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 10.10.9.3 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