Skip navigation
All Places > NFPA Today > Blog > 2017 > December
2017
As an employer in the electrical field, we know that safety is your top priority. In response, NFPA is pleased to offer a new comprehensive online training series that can help you maintain that high-level standard of safety your employees have come to expect. Based on the 2018 70E: Standard for Electrically Safety in the Workplace, this training series is perfect for those employers who can’t commit time to a classroom setting but still want to take advantage of the latest learnings. What’s more, the training is easily accessible online, it can be viewed on a laptop anywhere, and it's available 70E, worker safetywhenever you have the time. 
If you’ve never taken one of our online training classes before, as an electrical industry professional, you’ll want to participate in this one. The series is professionally narrated, provides real-world examples, and includes vital information about the 2018 edition of the 70E.    
  • When you participate in this six-part training series, you: 
  • Will gain insight and a complete understanding about the importance of establishing a safety program for you and your team
  • Will recognize the required elements of a risk assessment and know the difference between electrical hazards vs. risk
  • Will be able to identify the information needed to complete a shock hazard analysis
  • Will be able to cite the intent and limitations of PPE prescribed by NFPA 70E
  • Will identify and implement elements of a procedure for establishing an electrically safety work condition
  • Are eligible for 0.7 CEUs (based on successful completion of the course; each one-hour course qualifies you for 0.1 CEU)
...and more   
Interested, but need to know more? Try one of our free interactive demonstrations to get a feel for how the training works. Our catalog provides additional details about the series and its cost.    
No matter how you slice it, NFPA is devoted to helping you do your job better throughout your entire career. Our online training series is just one of the many great tools that will get you there. Get all of our 70E related products and resources on our webpage and start enjoying the benefits today.   
The following three proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 31, Standard for the Installation of Oil-Burning Equipment; NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code; and NFPA 130, Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and NFPA 31Passenger Rail Systems; are being published for public review and comment:
  • NFPA 31, proposed TIA No. 1355, referencing 2.3.3, 3.3.31, 3.3.37, 3.3.62, 4.5.1, F.1.2.4 of the 2016 edition
  • NFPA 99, proposed TIA No. 1353, referencing 11.7.4, 11.7.4.2(new) of the 2012, 2015, and 2018 editions 
  • NFPA 130, proposed TIA No. 1338, referencing  6.3.3.6, 6.3.3.7, 6.3.3.9, A.6.3.3.5, and A.6.3.3.8  of the 2017 and proposed 2020 editions
Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the February 15, 2018 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

As I sit here finalizing the remainder of my work for 2017 before the NFPA holiday shutdown, I first can’t believe that the year is coming to a close (didn’t it just start?) and also can’t help but look back on all of the stories and content that impacted NFPA 1 throughout the year. 

 

Here we are, 42 #FireCodefridays blog posts later. What were people most interested in?  Here is a recap of the most viewed posts from 2017 :

 

  • Jan 13: Clearance around fire hydrants This post summarizes the requirements for maintaining clearance around fire hydrants. As today is the first day of winter, many of us are impacted by maintaining clearances around hydrants during snowstorms, although this applies to other obstructions as well.  Requirements for clear space around hydrants can be found in the Code in Section 18.5.7.
  • March 3: Where are portable fire extinguishers required? – This blog tops the year with the most views. NFPA 1 contains requirements for both when/where fire extinguishers are required as well as how to install and maintain them.  In Section 13.6 the Code requires portable fire extinguishers in all occupancies except for one- and two- family dwellings.  Don’t forget, this may be more restrictive than another Code such as NFPA 101.  Where you are required to comply with both, the most restrictive applies.  We then rely on NFPA 10 for the details regarding installation (types of extinguishers, installation location, etc.), inspection, testing and maintenance. 
  • March 31: Standardized Fire Service Elevator Keys – Part of NFPA 1’s scope includes, in Section 1.1.1(8) access requirements for fire department operations. Per the Code, all new elevators are required to conform to the Fire Fighters Emergency Operations requirements of ASME A17.1/CSA B44, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators which includes a provision that elevators must be equipped to operate with a standardized fire service access key.  These keys provide access to the elevators so that the fire service is able to take control of the recalled elevators during an emergency and manually control them to move to the necessary floors for tactical needs. The requirements of 11.3.6 mandate the standardization of fire service elevator keys to reduce the number of keys necessary for accessing elevators in an emergency. Provisions differ slightly for new and existing installations.
  • July 28: Location and placement of portable fire extinguishers – I can’t take credit for this one. While I spent 13 weeks on maternity leave this summer I was fortunate and so very thankful to have contributions from many other NFPA staff experts who work with documents that make up NFPA 1.  And not surprising with the interest in when fire extinguishers are required (see above), a lot of readers also viewed this post.  Here, NFPA’s Brian O’Connor discusses the location and placement of extinguishers as well as the different types of extinguishers. 
  • September 22: Requirements for combustible vegetation – ‘Tis the season for hay bales and corn stalks and corn mazes. In Section 10.13 NFPA 1 contains requirements that address the use of combustible vegetation that may be used as part of seasonal events such as haunted houses.  In any occupancy, limited quantities of combustible vegetation shall be permitted where the AHJ determines that adequate safeguards are provided based on the quantity and nature of the combustible vegetation.  Adequate safeguards might include, but are not limited to, the presence of sprinkler protection and other fire protection systems, limited quantities, moisture content, and placement of the vegetation.

