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January 26, 2018 Previous day Next day

Looking back, one part of the Code that I don’t spend a lot of time talking about, but should, is how it is applied and how it is enforced.  Practically speaking, when does one even use a Fire Code?  Who needs to know how to enforce it?  When is it enforced? How often does the fire inspector, responsible for the enforcement of NFPA 1, need to inspect a building for fire safety provisions? These administrative requirements and general provisions, as contained in Chapter 1, Chapter 4 and parts of Chapter 10, provide the fundamental provisions for those responsible for its application and enforcement.  Compliance with these requirements is critical to the effectiveness of NFPA 1.


NFPA 1 is applicable to both new and existing occupancies.  Per Section 10.1.1, every new and existing building or structure shall be constructed, arranged, equipped, maintained, and operated in accordance with this Code so as to provide a reasonable level of life safety, property protection, and public welfare from the actual and potential hazards created by fire, explosion, and other hazardous conditions. I highlight the words constructed and maintained to emphasize how the Code plays a role in a building during both construction of the building as well as maintenance throughout the life of the building. The enforcement of a building does not stop once its construction is complete and a certificate of occupancy is received. 

New to the 2018 edition is Section 10.2.7 which prescribes the minimum fire prevention inspection frequencies for existing occupancies.


This Section was added, in part, to recognize the publication of new NFPA 1730, Standard on Organization and Deployment of Fire Prevention Inspection and Code Enforcement, Plan Review, Investigation, and Public Education Operations, and in addition, to provide guidance to AHJs and inspectors for ensuring existing occupancies remain in compliance with the fire code. Section 10.2.7 reads as follows:


10.2.7 Minimum Fire Prevention Inspection Frequencies for Existing Occupancies. Fire prevention inspections shall occur on existing premises in accordance with the minimum inspection frequency schedule specified in Table [1730: Table 6.7]

Table life safety code Where required or permitted by the AHJ, the required fire prevention inspection shall be conducted by an approved party that is qualified in accordance with NFPA 1031. The AHJ shall be permitted to approve alternative qualifications for the approved party specified in The provisions of 10.2.7 shall not apply to detached one- and two-family dwellings or townhomes.

NFPA 1730 contains minimum requirements relating to the organization and deployment of code enforcement, plan review, fire investigation, and public education operations to the public.  The addition of new 10.2.7 incorporates the standard of care, as specified in NFPA 1730, into NFPA 1. The default is that the local AHJ should conduct the inspection. However, if staffing does not permit or if the local jurisdiction does not have a qualified individual, the owner, occupant or operator can retain an AHJ approved NFPA 1031 qualified individual to conduct the inspection. Thereby, fire code compliance is achieved in accordance with the 1730 standard.


The frequencies of the fire prevention inspection are based on the occupancy risk classification.  Table includes four classifications: high, moderate, low and critical infrastructure with frequencies ranging from annual to triennially or per the AHJ.  What is a high risk occupancy? What is critical infrastructure? The 2018 edition of the Code also added the corresponding definitions from NFPA 1730 to Chapter 3 to assist with the application of the new table.  For example, a low risk occupancy is “an occupancy that has a history of low frequency of fires and minimal potential for loss of life or economic loss.  Examples of low-risk occupancies are storage, mercantile, and business.


How does your jurisdiction manage fire prevention inspections for existing buildings?  Do you use the provisions in NFPA 1730?  What issues have you faced with existing building inspection?


Thanks for reading, stay safe!


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2017 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal Ann Jones (center) with NFPA President Jim Pauley (left) and NFPA Board of Directors Chair Randolph Tucker. Jones received the award for her work in passing a requirement to sprinkler all new homes in Wales.
The James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal was established to recognize those who take a firm stance on fire and life safety issues through advocacy. The award was named after former NFPA president James M. Shannon. Under his leadership, NFPA significantly advanced the mission of protecting the general public and fire service members by advocating for key changes to reduce fire loss. He led the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes and reemphasized NFPA’s push for requirements for fire sprinklers in new, one- and two-family homes. 
NFPA is currently accepting applications for the 2018 James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal. Nominations are open to members of the fire service and any groups or people advocating for causes concerning fire and life safety. Download the application, and please submit your entries to by February 23, 2018. 
The recipient will be honored at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in Las Vegas in June. NFPA will cover the recipient’s travel and lodging. Know a stellar life safety advocate? Nominate them today.


If you’re one of the few people who doesn’t watch “This is Us”, here's an update on what's been happening with the show and fire safety. "This is Us" is a highly popular, one-hour program on NBC that’s brought quite a bit of attention to two fire safety issues. In a recent episode, viewers learned that a lead character died in home fire as a result of smoke alarms with missing batteries. In the latest episode, it was revealed that the cause of said fire involved a slow cooker.

Showing that smoke alarms need to have working batteries in order to protect you, and more pointedly, dramatizing the deadly consequence that can result when batteries are missing, is an incredibly powerful message. The show was able to reinforce the potentially life-saving importance of making sure smoke alarms are always equipped with batteries, which has immeasurable impact on the show's millions of viewers.

Unfortunately, the show missed the mark in representing a realistic cause of home fires. While cooking is, in fact, the leading cause of U.S. home fires, slow cookers do not play a significant role in them. Between 2011 and 2015, an annual average of 70 cooking fires involving slow cookers resulted in two civilian injuries, no deaths and $3.3 million in direct property damage. This data shows that slow cookers are a statistically insignificant factor in the home cooking fire equation and can be used safely.

So the next time you're planning to use your slow cooker or small appliance in the kitchen, consider the following action steps:

  • Inspect plugs and cords to make sure they are not frayed or broken (and replace if necessary), which will help keep electrical fires at bay
  • Keep the slow cooker (or other small appliance) away from the edge of the counter so hands and elbows don't push it off the edge causing burns or scalds from the hot liquid and food inside
  • Follow the manufacturers' instructions for proper and safe use of the appliance
  • Follow instructions for recipes carefully using the right amount of liquid and heat when preparing your meal to prevent overheating


For additional cooking fire safety tips and data on cooking fires, visit

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