instruction books, which giveth the straight info and which consoleth thee, and thou cannot make mistakes.


- From Orbit, the Journal of the Rutherford High Energy Laboratory, Didcot, England (31 January 1965) p.12


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


Next time: Some of the statistics about your safety.


This year marks the third year for the NFPA Responder Forum, and the second year that presentations will be live-streamed from the fire service think-tank that brings together forward-thinkers from 13 top fire organizations.


Check out NFPA's Facebook Live video stream on Sunday, October 29 as Firehouse Magazine Editor in Chief Tim Sendelbach offers his view of the fire service during an opening night open mic session. A popular speaker, well-versed in fire and emergency services topics, Sendelbach worked as an assistant chief and chief of fire training before his current role overseeing content and editorial direction at Firehouse® Magazine,, Firehouse Expo, and Firehouse World.  (10/29 approximately 6:30 p.m. EST)


On Tuesday, October 31 be sure to set aside time in your day to listen and learn about key issues facing the fire service via your desktop, laptop or mobile device. Hear from experts about the toll that bullying can take in your department; mounting contamination concerns; innovative design strategies to reduce exposure in the firehouse; and important takeaways from the horrific Pulse Nightclub massacre.


Click the hyperlinks referenced below to learn more and to tune into these real-time video presentations. Look for the "add to calendar" link at the bottom of the page to give yourself a reminder. Then log in to NFPA Xchange on Halloween for education and insight on topics of interest.

I.David Daniels, At Large Director of the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section, will provide historical perspective on bullying, hazing and violence in the fire service. Learn more about the far-reaching consequences of these actions, and the positive steps being taken to reduce the number of incidents and firehouse fallout from this misbehavior. (10/31 8:30 a.m. EST)

Sought-after speaker and architect Paul Erickson with LeMay Erickson Willcox will offer insights on how and why it is critical to restrict exposures within the fire station from contaminated turnout gear, equipment and apparatus in his presentation, “Hot Zones and the Fire Station.” (10/31 10:30 a.m. EST)


Casey Grant with the Protection Research Foundation provides a summary of the, “Campaign for Contamination Control” which looked at long-term fire fighter health concerns due to chemical and biological contamination on the fire ground. Cancer and other diseases are presumed to be associated with fire ground exposure; and increasingly fire departments are looking at protection/hygiene practices and persistent harmful contamination found in firefighter equipment, apparatus, and fire stations. Grant will share recommended operational practices, a research road map and messaging strategies to help reduce the risk to firefighters. (10/31 1:00 p.m. EST)


Hear from Chief Otto Drozd III of Orange County, Florida Fire Rescue about the deadly Pulse Nightclub shooting that took the lives of 49 in June 2016. Drozd and others are working on a new universal operational standard for fire and emergency-services response to active-shooter incidents. With hostile events persisting in our world, now is the time to ensure that your community prioritizes preparation, planning, practice, and response so that you can handle cross-functional, cross-jurisdictional episodes. (2:00 p.m. EST)


The Responder Forum is addressing today’s fire problems by encouraging fire leaders and up-and-comers to look at safety solutions with a different lens. Don't miss the chance to be on the front line with information and knowledge related to modern day emergency response issues.


What’s changed in the 2018 edition of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®? Find out by watching Greg Harrington’s full webinar, which originally posted in September 2017, and is available until November 2. The presentation provides a detailed overview of all the updates - here are a few of the key changes discussed:

• New requirements for hazardous materials protection that goes beyond fire-related hazards
• Added criteria for door locking to prevent unwanted entry in educational, day care, and business occupancies
• New provisions that permit health care and ambulatory health care smoke compartments up to 40,000 ft2 (3720 m2) in area
• New requirements for risk analyses for mass notification systems
• New testing requirements for integrated fire protection and life safety systems


This webinar will save you hours of reviewing the new code to determine what’s changed from the 2015 edition, so make sure to check it out! The full version will continue to be available to NFPA members after November 2.

food trucks, NFPA 1

I’ve written about it in past posts, but this time of the year seems to bring to light many fire code issues and violations.  Whether it be haunted houses, fall festivals, fairs, school activities, corn mazes, seasonal decorations or other special events, fire inspectors are busy in the fall and soon after will be preparing for winter holiday activities (think Chrismas trees, snow removal, candles, holiday lights, and more special events to review and approve).


Here are some of the stories that I have come across this week related to local fire code issues, some seasonal, others more generic, and how NFPA 1 would apply to these scenarios if it was the fire code enforced in that jurisdiction:


  • Cancelled event with sky lanterns, North Carolina: Two events in North Carolina were cancelled because they included the release of sky lanterns.  NFPA 1, Section states “The use of unmanned, free-floating sky lanterns and similar devices utilizing an open flame shall be prohibited.” The potential hazard posed by sky lanterns is that once ignited and released, the device becomes an uncontrolled, flying ignition source, whose direction of travel is dependent on the wind direction, which can change unpredictably. Although the combustible fuel load of the device itself might be small, the potential exists for the device to ignite vegetation or other combustibles in the area and cause a significant fire if it is not quickly extinguished.


  • Delayed opening and cancellation of haunted houses: In Mansfield, OH a haunted house had a delayed opening due to fire code violations and in Baltimore, MD, a haunted house at a local college was cancelled due to local fire code violations. In NFPA 1, haunted housed are classified as special amusement buildings, a type of assembly occupancy.  Automatic sprinkler protection, smoke detection, and other fire protection features are required throughout the haunted house.  Common violations may include unmarked egress, lack of fire protection systems, excessive combustible materials and decorations, or obstructed exits. 


  • Food truck explosion in Portland, OR: An explosion and fire on a food truck in Portland, OR occurred when a food cart employee was re-fueling a hot generator that they use for power. Some of the fuel spilled and fumes generated from re-fueling were blown into an ignition sources and ignited. Two food carts and 10 vehicles were damaged. Two additional propane tanks exploded in the fire. Fortunately, there were no injuries or fatalities.  NFPA 1, 2018 edition will include new provisions specific to mobile and temporary cooking equipment, including food trucks. NFPA offers a plethora of free food truck safety resources to address this recent trend in food truck popularity and safety concerns.


  • Enforcement of fire lanes and fire department access: In Owensboro, KY, a new ordinance will go into effect to enforce maintaining fire lanes clear and unobstructed. NFPA 1 requires a fire department access road with an unobstructed width of not less than 20 ft to extend to within 50 ft (15 m) of at least one exterior door of the building that can be opened from the outside and that provides access to the interior. Where required by the AHJ, approved signs, approved roadway surface markings, or other approved notices shall be provided and maintained to identify fire department access roads (fire lanes) or to prohibit the obstruction thereof or both. The required width of a fire department access road shall not be obstructed in any manner, including by the parking of vehicles.


Thanks for reading, stay safe!


Follow along on twitter, @KristinB_NFPA


PHOTO: Portland, Oregon food truck fire


Society has had fires in buildings under construction since we first started building them. Buildings in the course of construction have many additional fire hazards not found in completed structures. Fire protection equipment to restrict the spread of fire and extinguish it promptly has not yet been installed. Fires are also often difficult to access by the fire department. Every opportunity exists for serious fire loss.


NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations is a unique standard in that it’s not a “brick and mortar” standard but a standard about the process of putting the “brick and mortar” in place.


Last week I covered this topic during my NFPA Live, an exclusive for NFPA Members. During the live event I got this follow-up question. I'm now sharing it with you. I hope you find some value in it. Also, check out our free bulletin on preventing construction site fires.


NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!


Halloween is fast approaching, and with it, the rush to find the perfect costume, that great pumpkin, and just the right decorations to cover your house. Hidden within all this fun and excitement are potential fire hazards, and NFPA wants to remind everyone about some simple Halloween safety tips to help avoid seasonal hazards.


During the years 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 840 home structure fires  annually that began with decorations. These fires caused an average of 2 civilian deaths, 36 civilian injuries, and $11.4 million in direct property damage per year. Almost half (45%) of these fires were tied to decorations being too close to some type of heat source, such as a candle. A fire can start when candles are too close to decorations or when long, trailing costumes come into contact with candles.

To help others safely enjoy fall festivities, NFPA has created a Halloween safety video and a Halloween fire safety tip graphic that you can share with family and friends. The following tips can help ensure a harm-free holiday season:


  • Candles - Refrain from having an open flame. Use battery-operated candles or glow-sticks in your jack-o-lanterns.
  • Costumes - Choose the right costume. Stay away from long or flowing fabric, and skip extraneous costume pieces.
  • Decorations - Avoid flammable decorations including dried flowers, cornstalks and crepe paper that are highly flammable. Keep decorations away from open flames and other heat sources, including light bulbs and heaters.
  • Exits - Remember to keep all decorations away from doors so that they are not blocking any exits or escape routes.
  • Smoke alarms - Make sure all of your smoke alarms are working and up to date.
  • Visibility - Provide flashlights to children or have them carry glow sticks as part of their costumes. Make sure if a child is wearing a mask that the eye holes are large enough to see out of them.


Have a great Halloween!