 

This past fall, the 2018 edition of the Code was finalized and published.  And in the world of code development that means we start up almost immediately with our work on the next edition.  In 2018 the Fire Code Technical Committee will hold two committee meetings where they will work towards the development of the First Draft of the 2021 edition.  You can follow along with the code development process at www.nfpa.org/1 under the section for ‘next edition’.  There we will post meeting notices, minutes, agendas and ballot results.  The committee has already begun to accumulate potential topics to discuss for the next edition.  These include flammable refrigerants, ozone generation systems, location of portable generators, hazardous waste operations, existing smoke detection systems, tiny houses, addressing security versus life safety, and mobile repeaters for firefighter communications.  With the 2018 edition including large sections of new text on marijuana processing facilities, mobile cooking operations and energy storage systems, I can predict discussions on those topics will continue as well.  It’s shaping up to be an exciting year for the Fire Code and I look forward to continuing these discussions next year.

In closing, thank you, all, for reading Fire Code Fridays. I hope you have benefited from the information.  If you have suggestions, or feedback, or future topics you would like to see highlighted please comment here. Let’s keep the discussion about the Fire Code and fire safety going in 2018.

 

 A very happy holidays to you all, and a safe and healthy New Year!

 

 ~Kristin Bigda, NFPA 1 Staff Liaison

 

 As NFPA will be closed December 23 – January 1, Fire Code Fridays posts will resume on Friday, January 5, 2018.

NFPA announces its Battery Energy Storage Systems Safety Summit being held in Denver, Colorado on February 7, 2018. This FREE event seeks to bring together a wide-reaching audience of interested stakeholders to review, discuss and validate fire service tactics and best practices for incidents and responses involving high-powered battery energy storage systems and solar systems. With the increasing demands being place on our nation’s electrical infrastructure, the installation of battery energy storage and photovoltaic systems has rapidly increased in residential, commercial, micro-grid, and utility scale applications. This exciting event seeks to identify any gaps that may exist in current first responder safety knowledge that can then be integrated into NFPA’s fire service safety training programs. Presenters will include AHJs, installer/manufactures, first responders, codes and standards organizations, research entities, government, and more. 
Who Should Attend?
This event will include participation from emergency first and second responders, regulatory enforcers (federal, state, and local), AHJs, installers, manufacturers, technology providers, facility end-users, insurers, utility companies, and consumer representatives. 
NFPA Battery Energy Storage Systems Safety Summit
When: February 7th, 2018 – 8:00am to 4:30pm 
Where: Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel, Denver, Colorado 
Energy Storage Systems Safety Training Program
Recognizing the need to address firefighter safety and tactics for battery energy storage systems, NFPA sought and received grant funding in 2015 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop the world’s first fire service safety training program. The Energy Storage Systems Safety Training Program brought together a diverse group of industry stakeholders, and several highly knowledgeable subject matter experts from the fire service to identify and confirm best practices for handling incidents involving this emerging technology. Concepts are delivered through online & classroom training, educational videos, animations 3D modeling, scenario rooms, mobile apps, and quick reference materials. In 2017, NFPA received additional FEMA funding to update and expand this program, conduct a nationwide awareness campaign, and provide classroom and virtual training's in selected cities for the U.S. fire service.  

