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December 6, 2017 Previous day Next day


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 


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

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