The Report of the Motions Committee addresses five Fall 2017 NFPA Standards with certified amending motions that may be presented at the NFPA Technical Meeting (Tech Session) in Las Vegas, NV on June 11-14, 2018: 

  • NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations 
  • NFPA 260, Standard Methods of Tests and Classification System for Cigarette Ignition Resistance of Components of Upholstered Furniture 
  • NFPA 289, Standard Method of Fire Test for Individual Fuel Packages 
  • NFPA 1001, Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications 
  • NFPA 1981, Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services
This Report also identifies a list of 28 additional standards that have been determined by the Motions Committee to be Consent Standards and shall be forwarded to the Standards Council for balloting.  In accordance with 1.6.2(a) of the Regulations, a fifteen day appeal period follows the publication date of this Report in which one may file an appeal related to the issuance of the Consent Standards listed below. The filing deadline for such appeal is October 27, 2017.
These Consent Standards are as follows:   
  • NFPA 12, Standard on Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems 
  • NFPA 12A, Standard on Halon 1301 Fire Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 22, Standard for Water Tanks for Private Fire Protection
  • NFPA 33, Standard for Spray Application Using Flammable or Combustible Materials 
  • NFPA 34, Standard for Dipping, Coating, and Printing Processes Using Flammable or Combustible Liquids 
  • NFPA 68, Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting
  • NFPA 79, Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery
  • NFPA 92, Standard for Smoke Control Systems
  • NFPA 204, Standard for Smoke and Heat Venting
  • NFPA 259, Standard Test Method for Potential Heat of Building Materials
  • NFPA 261, Standard Method of Test for Determining Resistance of Mock-Up Upholstered Furniture Material Assemblies to Ignition by Smoldering Cigarettes
  • NFPA 270, Standard Test Method for Measurement of Smoke Obscuration Using a Conical Radiant Source in a Single Closed Chamber 
  • NFPA 274, Standard Test Method to Evaluate Fire Performance Characteristics of Pipe Insulation
  • NFPA 495, Explosive Materials Code
  • NFPA 498, Standard for Safe Havens and Interchange Lots for Vehicles Transporting Explosives
  • NFPA 705, Recommended Practice for a Field Flame Test for Textiles and Films
  • NFPA 1026, Standard for Incident Management Personnel Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1061, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Public Safety Telecommunications Personnel 
  • NFPA 1081, Standard for Industrial Fire Brigade Member Professional Qualifications 
  • NFPA 1404, Standard for Fire Service Respiratory Protection Training
  • NFPA 1451, Standard for a Fire and Emergency Service Vehicle Operations Training Program
  • NFPA 1855, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents
  • NFPA 1858, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services
  • NFPA 1925, Standard on Marine Fire-Fighting Vessels
  • NFPA 1962, Standard for the Care, Use, Inspection, Service Testing, and Replacement of Fire Hose, Couplings, Nozzles, and Fire Hose Appliances
  • NFPA 1964, Standard for Spray Nozzles
  • NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS) 
  • NFPA 2001, Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems
The anticipated issuance date for these consent standards is November 10, 2017 with an effective date of November 30, 2017.   


Last month, Florida Governor Rick Scott issued an emergency action requiring all nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have an emergency power plan. This includes acquisition of generator capacity that ensures ambient temperatures of 80 degrees or less for a four-day period in the event of electrical power loss. The plan also mandates acquisition of a four-day fuel supply for those generators.

These requirements will need to be met by building owners, facility managers and designers in order to receive approval from numerous authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ), including the state fire marshal, for compliance with the original installation. Many other requirements need to be met for accreditation at the state and federal level, and for reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

As building owners, facility managers and designers work with contractors to adequately meet the governor’s mandate, there are many electrical, fire, and life safety provisions that need to be considered.


NFPA's upcoming webinar, “Florida Nursing Home/Assisted Living Emergency Power, Fire and Life Safety Considerations,” on October 26, 12:30-1:30pm, EST, will cover the associated essentials of meeting this requirement, with an overview of applicable NFPA codes and standards, including NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code; NFPA 37, Standard for the Installation and Use of Stationary Combustion Engines and Gas Turbines; NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code; and NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems.

While this information applies to all nursing homes and assisted living facilities that must comply with CMS’s healthcare requirements, Florida providers, facility managers, building owners and designers are strongly encouraged to register for the webinar and ensure that they receive the needed approvals and accreditations by the state’s November 15, 2017, deadline.

John Hart, PE, senior fire protection engineer, NFPA, and Ken Willette, NFPA segment director, will be co-presenting.

I’ve had a couple questions come across my desk asking what the Life Safety Code would require for wall construction to subdivide a building into separate smaller “buildings.” This subdivision is for the purposes of avoiding a requirement for automatic sprinkler protection by reducing the height or area of the smaller buildings to below the prescribed threshold values at which sprinkler protection is required. 

The short answer is that the Life Safety Code contains no such provision. It is not a building code, therefore it does not contain requirements for barriers to create “separate buildings.” If the code requires automatic sprinkler protection throughout the building, it is then up to the authority having jurisdiction to determine what constitutes the boundaries of the building, usually with the help of the applicable building code.  Having said that, there are some provisions in the code that flirt with the concept of building separation walls, so the questions I received were not without merit. 

One of those provisions deals with separating portions of buildings with different types of construction for the purpose of classifying the construction type: Where the building or facility includes additions or connected structures of different construction types, the rating and classification of the structure shall be based on one of the following: 

(1) Separate buildings, if a two-hour or greater vertically aligned fire barrier wall in accordance with NFPA 221 exists between the portions of the building

(2) Separate buildings, if provided with previously approved separations

(3) Least fire-resistive construction type of the connected portions, if separation as specified in or is not provided   

For example, if I have an existing building of Type II(222) construction (noncombustible, two-hour rated structure), and I add on to it using Type II(000) construction (noncombustible, nonrated structure), the building’s overall construction classification will be downgraded to Type II(000). This is the least fire resistive type present, unless the addition is separated from the existing building by a two-hour or greater vertically aligned fire barrier wall in accordance with NFPA 221, Standard for High Challenge Fire Walls, Fire Walls, and Fire Barrier Walls, in which case the existing building continues to be classified as Type II(222) and the addition is classified as Type II(000). From the Life Safety Code’s perspective, however, it is still one building, and if the building requires automatic sprinkler protection throughout, then both the existing building and the addition must be protected. The provision of relates only to separating different types of construction for the purpose of construction classification. 

Another question I received asked whether an existing building with two, side-by-side dwelling units could add a new third dwelling unit separated by a two-hour fire barrier and classify the addition as a new one-family dwelling (sprinklered) and the existing portion as an existing two-family dwelling (nonsprinklered). Or would the entire building be classified as an apartment building (three or more dwelling units) and require sprinklers throughout? The Life Safety Code says if there are three or more dwelling units, it’s an apartment building, and Chapter 43, Building Rehabilitation, says automatic sprinklers would be required throughout the building. However, NFPA’s building code, NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, says you can separate townhouses with not more than two dwelling units from each other by two-hour fire barriers and classify them as a series of attached, one- and two-family dwellings (see Section 22.5 of NFPA 5000 for details). The International Building Code, which is widely used here in the U.S., might have similar criteria. 

Another (paraphrased) question asked whether a new school could be subdivided into fire compartments formed by two-hour fire barriers, each not more than 12,000 square feet in area, to avoid requiring automatic sprinklers under the 2015 edition of NFPA 101. (Note that the 2018 edition was revised to require sprinklers in all new educational occupancies other than those not more than 1,000 square feet in area or consisting of a single classroom. See 14.3.5.) The answer to this one was “maybe,” because Annex A contained the following provision:

A. It is the intent to permit use of the criteria of to create separate buildings for purposes of limiting educational occupancy building area to not more than 12,000 square feet (1120 square meters). 

So this suggestion left it up to the AHJ to determine if subdivision by two-hour barriers was permitted in lieu of sprinklers. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fan of this language. Either permit something via code language or don’t. It doesn’t help anyone to have wishy-washy “suggestions” in Annex A and then force me to tell people “it’s up to the AHJ.” Frankly, I’m glad this provision in Annex A is gone (thank you, Technical Committee on Educational and Day Care Occupancies). It’s not uncommon to hear me say in technical committee meetings, “I’m going to have to answer questions on this…” The code isn’t perfect, but we try really hard to make it as perfect as we can. You can help; participate in the process by submitting public input for revisions. The 2021 edition revision cycle is right around the corner. Your opportunity to make your voice heard is now!


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 and click on “FREE ACCESS.” Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

John Sullivan, deputy chief of the Worcester Fire Department/vice chair of the IAFC health and safety section, discusses why it's so important for firefighters to get physical exams each year.


The average age of a first heart attack for the general population is 66. For the fire service, it’s 49. It’s a sobering statistic that underscores the critical importance of annual exams for firefighters.

The presentation, “Every Firefighter Needs An Annual Physical: An Interactive Discussion on Why and How to Make It Happen” at NFPA’s 2017 Conference & Expo in Boston, underscored the potentially life-saving difference annual exams can make by monitoring and/or detecting health issues as early as possible.

Strategies for ensuring that all firefighters get an annual exam, as well as the challenges for doing that, were addressed by David Fischler, JD, CFO, with 28 years of experience at Suffolk County (New York) Fire Rescue; Dr. Michael Hamrock, who practices internal medicine and addiction medicine at Elizabeth’s Medical Center; and John Sullivan, deputy chief of the Worcester Fire Department/vice chair of the IAFC health and safety section.