 

Are your employees punished when they make mistakes? Are your employees afraid to notify their supervisor when something minor has gone wrong? Do injuries go unreported? NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® requires that your electrical safety program include elements for investigating incidents. If you can answer yes to the previous questions, this task will be more difficult than need be. If you have fostered a safe work environment, you might already be conducting investigations. 
Incident investigations should not be limited to those where an employee is injured to the point where medical attention is required. Electrical incidents include occurrences that could have resulted in a fatality or an injury. Incidents of this type are commonly referred to as a “close call” or “near miss.” Although electrical incidents are often the result of human error, an employee does not intentionally initiate an electrical incident. A near miss is most often an injury that did not occur by chance. Every electrical shock is a potential electrocution under the right condition. A thermal burn means that all hazards were not properly addressed. A minor injury that resulted from a missing step in a work procedure may be a fatality the next time the procedure is performed with that missing step.  
Employers and employees must accept their responsibilities and work together to find the causes of incidents and near misses. Employee involvement in creating a safer work environment should be fostered. Employees should be trained and encouraged to report any potential injury situation, near miss or incident brought about by human error or insufficient procedures. The electrical safety program, work procedures, protective equipment, and test instruments may require revision to prevent another occurrence, future injury or death. If the employee is not following the electrical safety principles or procedures, corrective action should be taken. This corrective action could consist of applicable modification of the training program such as increasing the frequency of training or adding follow-up verification of compliance. However, it is important that an enforcement program be established for willful violations of your safety regulations. 
Investigations required by NFPA 70E are not for the purpose of assigning blame. They are intended to improve worker safety. For the process to work, employers and employees must cooperate and trust each other.    
For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange.
Next time: You are a curious bunch.
As an employer in the electrical field, NFPA appreciates your dedication to one of the most rewarding professions. Safety remains a top priority for you and everyone on the job, and NFPA’s 70E: Standard for Electrically Safety in the Workplace can help you make the best decisions for your team.  
As many of you know, the 2018 edition of 70E was recently released. To help you navigate through some of the top changes, we’ve developed a five-part video series hosted by NFPA’s technical experts. In our second video, Chris Coache, NFPA’s senior electrical engineer, reviews Article 120 – Establishing an Electrically Safe Work Condition
The article, according to Chris, does not have changes to the requirements or the process, but rather it provides you with a more logical sequence for setting up a program first. Want to learn more? Get the full explanation from Chris below. (NOTE: This clip is part of a pre-recorded full webinar presented in July 2017).    
If you missed our first blog/video of the series that addressed risk assessment procedure, you can find it on our NFPA Today blog in Xchange.  
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, a fact sheet, trainings and products, and more, at www.nfpa.org/70E.        
The NFPA Standards Council considered the issuance of proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) on NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, NFPA 1006, Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications, and NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments.  The following TIAs were issued by the Council on November 18, 2017: 
  • NFPA 101, TIA 18-2, referencing 32.7.8(new) and 33.7.8(new)
  • NFPA 101, TIA 18-3, referencing 22.7.8 and 23.7.8
  • NFPA 1006, TIA 17-1, referencing 4.2 and 4.2.10(A) and (B)
  • NFPA 1006, TIA 17-2, referencing 5.3
  • NFPA 1006, TIA 17-3, referencing 10.2 and 10.3
  • NFPA 1006, TIA 17-4, referencing Chapter 14 various sections
  • NFPA 1006, TIA 17-5, referencing 17.2 and 17.3
  • NFPA 1006, TIA 17-6, referencing 22.2
  • NFPA 1582, TIA 18-2, referencing 7.7.7.4 and A.7.7.7.4(new)
NFPA also issued the following errata on NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and NFPA 68, Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting:
  • NFPA 101, Errata 101-18-2, referencing 14.2.2.2.4 of the 2018 edition, issued on November 30, 2017
  • NFPA 68, Errata 68-18-1, referencing 9.2.8, issued on October 5, 2017
Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) are amendments to an NFPA Standard processed in accordance with Section 5 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. They have not gone through the entire standards development process of being published in a First Draft Report and Second Draft Report for review and comment. TIAs are effective only between editions of the Standard. A TIA automatically becomes a public input for the next edition of the Standard, as such is then subject to all of the procedures of the standards development process.  TIAs are published in NFPA News, NFCSS, and any further distribution of the Standard after being issued by the Standards Council.  An Errata is a correction to an NFPA Standard published in NFPA News, Codes Online, and included in any further distribution of the document.  


In my recent NFPA Live I discussed seasonal fire safety requirements in NFPA 1, Fire Code, that fire inspectors face during the winter months. I provided an overview of the requirements necessary to enforce special outdoor events, Christmas trees, heating appliances, fire hydrant clearance, and basic electrical safety.

 

Some of the basic electrical safety tips covered in NFPA 1 address the use of powerstrips, multi-plug adapters, and extension cords. When powering your holiday decorations and other temporary installations it's important to use best practices. I discuss some of those in the video clip that I'm sharing here. I hope you find some value in it!

