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2017

 

Earlier this year, NFPA announced the establishment of a Middle East North Africa (MENA) Advisory Committee. The new Advisory group was developed to help diverse stakeholders address the fire and life safety issues that are presenting in the region due to unprecedented growth. The Committee is chaired by Brigadier General Mohamed Al Nuaimi with UAE Civil Defence G.H.Q. The Advisory Committee meets at least twice a year in different locations. This month’s meeting took place in Kuwait with MENA delegate and Kuwait Fire Service Directorate Major General Khaled A. Fahad welcoming the group. 

 

MENA Advisory Committee members have determined that the next step in establishing an effective safety infrastructure in the Gulf region is to ensure better communication between private sector leaders and the Authorities; and to identify the means to facilitate the interactions. The group is focused on getting the design and construction community to utilize fundamental standards like NFPA 1, the Fire Code, NFPA 13, the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, NFPA 72, the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, and NFPA 101, the Life Safety Code® and other key documents for optimal safety throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an intergovernmental political and economic territory that includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

 

Officials and businesses in the Middle East have expressed a strong interest in working with NFPA to ensure that they are building safely, educating their workforce, reducing loss from fire, and emphasizing fire safety education. This was the impetus for NFPA’s MENA Advisory Committee. Delegates, including representatives from the Civil Defense who are charged with enforcement, are also focused on emerging issues. The Middle East is known for embracing new technologies and innovative design, and NFPA and its technical committee members work hard to address these considerations in codes, standards and research.

The next NFPA MENA Advisory Committee meeting is scheduled to take place in Dubai on January 22nd during Intersec Dubai, where NFPA will also have a presence in the exhibition area at Booth 3-F29.  

workplace injuries
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) yesterday (November 9) released data on nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses that occurred in the U.S. in 2016, as reported by employers in private industry. The data indicate that the rate of 2.9 reportable cases per 100 full-time equivalent employees was down slightly from the 3.0 reportable cases in 2015 and follows a general downward trend in workplace injury. I took a quick look at some of the prepared tables for information on specific injury events, and here’s what the data had to say (in partial form) about injuries due to fire, explosion, and exposure to electricity: 
  • There were 720 private sector workplace injuries due to fire in 2016. Half of these injuries (360 injuries) were experienced by workers in installation, maintenance, and repair occupations, while a quarter (180 injuries) were experienced by workers in production occupations. The other leading occupational groups injured in fires were service occupations (50 injuries) and construction occupations (30 injuries). 
  • Explosions were responsible for 680 private sector workplace injuries in 2016. The leading occupational groups accounting for these injuries included transportation and material moving occupations (240 injuries), installation, maintenance, and repair occupations (160 injuries), sales and related occupations (110 injuries), production occupations (100 injuries), and service occupations (40 injuries). 
  • Workers exposed to electricity accounted for 1,640 workplace injuries in 2016, with 900 injuries due to direct exposure to injury and 520 injuries due to indirect exposure to electricity (such as injuries due to contact with electricity through a wet surface).The largest shares of electrical injuries were experienced by installation, maintenance, and repair occupations (430 injuries), construction and extraction occupations (420 injuries), service occupations (280 injuries), production occupations (90 injuries), and sales and related occupations (80 injuries). Other occupational groups experiencing injury through exposure to electricity included management, business, and financial occupations (30 injuries), office and administrative support occupations (30 injuries), farming fishing and forestry occupations (30 injuries), computer, engineering, and science occupations (20 injuries), and healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (20 injuries). 
While nonfatal injuries resulting from exposure to electricity in 2016 were at a historic low dating to 1992 (although pre-2011 injuries were coded as “contact with electric current”), nonfatal injuries due to explosion were up slightly from 2015 (670 injuries), and injuries resulting from fires in 2016 were substantially higher than 2015, when there were 600 such injuries. It’s important to remember, of course, that year-to-year fluctuations do not represent trends.
BLS will be releasing data on fatal workplace injuries in December. I plan to take a more detailed look at electrical injuries in the coming months. Those interested in taking a look at the recent BLS release can find it here: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh.nr0.htm

 

Today was the 75th anniversary of the deadliest nightclub fire in United States history. On November 28, 1942, fire erupted at the Cocoanut Grove in Boston, killing 492 people and injuring hundreds more, making it the deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history.


The Cocoanut Grove had one main entrance; six other doors were locked to keep patrons from leaving without paying their tabs. Reportedly, a man lit a match to change a lightbulb, prompting a fire which spread quickly to highly flammable tropical décor. Panic ensued, and nearly 500 lives were lost. Within thirty minutes, the blaze was extinguished but the impact on the 1,000+ revelers, friends, families, first responders and life safety was enduring.


The Cocoanut Grove fire had a significant impact on the development and enforcement of fire codes throughout the United States.


Speaking to more than 400 people in attendance at a 75th Anniversary event in Boston just steps from the historic fire scene, Vice President of Field Operations Don Bliss spoke about NFPA’s commitment to documenting and sharing memories from this historic fire. “The tragedy that we are commemorating today resulted in a much higher level of safety and protection for adults and children who work, study, worship, recreate, and sleep in all types of buildings. There is no way to measure how many lives have been saved over the last seventy-five years, but I am confident that we live in a safer society because of the lessons learned from the Cocoanut Grove fire.”


This week’s 75th anniversary recognition event was attended by organizers from the Cocoanut Grove Memorial Committee, local dignitaries, historians, and friends and families of the victims. The Boston Globe reported that the most poignant moments of the program, however, occurred when two survivors shared their stories.


Joyce Mekelburg, 93, told the crowd she was an 18-year old girl who went to the club with her fiancé. When the fire broke out, she got separated from her love. She escaped. Her fiancé did not. “It changed everything in my life,” Mekelburg said. “I was going to marry this man. You love one person. You can’t possibly get that person back.”


Marshal Cole was a teen dancer at the club’s Melody Lounge that fateful night. The 92-year old Massachusetts resident told event attendees that he stayed in his dressing room where it was quieter in between appearances. “The place was just mobbed. It was standing-room only.” Cole’s retreat to his dressing room on that Saturday evening in the fall of 1942 was his saving grace.


There has been a campaign for some time to create a movie about the Cocoanut Grove. During the anniversary event Zachary Graves-Miller debuted a new documentary film, entitled “Six Locked Doors,” that features stories from survivors. Graves-Miller’s family lived in the Bay Village neighborhood where the Cocoanut Grove nightclub was located; and the film-maker grew up seeing the historic landmark and hearing about the wartime tragedy that prompted today’s stringent fire and life safety infrastructure.

The NFPA Standards Council will be meeting on December 5-6, 2017 in Galveston, TX.  At the meeting some of the topics the Council will address include:
  • appeals on TIAs on NFPA 70 and NFPA 1982
  • requests for new Standards to enter cycle: NFPA 770, Hybrid (Water and Inert Gas) Fire Extinguishing Systems; NFPA 78, Guide on Electrical Inspections; and NFPA 1078, Standard for Electrical Inspector Professional Qualifications
  • new projects/documents on organization and operation of fire investigation units (FIUs); professional qualifications for fire service support personnel; and test methods for determining the flammability of interior/exterior wall panels
  • the issuance of proposed TIAs on NFPA 25, NFPA 30A, NFPA 30B, NFPA 70, NFPA 101, NFPA 407, NFPA 1006, NFPA 1126, NFPA 1221, NFPA 1981, NFPA 1982, and NFPA 500
  • requests from Committees to change revision cycle schedules and committee scopes
  • action on pending applications for committee memberships
The NFPA Standards Council is a 13-person committee appointed by the NFPA Board of Directors that oversees the Association's codes and standards development activities, administers the rules and regulations, and acts as an appeals body. The Council administers about 250 NFPA Technical Committees and their work on approximately 300 documents addressing topics of importance to the built environment.  
policy institute
 
American consumers expect safety to be a high priority for their government leaders. This is something the Policy Institute learned this summer by commissioning an independent telephone survey of over 1000 U.S. residents to learn their views and expectations on adopting fire and electrical safety codes and keeping those codes up-to-date. Overwhelmingly, people expressed the opinion that they trust and expect that government at all levels is keeping these safety codes current with the latest safety advances and is not removing requirements that weaken those codes. To see the results of the survey and related information, check out our new, free downloadable fact sheet.    policy institute
If citizens feel that keeping codes up-to-date is a government responsibility, they likely feel similarly about other parts of the safety ecosystem. The safety ecosystem--all of the functions that support safety, like enforcement of codes, oversight of professionals responsible for the design and construction of the built environment, and raising awareness of risks posed by hazards both natural and man-made— depends on the support and attention of policymakers. None of these functions should be taken for granted.
As we learned from our survey, 86 percent of consumers believe that if they purchased a new home today, it would meet the most up-to-date code. And, 81 percent expect policymakers to view keeping electrical and fire safety codes up-to-date with new information and research a high priority. Decisions to remove safety requirements or delay the adoption of updated codes contravene this public trust.    
These results should be an invitation to learn more about the entire safety ecosystem, as well as the role of organizations like NFPA within it. The resources available to support safety are expert-driven, extensive, and waiting to be put to good use by policymakers.    
For more information about the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute, visit our website: www.nfpa.org/policyinstitute.              
As an employer in the electrical field you have dedicated yourself to one of the most rewarding professions. Safety remains a top priority for you and everyone on the job.    
To this end, NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrically Safety in the Workplace continues to evolve and shape the way employers and employees approach electrical safety to help save lives and avoid losses due to the hazards that are present when working on or near electrical systems. As an employer, it also assists you in complying with OSHA guidelines.   
NFPA knows that electrical professionals who remain committed to safe work practices need access to the latest code and 70E resources and information to allow workers to do the job as safely and efficiently as possible. For example, the 2018 edition has emphasized performing an arc-flash risk assessment as a critical part of every task being performed. Chris Coache, NFPA’s senior electrical engineer, explains it this way:   
The risk assessment procedure now specifically requires you to address human error and its negative consequences on people, work environments, and equipment. To assist in implementation, new Informative Annex Q (Human Performance and Workplace Electrical Safety) has also been added.
Get the full explanation from Chris in our short video below; it’s the first of our five-part series that explains some of the top changes in the 2018 edition. (NOTE: This clip is part of a pre-recorded full webinar presented in July 2017).   
Want to learn even more about this particular change? NFPA’s Electrical Technical Lead, Derek Vigstol just wrote about it in his latest “In Compliance” column in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.   
Let NFPA provide you with everything you need to take your electrical safety skills to the next level with knowledge gained right from the source. Find this information and additional resources related to 70E including articles, blog series, fact sheet, trainings and products, at www.nfpa.org/70E.      