Most fire departments require a physical in order for firefighters to get on the job, but it’s not clear how many firefighters actually receive annual exams thereafter. According to Chief Sullivan, many factors play into whether a fire chief places a priority on annual exams.

While NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments, is considered the gold standard, Sullivan notes that not all fire departments have access to it.

With those limitations in mind, Dr. Hamrock says that primary care physicians need to be trained about firefighter health issues and the unique risks associated with the job so that they understand why firefighters need comprehensive physicals.

To learn more about the importance of annual exams for firefighters, listen to the full audio of this presentation.
NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members also have full access to ALL the 2017 NFPA C&E education session audio & video files. Browse the full list of education sessions with attached audio/video.


“This weekend we lost a truly nice and genuine man whose passing marks the end of a legacy for the fire service,” NFPA’s Fire Service Segment Director Ken Willette said after hearing that former Phoenix Fire Chief and fire services icon Alan Brunacini died this weekend at age 80.


Chief Brunacini began his career in 1958 as a firefighter, promoting to engineer, captain, battalion chief, and assistant chief before holding the position of fire chief in Phoenix from 1978 to 2006. In his retirement, he was a sought-after speaker, contributor and thought-leader.


Brunacini had a long relationship with NFPA, grounded in mutual respect for the fire service, a passion for learning; empowerment of the next generation of firefighters, and a focus on the needs of those we serve. He held a seat on the NFPA Board of Directors from 1978 until 1984 when he was nominated Second Vice Chairman, then rose to the role of First Vice Chairman in 1986, and ultimately became NFPA’s Chairman of the Board from 1988 until 1990. Brunacini continued to be involved with the NFPA Board until 1994, holding the position of Past Chairman, and then serving as a member of both the Long Range Planning Committee and the Nominating Committee.


Chief Brunacini was chairman of the technical committee for NFPA 1500 Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety, Health, and Wellness Program and NFPA 1710 Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments. He was also a strong proponent of using residential sprinklers; and was actively involved in research projects related to fire science, and firefighter health and safety. Brunacini published his Fire Command texts in 1985 and in 2002. These documents transformed fire and emergency services management, and prompted NFPA to develop a multi-part series of training slides and workbooks as supplements to the texts.


Chris Dubay, NFPA’s vice president and chief engineer, recalled the impact that Brunacini had on his career. “Chief Brunacini challenged me to lead and think differently. It was a blessing to have him as a mentor. He provided a clear model of how to lead the way, even in controversy and when others might disagree with the direction,” Dubay said. “I cannot explain or justify why he invested in me, but I am forever grateful to him. He has left a large and long standing impact on the fire service, and on me, personally.”


In 2001, Brunacini received NFPA’s Paul C. Lamb Award, an honor bestowed on individuals who demonstrate the height of volunteer spirit and deed. Like Lamb, Brunacini’s career reflected a broad range of responsibilities and decades of achievements.


The next year, Brunacini was recognized by the Metro Chiefs with a “lifetime achievement” award. Large urban fire department peers applauded Brunacini’s leadership skills and his knack for employing common-sense customer service concepts within the fire service. Chief Brunacini’s refreshing takeaways were documented in a 1996 humorous, conversational-styled book, Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service, which became a bible for firefighters, administrators and officers, and is still considered a go-to resource today. The affable fire chief was also known for reminding the fire service to remember what matters most to “Mrs. Smith,” a character he established to encourage the personalization of fire service.


For nearly four decades, Brunacini was a friend to NFPA. He made a special appearance at the NFPA Responder Forum in Charlotte, North Carolina last fall, sharing his wit and wisdom with representatives from 13 different fire organizations. Dressed in one of his signature Hawaiian shirts, Brunacini’s remarks were simple, straightforward and timeless – even as he addressed the topic of technology within the fire service. In this clip, he talks about setting expectations and firefighter culture.

Chief Brunacini was a legend, and yet one of the most approachable talents out there. His light never dimmed. Earlier this year, he participated in an NFPA podcast on firefighter safety and NFPA 1500, which was then covered in an NFPA Journal® article entitled, “We drove like we were crazy.” This title was a direct quote from Brunacini, who shared his comedic, yet invaluable insight on PPE, daredevil driving practices – and the alarming number of firefighter deaths and injuries that preceded the development of NFPA 1500 in 1987.


Chief Brunacini leaves a legacy that will serve generations of the fire service for years to come.

In 2016, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) adopted the 2012 edition of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, which requires compliance with the 2010 edition of NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives. As of January 1, 2017, all healthcare facility managers who work in hospital settings must comply with NFPA 80.

NFPA 80 covers the installation, care and maintenance of many types of fire doors and protective openings. More specifically, it requires that yearly inspections and testing are conducted on all fire door assemblies, ensuring that deficiencies are corrected; follow-up reacceptance testing is conducted; and records are properly maintained for review by the authority having jurisdiction.


Our new NFPA 80 fact sheet provides an overview of these requirements, pinpointing:

  • which door components need to be tested and inspected;
  • who is qualified to perform the inspections; and
  • how those efforts can be documented.

Phoenix Society Walk of Remembrance 2017


Earlier this month I attended the 29th Phoenix World Burn Congress (PWBC), the largest gathering of the burn survivor community. It is a poignant reminder of why fire prevention and life safety is so important. This is the annual gathering of those impacted by fire – survivors, caretakers, healthcare professionals, fire service - supporting one another and talking about prevention and advocacy strategies. It is an incredible experience.   


I went to my first PWBC in 2009 and am always amazed at how quickly 1000 people can come together in such an accepting and compassionate way. What is equally impressive is the strength, resiliency and optimism of those whose lives have been impacted by burns. In addition, their desire to help prevent future fie tragedies from occurring is remarkable.   

NFPA has had a longstanding partnership with Phoenix Society because the work of the Phoenix Society is a critical component in the full fire prevention system and intertwined with everyone who works in fire and life safety. Without the Phoenix Society, NFPA cannot fully achieve our mission. We work with Phoenix Society on the Fire Sprinkler Initiative’s Faces of Fire campaign and other projects. Most recently we produced a podcast series called The Survivors, that will be released later this month.    


This work is important. Survival from a burn injury in a United States hospital is nearing 96% and that is good news. But it means there are more and more people who need support throughout their life. I am honored to be the board president of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors on behalf of NFPA and help them expand their mission of building a community for transformational healing.   


For years, Phoenix Society has been developing leading edge resources for the burn community and continues to do so today. They amplify the survivor voice in conversations that influence the future of acute and long-term care, psychosocial support, and research. They work alongside NFPA and other partners for fire prevention and advocating for up to date fire and life safety codes.    


This is a critical organization doing incredible work. NFPA is excited about what the future holds and is supporting their efforts to expand services so they can reach more people in more places, increase their advocacy voice and further their leadership role in burn care.   


At NFPA, we often say that we never do anything alone. We have much greater impact through by working with others. Our work with Phoenix Society is moving us closer to our vision of eliminating loss from fire. 

I will be the first to admit that I am no expert on wildfire protection. In fact, my area of focus is usually in building and life safety and passive fire protection methods, far from the world of wildfires. But, working with NFPA 1 has required me to expand my knowledge of other fire protection topics as the Fire Code is all encompassing when it comes to fire protection and fire prevention.

Anyone who has been paying even the slightest attention to national news can’t help but notice the complete devastation that wildfires are causing right now in Northern California. I was amazed at the statistic that, at one point, the fires were advancing at a rate of more than a football field every three seconds. Unfathomable to a person like me, who hasn’t experienced a major wildfire where I live. As of this morning the statistics show the following:

• 23 fatalities
• 285 missing
• 170,000 acres burned
• 3,500 structures burned
• 20,000 people evacuated
• 8,000+ firefighters working to control the fires



NFPA 1 addresses the Wildland Urban Interface in Chapter 17 of the Code. Chapter 17 and NFPA 1144, Standard for Reducing Structure Ignition Hazards from Wildland Fire, provide minimum requirements for planning, construction, maintenance, education, and management elements for the protection of life and property in areas where wildland fire poses a potential threat to structures. The term wildland/urban interface is defined in 3.3.275 as “the presence of structures in locations in which the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) determines that topographical features, vegetation fuel types, local weather conditions, and prevailing winds result in the potential for ignition of the structures within the area from flames and firebrands of a wildland fire.” Although the term wildland/urban interface implies that the primary concern is the location of structures relative to the wildland, it is actually the combustibility and density of structures that plays a larger role in establishing the risk from the hazard of wildland fires. The wildland/urban interface should not be thought of as a specific geographic location, but rather a set of conditions that can exist wherever structures are exposed to potential wildland fires. Where unusual conditions exist, the AHJ can approve alternative methods of providing a level of protection at least equivalent to that required by this chapter. See Section 1.4 for additional guidance on equivalencies, alternatives, and modifications.

Chapter 17 was expanded in the 2012 edition of the Code by extracting some of the major requirements of NFPA 1144. This expansion is intended to make the Code more self-contained and user-friendly for jurisdictions subject to potential wildland fire hazards. NFPA 1144 provides a methodology for assessing wildland fire ignition hazards around existing structures, residential developments, and subdivisions as well as for evaluating improved property or planned property improvement that is to be located in a wildland/urban interface area. The standard also provides minimum requirements for new construction to reduce the potential of structure ignition from wildland fires.