 

Kristin Bigda is a Principal Engineer at NFPA, and the Staff Liaison for NFPA 1. 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 marks six months since the deadliest blaze in modern UK history occurred at the Grenfell Tower in West London. Around the globe, the date was marked by solemn reflection. At St. Paul’s Cathedral in Central London, more than 1,500 people, including the British prime minister and royal family members, gathered to pay their respects to the dozens who died on June 14.
The Grenfell fire and the more than 70 lives it took has stirred up conversation and controversy in every corner of the world. By all accounts, the 24-story apartment building quickly went up in flames because of combustible materials that had been added to the building's exterior during a renovation project. If there are any positive outcomes from this tragedy, it's that the massive blaze cast a spotlight on combustible exterior wall assemblies, including components like cladding and insulation, and motivated AHJs to learn more about the risks associated with them.
In January, NFPA will release a new risk assessment tool for enforcers to help them determine which existing buildings in their jurisdictions are at the highest risk for fires involving combustible exterior wall assemblies. Others, including building owners, facility managers, fire safety engineers, and fire risk assessors, also stand to benefit from the tool. NFPA commissioned global engineering firm Arup—assisted by Jensen Hughes—to develop the technical methodology that will inform the tool. Technical input was also gathered from experts in Asia and the Middle East—areas that had experienced major fires in these types of buildings before Grenfell— as well as Europe, the United States, and other regions.
The new tool joins a list of several resources NFPA already offers on the fire hazards of combustible exterior wall assemblies. Click here to access those and more, including my NFPA Journal feature article on the Grenfell Tower fire, “London Calling.”
Tragedies such as the Grenfell Tower fire in London, wildland fires, and other events this year are painful reminders of the importance of fire, life and electrical safety. NFPA and its volunteers continue to work diligently, developing strategies and solutions to reduce loss from future events. As this year comes to an end, thank you for your participation in the NFPA standards development process and your critical role in making the world a safer place for all.  
See how we're making a safer world a reality by reading the December 2017 issue of NFPA News:
  • New projects being explored on contamination control and remote inspections
  • New change indicators in 2018 editions
  • proposed Tentative Interim Amendments seeking comments on NFPA 13, NFPA 58, NFPA 70, and NFPA 285
  • Issued TIAs and Errata
  • Current and new committees seeking members
  • Committees seeking public input
  • Committee meetings calendar
Subscribe today! NFPA News is a free, monthly codes and standards newsletter that includes special announcements, notification of public input and comment closing dates, requests for comments, notices on the availability of Standards Council minutes, and other important news about NFPA’s standards development process.    
campus fire safety
One of the issues facing many, if not all, colleges and university campuses today is the need for greater security against unwanted entry from events such as an active shooter or other violent acts. The events which are plaguing college campuses and other large venues such as malls, stadiums, arenas and concert halls, may require occupants to shelter in place and protect themselves within the building rather than immediately evacuate. While fire is still a major risk and something that must always be considered, its risk must now be balanced with that of the need for building and occupant security.    
A basic principle of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, requires a means of egress must be under the control of the occupant; i.e occupants must be able to freely leave the building without encountering anything in their way upon moving to a point of safety. Egress doors must be arranged to be opened readily from the egress side whenever the building is occupied. I, as a building occupant, cannot unexpectedly approach a door that is locked, outside of my control, in the direction of egress travel. The Code does not prohibit locking doors in the ingress direction so long as it does not interfere with egress.     
New requirements in the 2018 edition of NFPA 101 allow specifically for door locking in new and existing business occupancies to prevent unwanted entry of occupants. This new section can apply where specialized security measures are needed to prevent unwanted entry such as classroom doors in colleges and universities, areas of office spaces open to the public, laboratories or instructional rooms. In recent editions, the Code has made exemptions to the basic concept of the egress being under the control of the occupants in occupancies such as health care where, for example, locked door assemblies are permitted if it is necessary for the specialized protectives measures or the clinical needs of patients. The Code mandates additional requirements such as smoke detection and a heavy reliance on staff intervention in order to achieve an equivalent level of life safety should the doors be locked against egress.    
The new provisions for door locking to prevent unwanted entry are included in the chapters for both new and existing business occupancies, of which some buildings on colleges and universities are classified. To utilize the new provisions, the first step is to obtain AHJ approval to allow the doors to apply the locking permission. In addition, 8 different criteria must be followed when arranging for the doors to be locked. Some required features of the locking arrangement are as follows: 
· The locking means must be capable of engaging without opening the door. During an event where occupants need to be locked within a classroom, for example, it is important that the classroom door can be locked without having to open the door and engage the lock from outside the classroom, potentially exposing the classroom to an intruder.  
· The door must be capable of being unlocked and opened from outside the room with the necessary key or other credential. In some situations, the emergency may be within the locked space, such as a classroom. The locking arrangement must allow for someone, such as the fire department or other emergency personnel, to have the ability with a key or other credential, to access the room if and when needed.  
· The locking hardware cannot modify the door components such as the closer, panic hardware or fire exit hardware and if the door is fire protection rated any modifications to the door must follow the requirements of NFPA 80. Closing devices are provided to make sure the door is closed during a fire to slow the spread of fire, smoke and toxic gases throughout the building. In some cases, where the door is a fire door, that closing device can mean the difference between containing a fire to a single compartment or allowing the fire to spread and impact multiple areas of the building. Panic and fire exit hardware is provided in those areas where a greater number of occupants may approach the door in a hurried egress. The hardware releases the latch upon application of a force in the direction of egress. 
· Other features of the locking arrangement are consistent with those permissions in Chapter 7 of the Code that can be used for other egress doors.  These include requiring unlocking and unlatching without the use of a key, tool, special knowledge or effort, a releasing mechanism with not more than one releasing operation, and a minimum and maximum height of the releasing mechanism.    
Doors to these areas requiring additional security are being locked today, often times against what’s permitted by the Code and without understanding the effects their installation can have on fire safety, free egress or emergency response. The detailed criteria provided in the new package of provisions of Chapter 38 and 39 of the Code should help provide the necessary guidance on how to lock doors safely and also weed out those potentially dangerous door locking installations while recognizing the need for a level of security that colleges and universities are seeking.   For more information, please see the 2018 edition of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, available to view for free at www.nfpa.org/101.