 

When emergencies occur, firefighters, police officers and EMS respond. It’s what they do – it’s simply in their DNA.


To help prevent rescuers from becoming victims, NFPA has created a new fact sheet and is offering free online training so that firefighters are aware of hazards when responding to emergencies and non-emergencies in confined spaces.

 

Confined space incidents are rare, but they pose tremendous risks for employees, contractors and rescuers as reported earlier this year when three workers perished in a manhole, and a volunteer firefighter was seriously injured by toxic fumes. Two NFPA documents cover confined space – NFPA 350: Guide for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work and NFPA 1670 Standard on Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents.

 

The new NFPA First Responder Confined Space Safety Fact Sheet provides shareable information regarding potential hazards, OSHA regulations, and best practices so that firefighters are aware of the dangers that may lurk in spaces that have limited means of egress. Places like crawl spaces, tanks, vaults, elevator shafts, and some tunnels may be large enough to work in but they are not designed for continuous occupancy due to limited ventilation and other dangers. It’s important for firefighters to know what they are up against.

 

NFPA is also offering free First Responder Recognition of Confined Space Hazards online training so that firefighters are aware of potential emergency response issues. To date, more than 1,000 have taken the training to better understand confined space challenges.


Two additional one-hour training modules are available. One that focuses on the identification of physical and atmospheric hazards and monitoring, as well as the evaluation of a confined space using NFPA 350. The other explains how to identify work controls; describe ventilation equipment; and address permitting and rescue planning. Both on-line sessions offer scenario-based exercises, onscreen visuals, videos, knowledge checks and printable job aids to help apply concepts effectively.


Firefighters will continue to respond to confined space incidents just like they did in a Braintree, Massachusetts water tower 100 feet above ground last year. Use the new NFPA first responder confined space resources to recognize and evaluate life-threatening confined space concerns before it’s too late. It could help save your life and the lives of others.

 

vegetative roof, NFPA 5000

For the last few decades, campuses have pursued opportunities to promote their commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability. First there was a push to recycle more, then there were green buildings, often in the form of LEED certified buildings, which sparked an interest in vegetative (green) roofs. While vegetative roofs have numerous benefits, it is important that they are installed and maintained properly to avoid fire and life safety hazards. The 2018 Edition of NFPA 5000: Building Construction and Safety Code has new material in Chapter 38 (section 38.9.15) addressing three major concerns of vegetative roofs: the potential fire risk; the additional load on the roof; and the risk of flying debris. 

One of the main goals of the new vegetative roof section is to minimize the increased fire risk associated with these types of roofs. The provisions identify a variety of ways to do this. NFPA 5000 references two documents, ANSI/FM 4477 and ANSI/SPRI VF-1, for guidance on vegetative roof design.  Both documents provide recommendations for reducing the fire risk, but they do it differently. ANSI/FM 4477 addresses the combustibility of vegetative roofs. It looks at evaluating the combustibility from above the roof deck, as well as, below the roof deck. The other referenced document, ANSI/SPRI VF-1, relies on firebreaks to reduce the fire risk. Firebreaks are breaks in the vegetation that are intended to limit the area of involvement during fire conditions. 
Prior to construction, potential vegetation needs to be researched to ensure it is a viable option for the given climate. The USDA creates a Plant Hardiness Zone Map that should be consulted when selecting vegetation. The map creates zones based on the average annual extreme minimum temperature which can be used to determine what vegetation will thrive in a given climate. The amount of water the vegetation will require also needs to be carefully considered. Prior to selecting and planting vegetation, a plan needs to be developed outlining how water will be made available at the roof. There are a variety of solutions ranging from natural options, such as rain water harvesting, to man-made solutions, such as installing irrigation. Even when a natural option is chosen, an alternative system should be installed that can be used during draught conditions. Choosing the right vegetation and providing sufficient water can minimize the fire risk by ensuring the vegetation remains alive and moist. The maintenance of a vegetative roof needs to continue throughout the building life cycle. It should be regularly monitored and inspected to ensure dead debris is removed and vegetation is sufficiently watered at all times. 
The new requirements in NFPA 5000 on vegetative roofs mentions dead, live, wind, rain, snow, and earthquake loads without specifically telling designers how to include vegetative roofs in these calculations. Chapter 35, Structural Design should be used to evaluate those loads. This section serves as a reminder to the designer that the presence of vegetation on the roof is going to change these loads and needs to be considered during the design phase to ensure the structure is capable of handling the added weight. The evaluation of loads is especially important during a retrofit because the loads associated with the new vegetative roof would not have been included in the original calculations. Additional work may be required for the building to safely accommodate the new vegetative roof.
The other major issue the code addresses is the possibility of growth media becoming windborne debris. Growth media that becomes windborne debris poses a serious threat to pedestrians below and surrounding buildings. Growth media is essentially soil; it is the material the vegetation is planted in and what the vegetation receives water through. The new language recommends looking at the density and size of the particles. In areas prone to high winds, even with careful consideration to the size of the particles that make up the growth media, it may not be possible to keep the growth media from becoming windborne. In these cases, a vegetative roof may not be a safe option. 
Prior to installing a vegetative roof, the fire and life safety risk needs to be evaluated. Reducing the risk begins during the planning phase by choosing vegetation that will thrive in the given climate, evaluating the additional loads, choosing an appropriately sized growth media, and considering how the vegetation will be watered.  The mitigation of fire and life safety risks needs to continue throughout the building’s life, by ensuring the vegetative roof is properly maintained with sufficient water and dead vegetation is promptly removed. Vegetative roofs can be a great addition to a building, but proper planning is required to minimize the fire and life safety risks associated with them.  

 

A call came in from an employee who had been highly involved in electrical safety. Education and off-site training, some on his own dime and time, created an employee who knew the requirements of OSHA and NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®. With self-made work permits and a firm grasp on what a normal operating condition involves, this employee was better prepared for electrical safety than most others. As a contract employee, his company sent him to a host employer site. As expected, the host wanted the work to be conducted while energized. The equipment was not maintained and neither was other equipment in same location. This nearby equipment was not in a normal operating condition and posed a significant arc-flash risk, which was more probable than for the tasked equipment. A second task on another piece of equipment revealed once again that energized work was expected. Although he had taken chances in the past, this was not something he was willing to do this time. The risk was not worth it (as if the risk ever should be).


This contract employee pointed out that the lack of maintenance of all equipment in the area put employees at risk of injury. The host employer stated the other equipment in the area should not be considered in the risk assessment. Even when it was pointed out that normal operation of that equipment was a risk, the host employer re-emphasized that it should not be a concern for the contractor. Then the contract employee pointed out that all boundaries of exposed energized parts must be considered, not just that of the assigned part. Once again, the host stated to ignore those other parts.


The employee wanted confirmation from me that an energized work permit was necessary and that all boundaries had been considered. He wanted something from NFPA which could be given to the employers. He wanted to do things right and he wanted to be safe. I ran through the need for proper justification for energized work (host employer refused to provide), an energized work permit (host employer refused to sign), and proper risk assessments (host employer refused to accept). I brought up the federal and state regulations for workplace safety (host employer wasn’t concerned). I mentioned the requirements in NFPA 70E for host and contract employer responsibilities (host employer ignored those that affected their plan for unjustified energized work). The contract employer sided with the host employer. There was nothing I could provide that would change the mind of the employers. Until an employee is killed or injured to the point that requires an OSHA visit, there will be no change at this host site. The host and contract employers are the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) who are responsible for enforcing the electrical safety requirements. What is an employee to do when the AHJ ignores safety requirements? What would you have done?


It is beyond comprehension that so much effort is exhausted to avoid methods necessary to keep an employee safe. It is frustrating when someone is willing to risk the welfare of another. What will make them see the error of their ways? Should the CEO or acting AHJ be forced to stand next to an employee while the unjustified, energized work is performed? Could an employee shut the equipment off under the guise of human error because energized work does not guarantee continued operation? Could the work be delayed until the equipment fails? In the real world something needs to be done. I do not have the answer when willful disregard for safety is so prevalent.


The pressure to perform the work was immense. In this case, the employee was not willing to do what was demanded rather than do what was safe. This employee made a hard decision to choose safety over a paying job (it also makes me wonder how bad the situation actually was). That takes a commitment few have, especially when management is against safety and change. Which would you have chosen?