While I will emphasize that I am no expert on wildland fire protection or prevention, NFPA is. NFPA’s team of experts offers free resources, fact sheets, research and reports, and other educational materials to help jurisdictions protect their communities from the devastation of wildfire. Firewise USA™, a project of NFPA cosponsored by the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, is a recognition program for small communities that take action to reduce wildfire risks. The Firewise website ( offers a wealth of information including on-line education. In addition, NFPA offers a professional, two-day, on-site training course, Assessing Structure Ignition Potential from Wildfire, based on the principles of NFPA 1144 and NFPA 1141, Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land Development in Wildland, Rural, and Suburban Areas. For more information, you can visit


Thanks for reading. Stay safe!


Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

A common question we hear is “why is the code handbook so much bigger than the code?” To really see the difference, let’s look at one specific section of a code and the corresponding material found in the handbook. Below is what you see when you look at 8.5.2 in NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems (2016 edition):

In the Automatic Sprinkler Systems Handbook example shown below, commentary immediately follows the code to explain the requirement in greater detail and artwork illustrates it further:

And to give an even deeper understanding of the requirement, in the handbook this code section also has an NFPA 13 Lesson to explain how to determine sprinkler spacing and location:


While this example is specific to NFPA 13 and the 2016 edition of that handbook, every NFPA handbook is different and each one offers unique features and material to help you understand the code requirements. If you have thoughts on what you’d like to see in a future handbook, let us know! We’re developing these products as tools to help you do your job.

Home in flames, Los Angeles "La Tuna" wildfire

As I write this on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 11, 2017, firefighters in California are battling 22 large wildfires that have burned nearly 170,000 acres - most of that acreage in 8 counties in the northern part of the state. According to CAL FIRE, firefighters are bracing for the winds to shift this evening and increase in speed. Seventeen people are confirmed to have died in the wildfires this week. Eleven people died in the Tubbs Fire alone, making it the 6th deadliest fire in California's history.


Watching this horrific disaster unfold is devastating and depressing. Knowing all the good that so many residents, firefighters, and agencies have done over so many years in California to prepare for wildfire makes it harder to accept that at last count 3,500 structures have been destroyed and that the region is experiencing a tragic loss of life. (Note: news sources on Thursday morning, October 12, cite the rising death toll at 23 people killed). This outcome is what NFPA staff and so many other safety advocates dread and spend our careers trying to avert. 


Fielding media inquiries this week has been difficult - but of course nowhere near on the scale of difficulty of fighting the fire, carrying out evacuation orders, or watching one's home and neighborhood go up in flames. The unfortunate trend of the media is to play the blame game. I can't and won't play that game, by calling out any single entity to say it is their fault the fires happened, or homes burned, or people died. What I can do is to point out the tremendous and humbling complexity of the wildfire problem when it comes to the disastrous loss of homes and lives. What I can do is call on everyone in our society to look in the mirror and to think - whether in your personal or professional lives - what must I do to stop this happening over and over again?


What I can do is to try to shake people out of complacency. Yes, it will happen. You need to be prepared. It's very likely that firefighters can't rescue you if there are coping with multiple large, fast-moving wildfires. Yes, if your home is already burning during a major wildfire, the firefighters are going to try to save the home next door. You need to be ready to be on your own for up to 72 hours. Yes, you need a plan. Yes, you need a go-kit for evacuation. If neighboring homes are closer than 100 feet to yours, you pose an ignition risk to each other. Yes, you need to work on becoming a Firewise USA site with your neighbors. Yes, you need to participate in Wildfire Community Preparedness Day. You need to do a home inventory in case your home burns to the ground and you need to make an insurance claim. When you rebuild you need to make your home fire-resistant. And we all need to come to terms with a new normal of large and frequent wildfires.


You may already know these things and be acting on the sound advice provided by NFPA and its partners. If this information is new to you, we have wonderful examples for you to emulate. Ordinary people, whether in the 140 Firewise USA sites in California, participants in the Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network, or in local Fire Safe Councils have looked in the mirror, learned what they need to do, and taken action. Follow their lead - these people are your neighbors, and they are the ones who are truly making a difference in wildfire safety at the local level.


Finally, if you are in an area with a Red Flag Warning - where conditions are ripe for wildfire - stay alert and be ready to leave. Please don't wait for an official evacuation order. Trust your gut, prepare for the worst, and with you, I will hope for the best.





Photo: Home burning during the September 2017 La Tuna Fire in Los Angeles, provided courtesy of Jeremy Oberstein,  Los Angeles City Fire Department.

In what seems like a continuous string of tragedies (earthquakes in Mexico; hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean; and the deadly Las Vegas mass shooting), Northern California is now in the grip of devastating wildfires, which have left at least 17 people dead and another 180 missing – a sad, ironic twist to 2017’s Fire Prevention Week. I’ve been able to connect some of the earlier events to my #101Wednesdays posts, but wildfires are a bit of an enigma to me, and there’s no direct correlation to the Life Safety Code. My experience with wildfires was limited to strapping on an Indian can in my late-teens and early twenties as an on-call firefighter in Central Massachusetts and wetting down the edges of relatively small brush fires. We never had fires where I grew up like they have out West. Fortunately, NFPA has a group of experts dedicated to the wildland fire problem. I invite you to check out their Fire Break blog posts for the latest information.

On a happier note, the 2018 edition of NFPA 101 has officially hit the street. If you were unable to view my one-hour webinar on changes from the 2015 edition, it was recorded and can be viewed here free of charge. One of the changes I touched on was the addition of new occupant life safety requirements for animal housing facilities, which are now categorized as special structures in Chapter 11 of the code. Animal housing facilities are defined as areas of a building or structure, including interior and adjacent exterior spaces, where animals are fed, rested, worked, exercised, treated, exhibited, or used for production (3.3.19). Note that an animal housing facility is not an occupancy classification; an animal housing facility could be a storage occupancy (e.g., barns and stables), a business occupancy (e.g., a veterinary hospital), or a mercantile occupancy (e.g., a pet store), among others. As with other special structures, the usual occupancy-specific requirements apply in addition to any modifications by the special structure provisions of Chapter 11. In the case of a horse stable, for example, the storage occupancy requirements of Chapter 42 would apply as modified by the new animal housing facility provisions of Section 11.1.

Section 11.1 provides a reference to NFPA 150, Standard on Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities, 2016 edition. While the scope of NFPA 150 includes the safety of both human and animal occupants, the scope of NFPA 101 is limited to the safety of human occupants. Section 11.1 indicates that where human occupants are expected to delay their egress to care for animals or assist with their evacuation in the event of a fire, the means of egress requirements of NFPA 150 are to be applied where they are more restrictive than those of NFPA 101.

Chapter 8 of NFPA 150 specifies requirements for means of egress in animal housing facilities where handlers will assist with animal evacuation:

  • At least two means of egress must be provided
  • Doors must have a clear width of not less than 32 in., 1.5-times the average width of the largest animal expected to be accommodated, or 1.5-times the width of any equipment needed to facilitate evacuation, whichever is greater
  • Door height must also be sufficient to accommodate any animals or evacuation equipment
  • In nonsprinklered facilities, the travel distance to an exit meeting the aforementioned requirements is limited to 75 feet
  • With automatic sprinklers, the permitted travel distance increases to 100 feet


It is expected these travel distance limits will be more restrictive than the typical NFPA 101 travel distance limits. For example, in ordinary-hazard storage occupancies, exit travel distance is limited to 200 feet (nonsprinklered) or 400 feet (sprinklered) (42.2.6); so the reduced exit travel distance limits of NFPA 150 are probably the most significant implications of the new animal housing facility requirements in the Life Safety Code. As noted in Annex A of NFPA 150, these reduced travel distances recognize the difficulty associated with evacuating panicking animals from a facility during an emergency.

It should be noted that NFPA 150 contains additional requirements which help to protect animals and their handlers from the effects of fire. For example, facilities that house what it refers to as Category A animals (animals that pose a potential risk to the health or safety of rescuers or the general public; animals that cannot be removed without potential risk to the health and welfare of the animal or other animals; animals that are impossible or impractical to move; animals that are not mobile or not in a mobile enclosure) or horses must be protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system. Although NFPA 101 requires compliance only with the means of egress provisions of NFPA 150, application of its numerous other requirements should be considered where humans might need to remain in the facility to assist with the evacuation of animals during a fire.

I hope this glimpse at one of the new requirements of the 2018 edition of NFPA 101 has been useful. I’ll look at highlighting additional revisions in the coming weeks. Until then, thanks again for reading and 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 and click on “FREE ACCESS.”

Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH


The 2018 Edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® was issued by the NFPA Standards Council on August 1, 2017, with an effective date of August 21, 2017; this new edition supersedes all previous editions. This edition was approved as an American National Standard on August 21, 2017. As important to employee safety as NFPA 70E is, it is not a legislated standard like NFPA 70, National Electrical Code® or NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®. Although, NFPA 70E is included in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as a United States of America consensus standard for electrical safety in the workplace, this most recent edition will not be specifically called out until the CFR is revised. So, if no one mandates that you use a standard, why would you use the new edition? If you follow a previous edition and do not have to comply with the newest one for some time, why should you use it now? In the case of NFPA 70E, the answer is to protect your employees from electrical hazards to the best of your ability.