The 2018 edition of 70E is now available! NFPA is pleased to offer a free fact sheet that provides an overview of the standard along with answers to some of the questions you have about it. They include:

 70E, worker safety

  • The purpose of NFPA 70E
    • The relationship between NFPA 70E and other codes and standards
    • The relationship between OSHA’s standards and 70E
    • The role 70E plays with both employer and employee regarding electrical safety
    • Five of the top changes in the 2018 edition
    … and more

 

NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrically Safety in the Workplace is an important resource that shapes 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. If you’ve wanted to learn more about 70E, the changes in the 2018 edition, and how the standard impacts your job (but haven’t had the time), this fact sheet is a great first start.

 

Download the fact sheet and start using it today. Get more information and related 70E resources by visiting our website at www.nfpa.org/70E.

NFPA's Don Bliss and Jim Pauley (center left) pose with fire and life safety leaders in Israel

 

NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley delivered keynote remarks today at the Fire Protection Association of Israel Annual Conference.

 

NFPA collaborated with stakeholders in Israel two years ago to help launch the Israeli Fire Protection Association. FPA-Israel is lead by Shmuel Netanel, the country's first fire protection engineer. As an NFPA member for nearly 30 years and a member of the NFPA Technical Committee on Telecommunications for nearly two decades, Netanel is no stranger to NFPA and vice versa.

 

Fire and life safety issues that are important in Israel today include:

 

  • High rise residential buildings that are over 30 stories high and lack adequate inspection and maintenance of fire protection systems
  • Wildfires are also top of mind in Israel. Just one year ago, Israel experienced four days of raging fires that drove tens of thousands from their homes
  • Codes, standards, education and enforcement are a priority. Israeli law states in the absence of a local standard, NFPA is the default for fire protection. FPA-Israel wants stakeholders to be more informed about codes, and to get more involved with technical committees.
  • Israel decreed that all new residential homes and apartments have at least one independent smoke alarm and one fire extinguisher. Authorities are now lobbying for all existing homes to be retro-fitted to include at least one smoke alarm.

 

More than 450 fire, electrical and life safety professionals are attending the 2-day conference in an effort to learn more about Israel’s challenges and the solutions for moving forward. Sessions are focused on educating diverse stakeholders on best practices; helping local authorities address persistent risks and emerging hazards; and establishing a fire safety infrastructure that will serve Israel’s citizens and properties well.

 

Pauley concluded his remarks by reminding the audience that there is not a single answer to the fire problem. The NFPA leader challenged attendees to recommit to and promote a full system of fire prevention, protection and education; and to work together to make a significant impact. He asked the audience to take advantage of the collective wisdom in the room and at NFPA. “Now, is not the time to be complacent or content with what you know,” Pauley said. “Dig deeper. Learn more.”

wildfire

A series of Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires have been burning in Southern California since Tuesday prompting the National Weather Service to call this, “the strongest and longest duration Santa Ana wind event we have seen so far this season.”


To date, according to officials, there has been zero containment on the two most destructive fires in the area, the Thomas and Creek, and a third fire, the Bel-Air Fire has shut down the northbound 405 freeway near the Getty Center as of this morning. These Santa Ana winds, which are seasonal dry winds caused by high pressure over the Great Basin, are not expected to die down until Thursday.

 

Thousands of residents have been evacuated since Tuesday with more evacuation notices expected.