 

The contract employer should have supported the employee, but in many cases revenue plays a major factor in what an employer considers to be a safe task or low risk for an employee. Another company would do the work if his company would not. Unfortunately, a discussion between the two employers led to the replacement of this employee. The replacement person was assigned the task even with the knowledge passed on by the other. Hopefully, this replacement employee was not added to injury or fatality statistics. Would you have been the replacement employee?


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


Next time: Do not sweat the small stuff.

NFPA 13 2016The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) for the 2016 and proposed 2019 editions of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, is being published for public review and comment:  
Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by December 21, 2017. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.  
Exciting news, everyone! Preparing for your Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS) Certification has never been easier! NFPA’s CFPS Practice Exam has been given a full overhaul.
The CFPS Practice Exam is now 100 questions and includes brand new questions not found on the old practice CFPSexam! The new CFPS Practice Exam matches the content and breakdown of the actual CFPS exam so you can prepare more effectively for the certification exam than ever before. And now, for the first time, you will get feedback on which answers were answered right and wrong, which domain from the exam blueprint each question is testing on, and where in the fire protection handbook you can go to find more information on the topic. 
The new version of the CFPS Practice Exam went on sale earlier this month for $75 to non-members (NFPA members get a 10% discount) and is available for purchase through the NFPA catalog.   
NFPA Interns
Fire protection engineering students are not strangers to NFPA.  We have a very long history of hiring interns and co-ops from Worcester Polytechnic Institute's fire protection engineering program, some of whom have become employees here.  More recently we have expanded our WPI relationship and data science interns are now interning with us and helping us apply modern data techniques to the fire problem.  But we touch the global fire science/engineering student body in a lot of different ways also.  For example:  
  • NFPA's research section sponsors a student poster session at C&E each year - last year we had a dozen or so posters and students from around the world participating.
  • The Research Foundation annually funds a handful of students to undertake small research projects to provide information to our technical committees.
  • NFPA provides fellowship type grants to the three major FPE schools in the U.S. annually - two are used to fund student projects and one is used to support recruitment efforts.
  • We have two Memoranda of Understanding with global universities in developing nations designed to connect them to the global fire science community and NFPA’s resources.
  • We periodically invite international research fellows to join us for a few months to learn from us and share their work - we have had fellows from Korea, China, Sweden, Denmark and Spain and are looking to strengthen our connection to global universities and their students.
  • Our new student membership program (coming soon) is providing an opportunity to connect and gain information from NFPA.
If you have thoughts and ideas or if you are a student who would like to learn more, please let us know.  Students are the future of global fire safety science and engineering and we are committed to supporting them in whatever way we can. 

A little more than 14 months into a 2-year, 1.3 million dollar Assistance for Firefighters Grant from FEMA, NFPA has entered a new phase of development for the National Fire Data System with Applied Geographics, Inc. (AppGeo), a company specializing in geospatial information technologies, data integrations, analytics, and custom solutions.

 

Thanks to AFG funding, NFPA has been identifying and developing the groundwork for a horizontally- and vertically-scalable system that collects data from fire departments since September 2016. An executive advisory group and technical working group has been helping to form the proof of concept for the project.

 

With AppGeo in place, NFPA can now begin developing, building and testing an infrastructure that will ingest, store and export data from existing and emerging industry data sources. Initially, the plan is to provide a fire service foundational data framework that includes incident, operations, and health and wellness data. In the future, the National Fire Data System will look to tell a more complete story of the fire service that factors in fire prevention, community risk reduction, training, and investigation information.

 

“Data is quickly driving how the fire service makes its decisions, and demonstrates its value to communities,” said Matt Hinds-Aldrich, NFPA’s big data program manager and National Fire Data System lead. “NFPA is excited to be spearheading the effort to capture, share and analyze metrics that will more accurately reflect the work of fire departments and help spotlight the resources needed to ensure that communities and our first responders are safe from a myriad of hazards.”

 

NFPA has been recognized as a leader in the collection, analysis and communication of fire loss data for more than 80 years, and has the partnerships, personnel, and proven track record to ensure timely and quality completion of the National Fire Data System.

NFPA 1 Firecode - cooking equipment Thanksgiving safety

 

(Please note, the current edition of NFPA 1 is now the 2018 edition. This new edition is available to view online for free at www.nfpa.org/1. All future Fire Code Friday posts will reference the 2018 edition unless specifically noted.)


We are approaching the "most wonderful time of the year" but also a potentially dangerous time of the year. A time full of cooking, heating, holiday lights, candles, and overloaded electrical outlets.


NFPA has regulations that govern the cooking equipment used to prepare your Thanksgiving Day feast, whether you enjoy it at a restaurant or buy it from a commercial business to take home. Chapter 50 of NFPA 1, Fire Code, addresses provisions for commercial cooking and is applicable to the design, installation, operation, inspection, and maintenance of all public and private commercial cooking equipment as well as mobile and temporary cooking equipment This type of equipment is required to comply with Chapter 50 of the Code as well as NFPA 96, Standard for Ventilation Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations. The 2018 edition of NFPA 1 references the 2017 edition of NFPA 96 which expanded its scope to also include mobile and temporary cooking, defined as “any cooking apparatus or equipment operated on a one-time basis, interim basis, or for less than 90 days in the same location, other than at a fixed location, building, or structure that has been inspected and permitted under another section of this Code, regulation, or statute.”


The requirements of Chapter 50 do not apply to residential cooking equipment used for commercial cooking operations and do not apply to cooking equipment located in a single dwelling unit. For more information on Thanksgiving safety in your home check out NFPA’s Thanksgiving safety page.


The fire inspector plays a critical role in the installation as well as continued inspection, testing, and maintenance of commercial cooking equipment used not only on Thanksgiving, but every day. Among other responsibilities related to commercial cooking equipment, AHJs must review and approve construction documents prior to the installation of fire-extinguishing systems, issue permits as necessary, require notification of any alteration, replacement or relocation of exhaust or extinguishment system, approve language and wording of fire extinguisher placards, approve location of manual actuation devices for fire extinguishing systems, review the fire extinguishing systems equipment, design and installation and verify the qualifications and credentials for person(s) inspecting, testing and maintaining the commercial cooking equipment fire protection systems.


Overall, Chapter 50 provides comprehensive provisions for the protection of commercial cooking equipment, more than can be written about here in one post. In addition to responsibilities specific to the AHJ listed above, Chapter 50 and NFPA 96, together, address:

 

  • Procedures for the use, inspection, testing, and maintenance of equipment
  • Equipment clearance
  • Protection of coverings and enclosure materials.
  • Hood systems
  • Installation and Operation of fire-extinguishing systems
  • Mobile and temporary cooking equipment

 

Regardless of where or how you enjoy the thanksgiving holiday, staying safe is a priority. The provisions in NFPA 1 help code officials ensure restaurants and food service operations keep their facilities up to code and their equipment and employees safe for all.

 

Have a wonderful holiday! Thanks for reading, stay safe!

 

At a joint Fire Protection Research Foundation and Vision 20/20 workshop on Monday, September 11, 2017, speakers from research, industry and standards developers described the latest developments in technology and its implementation for smoke alarms and cooking fire prevention.


Workshop participants from the fire prevention community discussed the potential impact of these technologies and asked the question: what is our role in driving their implementation for home fire safety?


That role is threefold: as a communication bridge for new technology to the fire service and to high risk groups who might benefit from it; as an advocate for new technology solutions in regulation and with industry; and as a field data collection resource for the effectiveness and needed enhancements of technology.


The Foundation and Vision 20/20 invite you to participate in the dialogue.


Read the Proceedings from this workshop here.

nfpa 241

The energy was palpable this morning, the second day of the “Compliance through Collaboration” forum held at NFPA this week. More than 60 professionals including facility managers, enforcers, contractors, designers, inspectors, installers, and fire service personnel from across the country came ready to engage in discussions on the building process, and to learn from their colleagues.


The morning kicked off with a group of passionate, engaged panelists who addressed safety on construction sites, most notably hot work safety, a problem found in many jurisdictions, and the related standards: NFPA 241: Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alterations and Demolition Operations, and NFPA 51B: Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work. This included an emotional address from Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal, Jack Dempsey, from the Boston Fire Department, who spoke about the tragic loss of two firefighters in the 2014 Back Bay fire, and the subsequent evolution of NFPA 241 and creation of the Boston Hot Work Safety Certificate Program, after this incident.


Later discussions looked at construction site safety from the role of fire prevention project and safety managers tasked with training, implementing and communicating safety plans to all those working on a project. Safety managers from such building companies as Gilbane, Lee Kennedy and Suffolk gave compelling and informed presentations, pointing to the lessons they have learned (even the hard ones) and stressing the importance of designing a program/plan to keep everyone safe, working together and successful.


Regardless of what area of the building process these participants hail from or at what point they are engaged in a building project, the overall theme of this morning’s presentations was clear: there’s always something more we can do, more lessons we can learn, and we can always do better. Still, participants agree that they are seeing progress and it’s encouraging. Forums such as these, they say, are helpful in raising awareness and educating people on the most important issues. And as the name of this particular forum suggests, we're reminded of just how powerful collaboration can be.


Find more information about construction fires at www.nfpa.org/constructionfires. Up tomorrow: a panel discussion on energy storage.