First, safety standards are not changed to become “less safe”. The changes in a consensus standard are driven by the public and industry. Changes to the standard are to increase the electrical safety for the employee. Going back to a standard being the minimum set of requirements, there is nothing preventing you from implementing a more stringent safety program. If the requirements in the newer edition are “safer” you can and should implement them even if you have to use the older edition. Even if what you implement is not in any edition, you are not prohibited from applying something if it exceeds the standard requirements.

Second, many of you will state that you are mandated to follow the previous edition of a standard. Again that may be mandated but see the previous paragraph. It may require providing some education to the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) who often expects to see conformance to the minimum set of requirements. No AHJ should require that you to do something “less safe” than you want to do. However, since NFPA 70E is typically not mandated by a governmental authority, most often it is you or your employer who determines which edition will be enforced or it is you who is the AHJ for electrical safety in your workplace.

Third, there are changes to technology, an understanding gained about a particular issue, improvements in processes, etc. that drive change in a safety standard. The most recent edition addresses any of those that are brought up during the standard’s revision cycle. For example, the 1988 edition did not include arc flash as a hazard. The 1995 edition introduced concerns about an arc-flash injury. Since then the arc-flash phenomena has been researched and changes implemented to better protect the employee from this hazard. If you only use previous editions it might be years before your employees benefit from not only being protected from an identified hazard but being better protected as knowledge is gained over the years. Not using the current edition may be placing your employees at a risk that is not necessary. It is hard to explain away an injury from a hazard that industry had identified and provided guidance on protecting from.

Fourth, changes are often made to a standard for it to be easier to use. Requirements are clarified, revised, or edited to make them easier to understand and implement. For example, Article 120 has been reorganized in the new edition to provide a logical sequence of setting a policy for implementing an electrically safe work condition (ESWC) program through the steps of establishing an ESWC.

Fifth, your electrical safety work program and the field work of employees must be audited on a regular basis. Ultimately, these audits serve to determine if employees are being properly protected from electrical hazards. Implementing new concepts or requirements from the most recent edition as part of the process will help keep you current with what industry considers to be a necessity.

Lastly, a consensus standard is improved by you. Using the most recent edition gives you the opportunity to determine if further refinements or new requirements are necessary to achieve the goal of protecting employees from electrical hazards. You can then submit an input to the technical committee so that the next edition can improve on the safety for those employees.

Safety standards are not revised for the sake of revision. Today, an employee will be killed in the United States of America when interacting with electrical equipment. Consensus standards are revised by the public, industry and individuals who have the passion to make the workplace safer. If you need motivation to work towards this goal, think of every employee that you put at risk to be a beloved family member.

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

Next time: The ten commandments of electrical safety.

Headline from White House press office declaring Fire Prevention Week

The president of the United States has proclaimed October 8 through October 14, 2017, as Fire Prevention Week. On Sunday, October 8 the United States flag was flown at half staff at all federal office buildings in honor of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. President Donald J. Trump is calling on all Americans to participate in Fire Prevention Week with appropriate programs and activities by renewing efforts to prevent fires and all of their tragic consequences.

NFPA 13 is undergoing a major re-organization to improve usability of the standard. This presentation will discuss the initiative, progress made to date, and will outline the new format of this standard.
Last week I covered this topic during my NFPA Live, an exclusive for NFPA Members. During the live event I got this follow-up question. I hope you find some value in it.


NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!

During the recent National Safety Council (NSC) Congress & Expo, the world’s largest forum for health and safety technology, products, education, and networking, OSHA’s preliminary Top 10 list of violations for 2017 was revealed. NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman explained, “The OSHA Top 10 is more than just a list, it is a blueprint for keeping workers safe. When we all work together to address hazards, we can do the best job possible to ensure employees go home safely each day.”


Each year, the rankings change very little. In 2017, however, with more than 6,000 reported violations, the need for fall protection general requirements was identified as the top priority. Below is the full list of hazards, and some of the NFPA codes and standards that currently exist so that organizations and workers can optimize safety and minimize workplace hazards.

  1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501): 6,072 violations
  2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200): 4,176 violations - NFPA 704, the Standard System for the Identification of the Hazards of Materials for Emergency Response presents a simple, easily understood system of markings (referred to as the "NFPA hazard diamond") that provides a general sense of hazardous materials, and notes the severity as they relate to emergency response. This standard and the chemical data base that NFPA publishes in the Fire Protection Guide to HazMat can help workers minimize occupational risk.
  3. Scaffolding (1926.451): 3,288 violations – There are some stability considerations addressed in Chapter 8 of NFPA 241, the Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations. The document provides measures for preventing or minimizing fire damage to structures, including those in underground locations, during construction, alteration, or demolition.
  4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134): 3,097 violations - NFPA 1852 The Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) establishes requirements for the SCBA used by the fire service. SCBA is required by the respiratory protection guidelines set forth in NFPA 1500, the Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program. These standards minimize the risk that firefighters can face due to improper maintenance of equipment, contamination, or damage.
  5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147): 2,877 violations
  6. Ladders (1926.1053): 2,241 violations
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178): 2,162 violations - NFPA 505 Fire Safety Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks Including Type Designations, Areas of Use, Conversions, Maintenance, and Operations mitigates potential fire and explosion hazards involving powered industrial trucks, including fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, and other specialized industrial trucks powered by electric motors or internal combustion engines.
  8. Machine Guarding (1910.212): 1,933 violations
  9. Fall Protection – Training Requirements: 1,523 violations
  10. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305): 1,405 violations - NFPA is perhaps best known for producing NFPA 70, the National Electrical Code® (NEC) and NFPA 70E, the Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® which identifies safe work practices and protects personnel from major electrical hazards. NFPA 70E was originally developed at OSHA's request to help companies and employees avoid workplace injuries and fatalities due to shock, electrocution, arc flash, and arc blast.


Occupational health and safety is a core consideration at NFPA. The Association’s codes and standards, training and resources inform the electrical, chemical, and construction industries, as well as the fire service by providing benchmarks and best practices. An educated workforce and a strong enforcement community responsible for holding others accountable are essential to ensuring the health and safety of workers.

alternative fuel vehicle training program - NFPA
The concept of electric vehicles is nothing new in the United States, in fact the very first vehicles on our roadways were indeed electric. Fast-forward nearly 150 years, these battery powered innovations have made quite the resurgence in our transportation sector, with the potential to completely take over vehicular transportation as we know it. Just this week General Motors and Ford have announced plans to make dramatic shifts towards electrification of their vehicle fleets, with GM committing to 20 new all-electric models by 2023. These plans come on heels of similar commitments from Volvo, Nissan, and Volkswagen among other manufacturers.

Impacts on Emergency Responders


As the electrification of our roadways picks up momentum, NFPA continues to look at what this means for our emergency responder community? According to the latest NFPA Fire Loss Report, there were more than 174,000 vehicle fires reported during 2015 alone. That equates to a vehicle fire every 3 minutes on U.S. roadways. With more and more electric vehicles on our roadways, significant consideration needs to be placed on training and educating our emergency responders on the unique hazards these vehicle could pose. Some of these topics include:


Vehicle Identification
Battery Fires
Submerged Vehicles
Extrication Practices
Towing & Recovery
Fire/Accident Investigations


While our emergency responders have more than 100 years of experience responding to incidents involving internal combustion engine vehicles, these new considerations are requiring changes to existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) and tactics.

Training & Education


In 2009, recognizing the need to prepare our nations emergency responders for electric and other alternatively fueled vehicles, NFPA launched its Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety Training Program which offers training, tools, and information for emergency responders to safely handle emergencies involving alternative fuel vehicles. These concepts are delivered via classroom instruction, online training, videos, animations, simulations, data review questions, scenario rooms, 3D interactive environments, quick reference materials, and research. As vehicle manufacturers increasingly offer electric and hybrid vehicle models, these trainings are becoming an essential aspect of our responder’s day to day activities.