 

NFPA and its wildfire partners remind residents to: 

* Stay alert. If you are near the fire activity or in an area with a Red Flag Warning - where conditions are ripe for

wildfire - stay tuned to news and official reports and be ready to leave; don’t wait for an official evacuation order.
* Prepare a plan. If your community is not in immediate danger from the fires but you live in a surrounding area, it’s still very important to construct a plan for (and with!) your family in case you need to evacuate.
* Create a “go-kit” for every member of the family and for your pets. The bag should contain essentials you will need in case you’re away from home for a few days.

 

NFPA has a number of valuable resources including checklists and tip sheets that will help get you started and prepared. Find them all at www.nfpa.org/wildfire. 

 

The Southern California fires come on the heels of the deadliest and most destructive fires in the state's history in Northern California wine country in early October that killed 44 people and destroyed nearly 9,000 structures.

 

While most of us connect the holidays with Christmas trees, festive meals, flickering lights and other decorations, far fewer people associate these holiday hallmarks with potential fire hazards. However, holiday decorations, Christmas trees, candles and cooking all contribute to an increased number of home fires during December, making it one of the leading months for U.S. home fires.


To help everyone enjoy a fire-safe holiday season, we’re launching our annual “Project Holiday” campaign, which works to educate the public about potential fire risks during the holidays, along with steps to minimize them. Throughout the month of December, we’ll be promoting a wealth of holiday fire safety tips and information for consumers, along with tools and resources local fire departments can use to promote holiday fire safety in their communities.


Following are NFPA’s holiday-related fire statistics:


Holiday cooking: While cooking fires are the leading cause of U.S. home fires and injuries year-round, Christmas Day ranked as the third leading day for home cooking fires in 2015 (behind Thanksgiving Day and the day before Thanksgiving, which ranked first and second, respectively.) On Christmas Day in 2015, there was a 72 percent increase in the number of home cooking fires as compared to a typical day.


Christmas trees: Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they do occur, they’re much more likely to be deadly than most other fires. One of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death, compared to an annual average of one death per 143 reported home fires.


Candles: December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In 2015, the top three days for candle fires were Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve. More than half (55 percent) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (32 percent) the remainder of the year.


Holiday decorations: Between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 840 home fires per year that began with decorations (excluding Christmas trees). These fires caused an annual average of two civilian deaths, 36 civilian injuries and $11.4 million in direct property damage. One-fifth (19 percent) of these home decoration fires occurred in December. One-fifth (21 percent) of decoration fires started in the kitchen; one in seven started in the living room, family room or den.