 

Photo (left to right): Dennis Mullen, Safety Director, Gilbane Building Company; Doug Standbridge, Safety Manager/FPPM, Suffolk; Jack Dempsey, Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal, Boston Fire Department; Tom O'Donnel, CFPS, Associate Inspection Engineer, Inspectional Services Division, City of Boston; Paul Fitzpatrick, Construction Safety Unit, Boston Fire Department; Jason Edic, CSP, Lee Kennedy Company, Inc.; Ken Colgate, Vice President, Construction, WS Development, and Matt Bourque, Fire Protection Program Manager, WS Development.

The short answer: everyone.    
Hot work is one of the leading causes of industrial fire. According to the NFPA report Structure Fires Started by Hot Work - September 2016U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 4,440 structure fires involving hot work per year. These fires caused an average of 12 civilian deaths, 208 civilian injuries and $287 million in direct property damage per year.
At this year's NFPA Conference & Expo, Skip Donnell, a volunteer firefighter and the Engineering Manager of Liberty Mutual Insurance, presented on the importance of implementing a hot works permit program - a program that can reduce loss potential as well as save lives. As he described, a hot work permit program is important because it:    
  • Provides accountability
  • Ensures a "paper trail"
  • Helps ensure safety of the facility
  • Reduces the likelihood of fires
  • Improves employee safety
As Donnell explained, the leading causes of hot work fire incidents can be traced to a failure to identify combustibles or combustible construction, impaired fire protection systems, or failure to implement a fire watch both during and after the hot work had been completed. Donnell went on to highlight some high profile cases throughout the years.   
One such well known case was the Pepcon Disaster in Henderson, NV. This remote desert manufacturer of ammonium perchlorate - an oxidizer used in solid rocket fuels - had an historic explosion back on May 4, 1988 from what was most likely caused by a welding incident. Watch the shocking explosion as captured by a bystander.  
This incident caused 1 death, injured 372 (including 15 firefighters) and had an estimated loss of $100 million.    
This example and many others shared during his presentation illustrated the dangers associated with hot work activities. These incidents emphasize the importance of actions taken both before and after hot work -- they both play a crucial role in significantly reducing loss potential.   
Creating a hot work permit process is key, but as Donnell explained, "You have to get buy-in from the highest level of management. And you need to empower managers to ensure that the process is followed.     
Use these 5 tips to ensure a successful permitting process:  
  • Avoid hot work if possible
  • Train personnel
  • Ensure area clear of flammable/combustible materials
  • Use a written permit system
  • Supervise the work
Remember, hot work is a leading cause of industrial fire loss and those fires may not become apparent until after work is completed. A hot work program can assist you in controlling this exposure.
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 here.

 

Mobile cooking operations have been gaining popularity in recent years and the fire safety regulations are finally catching up! This presentation highlights the recent incidents that caused concern and the development of fire safety requirements for mobile cooking operations to address potential hazards.

 

Last week Kristin Bigda — Principal Engineer and Staff Liason for NFPA 1 — covered this topic during my NFPA Live, an exclusive for NFPA Members. During the live event we got this follow-up question. Since you are a registered user on Xchange I'm now sharing it with you. I hope you find some value in it.

 

We also have a free downloadable food truck fact sheet that covers some of this same information. Download this fact sheet, and print it out. It is intended to help advance safety of mobile and temporary cooking operations.


Jacqueline Wilmot is a Fire Protection Engineer at NFPA and Staff Liason for NFPA 96. 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!

 

Today kicks off “Compliance through Collaboration,” a three-day NFPA forum that brings together a cross-section of building professionals, including facility managers, enforcers, contractors, designers, inspectors and installers, who have been invited to discuss issues they regularly face on the job. Attendees include a broad spectrum of professionals responsible for a wide range of occupancies in their cities, states and jurisdictions.


While the forum serves as an opportunity for participants to share their ideas and perspectives, it also helps NFPA better understand where building professionals experience struggles and challenges, and to identify the tools and resources they need to more effectively perform their work moving forward.


Day one of the forum reviewed the entire life-cycle of a building, from its planning and zoning to demolition and abandonment. For each of these phases, participants actively engaged in discussion about obstacles they frequently face in conducting their roles and responsibilities. In coordination with a lively, interactive discussion around these issues, participants provided their experience, perspectives and feedback on how these challenges can be addressed and mitigated.


As the title of the forum suggests, one of the key themes of the day was collaboration. Multiple attendees noted that contractors, building officials, fire officials, inspectors and AHJs need to work together, reinforcing the invaluable role early communications play in helping avoid conflicts later in the process.

 


Tomorrow, the forum will focus on construction site safety, with an overview of NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration and Demolition Operations, and NFPA 51B, Standard for Fire Prevention during Welding, Cutting and other Hot Work. Stay tuned!

When it comes to Thanksgiving, time spent with family and friends, and bellies full of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and a plethora of pies, most typically come to mind. What far fewer people know is that the November holiday lays claim to being the leading day of the year for U.S. home cooking fires.


In 2015, Thanksgiving had almost four times the average daily number of reported home structure fires caused by cooking with 1,760 incidents reported. That number reflects a 259% jump over the average number of fires per day. The day before Thanksgiving ranked as the second worst day for cooking fires with 75% more fires (860 incidents) than typically seen on an average day.


Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an annual average of 170,200 home structure fires involving cooking equipment, which resulted in 510 civilian fire deaths, 5,470 civilian fire injuries, and $1.2 billion in direct property damage. Unattended cooking was, by far, the leading contributing factor in these fires and fire fatalities.


With so much going on around us, it’s important to keep these simple tips in mind when cooking, sautéing or baking:

  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking to keep a close eye on the food, especially when frying and sautéing with oil.
  • Use a timer to keep track of cooking times, most notably when cooking a meal that takes a long time like roasting a turkey, baking a roast or simmering. Check the stove or oven frequently. Consider putting timers in different rooms so that you can hear them over music, football games, and party chatter.
  • Stay alert and focused when cooking. To help minimize the risk of injury, avoid cooking when drinking alcohol or if you’re sleepy.
  • Keep things that can catch fire like oven mitts, wooden utensils, food wrappers and towels away from the cooking area. 
  • Kids should stay 3 feet away from stovetops, as well as from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, or gravy could cause serious burns.  


Although frying turkeys at Thanksgiving have become a popular trend, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) discourages turkey fryers because the hot oil used can often lead to devastating burns, other injuries, and the destruction of property. If you would like to enjoy fried turkey, the NFPA recommends that you turn to grocery stores, specialty food retailers and restaurants.


Additional tips and resources can be found on NFPA’s Thanksgiving webpage. General cooking safety information including safety tip sheets, infographics, videos and more can be found on NFPA’s Cooking Fire Safety Central webpage. Enjoy time with your loved ones and delicious food this Thanksgiving, and take the necessary steps to be safe!

 

Calling all Data Architects! NFPA is looking to procure Data Architect professional services, from an experienced individual or firm, to design and document a comprehensive and scalable data model and data infrastructure requirements for community risk reduction (CRR) data. This project is part of a Federal grant funded activity and will build upon and link to efforts already underway to build a National Fire Data System, specifically around the integration of community risk reduction data into other types of fire service activity data.

The overall goal of this project is to develop a prototype data model and expand the national fire data system being developed by NFPA for quality local and national data for CRR decision making, by developing a prototype community risk reduction data model and the data infrastructure to gather CRR data from fire departments. The proposed project will convene subject matter experts from the enforcer, public education, CRR, codes & standards, and data communities to identify current best practices and existing data formats to develop a scalable, flexible, CRR data model. Using this data model, the project will expand the backend data infrastructure of the National Fire Data System to ingest, process, store and share CRR data. A key objective is to link disparate data sets and process poorly structured CRR data in any format.

The intent of this RFP is to secure a resource to develop a comprehensive and scalable data model (conceptual, logical and support the development of the physical data model) that utilizes international best-practices in the collection of fire activity data, and design and refine system requirements necessary for the development of a novel Data Lake environment to collect data from fire departments across the United States.


Please see the attached PDF for more information. The deadline has been extended! Submit your proposals by November 22, 2017 at 5:00pm EST.

NFPA's upcoming webinar will provide highlights from the one-year Campaign for Fire Service Contamination Control project and corresponding workshop. The project was funded by an Assistance to Firefighters Fire Prevention & Safety Grant in an effort to develop and facilitate an awareness campaign that will help control the spread of harmful fire ground contaminants, and support improved overall firefighter health and safety.
Exposure to chemical and biological contaminants on the fire ground is an increasing concern for long-term firefighter health. Cancer and other diseases resulting from chronic exposures have become significant concerns for the fire service. Occupational cancer is presumed to be associated with fire ground exposure and the persistent harmful toxins found in firefighter equipment, apparatus, and fire stations.  
This project considered the entire spectrum of contamination control, including firefighter activities before, during, and after a fire or contamination event. Approaches used in other established areas were identified and can be adapted for broad implementation. Some fire service considerations and NFPA documents that may be impacted by the findings include:
Register for the webinar today, and learn how to keep yourself and your colleagues safe.  

 

The first joint conference AUBE ’17/SUPDET® 2017 was a success with more than 80 presentations and nearly 200 total participants. Thank you to all who attended and spoke at the conference!


Presentations over the three days in College Park, MD, focused on the latest development in research, technology, and applications for the fire protection community, and how they can be put to use by the fire protection community.

 

Following is a list of honorees who received awards for their paper submissions:


AUBE 2017 Best Paper Awards:
Markus Brune, Annika Gomell, Wilhelm Furian, Andreas Pflitsch
OFDR-Temperature Sensing Using Existing Fibre-Optic Communication Cables – An Application for Automatic Fire Detection?