To access these training offering please visit us at:
The First Draft Reports for NFPA documents in the Fall 2018 revision cycle are available. Review the First Draft Reports for use as background in the submission of public comments. The deadline to submit a public comment through the codes and standardsonline system on any of these documents is November 16, 2017. These proposed NFPA Standards with First Draft Reports in the Fall 2018 revision cycle are as follows: 
  • NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems
  • NFPA 16, Standard for the Installation of Foam-Water Sprinkler and Foam-Water Spray Systems
  • NFPA 45, Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals
  • NFPA 52, Vehicular Natural Gas Fuel Systems Code
  • NFPA 67, Guide on Explosion Protection for Gaseous Mixtures in Pipe Systems
  • NFPA 69, Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems
  • NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance
  • NFPA 82, Standard on Incinerators and Waste and Linen Handling Systems and Equipment
  • NFPA 85, Boiler and Combustion Systems Hazards Code
  • NFPA 211, Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
  • NFPA 253, Standard Method of Test for Critical Radiant Flux of Floor Covering Systems Using a Radiant Heat Energy Source
  • NFPA 262, Standard Method of Test for Flame Travel and Smoke of Wires and Cables for Use in Air-Handling Spaces
  • NFPA 265, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Room Fire Growth Contribution of Textile or Expanded Vinyl Wall Coverings on Full Height Panels and Walls
  • NFPA 276, Standard Method of Fire Test for Determining the Heat Release Rate of Roofing Assemblies with Combustible Above-Deck Roofing Components
  • NFPA 286, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Contribution of Wall and Ceiling Interior Finish to Room Fire Growth
  • NFPA 551, Guide for the Evaluation of Fire Risk Assessments
  • NFPA 701, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films
  • NFPA 801, Standard for Fire Protection for Facilities Handling Radioactive Materials
  • NFPA 900, Building Energy Code
  • NFPA 914, Code for Fire Protection of Historic Structures
  • NFPA 1003, Standard for Airport Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1005, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Marine Fire Fighting for Land-Based Fire Fighters
  • NFPA 1041, Standard for Fire Service Instructor Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1091, Standard for Traffic Control Incident Management Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1402, Guide to Building Fire Service Training Centers
  • NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity/Continuity of Operations Programs
  • NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting
  • NFPA 1963, Standard for Fire Hose Connections
  • NFPA 1975, Standard on Emergency Services Work Clothing Elements
The First Draft Report for the following two Standards were delayed and thus, have a revised public comment closing date of December 8, 2017
  • NFPA 350, Guide for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work
  • NFPA 1965, Standard for Fire Hose Appliances
  • Please note: The First Draft Report for NFPA 59A is delayed and posted at a later date with a revised public comment closing date.  
 At the August 2017 meeting, the NFPA Standards Council considered an appeal on NFPA 285 and voted to return the document to Committee for further processing.  NFPA 285 is re-entering the process at Fall 2018 with a call for Public Comments based upon the existing First Draft Report.  The public comment closing date is December 8, 2017.
  • NFPA 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components
The First Draft Report serves as documentation of the Input Stage and is published for public review and comment. The First Draft Report contains a compilation of the First Draft of the NFPA Standard, First Revisions, Public Input, Committee Input, Committee Statements, and Ballot Results and Statements. Where applicable, the First Draft Report also contains First Correlating Revisions, Correlating Notes, and Correlating Input.

For the third year in a row, I got to witness families embracing fire safety at LEGOLAND Florida Resort. NFPA is the official fire safety partner for LEGOLAND® Florida and LEGOLAND® California Resort. We work with the parks to promote fire safety messages to families throughout the year, to salute the nation's firefighters, and to emphasize the Fire Prevention Week theme during the month of October.


Today, we kicked off several weeks of festivities and a celebration of real-life heroes. It never grows old seeing young children’s faces light up when they see local firefighters partaking in the day’s activities; and it reinforces all that NFPA does with outreach and advocacy when parents and grandparents comment how great it is to see their loved ones learning safety tips that they will remember for life.


During the Firefighter Friday event in Winter Haven today, visitors big and small learned about fire alarms from area safety officers, Polk County firefighters and LEGO® City Firefighter Max. They participated in the NFPA Fire Rescue Academy Competition racing each other for bragging rights and prizes. Boys and girls heard what it takes to be a firefighter and took photos with local fire heroes. Despite the Florida heat and humidity, kids helped firefighters find flames throughout LEGO MINILAND USA during a LEGO fire scavenger hunt. Just as families and first responders began to tucker out, they got a little respite in the Fun Town 4D Theatre where they enjoyed a special offering of the LEGO® Movie 4D - A New Adventure and talked with firefighters about this year’s Fire Prevention Theme, “Every second counts, plan two ways out.”


NFPA’s annual partnership with LEGOLAND entails high-visibility fire safety signage, educational videos, branded structures, social media and email outreach, and on-site marketing materials that reinforce the importance of smoke alarms and escape plans. Throughout the year, groups enjoying field trips to both the Florida and Carlsbad, California theme parks receive NFPA’s public education materials. Promotional items are also distributed during LEGOLAND’s popular Brick-or-Treat activities that take place at both destinations on October weekends.


Both NFPA and LEGOLAND share the belief that fire safety is important. Together, we are taking steps to educate and inform families about fire prevention and emergency response, while saluting the amazing work that our first responders do day in and day out to keep us safe.

Fire Chief Raymond Barton of the Flint Fire Department welcomed students to the station in celebration of Fire Prevention Week.


For the 10th year in a row, NFPA teamed up with Domino’s to kick off our joint Fire Prevention Week program promoting the importance of smoke alarms and home fire safety. This year, seventy first graders from Brownell STEM academy were invited to the Flint Fire Department, where they learned about smoke alarms, as well as home escape planning and practice messages in support of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out,” October 8-14, 2017. The students were also treated to a visit from Sparky the Fire Dog® and a pizza party. The event culminated in a send-off of Flint firefighters and Domino’s, who conducted a smoke alarm check and pizza delivery to a local homeowner, reflecting Domino’s nationwide support of Fire Prevention Week.


A huge thanks to the Flint Fire Department for all their help and enthusiasm in support of this year’s program – it was the first time we worked with them, and they did a fabulous job helping make the day a true success. Thank you, too, to all the local Domino's and fire departments that team up each year to bring the campaign to life in their communities. Participation continues to grow annually, which is a testament to the program's fun, engaging approach to educating communities about smoke alarm safety. We truly appreciate everyone’s support!


Here's a brief refresher on how Domino's Fire Prevention Week program works: Customers who place an order from participating Domino's stores during Fire Prevention Week, October 8-14, are randomly selected to receive their delivery from the local fire department, who will conduct a smoke alarm check in the customer's home. If the smoke alarms in the home are working, the delivery is free. If they're not working, the firefighters will replace the batteries or install fully-functioning alarms.

Before getting into this week’s Fire Code topic I want to highlight my coworker’s latest blog post, Planning for the unthinkable in assembly venues with the Life Safety CodeGreg, a Principal Engineer in the Building Fire Protection and Life Safety Department at NFPA, discusses how the scope and provisions of NFPA 101 apply to the recent tragedy in Las Vegas and how we, as safety professionals, can contribute to occupant safety in the future.  I am truly saddened by the events that required such a post be written in the first place, but cannot deny that we, as professionals, need to keep pushing forward and making changes and doing our best to make this world a safer place.  Thanks, Greg, for the timely and thoughtful information.


Onto NFPA 1.


Do you ever feel like you are preparing for the holidays months in advance these days?  Just the other day I heard a holiday ad on the radio and saw Christmas decorations on display while shopping. Whether we are ready or not, the “holiday season” is here.  A common fixture during during fall is the haunted house. Large or small, permanent or temporary, professional or amateur, haunted houses are popping up everywhere, especially in buildings not originally designed to accommodate such use. Unfortunately, haunted houses can cause nightmares for more than just those that attend.  Without the proper knowledge and understanding of the codes that apply, haunted houses can be a safety nightmare as well.


haunted houses and building code - nfpa 1


Per NFPA 1, Fire Code, a haunted house is considered a special amusement building.  By definition, a special amusement building is "a building that is temporary, permanent, or mobile and contains a device or system that conveys passengers or provides a walkway along, around, or over a course in any direction as a form of amusement arranged so that the egress path is not readily apparent due to visual or audio distractions or an intentionally confounded egress path, or is not readily available due to the mode of conveyance through the building or structure."  A special amusement building is an assembly occupancy regardless of occupant load. 

Haunted houses use special effects, scenery, props, and audio and visual distractions that may cause egress paths to become not obvious.  In haunted houses in particular, the presence of combustible materials and special scenery can also contribute to the fuel load should a fire occur.  Because of this, the Code requirements are purposely strict to in hopes of avoiding a potentially disastrous fire event. 


Code provisions for special amusement buildings are found in Section 20.1.4 of NFPA 1.  The Code requirements for haunted houses are summarized below:


  • Haunted houses must apply the provisions for assembly occupancies in addition to the provisions of Section 20.1.4.
  • Automatic sprinklers are required for all haunted houses.  If the haunted house is considered moveable or portable, an approved temporary means is permitted to be used for water supply.
  • Smoke detection is required throughout the haunted house where the nature it operates in reduced lighting and the actuation of any smoke detection device must sound an alarm at a constantly attended location on the premises.
  • Actuation of sprinklers or any suppression systems, smoke detection system (having a cross zoning capability) must provide an increase in illumination of the means of egress and termination of other confusing visuals or sounds.
  • Exit marking and floor proximity exit signs are required.  Where designs are such that the egress path is not apparent, additional directional exit marking is required.
  • Interior wall and ceiling finish materials must be Class A throughout.
  • Per Section 10.8.1, emergency action plans are required.

Other requirements, not specific just to haunted houses or special amusement buildings, may also apply:


  • Permits (see Section 1.12)
  • Seasonal buildings (see Section 10.12)
  • Special outdoor events, fairs and carnivals (see Section 10.14) 

As we move into the Halloween and haunted house season, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun and overlook the safety issues that may arise. Through the provisions in NFPA 1, which can assist fire code officials and inspectors enforce safe haunted houses, and NFPA's halloween resources for consumers, everyone can stay safe this season.


Thank you for reading, stay safe!