With all the time and effort it takes to keep employees safe from electrical hazards in the workplace, what people concern themselves about is confusing. A controversial topic has moved to the top of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® employee safety issues. Comments have been made so often that a blog must be dedicated to it to clear up the issue. You may be thinking that you must be out of the loop since you are unaware of any pressing electrical safety issue. What could be so controversial? The answer may surprise you. 
The topic is the cover art on the cover of new editions of the NFPA 70E standard and handbook. I put the image on the cover for the purpose of drawing attention to the need to use the hierarchy during your risk assessments. To be clear, the hierarchy of risk controls is a hierarchy (defined as any system of things ranked one above another). No matter how this hierarchy is depicted in any media, the requirements on how it is to be applied is specifically addressed by the standard. This does not change. 
NFPA 70e Handbook Cover
I chose the peaked triangle as a pictorial for the hierarchy based on the pinnacle being where you want to be. The best place is at the top. Some have an issue with the base being personal protective equipment (PPE) but a hierarchy is typically not listed from the bottom up.  If the triangle was inverted and PPE was at the bottom, it might make sense to me if I went for a scuba diving analogy. I would not want to be at the tip of that inverted pyramid because things get less safe when you get deeper in the water. Your frame of reference may cause you to look at it another way. 
What the triangle or the hierarchy do not represent are steps or a process. You do not build off of PPE on the first step nor do you build off elimination. You do not don PPE then work on making the situation more “safe” and moving off of elimination increases the hazards or risks to the employee. In an ideal, electrically safe environment, all hazards and risks are eliminated. A descending staircase could represent moving from a preferred action to less desirable action but who would get the analogy? The steps may not depict a hierarchy and could be interpreted as an attempt to illustrate the process of using it. No matter how the hierarchy is drawn someone will take issue with it based on their point of reference. If you want it to be a process then a triangle will not make sense no matter which orientation is used.  If you want it to be an indication of a desired order, should the base be the highest control or the lowest one or to use it should you start at the top or bottom? If you simply look at the triangle as a hierarchy it probably will make sense to you. The figure is serving its purpose and many have finally been made aware of the hierarchy. Your frame of reference will determine if you agree with the figure or any rendering for that matter. However, no matter how you see it, it is a hierarchy and you must use it as required by 110.1(H)(3).
For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange
Next time: Incident Investigations
In cities and towns across America, streets are being divided into three sections: the sidewalk for the pedestrians, the travel lanes for the automobiles including emergency response vehicles, and increasingly the bike lane for the cyclists. 
Research has shown that in cities with a safe cycling infrastructure more people are going to choose biking to work then if there weren’t. That means less cars on the road, healthier populations, and most importantly citizens that can’t afford cars are given a reliable way to get to and from work. Similar studies have shown the same results for pedestrians and expanded sidewalks. 
However, fitting all of these elements into one street can be difficult with the limited space available. According to an NFPA report, Fire Department Roadway and Vehicle Incidents, fire department emergency vehicles were involved in an estimated 16,600 collisions while responding to or returning from incidents in 2015. Moreover, the Fire Service responded to 4,461,000 incidents on roadway properties in 2014, 41 percent of which were on streets in residential or commercial areas. This data highlights that having the appropriate street space is crucial.  
Already dealing with double parking, round-a-bouts, and other drivers, the first responders have to be able to get from the fire station to the scene of the fire in as little time as possible. Adding a protected bike lane or expanding the sidewalks can only serve to take away from that vital space, right? Not necessarily.
In a recent case in Baltimore, there was the possibility that a newly implemented bike lane would have to be removed in order to meet requirements for the fire apparatus. Through much deliberation, it was decided that the residential parking spaces that were also on the street next to the bike lanes would be recreated at an angle instead of parallel to the sidewalk. This out-of-the-box thinking actually allowed for more parking spaces, as well as enough space for the protected bike lane and fire apparatus to co-exist.  
In San Francisco, a similar problem persisted in that the streets were simply too congested for fire apparatus to most effectively get to the scene of a fire. The solution in Europe, where the roads are smaller due to their being created in medieval times, is to simply have smaller vehicles. The problem with using the European vehicles in the U.S., however, is that the fires in the U.S. require far more water to put out due to the wood construction of buildings today. In San Francisco specifically, there is also the concern of being able to make it up the hills the city is famous for. That does not mean, however, that there is no smaller apparatus that could be effective in the U.S. and that’s exactly what the city has recently acquired. Utilizing an apparatus that is ten inches shorter and two inches more narrow, and a turn radius 8 feet smaller, the new truck is a great innovation and shows exactly what the pressure of the modern city street can create.  
With 91% of cities around the U.S. responding to a recent survey saying they are either implementing or planning improved conditions for bikers, these are just a few examples of how these three transportation methods can work together to make cities and citizens healthier and safer.
NFPA has launched a new online training course on medical gas and vacuum systems. The four-hour course provides a detailed review of the medical gas and vacuum requirements in the 2018 edition of NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code. It will satisfy criteria for ASSE 6000 series recertification, which requires a four-hour course on new editions to the code. The training also serves as an excellent overview for those looking to gain a greater understanding of the requirements for medical gas and vacuum systems.
The training addresses all topics in Chapter 5 of NFPA 99, including source requirements, valve requirements, installation specifics, installer performed test, and system verification. Changes to the 2018 edition are also addressed, including allowance for oxygen concentrator supply systems, changes to pressure regulation, and information on corrugated medical tubing as a permitted piping material.

 

Boston Fire has just released a powerful new video highlighting, yet again, the devastating impact that contamination and cancer is having within the fire service. The video is the third in a series to educate firefighters, policymakers and the general public about the toll that cancer is taking in firehouses around the globe.


The new piece offers a heartbreaking snapshot of Boston firefighter Glenn Preston’s contamination and cancer journey as part of BFD’s aggressive Take No Smoke campaign. Preston, a father of four children under the age of 10, is in the battle of his life – and sharing his story so that his peers are protected from occupational exposure and the hardship that the Prestons are enduring. NFPA Journal featured a story on the 40-year old firefighter this spring.

 

NFPA has shared many of BFD’s efforts to raise awareness about occupational exposure including their initial video showing the number of Boston firefighters that have been stricken with the deadly disease, a follow-up contamination-prevention clip, a study with Dana Farber to assess exposure in firehouses, and the department’s commitment to improving overall health and safety. Boston Fire Commissioner Joe Finn and fellow members of NFPA’s Urban Fire Forum are also doing their part to amplify the issues of contamination and cancer. BFD may be a leader in furthering awareness and education on this topic, but they are certainly not alone in their advocacy. Departments across the nation and organizations like NVFC and the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance are also doing their part to inform others about occupational hazards and best practices.