 

Justin Geiman, Noah Ryder, Andre Marshall, Prateep Chatterjee
Developing a Fire Test Strategy for Storage Protection Under Slope Ceilings

 

SUPDET 2017 Ronald K Mengel Award (for best detection paper):
Matthes Dietrich, Markus Brüne, Sebastian Festag, Christian Knaust
Buoyancy driven flow in an underground metro station for different climate conditions – experimental and numerical investigation

 

SUPDET 2017 William M. Carey Award (for best suppression paper):
Zachary L. Magnone, Jeremiah Crocker, Pedriant Pena

Warehouse Protection of Exposed Expanded Group-A Plastics with Electronic Sprinkler Technology

 

We thank our sponsors for their support: Siemens, Viking, Kidde, NEMA, Victaulic, UL, Zurich, and Hekatron.

 

Be on the lookout for dates and location of SUPDET 2018.

 

(Please note, the current edition of NFPA 1 is now the 2018 edition.  This new edition is available to view online for free at www.nfpa.org/1.  All future Fire Code Friday posts will reference the 2018 edition unless specifically noted.)

 

On November 1, my phone rang and it was an NFPA member with a question about Christmas trees.  With that, my plans to discuss Code requirements for natural and artificial Christmas trees moved from December to November.  Like consumers, inspectors are dealing with holiday issues long before the actual holiday, sometimes months in advance.  Retail stores, restaurants, and businesses are all jumping on board the holiday season earlier and earlier each year it seems.  Still sorting through Halloween candy, the Christmas and holiday season is forced upon us.  

 

Between 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 210 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage annually. (See NFPA’s report “Home Structure Fires Involving Christmas Trees”, issued in November 2016)  NFPA 1 addresses both artificial trees and natural cut trees in all occupancies under Section 10.13 for Combustible Vegetation. Natural Christmas trees, by their nature, are initially fire retardant. The problem arises when they have been cut and packaged without access to water for extended periods of time. The fire danger of Christmas trees and similar vegetation increases when the bottom end of the tree is not freshly cut and immediately placed in water when purchased. Other concerns include the length of time Christmas trees are on display (as noted above, retail stores often set up outdoor displays of natural trees for purchase before Thanksgiving.)  

 

The species of tree and the rate of moisture loss are important factors in determining the extent of moisture loss. Of the various types of evergreen trees available, the Noble fir retains its moisture longer than other species. The best preventive measures include using a freshly harvested tree, cutting the butt or bottom end immediately before placing it in water, and checking the water level frequently to ensure that the tree water container is filled. The person responsible for the display should check the tree periodically. When needles shed easily, the tree should be removed or replaced, since trees dry from the inside out. 

 

Artificial Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes.  They even come pre-lit.  Last September, UL published a very helpful white paper about reducing the fire risk of pre-lit trees.  This publication addresses the research that led to the development of performance testing criteria for pre-lit artificial trees.  It is a valuable resource for consumers and code officials when evaluating the safety of artificial trees. With regards to artificial vegetation, the Code is concerned with its fire retardance (heat release rate or other fire performance criteria) which should be displayed on a label or identification from the manufacturer, ignition sources, and electrical components.

The requirements for artificial and natural cut Christmas trees in NFPA 1 are summarized as follows:

 

  • Allowances for natural Christmas trees are specified by occupancy and found in Table 10.13.1.1.
    • Note: Christmas trees are prohibited or limited in their placement in occupancies that pose special problems due to the capabilities of occupants, occupant or management control, or the number of occupants. Some exceptions permit live, balled trees, if maintained, and trees in locations where automatic sprinkler systems are installed.
  • Artificial vegetation and artificial Christmas trees must be labeled or otherwise identified or certified by the manufacturer as being fire retardant. (10.13.3.1)
    • The fire retardance is demonstrated by each individual decorative vegetation item, including any decorative lighting, in an approved manner.
  • Christmas trees cannot obstruct corridors, exit ways, or other means of egress. (10.13.4)
  • Only listed electrical lights and wiring can be used on natural or artificial Christmas trees. (10.13.5)
  • Do not locate open flames such as from candles, lanterns, and heaters on or near Christmas trees. (10.13.7)
  • Where a natural cut tree is permitted, the bottom end of the trunk must be cut off with a straight fresh cut at least 1⁄2 in. (13 mm) above the end prior to placing the tree in a stand to allow the tree to absorb water. (10.13.9.1)
  • The tree is to be placed in a suitable stand with water and the water level must be maintained above the fresh cut and checked at least once daily. (10.13.9.3)
  • The tree is to be removed from the building immediately upon evidence of dryness. (10.13.9.4)
    • A method to check for dryness is to grasp a tree branch with a reasonably firm pressure and pull your hand to you, allowing the branch to slip through your grasp. If the needles fall off readily, the tree does not have adequate moisture content and should be removed.

 

In addition to the Code requirements, NFPA also provides a resource page dedicated to Christmas tree and decoration fires. 

 

Have you had any trouble enforcing provisions for Christmas trees? How does your facility ensure Christmas trees are maintained?

 

Thank for reading, stay safe!

NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrically Safety in the Workplace continues to evolve and shape the way employers and employees approach electrical safety to help save lives and avoid losses due to the hazards that are present when working on or near electrical systems. Having the right tools to help guide you and your employees through this process is key. And that’s where the 2018 70E Handbook comes in.   
70E, worker safetyNot sure how the Handbook can help? Try and think of it this way: As an employer, you need to comply with OSHA guidelines, right? So, OSHA is the “what” you need to do and NFPA 70E is the “how” you do it. The newly published 2018 70E Handbook goes one step further and gives you the all-important “whys” and support when you need it.    
You may ask, “Can a Handbook really do all that?” YES! The 2018 edition includes more than 150 full-color photos, charts and illustrations that really bring these safety concepts to life. And we’re pleased to announce two new features you’ll want to take advantage of and share with staff. They include:   
  •  “Worker alerts,” which highlight crucial electrical safety information specifically designed for the employee 
  • OSHA Connection" information, which shows how OSHA's electrical safety standards correspond with certain NFPA 70E requirements 
Other great features of the Handbook include: 
  • The entire 2018 NFPA 70E text plus exclusive commentary that explains requirements and their intent, and it breaks down tasks. The Handbook also addresses different equipment and scenarios. 
  • Commentary on major updates, such as the modification of arc flash hazard identification table [Table 130.7(C)(15)(A)(a)] to the new Table 130.5(C) that helps determine the likelihood that an arc flash could occur regardless of the chosen risk assessment method.  
  • Case studies to help examine “what went right” and “what went wrong” with real examples of how NFPA 70E applies in the workplace. 
  • Supplements that include a list of requirement headings from the 2017 NEC that directly impact the implementation of safety-related work practices. You’ll also find extracted material from NFPA 70B: Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance on electrical equipment maintenance, and guidance for writing a safety procedure. 
Read more about the “power” of handbooks and how they can really help on the job, and provide your team with the tools they need to get the job done safely and efficiently. Learn more about 70E, purchase the Handbook and find other 70E-related resources at www.nfpa.org/70e.   

 

If you have been following this blog, you may have noticed that I occasionally mention that unsafe work practices may add you to the statistics. Although there are many more injuries than fatalities, the statistics I refer to are the fatalities because on those days family members didn’t realize that the person would not be coming home from work.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiles all types of data regarding the workplace. There are many reports generated. The database goes on and on. Many aspects overlap and sometimes it is hard to pin down a single, pertinent statistic. My caveat is that I am not a data cruncher, analyst, or anything else along that line. I have done my best to find what I thought is appropriate for this blog. I was unable to find BLS data on arc-flash fatalities. All the numbers are the average of fatalities over the last dozen years (2003-2015).


There is an average of 5,122 fatalities annually in the workplace. There are three BLS categories that typically fall under the scope of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®. These are construction and extraction occupations; installation, maintenance, and repair occupations; and building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations. These three categories accounted for nearly one-third (1,615) of all fatalities. Half of these fatalities occurred in the construction and extraction occupations under which electricians averaged 81 fatalities. Nearly one-quarter of these electrician fatalities where residential electrical contractors. Electrical contractors accounted for an average of 75 and plumbing, heating and HVAC accounted for another 60 per year. Under the installation, maintenance and repair category, electrical and electronic mechanics, installers and repairers averaged 20 fatalities which is less than those involved with HVAC at 25 fatalities and industrial machinery at 74. General maintenance and repair workers averaged 98 fatalities per year. For a comparison, the utilities averaged 23 fatalities in power generation, transmission, and distribution.


These fatalities are from all causes. However, according to the BLS data an average of 192 workers were killed from exposure to electricity. This is 4% of all workplace fatalities and 12% of the fatalities from the three BLS categories. This could have been considerably lower if the requirements of NFPA 70E had been followed. There is an encouraging trend in that there was a decrease from 250 fatalities per year at the beginning of the decade to 151 annually towards the end. It might be a coincidence but this decrease has occurred as NFPA 70E has gained traction throughout the industry. The good news is 100 more workers returned home at the end of the day in 2015 than in 2003. Although this is of no consolation to those other 150 families.


A shift in the reporting process occurred in 2011. Data began to collect on the voltage present when a fatality occurred. Annually, 220 volts or less has been fatal to 31 workers whereas voltages greater than 220 volts have been fatal to 110 workers. Electrocution has been a known electrical hazard since the beginning and was most likely the cause of death at 220 volts or less. It is troubling that barring an electrically safe work condition, it is probable that many of these workers lost their life for the lack of an inexpensive, properly insulted tool. The electrical parts involved in the fatalities, in descending order, are: power lines, transformers, and converters; building wiring; switchboards, switches and fuses; generators; power cords, extension cords, and electrical cords; and motors. With the increase in popularity in energy storage, since 2011 an average of one worker has been killed when batteries have been involved.