Since 1986, the NFPA has been publishing NFPA 1403, Standard on Live Fire Training Evolutions. As we prepare for the release of the 2018 version of the standard I'm often asked what has changed since 2012 and how best to apply the standard to ensure a safer training environment.  


A few weeks back I covered these topics during my NFPA Live, an exclusive for NFPA Members. During the live event I got this follow-up question.  I'm now sharing it with you. I hope you find some value in it.



NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!


The NFPA Standards Council has received a New Project Initiation Request from the fire service asking NFPA consider developing an ANSI Accredited Standard to establish the minimum requirements for the effective contamination control of fire department personal, their personal protective equipment (PPE), accessories, and equipment. 


Firefighter health risks associated with PPE contaminant exposure reflects one of the most pressing concerns within the fire service. A number of organizations, including the Fire Protection Research Foundation, continue working to identify methods for adequately cleaning firefighter gear and mitigating those risks.


As a result of multiple efforts, including “Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control” – a one-year project conducted by the Fire Protection Research Foundation that’s nearing its completion – we now have some answers. The next step is identifying how to best deliver those requirements, guidelines and recommendations in our codes and standards.


Two options are currently on the table: NFPA can develop an all-new contamination control standard, which identifies best practices for cleaning PPE, as well as how gear should be handled after possible exposure to contaminants.  Alternatively, the information could be rolled into our existing standard, NFPA 1581, Standard on Fire Department Infection Control Program.


To make the decision that best reflects the fire service’s needs and preferences, we need to hear from you! Tell us if you think this issue warrants its own standard or should be addressed in NFPA 1581. Feel free to share your thoughts in this blog, but remember it is important that you provide your feedback through our technical process so that your voice is heard and officially weighed into the Standards Council’s final decision.

October 3rd marks my 1year anniversary at the NFPA.  It has been incredibly rewarding to work in a place where the mission is to help responders perform their work in a safe and organized manner.  I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to me and to the technical committee volunteers who have helped me along the way.  One of my biggest and most rewarding challenges has been to work on the development of NFPA 3000, Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events.  On Friday the 29th I wrote the following blog, but so much has happened since that I want to acknowledge some things first:


  • The tragedy in Las Vegas was a stark reminder these types of hostile assailant attacks are on the rise and will continue. There is a need for our communities to prepare and our responders to be safe, organized, well-practiced, and unified in their handling of this incidents.
  • Having a member of our technical committee from Las Vegas Fire and Rescue, I know there will be many lessons learned, but the Las Vegas responders have been preparing for this day and they did an amazing job.
  • As already chronicled, the responders will need the support of their community and fellow responders for many years to come after what they have experienced.


Before moving on, I want to share the sentiment from one of the Orlando responders that was sent to the Technical Committee members for NFPA 3000 yesterday: “After waking up to the horrific news of another record-breaking mass shooting to our public in Las Vegas, it just solidifies, even more, the great work the NFPA 3000 TEAM is creating. Thank you for all for your insight and professional experience to the active shooter standard. We all work quickly to resolve each and every potential that this new standard should cover for a purpose much greater than anything else we have worked on in the Public Safety sector. To protect our responders and the citizens we serve, the concise standard that will evolve and will help many prepare for their worst day. Not everyone can be part of this assemblage, the group that creates the Standard or the group that has "been through this hell"...some can claim both. This is a club that wants no new members. Thank you for the work you do, the profession you support, and our shared goal to make the worst day safer and more prepared for.”


I couldn’t have said it better myself! Now on to what I wrote about last week’s experience:


During the week of September 25th, a Technical Committee of over 50 experts and guests from across the country met in Orlando, Florida to continue the development of the draft for NFPA 3000, Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events.  


During the meeting the Technical Committee reviewed various active shooter/hostile events, using a 30,000 foot perspective, to determine what communities absolutely need to properly prepare and respond to, and eventually recover from these events. The committee formed task groups and developed over 20 chapters that address different components of preparedness, response, and recovery. Comprised of representatives from law enforcement, fire, and other impacted response agencies, the committee focused on the need for interoperability using common language, clear and open communication, safety among peers, and resolving the incident in a unified and effective manner. What it is not, however, is a tactical or strategy document. There is too much variation to standardize local tactics, and frankly, no one wants the bad guys to know what our tactics are. 


The group broke the draft down into chapters that started with how communities prepare, what should be in their plans, and what they should teach to their residents and responders. Then they moved to leading to incident management requirements, competencies for responders, training and recovery components. One of the strengths of this Technical Committee is its experience. Having responders present who were part of the responses to recent occurrences of these incidents really was beneficial in that they were able to tell us where the gaps are that could be filled and the things that they wish they had in place ahead of time.



After each day’s meeting adjournment, our gracious hosts from the City of Orlando and Orange County, Florida, arranged for different non-meeting related activities for the group. One day, they received a presentation from the fire chiefs detailing the attack at the Pulse Nightclub. They took almost 3 hours out of their time to detail the incident and take questions from the group.  A big take away was that they identified the absolute need from the command level for NFPA 3000.  They feel having something that is cross-functional insures that they are on the same sheet of music as law enforcement and emergency management and would have helped them immensely with their response to the incident. This isn’t to say that they weren’t that night, but it is to say that there were many instances of confusion and lack of cohesion where compliance of the potential components of NFPA 3000 will (and can) help mitigate those occurrences from happening in the future. 


On the last day of meetings a group formed a makeshift caravan and traveled to the Pulse Nightclub site. I have been privy to several presentations and briefings on the events of that night. I have seen videos and heard the 911 calls and radio traffic. I can also most assuredly tell you that none of it does justice to what is still there at the site. The messages of hope, loss, and love at the site left some very burly battle hardened operators a little choked up out there. Coincidentally we even met the owner who took time to speak to us and really touched all of our hearts with her dignity and strength. NFPA 3000 will truly be a standard that not only serves as a tool for response, but a tool for our communities.

concert crowd
As we all try to wrap our heads around this past Sunday’s horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, my heart goes out to all those who were affected by this senseless act. I also struggle with what I, as a life safety professional, can meaningfully contribute to the conversation going forward. I realize that about the best I can do is discuss what I know, and that’s the Life Safety Code. While the Code has been focused historically on occupant life safety from fire, its scope has expanded over the past couple decades to include protection from other similar emergencies. One area on which the Code has focused is the protection of occupants in assembly venues from myriad emergencies via planning. Here is a brief overview of the resources provided by the Code for planners of large assembly events.
Crowd Managers
The Life Safety Code requires all assembly venues to be provided with trained crowd managers who can assist with evacuation in an emergency by directing attendees to safe egress points. Of course, in a situation like the Las Vegas mass shooting, it’s difficult or impossible to know where the safe egress points are located. Nonetheless, crowd managers can have a positive impact on the outcome of an assembly occupancy emergency. More details on crowd managers can be found in my #101Wednesdays post from this past May.
Means of Egress
The Life Safety Code is primarily concerned with life safety in buildings and structures. It recognizes, however, the need for adequate means of egress from fenced outdoor assembly venues as well. The assembly occupancy chapters require the following in and
A fenced outdoor assembly occupancy shall have not less than two remote means of egress from the enclosure in accordance with, unless otherwise required by one of the following:
(1) If more than 6000 persons are to be served by such means of egress, there shall be not less than three means of egress.
(2) If more than 9000 persons are to be served by such means of egress, there shall be not less than four means of egress.
The capacity of the means of egress from an outdoor assembly venue would be based on the modified capacity factors for smoke-protected assembly seating, which permit reduced egress widths because of the expectation that smoke will not accumulate in the outdoor venue. This reduced egress capacity makes sense from a life safety from fire standpoint; however, when planning for an incident in which occupants might need to flee for their lives under a hail of gunfire, perhaps the reduced egress capacities should be given further consideration. See 12.4.2 and 13.4.2 for details on smoke-protected assembly seating.
Life Safety Evaluation
Perhaps the most significant requirement in Life Safety Code as it relates to an incident such as that which occurred in Las Vegas is that for a written life safety evaluation (LSE) in assembly venues having an occupant load of more than 6,000, and those with festival seating (e.g., standing room with no seats) for more than 250. The LSE is required to consider a broad range of potential emergencies; as we now know, that broad range of emergencies needs to include the unthinkable. Details on the LSE are provided in 12.4.1, 13.4.1, and associated Annex A provisions. A recent NFPA Journal article provides a good overview of what an LSE is intended to achieve. Coincidentally, it describes an LSE as it would apply to a music festival, not unlike the one attacked this week. While no one could have imagined how an outdoor concert venue could be vulnerable to automatic weapon fire from a nearby high-rise hotel, it is this type of unthinkable scenario that needs to be considered in the LSE. A response plan must be developed, practiced, and then, should the unthinkable occur, put into action.
Risk Analysis for Mass Notification
New to the 2018 edition, the Code now requires some new occupancies to have a risk analysis performed to determine the need for mass notification systems. The results of the risk analysis determine whether a mass notification system to alert people of any number of emergencies, which could include fire, an impending weather event (e.g., a tornado), or an active shooter incident, is needed. The 2018 edition of the Code requires new assembly occupancies with an occupant load of 500 or more to have such a risk analysis performed. If deemed to be required, the mass notification system is required to comply with NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. In 2013, NFPA Journal published this cover story about the use of a mass notification system at a large assembly venue.
I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to completely eliminate the heinous acts of violence we witnessed this week. I do believe, however, it’s important for us to keep doing what we do and educate event planners of the need to plan for the worst-case scenario. We’re in the business of saving lives. If a bit of additional forethought might help to save a life in the future, I believe it is a worthy effort. It’s also important for us to continue to go to music festivals, do the things we enjoy, and live our lives. I plan to attend the NFPA Conference and Expo next June in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay. I’m sure when I’m there I’ll pause to remember those whose lives were lost this week. Then I will try to make whatever small contribution I can towards making the world a safer place. Our work is too important to be scared away by the memory of a madman bent on snuffing out innocent lives while they were enjoying a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.
Thank you for taking a few moments to read, and please be 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 and click on “Free access to the 2015 edition of NFPA 101.”
Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH
Andrew Klein, Principle with AS Klein Engineering, and Lynne Kilpatrick, Fire Marshal in Sunnyvale, CA led an education session on ‘On-Demand Mobile Fueling; Enforcing Existing Regulations and Evaluating Future Needs” at NFPA Conference & Expo.    
On-demand mobile fueling is an emerging industry created by a number of Silicon Valley startups that caught the attention of Kilpatrick. Customers can fill up their automobile gas tanks through a smartphone app that sends a truck carrying gas to their parked car, where a serviceman pumps the requested amount of gallons. The problem with this seemingly brilliant, time-saving new business model, is that the fueling companies were operating in violation of local fire codes.    
Kilpatrick and the California State Fire Marshal’s Office set out to develop and submit code change proposals to both the ICC International Fire Code and NFPA 30A Motor Fuel Dispensing code. The fire service and the industry were fairly divided on some of the issues of the proposal, including where the fueling would be allowed, ignition sources & setbacks, permitting among others. To compromise, much of the code language leaves the decisions of some of these issues up to the AHJ.    
The 2018 edition of ICC’s International Fire Code, and the newly approved 2017 edition of NFPA 30A have now accepted the on-demand mobile fueling proposed additions.    
To learn more about what issues are covered and what is allowed in this new practice, read the NFPA Journal feature, New Fuels, New Fueling from the May/June issue or download the education session handouts from the Conference website (PDF).
As the fire service and enforcers learn more about this new industry, the codes will be able to be updated with regulations around some issues that are not currently addressed, including vehicle inspections, weights & measures, sales tax, insurance policies, environmental protection, etc as well as incorporating future applications such as hydrogen mobile fueling and marine fueling.
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to all the 2017 NFPA C&E education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions - with attached audio/video - here.
A recent news story in WREG highlighted HERo Day, an annual program, in its third year now, founded by the Memphis Fire Department and the Girl Scouts Heart of the South. The program aims to give nearly 200 young girls in the Memphis, Tennessee community, from grades 6-12, the opportunity to showcase their abilities by training with the men and women in their fire service. This year, training included working with fire hoses and rappelling down the side of a two-story tower; In addition to the training, the girls are also able to watch a search and rescue dog in action, as well as compete in a life-saving obstacle course, and be timed putting on the personal protective equipment used by firefighters as fast as they can. This effort is championed by MFD Fire Director Gina Sweat who told WREG, "I just can’t describe how emotional it is to see these young ladies excited and the possibility of doing something maybe they never thought about before." The MFD’s first female fire director believes that this opportunity will allow girls to realize what they are capable of, and may join the fire department themselves one day. The motto, “If she can see it, she can be it” echoes this sentiment. 
While researching and writing about HERo Day, I couldn’t help but to think about the women who were firefighters throughout history. After extensive searching, I discovered that the history of women in the fire service, while may have been a rich one, has not been well documented. Women have always been in the fire service, however, not historically in a fire suppression role. However, occasional glimpses of these experienced women occur throughout the course of history; it’s not until World War II that women took on the roles traditionally given to their male peers. As the men were off fighting the war, the women at times were making up entire fire departments. As the war came to a close, the women who were tasked with fighting fires remained in the service. From this moment forward, the women of the fire service and their efforts began to be recorded. However, ill-fitting equipment along with resentment from their male counter-parts, made things difficult for these women. Despite these challenges, by the 1970’s women were becoming career firefighters. The NFPA library has manuals dating back to 1993 on the early standards regarding the treatment of women in firefighting. 
Progress continues to be made, as according to an NFPA report “Firefighting Occupations by Women and Race” the annual average number of career women firefighters from 2011-2015, 13,750 or 4.6% of all career firefighters, has doubled since 2000. These girls are given opportunity to follow in the footsteps of parents, grandparents, and their heroes. Women currently make up about 7 percent of all firefighters (volunteer and career), and with the help from communities this number can continue to grow.
Interested in getting your community involved with NFPA? Don’t forget this year’s Fire Prevention Week is coming up! From October 8-12, you and your community can celebrate the fire service and Plan 2 Ways Out!

Photos courtesy of AP/Worldwide


At least 59 people are dead and more than 500 are injured after a gunman perched on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel opened fire on a crowd at an outdoor music festival. The Sunday night shooting is now the deadliest mass shooting the country has ever seen.


Reacting to the news, a SWAT captain and fire chief from two of America’s largest cities stressed the importance of police, fire, and other emergency officials working together to plan for and respond to active shooter and other hostile events. The two authorities are part of a proactive group currently working to identify new ways to minimize the carnage that these tragic incidents inflict. Not only are active shooter events becoming more frequent in the United States, but the time it takes for a new shooting to become the deadliest in U.S. history is also shrinking. Forty-one years passed between the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting (32 killed) and the 1966 University of Texas clock tower shooting (16 killed), which previously held the record for the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It was then nine years before the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando (49 killed) topped the Virginia Tech shooting. Sadly, only one year later, yesterday’s shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival claims the record. 


“It is the new normal,” said Jack Ewell, a police captain who commands special operations for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “After each [active shooter event] we scrutinize the incident and try to learn and determine what additional measures we can put in place to try and stop them, and if we can’t stop them, to minimize the casualties involved.” Ewell’s department serves 10 million people scattered over 4,000 square miles of land and has already sent personnel to Las Vegas to assist with the city’s recovery from the incident. 


One of the additional measures that could be explored in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting is increasing security measures at hotels, such as searching baggage as guests check in, said Otto Drozd, the chief of Orange County Fire Rescue in Orlando, which responded to the Pulse nightclub shooting along with other local, state, and federal authorities. “If we had instituted something at hotels to check baggage, would it have prevented the Vegas incident?” Drozd asked himself after hearing about the news this morning. It would be a similar change to how security was ramped up at airports following 9/11.


Both Drozd and Ewell are members of the technical committee for NFPA 3000, Standard for Preparedness and Response to Active Shooter and/or Hostile Events. The committee has met twice so far, and the standard is slated to be released sometime late next year or in early 2019. An article on the development of the standard appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of NFPA Journal, along with a podcast on the topic. Additionally, at a meeting at NFPA’s Massachusetts headquarters late last month, the Urban Fire Forum endorsed a position paper on preparedness and a unified response to hostile events, which references NFPA 3000.


What’s critical is that the standard draws from the knowledge and experiences of every entity involved in responding to active shooter and other hostile events. “It’s a cross functional standard which is unique,” said Drozd. “We have the perspective of law enforcement, fire, EMS, and hospitals at the local state, and federal level.” Although each entity takes on a different role during these events—for example, law enforcement initially must be focused on identifying and eliminating the threat, while fire and EMS are entirely focused on aiding victims—it’s the interoperability of everybody involved that leads to a successful response. “We have to go at it as one team,” said Ewell. While Ewell’s department already uses many of the best practices that will be outlined in NFPA 3000, he underscored the importance of the new standard so that first responders in all jurisdictions can be working off the same sheet of music, so to speak. 


In Orlando, one key takeaway from the Pulse Nightclub shooting was the need to plan in advance for a designated, safe, and sufficiently sized site to house witnesses, less critically injured victims, and families of those affected. Drozd indicated that his city needed to relocate their staging area three or four times in the days that followed the shooting. Another lesson learned was the importance of quickly establishing a hotline for loved ones to call and inquire about victims. In Orlando, some families waited for days before learning the fate of club-goers. Las Vegas authorities quickly announced a number today for families, friends, and concert-goers to call with questions, concerns, and first-hand perspectives.


Beyond the operational aspects of active shooter and other hostile events that NFPA 3000 will address, it will also aim to shed light on the more lasting impacts these events can have on communities, such as the toll they take on first responders’ behavioral health. “Some of the things that first responders see cannot be unseen,” said Drozd. “So while the community’s recovery is a long, heartbreaking, and collaborative process, we should not lose sight of the tremendous toll that incidents like these can have on our first responders.”

research, birgitte
NFPA is pleased to announce the addition of Birgitte Messerschmidt (Collins) as the Director of our Applied Research Group. Birgitte comes to us from a long career at Rockwool Industries, a Danish-based mineral wool and fire protection manufacturing company. She began her career as a fire researcher at the Danish National Fire Research institute (DBI) and has been a leader in the global fire research community for many years. Birgitte will provide leadership in our efforts to grow and strengthen our research network and better connect us to the global advances in research that will impact fire and electrical safety so that we can share that information with our stakeholders. 
You can reach Birgitte at  

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