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Wisconsin State Capitol fire


In the early winter morning of February 27, 1904 the Wisconsin State Capitol was devastated by fire, which started when a newly installed “highly varnished ceiling of yellow pine” was too near a gas jet. The fire began in the south wing on the second floor, which in the end was destroyed.

From the NFPA Quarterly, v.24, no.4, 1931:
“The Capitol building was a large structure approximately 225 x 400 feet arranged in the form of a Greek cross with corridors extending from a rotunda in the center. These corridors, high and fairly narrow, acted like flues, for flames appeared simultaneously from windows at the extreme north and south ends. The building was old, having been erected in 1839 with various subsequent additions. Its original cost was $900,000…The loss was estimated at $275,000.”
It is said that Madison and Milwaukee firefighters worked for 18 hours to kill the fire. Thankfully, the Governor at the time—Robert M. La Follette—was present and able to personally save most of the state records, correspondence files, and the law library. Two years later in 1906, construction for the current capitol began and the fire-damaged building was demolished.
This is not a unique story—many State Capitol buildings were ruined with fire in the early 20th century. Thankfully, no lives were lost and most of the valuable records were saved in this fire, which was not the story for others, like the New York State Capitol fire in 1911.
~ Written by Jenny DeRocher, Simmons College '18 MLIS Candidate, 
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.
The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

Health care facilities typically house an array of gases--oxygen, helium, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, for example--that are stored in cylinders and serve a variety of medical purposes. As with other medical gas equipment, there are potential hazards associated with these cylinders. Fires and explosions can be exacerbated by its contents, and physical damage to the cylinders may lead to mechanical problems.

NFPA's new fact sheet highlights these hazards and how NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code, safeguards the storage of medical gas cylinders. It lists safety precautions for handling cylinders and related NFPA resources tied to NFPA 99.

Download the new fact sheet and share with colleagues responsible for maintaining or inspecting health care facilities.


I will admit that Chapter 4 of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems provides very little in the way of “meaty” requirements. It does however deal with one of the fundamental requirements that very few people pay attention to: the owner's certificate. This document sets up the entire design for the contractor and the approval/plan review foundation for the AHJ, however it is ignored by most.

During my recent NFPA Live presentation I looked at the criticality of this document in terms of getting a project started as well as playing a role in the management of change throughout the building’s lifecycle.

I received this follow-up questions from a member. I'm now sharing it with you. I hope you find some value in it.


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!


The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for the 2016 edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, are being published for public review and comment:



Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the March 22, 2018 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council before the closing date.

Whiskey ages in wood barrels at Boston Harbor Distillery in Dorchester 

It's hard to keep up with the number of craft distilleries opening across the country. Every time I visit my hometown, near Portland, Maine, it seems as though there's yet another business churning out bottles of gin, whiskey, vodka, rum, you name it. 
This got me and the rest of the NFPA Journal team wondering how these facilities are being protected from fire and other hazards. As it turns out, in some cases the answer is that they're not. 
My latest Journal feature story, "Small Scale, High Proof," explores the burgeoning craft distilling industry in the United States, highlighting the growing concerns over a lack of information specific to distilleries within commonly adopted codes and standards. 
Change is on the way, though. With over 1,000 craft distilleries scattered across the United States and many more in the works, organizations like NFPA and the International Code Council are mulling ways to address the issue. "AHJs need something in a code to help them know what to look for and what hazards are being presented," one fire protection engineer from California told me. 
Read the full story hereand keep an eye out for the rest of the March/April issue of NFPA Journal coming soon online.

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