You may look at these numbers while thinking that only 4% of the fatalities were within the scope of NFPA 70E. You may think more workers return home safely each day compared to those that do not. You might consider that 192 electrical fatalities out of the thousands of workers in this industry gives you pretty good odds of returning home. With about 250 working days in a year this means that every day and a half a worker is killed by electricity in the workplace. When they went to work, how many of these thought they would not be seeing their family again? It doesn’t matter that there are long odds against you becoming a fatality. What does matter is that there is no need to take any chance that you will not return home today.


Remember that these are fatality statistics. Reported injuries are an order of magnitude higher. There is no estimate of unreported injuries or near misses (electric shock). Physical and psychological injuries often accompany an electrical injury whether it is reported or not. It is astounding that electrical fatalities and injuries are often easily prevented. Why would you take any chance at becoming a statistic?


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


Next time: What would you do?

 

We all know the role that firefighters play in saving lives and reducing risk in our cities and towns. Or do we?

 

Increasingly, fire departments are expected to provide data to underscore their impact in communities. NFPA is well aware of this validation trend, because our research department often fields calls looking for metrics that will help fire leaders tell their story to bean counters and policy makers. No doubt, fire leaders can provide passionate perspective, but statistics and research are proving to be a game-changer when it comes to demonstrating the value of the modern day fire department.

 

Historically, authorities have looked at the number of incidents, deaths, injuries and damage to show why it’s important to have a professional, responsive fire department. Today, departments can also show environmental and economic data to reinforce their clout. Local fire officials, however, are not always equipped to pull together the right insights.

So, in 2015, NFPA sponsored the project, Development of an Environmental and Economic Assessment Tool (Enveco Tool) for Fire Events. The research was done by the Technical Research Institute of Sweden and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). NFPA then hosted Economic Decision Making in Fire and Electrical Safety – A Workshop on the Needs and Resources that same year. Findings from these two efforts were released in May and August 2016.

 

To keep things simple the Enveco feasibility study took into account fully developed warehouse fires in industrial areas where water was used for fire suppression. It looked at incident data and different variables so that a tool could be created that compares the economic impact of fire department intervention for a real study with a situation where there is no fire department intervention. The goal was to provide even more information that would show why it is prudent to invest in a strong local fire infrastructure.

 

Project leads and the technical panel recommended further research and suggested that the functionality of the tool be expanded. They felt this would not only bolster the worth of fire departments, but possibly benefit other interested parties. Efforts to enhance the tool are currently underway, using the Enveco version as a baseline. The new resource will include pilot studies and enhancements, and will be complete in 2018.

 

NFPA has been working on other economic impact initiatives in the 18 months since the Enveco discussions so that the fire service can provide relevant data during fire service budget and contract meetings. In the coming months, we will post a series of Economic Impact of Fire blogs highlighting new research, resources and tools that will be helpful as departments look to influence decision-makers. Here’s what’s in the pipeline:

 

  • A total cost of fire report (direct and indirect costs, excluding wildfire)
  • A look at the economic impact that firefighter injuries have on communities
  • A data tool, using real estate data, to estimate the dollar loss associated with fire incidents
  • Insight on the impact of fire sprinkler regulation on real estate costs
  • Updates and enhancements to NFPA’s long-standing report on the total cost of fire analytics
  • Outcomes from NFPA’s cost/benefit regulatory workshop
  • Fire prevention economic impact information

 

Statistics tell a positive story about the tremendous progress the fire service is making in reducing loss from fire; however, our world and fires are different today. The fire service needs to validate their services in a different way too.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Over the 20+ years I’ve been working with  NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, the concept of multiple-occupancy buildings hasn’t been all that controversial. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s been relatively straightforward—until recently.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve seen a spate of questions relating to buildings with multiple tenants having the potential for different occupancy classifications. I’ve also seen some interpretations from authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) that don’t align with the code’s intent. While I recognize that the AHJ has the final say with regard to code interpretation, it doesn’t make an incorrect interpretation right. I don’t like disagreeing with the AHJ; I was one for several years, and I know how difficult the job is given the volume of work and limited resources. AHJs take their responsibilities very seriously; after all, the safety of the public and emergency responders is in their hands. But my job is to educate and inform about the intent of the Life Safety Code, and when I know it is being misapplied, I have a duty to share that information.

NFPA is transforming from a codes-and-standards organization into a knowledge-and-information organization. Here is some knowledge and information to help everyone get on the same page with regard to multiple-occupancy buildings.

Occupancy classification is addressed in Section 6.1 (all references are to the current 2018 edition). The term “multiple occupancy” has the following definition:

6.1.14.2.1 Multiple Occupancy. A building or structure in which two or more classes of occupancy exist.

NFPA’s headquarters in Quincy, Massachusetts is an example of a multiple-occupancy building. Our building contains offices (business occupancy) and a cafeteria with an occupancy load of more than 49 persons (assembly occupancy).

Where a building contains multiple occupancies, it must comply with the requirements for mixed occupancies in 6.1.14.3 or the requirements for separated occupancies in 6.1.14.4, as prescribed by 6.1.14.1.1. Here is the key takeaway: use of the separated-occupancy criteria is not mandatory unless specified by another section of the code. This occurs only in a few instances. For example, a health care occupancy (e.g., a hospital or nursing home) is permitted to be in a building containing other occupancies only when it is separated from the other occupancies by a two-hour fire barrier (see Chapters 18 and 19 for details). Even if a building looks like it contains multiple-separated occupancies, nothing prohibits it from being classified as a multiple-mixed occupancy as long as all of the occupancies comply with the most restrictive requirements of the occupancies involved, unless separate safeguards are approved, as stated in 6.1.14.3.2.

Conversely, situations exist where the code mandates the use of the multiple-mixed occupancy provisions. Where multiple occupancies lack separation by fire barriers (occupancy separations) as required by 6.1.14.4, the occupancies are mixed by default. Also, where multiple occupancies share common exit access travel paths (e.g., corridors) as described in 6.1.14.1.2, the occupancies are mixed. Note that multiple-separated occupancies are permitted to share common exits (e.g., stair enclosures). Let’s take a closer look at 6.1.14.1.2:

6.1.14.1.2 Where exit access from an occupancy traverses another occupancy, the multiple occupancy shall be treated as a mixed occupancy.

I’m aware of a jurisdiction extrapolating this to mean where exit access from an occupancy does not traverse another occupancy, the multiple occupancy must be treated as a separated occupancy. This is not the case; the code doesn’t work like that. If that was the code’s intent, it would specifically say so, and it does not. Part of the confusion arises from the definition of “mixed occupancy” and the use of the undefined term “intermingled”:

6.1.14.2.2 Mixed Occupancy. A multiple occupancy where the occupancies are intermingled.

What constitutes intermingling of occupancies? Based on the mandatory requirements in the code, intermingling occurs where multiple occupancies share exit access paths or lack occupancy separation fire barriers, or both. The definition describes a condition resulting from the mandatory code provisions.

As an example, consider the generic “strip mall” depicted in the accompanying figure. This is a classic example of a multiple-separated occupancy building provided that the partitions separating the different tenants are fire barriers meeting the requirements of 6.1.14.4.

Also, each tenant space is provided with independent exit access. As a result, the code’s requirements for each occupancy are applied independently. If the space identified as an assembly occupancy is a new nightclub, it requires automatic sprinkler protection (12.3.5.1). If the occupancies are separated, the code requires the installation of an automatic sprinkler system only in the assembly occupancy; the other occupancies would be permitted to remain nonsprinklered.

But does anything require these occupancies to be separated by fire barriers? The answer is no as long as each occupancy meets the more restrictive requirements of the occupancies involved. It’s less expensive to build non-rated partitions to separate the tenant spaces. If the owner can show that the entire building meets the most restrictive requirements, they have the right to use the mixed occupancy provisions even though the occupancies are separated by non-rated tenant separations and have independent exit access.

I suspect this is really an enforcement issue. Once the building is constructed with non-rated tenant separations, it might be challenging for the AHJ to enforce the separation requirements when a tenant comes along that impacts the other tenants or needs to be separated so as to not adversely impact the other tenants (e.g., the previously described nightclub). In my experience, this needs to be addressed at the permitting stage. Building permits for “speculative-use” buildings (i.e., the occupancy classification is unknown) should be for the “shell building” only. Certificates of occupancy should only be issued once the occupancy classification is known and inspected. Subsequent certificates of occupancy should be issued only after being reviewed by the AHJ whenever a change of occupancy classification occurs as required by NFPA 1, Fire Code. If the shell building tenant separations are to be non-rated, make it clear in the permit process that additional protection in the form of occupancy separation fire barriers might be required depending on the occupancies ultimately present.

If the building owner chooses to go this route, it’s their problem down the road if upgrades are needed. An example: I once had the pleasure of telling a tire storage facility that their occupancy wasn’t permitted in a spec-use warehouse protected by an ESFR sprinkler system that wasn’t designed to protect the hazard – after they had moved in. Good times. The job of the AHJ isn’t always sunshine and lollipops. I’m sure there were some animated meetings between the owner and the tenant after I broke the bad news. Buyer beware.

It’s important for developers and AHJs to work together to achieve a safe building design. The mixed- and separated-occupancy protection strategies are both safe, and the owner has the right to choose which one works best for their building unless the code explicitly mandates the use of one or the other based on the arrangement or occupancies involved. I know this will put me in the doghouse with at least some jurisdictions, but I didn’t take this job to be popular. You can relate to that, right AHJs? Hopefully we’re all on the same page now. #InfoKnowledge

Thanks for reading, and as always, stay safe.

Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to www.nfpa.org/101 and click on “FREE ACCESS.”

Follow me on Twitter: @NFPAGregH

Are people safer from home fires than they used to be, or are they at greater risk? For the average American, it may be hard to know. Tune into just about any local news station, where home fires are covered quite frequently, and it may seem like they’re on the rise. Meanwhile, NFPA surveys show that people think they’re safest from fire at home (it’s actually the place they’re at greatest risk), which suggests that many people think their risk to fire is low.

 

Two reports recently released by NFPA offer a realistic snapshot of Americans’ risk to home fires, as well as when and where they’re happening.

 

Findings from the reports show that home fires and home fire deaths declined by about 50% since 1980, according to reported estimates. However, the 7.8 deaths per 1,000 reported home fires reflects a 10% increase over the 7.1 rate in 1980. In other words, while the number of U.S. home fires and home fire deaths has significantly declined over the past few decades, the death rate per 1,000 reported fires is actually a little higher. These numbers show that while we’ve made much progress in preventing fires, we still have a lot of work to do in mitigating their effects when they do happen.

 

Leading causes of home fires
From 2011 to 2015, cooking remained the leading cause of home fires, causing almost half of reported fires (47%) and home fire injuries (45%). Cooking was also the second leading cause of home fire deaths. Heating was the second-leading cause of home fires (15%) and home fire injuries and the third leading cause of home fire deaths. Electrical distribution and lighting equipment was involved in 9% of the fires, 18% of the deaths, and 10% of the injuries. Only 5% of home fires were started by smoking materials, but these fires caused 22% of the home fire deaths, and 10% of the injuries.

 

A wealth of additional information on when and where U.S. home fires are happening, along with their impact on lives and property, can be found in two recently released NFPA reports: Home Structure Fires and Fire Loss in the United States during 2016.

 

Do today’s fires burn the same way they did 20 years ago? It depends on who you ask. Many individuals and organizations believe that fire suppression methods and practices need to change in response to the modern environment. This viewpoint is supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), which conducted live fire testing in coordination with the New York Fire Department (FDNY).


The tests disproved many long-held beliefs on how fires reacted or responded to fire suppression approaches, with repetitive scenarios in identical dwellings showing how firefighters can improve overall outcomes of fire events. The testing also showed that flowpath control is a key approach to reducing the spread of a fire and allowing fire suppression to be more effective.


“But we’ve always done it this way.”
Many people in the fire service challenge the notion that tactics need to change and continue to believe that fires burn the same way did 20 years ago. They often ask questions like: “Did something change?”; “Have the laws of physics or thermodynamics changed?”; and “Do fires burn differently on the west coast versus the east coast?”


It’s true that the laws of physics have not changed. However, the environment in which firefighters operate has evolved at a rapid pace due to the technological advances in materials and construction techniques.


The phrase “but we have always done it this way,” represents a mindset that can hurt or kill firefighters. To not allow for the free discussion on emerging trends and to not look at scientific data presents a challenge to adapting approaches to delivering emergency services to the public.


Corporate America not only looks outside the box, they tear it apart just to see what can be improved in the delivery of goods and services to their customers. Many research and testing entities are doing the same by challenging the established techniques of fire suppression approaches.


NFPA 1700: is it the future of firefighting?
NFPA 1700, Guide for Structural Fire Fighting, was initiated at the request of some forward-thinking fire service leaders in 2014. Richard “Smokey” Dyer, a well-respected retired fire chief with the Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department spearheaded a request to the NFPA Standards Council to establish a Technical Committee on Fundamentals of Fire Control within a Structure Utilizing Fire Dynamics. Dyer is just one of many individuals and organizations that saw a need for fire suppression to change with the modern environment.


The time is now
NFPA 1700 is currently accepting technical inputs on this issue from the public. Although in a draft form, the stage is set to impact the fire service and its interaction with fire suppression activities in a positive way. Key aspects of the document address fire dynamics in buildings, the PPE design for modern fire environments, strategies and tactics based on data from live fire experiments, reducing overall contaminant exposures, and best practices related to training for the fire service.

 

Click to review the NFPA 1700 preliminary draft and make suggested changes; the NFPA 1700 fact sheet provides an overview of the guide and why it's being developed.

In the mid 2000s, everyone from Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson to President George W. Bush touted hydrogen fuel cells, or HFCs, which combine oxygen from the air with hydrogen to create electricity, as the future of motoring. All these years later, though, HFC vehicles are not that common. Still, HFCs have been around for a long time in other things, like fork lifts and stationary power units, and HFC vehicles are on track to become more popular in the coming years.       
Nick Barilo, hydrogen safety program manager of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and member of the technical committee for NFPA 2, Hydrogen Technologies Code, delivered an education session on the emerging technology at this year’s Conference & Expo in Boston. Ahead of C&E, I had the chance to interview Barilo for an NFPA Journal article that focused on HFCs as well as on-demand mobile fueling, another emerging technology for vehicles that was also the subject of an ed session this year.    
Barilo’s C&E talk drew dozens of curious observers, who like many fire and life safety professionals want to know more about HFCs. While hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, its behavior is not well understood by those outside of scientific fields. Because of that, it can be scary as it’s incorporated into more and more things, Barilo acknowledges. “As with any new technology, what we don’t know sometimes scares us,” he told me after his presentation. “But our experience has been when we connect with people and show them the information and show them some videos and talk with them, we found people to be pretty overwhelmingly responsive in a positive manner. Very little negative feedback.”    
This was evident during Barilo’s presentation. One concern folks sometimes have about hydrogen as a fuel is that it holds the highest flammability rating on the scale described in NFPA 704. What people fail to recognize, however, is that hydrogen doesn’t burn like other fuels, such as gasoline. In an effort to quell concerns like that, Barilo showed a video during the ed session of a firefighter putting his hand extremely close to a hydrogen flame without it feeling too hot.
The Fire Protection Research Foundation released a report on hydrogen safety and the fire service in 2009. NFPA also maintains a website on alternative fuel vehicles which includes information on HFC vehicles.    
As an added benefit to this year's NFPA C&E attendees and our valued NFPA members we are providing full access to ALL the 2017 NFPA C&E education session audio & video files. Browse the full list of education sessions here.

The 2015 Responder Forum class poses with NFPA's Ken Willette, the program organizer 

 

The first NFPA Responder Forum graduating class was honored for their commitment to advancing the fire service this week. The graduates were nominated by thirteen top fire service organizations in 2015, and received a three-year scholarship from NFPA to connect technology, research, standards and people for the betterment of the fire service.

 

The following were commissioned during a dinner celebration this week: Rebecca Ackerman, Captain (TX); Justin Arnold, Lieutenant (VA); Jorge Luis Arriaga, Captain (NJ); Carol Brown, Chief (CO); Butch Browning, State Fire Marshal (LA); Chris Connealy, Fire Marshal (TX); John Cunningham, Training Executive Director (Nova Scotia); Manuel Fonseca, Assistant Fire Chief (TN); Darnell Fullum, Chief (GA); Shawn Gary, Master Firefighter (TX); Angela Hughes, Captain (MD); Tom Jenkins, Chief (AR); Jonathan Jones, State Fire Marshal (SC); Dr. Byron Kennedy, Assistant Chief (GA); Roger Krupp, Deputy Chief (IL); Matthew LaVanchy, Assistant Chief (MO); Joseph Maruca, Chief (MA); Dr. Candice McDonald, State Advocate (OH); Deborah Pendergast, State  Fire/EMS Training Director (NH); David Pipher, Chief Training Officer/Firefighter (Ontario); Terri Leslie Reid, Lieutenant (MD); JoAnne Rice, Interim Deputy Chief (FL); Anthony Rios, Divison Chief (FL); Robert Rullan, Public Safety Officer (CA); Kenyatta Smith, Firefighter/Paramedic (OH); Shawn Snider, Chief (TX); Fred Terryn, US Air Force FES Operations (FL); and Christopher Ward, Fire Investigator (IL).

 

"We are proud to call you NFPA Responder Forum alums. You are the future of the fire service – and we expect great things from you. Continue to ask yourself and others, what can you do to make society safer?” NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley said.

 

United States Fire Administrator Keith Bryant delivered the keynote address and emphasized the role each Forum attendee has in improving the fire service. He cited the need for leaders to realize “What you permit, you promote,” and told graduates that standing by silent while fire service members struggle with physical, behavioral, and occupational medical issues is not acceptable. The former Oklahoma fire chief and now the nation’s pre-eminent fire leader, Bryant’s message resonated with the advancing leaders. 

 

The Responder Forum is made up of forward-thinkers from the following organizations: International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services (IWomen), International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI), Metro Chiefs, National Association of Hispanic Firefighters (NAHF), National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), NFPA Fire Service Section (FSS), National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA).

 

Since 2015, participants have explored persistent fire concerns and emerging issues including data; smart technology; firefighter health and wellness; occupational exposure; energy storage systems; wood buildings; hostile events; civil unrest; natural disasters; and fire service cultural shifts. They worked on white papers, engaged in breakout discussions, spoke on panels, and connected with fire service innovators from 35 states, Canada and the United Kingdom.

 

“Our challenges today may be different, but what is not different is that your community expects you to be there to protect them. The public needs and relies on all of you and your departments to protect them every single day – no matter what the risk, emergency, or new threat is,” Pauley said.

 

Firefighters, chiefs, fire marshals, inspectors, instructors, training directors, and arson investigators have to understand a wide range of emergency response issues today. They need to know how to manage stressful situations, and be able to recognize certain mental and physical health triggers in themselves and their firehouse brethren so that they can perform better and rebound quicker.


This year’s Forum was in Quincy, Massachusetts where NFPA is headquartered. Participants met with NFPA’s codes and standards, outreach and advocacy, and public fire teams; and took part in the organization’s Energy Storage Systems Responder Safety Program, conducted by Ron Butler of the NFPA Emerging Technologies team.


Firehouse Magazine Editor in Chief Tim Sendelbach and Deputy US Fire Administrator Dr. Denis Onieal provided inspirational and insightful remarks, challenging the audience to raise the bar on public safety and to be bold enough to not only teach the next generation, but to be taught by them. Other presenters and presentions included: I. David Daniels with IAFC (bullying and hazing in the fire service); Paul Erickson with Lemay Erickson Willcox Architects (fire station design and exposure control); Orange County, Florida Fire and Rescue Chief Otto Drozd (Pulse Nightclub massacre); Boston Fire Commissioner Joe Finn and Boston Firefighter Local 718 President Richie Paris (engaging elected officials and the public in the discussion of firefighter contamination and cancer); and Pat Morrison of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) (behavioral health issues, recent IAFF disaster and hostile event outreach).


The NFPA’s Responder Forum’s proactive, progressive formula has been applauded by participants, advisors,  nominating organizations, and speakers. The unique nature of the leadership and learning program brings together a cross-section of fire service representatives from different ethnic backgrounds, genders, geographic areas, and career levels – all working toward a goal of reducing loss in our world.

NFPA 1This morning, NFPA learned of one of the largest safety recalls made by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The recall, which “involves 134 models of Kidde fire extinguishers manufactured between January 1, 1973 and August 15, 2017, including models that were previously recalled in March 2009 and February 2015” impacts 37.8 million units.  The reason for the recall is that “the fire extinguishers can become clogged or require excessive force to discharge and can fail to activate during a fire emergency. In addition, the nozzle can detach with enough force to pose an impact hazard.”  For additional information, check out the latest blog from Cathy Longley, Communications Manager at NFPA.

 

Cathy highlights an important aspect regarding the use of fire extinguishers; although they are used to save lives and property and can contain a small fire until the fire department arrives, they should not be used in place of fire fighter response and occupants should not attempt to take fighting the fire into their own hands.  The top priority is for occupants to evacuate a building safely.  Fire extinguishers should not be used in lieu of that goal.  For more information on the requirements for fire extinguishers in NFPA 1 check out these past posts:

 

Location and placement of portable fire extinguishers.

 

Where are fire extinguishers required?

 

NFPA 1, Fire Code, addresses another type of fire protection system for occupant use, hose lines.  New to the 2015 edition of the Code, Section 13.2.2.6 addresses the removal of existing occupant-use hose lines as follows:

 

13.2.2.6* The AHJ shall be authorized to permit the removal of existing occupant-use hose lines where all of the following are met:

(1) This Code does not require their installation.

(2) The current building code does not require their installation.

(3) The AHJ determines that the occupant-use hose line will not be utilized by trained personnel or the fire department.

A.13.2.2.6 It is not the intent of 13.2.2.6 to permit the removal of portions of the existing standpipe system other than hose lines, and that such remaining system components be maintained and available for use by the fire department or other appropriate fire suppression personnel.

 

The provisions of 13.2.2.6 are intended to explicitly allow the removal of non-required, occupant-use standpipe hose from buildings.  The fire protection approach utilizing 1 ½” hose lines for occupant use has significantly evolved over the last 50 years. While it use to be a common occurrence to require this type of protection, the codes have evolved away from this approach finding it better to evacuate rather than asking individuals that are untrained to attempt to fight a fire (same concept as with fire extinguishers noted above.)

 

There are numerous existing situations where 1 ½” hose are present in occupancies that no longer require hose to be present for occupant’s use. Some AHJ’s were allowing the removal of this hose while some AHJs might have been wary of permitting the removal of occupant use hose, lacking any Code language stating its removal was permitted. Provided that the hose is not required by NFPA 1 or the applicable building code, and no trained on-site fire suppression personnel would be expected to utilize it, the hose can be removed. It is preferable for untrained building occupants to evacuate rather than attempt to extinguish a fire using hose lines.

 

Thanks for reading, stay safe!

 

 

An explosion in a coal-fired power plant in India killed at least 26 people and injured 100 more yesterday. The incident came on the heels of a fireworks factory explosion that killed nearly 50 people in Indonesia last week.

 

The blast occurred in a newly installed boiler, after pressure reportedly built up in a pipe carrying hot ash.

 

NFPA standards are used throughout the world to address the fire hazards of boilers in coal-fired plants. NFPA 850, Recommended Practice for Fire Protection for Electric Generating Plants and High Voltage Direct Current Converter Stations, outlines fire safety recommendations for electricity-generating plants using gas, oil, coal, or alternative fuel, while NFPA 85, Boiler and Combustion Systems Hazards Code, contributes to operating safety and prevents explosions and implosions in boilers, pulverized fuel systems, and heat recovery steam generators.

 

NFPA 85, which is referenced in NFPA 1, Fire Code, includes steps to lessen the risk of boiler fires and explosions by addressing issues such as pressurization and ash handling, both cited as possible causes for the India blast. "Depending on the type of boiler, the design pressure, pressure relief, and ash handling are all addressed by portions of NFPA 85," said Rich Bielen, division manager of Engineering Fire Protection Systems at NFPA.

 

Industrial disasters aren't uncommon in the world's second most populous country. The Bhopal methyl isocyanate gas leak, which killed thousands in 1984, is widely regarded as the world's worst industrial disaster ever. According to BBC News, problems in the country persist because of poor safety standards and lax regulations.

 

India's neighbor to the east, Bangladesh, has also suffered numerous industrial disasters. In fact, an explosion occurred in a boiler in a factory there in 2016, killing nearly two dozen people. Since 2014, NFPA has partnered with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety to reduce the number of these kinds of incidents in the South Asian country.

ABC News

 

ABC News reports that Kidde has recalled 38 million portable fire extinguishers due to faulty plastic nozzles and push buttons, prompting one of the biggest safety recalls ever by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).


According to the CPSC alert today, there are about 37.8 million of the faulty fire extinguishers in circulation in the U.S. and another 2.7 million units in Canada. The fire extinguishers are typically used for kitchen, car and boating safety. The recall involves 134 Kidde models, manufactured between January 1, 1973, and August 15, 2017, that have been identified as problematic.


The company will replace fire extinguishers and send consumers a new one with metal handles that have been tested by CPSC. 

 

Although portable fire extinguishers can save lives and property, and contain a small fire until firefighters arrive; fully-functioning extinguishers have limitations. Fire grows and spreads rapidly; the #1 priority is to get out safely. Visit NFPA for fire response best practices which include having a home fire escape plan and working smoke alarms.

 

To learn more about today’s recall, steps for fire extinguisher replacement and instructions for the recalled equipment, visit the Kidde website.

 

Last week, The Wall Street Journal featured an in-depth article on the Grenfell Tower fire and the exterior wall panels that escalated the fire’s devastating spread. According to the article, “… the more recent use of combustible-core panels to cover multistory buildings has created a hidden danger to legions of workers, students, hospital patients and hotel guests inside the structures. A loosening of the model U.S. building code could make matters worse.”


The article notes that the ICC building code was relaxed in 2009 to allow broader use of a particular type of exterior wall covering on high-rise structures. Unfortunately, this code change is no outlier. It reflects a broader undercurrent toward more relaxed codes and standards, and it’s a trend that can jeopardize public safety.


Technical committees that we have working on the development of codes and standards are a balanced cross-section of interests all driving towards the same goal – improved safety for people and property. We encourage committees to be thorough in their evaluations of proposed changes and to be sure they are asking the right questions so that they have the information to make the best decision possible. Our committees take this responsibility seriously and we take our process seriously to ensure that everyone that has an interest has had an opportunity to have their voice heard.


In addition to proposed modifications that allow less vigorous codes and standards, we’ve increasingly witnessed states and jurisdictions removing important safety related provisions of codes because they don’t understand the extensive process that was used to arrive at the requirement.  In effect, we have seen local amendment processes change from their original intent of ensuring appropriate administration of the requirements into a process where the main focus is on reducing the minimum safety requirements due to cost or outside influence. In fact, in the past, unlike today, jurisdictions that revised technical requirements did so almost exclusively to improve, not reduce, the level of safety included in their codes.
While I realize an argument for these actions around codes and standards is often cost, the reality is codes developed through the consensus process already represent the minimum level of safety. Weakening codes not only means jurisdictions miss out on the best knowledge available from research, collective wisdom and past learnings, but they compromise public safety.


All of us who diligently work each day to make the world safer from fire and other hazards must denounce these dangerous trends and vigorously support a full system of fire safety. This eco-system includes an effective policy and regulatory environment, use of latest versions of codes and referenced codes, a robust enforcement system, promoting the development of a skilled professionals to apply the codes, and educating the public and policymakers on the risks posed by fire and other hazards. The lives of those we help save in abiding by these principals is unarguably worth the effort.

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