Contamination and exposure to carcinogens has been a top priority at NFPA for some time. The Fire Protection Research Foundation’s Campaign for Contamination Control just wrapped up; the Foundation and NFPA are involved in other studies that are looking at risk on the fire ground, and harmful toxins in station houses, vehicles, equipment and gear. NFPA has also generated a few safety bulletins as we await scientific data. The NFPA Standards Council will also consider input on a New Project Initiation Request soon. Members of the fire service are seeking an ANSI Accredited Standard to establish minimum requirements for the effective contamination control of fire department personal, their personal protective equipment (PPE), accessories, and equipment. With the December 15 deadline looming, the window for you to weigh in on a proposed contamination control standard is closing. Don’t let that date pass. Remember, your voice matters. Change begins with you.

It can be hard to keep track of code development and stay up to date with the latest and greatest editions of codes and standards as they are released. NFPA 1, like a majority of NFPA codes and standards, is revised on a three year revision cycle. Believe it or not, the newest edition, 2018, is out and available for adoption and use. The 2018 edition was finished over the summer and became official early this fall. It was issued by NFPA’s Standards Council on August 17, 2017, with an effective date of September 6, 2017 and an edition date of 2018. (Even harder to believe, the Fire Code Technical Committee begins its work on the 2021 edition this coming spring…no rest for the weary here!)


Lots of changes are included in the new edition. These changes respond to the needs and requests of our stakeholders by addressing new technologies, industry challenges, fire fighter safety, and even topics that have never been addressed by the Fire Code in the past, but where guidance is needed to keep occupants, buildings and fire fighters safe. Like all new editions of NFPA 1, this edition includes new definitions in Chapter 3, updates to referenced publications in Chapter 2, as well as hundreds and hundreds of revisions to the code sections extracted from 50+ other NFPA codes and standards that combine to make this document the comprehensive resource for fire inspectors. These extract updates reflect the most up to date requirements from the editions of these codes and standards as referenced in Chapter 2.


Technical changes (other than those changes to extracted text) to the 2018 edition of NFPA 1, Fire Code, include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

  • New Section 1.4.1.1 provides guidance for the AHJ on compliance with subsequent editions of referenced publications.
  • New 1.7.2 adds NFPA 1031 and NFPA 1037 as mandatory professional qualification standards for fire inspectors, plans examiners and fire marshals unless otherwise approved by the AHJ.
  • New 10.2.7 establishes minimum fire prevention inspection frequencies for existing occupancies.
  • Revisions to 10.11.1 provide additional criteria for premises identification.
  • Revised 11.12 on photovoltaic systems to address marking for rapid shutdown, updates for roof access and ground-mounted PV installations.
  • New 16.7 on rubberized asphalt melters.
  • Updates to dimensional criteria for fire department access roads as well a new listing requirement for electric gate operators and systems.
  • New 31.3.10 provides requirements on the outside storage of biomass feedstock.
  • New 34.10.4 address the outside storage at pallet manufacturing and pallet recycling facilities.
  • New Chapter 38 provides fire safety requirements for marijuana growing, processing and extraction facilities.
  • New 50.7 addresses mobile and temporary cooking equipment (food trucks are included in its application).
  • Complete rewrite of Chapter 52 to reflect new and current technologies for energy storage systems.
  • New Chapter 55 on cleaning and purging of flammable gas piping systems mandates reference to NFPA 56.
  • New Annex F on Fire Fighter Breathing-Air Replenishment Systems.

 

Stay tuned for future blogs where I will dive deeper into each of the major changes. For now, you can view the 2018 edition of the Code for free at www.nfpa.org/1. Also on that page, under the ‘next edition’ section you can track the development of the 2018 edition and how and why the Technical Committee voted to put the new revisions into the 2018 edition.


Which changes do you see as impacting your jurisdiction the most? Does your jurisdiction have plans to adopt the 2018 edition of NFPA 1? Share your stories below.


***NFPA Members: Don’t forget, join me on Wednesday, Dec 13 at 1PM Eastern as I discuss seasonal fire safety requirements from NFPA 1. During the live event I will also be answering follow-up questions submitted through NFPA’s online community, Xchange. Join in and be part of the conversation!***


Thanks for reading, stay safe!

 

In my recent NFPA Live I discussed the release of the 2018 version of NFPA 1582; Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments. Specifically I talked about the layout of the document, some of the requirements that have been updated, and I debunked some of the myths surrounding it.

 

One of the myths I often hear about this standard is:  If you're not a firefighting candidate, 1582 requires you to be held to the same standards as a firefighting candidate. This is false. Watch the video clip above to see my full answer!

 

John Montes is an Emergency Services Specialist at NFPA, and Staff Liasion for NFPA 1582.  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!

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: