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The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins tomorrow, but it got off to an early start when Tropical Storm Alberto made landfall along the Florida Panhandle on Monday. As the storm headed north, two journalists covering the weather in North Carolina were killed when a tree collapsed on their vehicle. 
A day after Alberto collided with the United States coast, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study dramatically altering the estimate of how many people died when Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico last fall. Official estimates placed the death toll from Maria on the U.S. territory at 64. But the study, conducted by Harvard University researchers, says it's more than 70 times that, at a minimum of 4,645 deaths. Researchers pointed to the disruption in health care and basic utilities like electricity as reasons why so many people died during and in the aftermath of the storm. 
NFPA Journal covered Maria as well as the two other hurricanes that slammed into the U.S. coast around the same time—Harvey and Irma—in its November/December 2017 issue, in a package called "Storm Season." Included in that coverage was an interview with Joe Jardin, a New York City firefighter and federal search and rescue specialist who flew to Puerto Rico ahead of Maria as part of a team assembled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Jardin described to me how FEMA teams were able to save lives despite being faced with incredible obstacles like impassable roads, inaccessible villages, and a lack of air support. 
Read all of NFPA Journal's award-winning coverage of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria at


Late in the day on May 31st, 1936, a large fire consumed a three-story department store in downtown Wichita, Kansas.

A dozen firefighters and several other bystanders suffered injuries due to falling glass and timber. Materials and stock in neighboring mercantile establishments were damaged by smoke and water.

Losses were estimated to be around $150,000 at the time.

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.

electrical safety
Electrical safety is a shared, ongoing responsibility and while you may not be an electrician, inspector, facility manager, or engineer, or have a copy of the National Electrical Code®, NFPA 70, you can play an active role in helping to ensure electrical systems safely provide power for the myriad of uses we so heavily rely on.
The theme of this year’s National Electrical Safety Month is “Understanding the Code that Keeps Us Safe”. This “Code” of course is the National Electrical Code® or the NEC, the most widely known acronym in the electrical industry. Since 1897, the Code has provided electrical installation requirements that safeguard persons and property against the “hazards arising from the use of electricity”. Every time you flip a switch, turn on an appliance or plug in the power supply for your computer or phone, the expectation is that electrical power will be delivered safely. On a daily basis millions of people interact with electrical systems in their homes and workplaces with the vast majority of these interactions occurring without incident. The safety record is so good that most people take the use of electricity for granted and do not fully appreciate all of the work that is done “behind the curtain” nor do they realize that they can play an important role in ensuring that the system remains safe.
Trained installers, qualified inspectors, certified electrical products and the NEC installation requirements are all factors in providing the end user with a safe electrical system. However, once the end product of the installers, inspectors, product testing organizations and standards development organizations is turned over to the property owner in the form of a properly functioning, safe electrical installation, their work is complete. Now the responsibility to ensure that the electrical system remains free from hazard is that of the property owner, whether it is a single-family home, a high-rise commercial building, a hospital or a manufacturing plant. In the commercial and industrial sectors, insurance, accreditation, and occupational safety requirements help drive the ongoing safety of the building’s electrical system, but regardless of the occupancy type, the property owner is a stakeholder in electrical safety whether it is for employees or family members.
The first section of the NEC speaks to the purpose of the Code. It states that the Code “contains provisions necessary for safety” and then goes on to say that “compliance therewith and proper maintenance result in an installation that is essentially free from hazard.…” Compliance is most typically the result of the work performed by a trained installer and inspected by a qualified inspector. The next piece of that statement concerning the proper maintenance is where the property owner becomes part of the safety equation.
The electrical system in your home, if installed in accordance with the most recent edition of the NEC, is highly reliable and is equipped with the most up-to-date safety features. While a large part of the system is behind the wall coverings and cannot be accessed for observation, there are devices protecting that wiring that are accessible for observation and periodic testing. 
Since the 1971 edition of the NEC, devices known as ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCIs) have been required to protect receptacles (commonly referred to by owners as "outlets") in various locations inside and outside of a home where there is a higher vulnerability to electrical shock. These locations include bathrooms, kitchens, garages, laundry areas, basement, outdoors, swimming pools and other locations where there is a greater risk of electrical shock. GFCIs can be recognized by the “Test” and “Reset” buttons on the receptacle type and by a “Test” button on the circuit breaker type. The instructions provided by the manufacturers of these devices indicate that in order to ensure they are functioning properly the test button should be operated on a monthly basis. After pushing the test button ascertain that there is no power at that GFCI and at any other devices or equipment protected downstream from that GFCI. Determining that there is no power can be accomplished through the use of a small cord-and plug-connected appliance, lamp or tool that gives you clear indication that the power is off at that outlet. The reset button is then used to restore normal operation. This test is a simple procedure and can be done by anyone, but is essential in making sure your electrical system continues to provide the enhanced level of shock protection that GFCIs afford. 
GFCIs are not limited to residential occupancies only, there are many other NEC required locations where GFCI protection is specified. So the question is, if the subject matter experts who participate in the NEC development process have determined that this protection is needed, don’t you owe it to your family, friends, employees or customers to make sure these devices continue to provide the same enhanced level of protection against electrical shock as the day they were first installed. 
Another protective device for homes, dormitories and the guest rooms and suites of hotels and motels is the arc-fault circuit-interrupter (AFCIs). Also found in the form of receptacles and circuit breakers these devices are similar in appearance to GFCIs but provide an enhanced level of fire protection due to electrical arcing rather than shock protection. The test protocol for AFCIs is essentially the same as with GFCIs…push the test button, make sure power to all protected outlets is interrupted and then reset to restore power. The test interval for these devices is also monthly. As with GFCIs, this testing is simple and does not require any special electrical knowledge. It is really no different than making sure your smoke alarms are functional by pushing the testing button.
Visual observation of damaged electrical equipment such as enclosure covers that are missing or do not close properly, cords that have a missing ground pin and damaged outer covering, receptacles that will not hold the plug end of the cord tightly are typically items that indicate the original level of safety afforded by the equipment has been compromised. And always remember, if the complexity of the repair or replacement is at a level where you do not have the proper training or equipment, get a professional to do it. You owe it to yourself and others using the system to make sure repairs restore the equipment to the same level of safety as when it was first installed.
So in parting, I urge you to be an active participant in National Electrical Safety Month not only in May, but every month of the year, and to share this information with friends and family. There are a lot of things that you, even if you are not an electrical professional, can do to be proactive about electrical safety. Most of us have others that depend on what we do to ensure their safety. So use this month as a reminder that your electrical system, likely the most heavily used system in your home or business (24/7/365), requires certain levels maintenance and/or periodic testing in order for it to provide the same level of safety as when it was first installed.  Think of it as something you do on a regular basis, like maintaining your car! 
The NEC statement on maintenance is vitally important to making sure that people and property continue to be safeguarded from electrical hazards long after the inspectors have given the certificate of occupancy to the property owner. Remember, just because electrical equipment is working, does not necessarily ensure that it is working safely! 
For more information about electrical safety in your home, visit NFPA's electrical safety in the home webpage

News reports continue to document the popularity of renewable energy sources. Last week, New Jersey joined New York and California in mandating that utility companies draw 50% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. At the same time, a Bloomberg news article stated that half the new cars on the road will be electric by 2040 with the pricing of alternative vehicles being on par with gas guzzling cars by the early 2020s.


These trends are driven by consumer interest, business economics, government incentives, and a global commitment to becoming more green and efficient. These trends also accentuate the need for first responders, facility managers, code enforcers and others to learn all that they can about emerging technologies.


NFPA has designed an educational lineup at its annual conference in June to help the fire service, the built environment and design professionals become aware, prepare, and respond to emergencies associated with energy storage systems (ESS), solar power, alternative fuel vehicles, and new innovations such as small unmanned aerial systems, artificial intelligence, spaceports and more. Here’s what’s on tap:


  1. Jump start your learning at a special pre-General Session four-hour pilot of NFPA’s newly redesigned ESS/Solar Safety Training for First Responders. So much has changed in our world since NFPA introduced the world’s first ESS safety program in 2015, that FEMA provided grant money to update the content with new considerations and more solar energy information. Be among the first to learn what’s new.
  2. Before or after educational sessions on opening day, swing by the NFPA Building of Tomorrow on the Expo floor to learn more about some of the latest technology that will enable smart buildings and electric vehicles to steer us into the future. This virtual reality demonstration offers an up close look at new advances as well as other innovations on the horizon.
  3. On day 2 of the conference several sessions cover energy storage systems and photovoltaics. Gain insight on the global view of ESS and PV; listen to a panel discuss fire safety considerations; hear about who’s embracing this new technology and why; and learn from well-versed technical leads and SMEs about NFPA’s 855 Energy Storage System Standard.
  4. If you’ve had your fill of ESS on Tuesday, you can always see how unmanned aerial systems (drones) are being used for safety within the fire service today.
  5. On Wednesday, the future of transportation will take center stage. Representatives from the DOE/Clean Cities initiative will provide an overview of Alternative Fuel Vehicles, including plans for more electric and hydrogen fuel infrastructures; while two more educational programs center around natural gas vehicles and the safety systems in place, and the concerns that firefighters have when it comes to identifying AFVs and extricating passengers.
  6. With new opportunities, come new hazards. That’s why first responders need to know more about what artificial intelligence can (and cannot) do for firefighting, emergency response, and safety inspections. “Deep learning" technology, such as those developed by Google and Facebook, may hold some answers.
  7. New technology is synonymous with this brand. Representatives from UBER will offer insights on how the next generation of air travel, more specifically, air taxis will impact fire and life safety. Do you know what you need to know about electrical grid expansion, airborne battery systems, and the ground-based charging stations that will need to be evaluated for active and passive fire protection, life safety, and first responder training and tactics? You will after this session.


Perhaps, the greatest reason to attend NFPA’s Conference & Expo is the invaluable opportunity to connect with forward-thinking and diverse professionals who share your passion for keeping people, property and first responders safe for existing and new hazards – and keeping an eye on new trends and future technologies. That’s the foundation of good learning; that’s the cornerstone of NFPA’s C&E. 

hurricanesThis week, Subtropical Storm Alberto made landfall in Florida and is expected to bring more rain to surrounding areas during the week. Alberto ushers in the official hurricane season, which starts June 1. Weather officials say the 2018 hurricane season is shaping up to be “near- or above-normal,” and they say there's a 75 percent chance we’ll see near or more than the average number of storms in the Atlantic. 
To help residents navigate this storm season, NFPA provides the following electrical safety tips that can help reduce the risk for injury before, during, and after a storm:
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so by authorities, and turn off propane tanks.
  • Stay out of flood waters, if possible, and do not drive into flooded areas. Even water only several inches deep can be dangerous.
  • Treat all downed wires as if they are live even if you don’t see any sparks, and especially if there is standing water nearby. Alert authorities immediately if you see downed wires in your area.
  • If your home has experienced flooding, it’s important to keep your power off until a professional electrician has inspected your entire home for safety, including appliances. Water can damage the internal components in electrical appliances like refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, and cause shock and fire hazards. Have a qualified electrician come visit your home and determine what electrical equipment should be replaced and what can be reconditioned.
  • If you smell gas in your home or neighborhood, notify emergency authorities immediately. Do not turn on lights, light matches or engage in any activity that could create a spark.
  • In the event that electricity may not be available to your home yet and you have not experienced any water in your home, generators are a viable option to power some of your small appliances. However, if used improperly they also pose a fire hazard, risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and electrocution.
The following are key guidelines for using a portable generator:
  • Generators should be operated in well ventilated locations outdoors away from all doors, windows and vent openings.
  • Never use a generator in an attached garage, even with the door open.
  • Place generators so that exhaust fumes can’t enter the home through windows, doors or other openings in the building.
NFPA’s safety tip sheet on portable generators provides these steps and more to help keep you safe. Find it at
For any questions or concerns about your home’s electrical system, contact a qualified electrician who can help, and visit our electrical safety webpage for additional tips and resources.
More severe weather safety information is available by visiting NFPA’s severe storm fire safety webpage.

One of the most notable features about NFPA’s standards development process is that it is an open, consensus-based process that encourages public participation in the development of its standards. A great way for your voice to be heard is to submit a Public Input during a standard’s revision cycle. Public Input is a suggested revision to a proposed new or existing NFPA Standard submitted during the Input stage in accordance with Section 4.3 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. It is 100 percent free, easy, and done through our online submission system.

The following standards are accepting Public Input for their next revision cycle:

  • NFPA 12, Standard on Carbon Dioxide Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 12A, Standard on Halon 1301 Fire Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 22, Standard for Water Tanks for Private Fire Protection
  • NFPA 33, Standard for Spray Application Using Flammable or Combustible Materials
  • NFPA 34, Standard for Dipping, Coating, and Printing Processes Using Flammable or Combustible Liquids
  • NFPA 68, Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting
  • NFPA 79, Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery
  • NFPA 92, Standard for Smoke Control Systems
  • NFPA 140, Standard on Motion Picture and Television Production Studio Soundstages, Approved Production Facilities, and Production Locations
  • NFPA 170, Standard for Fire Safety and Emergency Symbols
  • NFPA 204, Standard for Smoke and Heat Venting
  • NFPA 259, Standard Test Method for Potential Heat of Building Materials
  • NFPA 261, Standard Method of Test for Determining Resistance of Mock-Up Upholstered Furniture Material Assemblies to Ignition by Smoldering Cigarettes
  • NFPA 270, Standard Test Method for Measurement of Smoke Obscuration Using a Conical Radiant Source in a Single Closed Chamber
  • NFPA 274, Standard Test Method to Evaluate Fire Performance Characteristics of Pipe Insulation
  • NFPA 290, Standard for Fire Testing of Passive Protection Materials for Use on LP-Gas Containers
  • NFPA 495, Explosive Materials Code
  • NFPA 498, Standard for Safe Havens and Interchange Lots for Vehicles Transporting Explosives
  • NFPA 505, Fire Safety Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks Including Type Designations, Areas of Use, Conversions, Maintenance, and Operations
  • NFPA 921, Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations
  • NFPA 1026, Standard for Incident Management Personnel Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1061, Standard for Public Safety Telecommunications Personnel Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1081, Standard for Facility Fire Brigade Member Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1404, Standard for Fire Service Respiratory Protection Training
  • NFPA 1451, Standard for a Fire and Emergency Service Vehicle Operations Training Program
  • NFPA 1855, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Technical Rescue Incidents
  • NFPA 1858, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services
  • NFPA 1891, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Hazardous Materials Clothing and Equipment
  • NFPA 1925, Standard on Marine Fire-Fighting Vessels
  • NFPA 1962, Standard for the Care, Use, Inspection, Service Testing, and Replacement of Fire Hose, Couplings, Nozzles, and Fire Hose Appliances
  • NFPA 1964, Standard for Spray Nozzles
  • NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting
  • NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS)
  • NFPA 2001, Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems
  • NFPA 3000™ (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program

To submit a Public Input using the online submission system, go directly to the specific document information page by selecting the links above or by using the search feature on the list of NFPA codes & standards. Once on the document page, select the link "Submit a Public Input" to begin the process. You will be asked to sign in or create a free online account with NFPA before using this system.

We are here to assist! If you have any questions when using the system, a chat feature is available or contact us by email or phone at 1-800-344-3555.


The May/June issue of NFPA Journal includes several features on changes to important NFPA codes and standards, including a comprehensive reorganization of the 2019 edition of NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems.

In “The Makeover,” David Hague, staff liaison for NFPA 13, outlines the process that resulted in a clearer, leaner, and more effective tool for the installation of sprinkler systems.
“Information is now clearly separated by subject matter—sprinkler technology, storage method, commodity, and so on—and is organized in the order the information is needed for anyone planning a sprinkler system installation,” Hague writes. One of the examples he provides is available water supply, which is one of the first considerations when planning a sprinkler system. In the previous edition of NFPA 13, he notes, water supply wasn’t addressed until Chapter 24, so an engineer or designer had to flip from front to back to reference the information. In the 2019 edition, water supply is addressed in Chapter 5.
The article also includes information on three education sessions on NFPA 13 scheduled for the NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.
For more information on NFPA 13, visit

Memorial Day is a holiday of remembrance, honor, dedication, and the start of the summer season. Along with sunshine and BBQs, the holiday also brings additional safety concerns and fire risks. NFPA 1, Fire Code, contains valuable requirements to help local inspectors and authorities ensure communities stay safe this holiday weekend and throughout the summer.


Community Parades


How do I protect parade floats?

Parade floats, even at the happiest place on earth, are not immune to fire risks; a dragon float caught fire on May 11 at the Festival of Fantasy Parade at Walt Disney World. Parade floats require a permit for use at a public performance, presentation, spectacle, entertainment, or parade. In addition, motorized parade floats and towing apparatus require a minimum 2-A:10-B:C-rated portable fire extinguisher readily accessible to the operator. (See Section 10.16.)



Backyard Fire Pits and Campfires


How far do recreational fires have to be from a building/structure?

Recreational fires shall not be located within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of a structure or combustible material unless contained in an approved manner. This includes fire pits and camping fires. Also, conditions that could cause a fire to spread to within 25 feet (7.6 meters) of a structure must be eliminated prior to ignition. (See Section 10.10.4.)


Community Events


Where can grills be located?

For other than one- and two-family dwellings, no hibachi, grill, or other similar devices used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose shall be used on any balcony, under any overhanging portion, or within 10 feet (3 meters) of any structure. In addition, these devices cannot be stored on a balcony. (See Section 10.10.6.) Check out my past post on grills for additional details. NFPA also offers a variety of resources for safe grilling!


Does NFPA 1 permit the use of sky lanterns?

The use of unmanned, free-floating sky lanterns and similar devices utilizing an open flame are prohibited. (See Section For more information, check out NFPA's safety tip sheet on sky lanterns. 


How does an AHJ enforce outdoor events such as carnivals or fairs?

The AHJ is permitted to regulate all outdoor events such as carnivals and fairs as it pertains to access for emergency vehicles; access to fire protection equipment; placement of stands, concession booths, and exhibits; and the control of hazardous conditions dangerous to life and property. (See Section 10.14.)


Does the code address the protection of food trucks?

New to the 2018 edition of NFPA 1, Section 50.7 addresses mobile and temporary cooking operations, including food trucks. Food trucks are a popular trend that are present in cities and suburban communities. It seems no event occurs these days without the presence of food trucks. The code addresses valuable safety risk associated with these vehicles, such as fire extinguishers, location and separation of vehicles, fire department access, staff training, and protection of the cooking equipment. (See Section 50.7.)


Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

While most system designers can get their arms around designing a system for an office building or shopping center, new occupancies are popping up all of the time that require a little additional thought. The latest craze is indoor athletic facilities and indoor trampoline parks.
In my lastest NFPA Live session I went over some of the challenges and considerations as related to putting together a suppression design for these types of spaces. During the live event 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!

On May 26, 1936, eight firefighters were injured while battling a San Francisco blaze that covered a half-mile stretch along the shipping channel.



The fire originated at the South Pacific Main Line trestle and then spread to the three lumber yards south of the channel. While the cause of the fire was undetermined at the time, local fire officials believe it may have started in a pool of oil that was found seeping around the sewer outlets under the Seventh Street trestle.


For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives. We house all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

With every passing day, the world seems to come up with another novel use for energy storage systems (ESS).


On Wednesday, a United Kingdom-based company called Pivot Power unveiled plans to build a network of at least 45 grid-connected ESS scattered across the nation. The 50-megawatt batteries will serve both as electric-vehicle charging stations, and will also help stabilize the grid during times of high demand. The project is part of a nationwide aim to ban all diesel- and petroleum-fueled vehicles in the UK by 2040.


The project is just the latest example of how big battery systems are being integrated more and more into our global energy networks. (Further proof: the record for the world’s largest lithium-ion battery has been eclipsed four times in the last year).


A new story, “Rapid Advance” in the May/June NFPA Journal takes a detailed look at the expanding role ESS is playing in our world and how NFPA is trying to help firefighters, installers, inspectors, facility owners, manufacturers, and others ensure that the rollout of this vital new technology is done safely. The work includes the new NFPA 855, Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, as well as a new free training being developed for firefighters on responding to ESS fires and other emergencies. The new training will debut at the upcoming NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, June 11-14, which will also have a cadre of other ESS-centric education sessions.


To learn much more about ESS, how and where it is being used, and some of the fire and life safety issues, read “Rapid Advance” in the new issue of NFPA Journal.


For even more background on ESS, check out NFPA Journal's cover story from January 2016, "Power to Spare."

May is National Electrical Safety Month and as part of NFPA's mission to help save the world from electrical hazards, we have joined forces with the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi). This year's theme is "Understanding the Code that Keeps Us Safe."  That means sharing information with the world that helps build an understanding of how the National Electrical Code (NEC) became what it is today. Connecting the dots between the problem and the solution can often be difficult when we aren't in the room during the code debate. However, recent requirements around protecting people from electrical hazards in, on, or near bodies of water or pools have been the topic of many recent open discussions and the I have broken out the major points below. 
Everybody knows that electricity and water are a bad combination. Many movies have shown how the hero can thwart the evil plans of a world-wide crime syndicate by electrocuting the main bad guy as they stand in a puddle of water, probably sometime after they activated every sprinkler head in the building with a lighter. Or maybe you can relate to getting a cell phone wet, only to find the circuits short out and sensitive electronics burn up inside the phone rendering it useless. I'm sure we can all come up with a million other examples of how water and electricity don't mix. It is a universally-known fact and one that we learned from a very young age. Or did we?
The state of electricity today - in and around water
How many of us have a pool in our backyard? Or a light at the end of our dock? Or an electrically-powered boat lift? Or maybe you have a boat with a layout that more resembles the comfort of an RV with a 104" flat-screen TV in your stateroom. Many boats today have gone way beyond your grandfather's 14- foot aluminum fishing boat. I could go on about all of the places we ask for electricity without ever thinking about the hazards. But instead, I will start by asking one very important question. What dangers do we face when we put electricity near water? The two major hazards in my mind are, Shock/Electrocution and Electric Shock Drowning (ESD). Let's first talk about what these two things mean.
Electrocution and Electric Shock Drowning (ESD)
Electrocution is death by electric shock. This usually means that an electricity travels through the body on a path with sufficient current, typically somewhere between 0.1A and 0.5A, across the heart causing it to stop pumping blood. This can happen when an individual comes in contact with an energized thing (i.e. metal ladder, electrical equipment, water) and completes the circuit allowing that current to return to the source. This is the same hazard that exists on dry land as well; if you complete the path, Chances are it is going to be severe.
Electric Shock Drowning on the other hand is an entirely different animal. As the name suggests, there is a shock component of this silent killer, but no need to complete a path. What happens in this situation is that an energized component makes contact with the water because the path back to the source is often through the earth and water. This creates voltage gradients within the water and as an individual swims through this area, smaller currents interfere with the body's nervous system and cause temporary paralysis, leading to the individual being unable to stay afloat and eventually drowning. It is sometimes difficult to determine if ESD was to blame since the actual cause of death is drowning and many cases have probably gone undocumented.
If it sounds scary, it is. But there is good news. Many intelligent people are coming together to figure out ways to try and protect swimmers in the water, while at the same time support the needs of boat owners (who feel compelled to cut corners and remove safeguards designed to eliminate deaths in the water). 
Ground-Fault Protection
One measure that has proven to be successful in protecting against shock is ground-fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs. We find these in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas outside. The basic concept of these devices is that they monitor what goes out and what comes back and when there is a difference (meaning, the current goes somewhere else). Since that "somewhere else" could be a human body, it opens the circuit. One of the issues with GFCIs is that the trip value is set very low, between 4-6mA. This is great for protection against the type of shock that causes electrocution. But when we apply this level of protection to boats, it becomes a problem. Due to the extreme conditions that boats are subjected to, nearly every boat on the water (that utilizes shore power) today has leakage current in this range. As current leaks into the water, it lessens the further from the source it gets. So through all of the research we have found that swimmers won't be subjected to the full amount of current as they would if they were making contact with an energized component. 
I used to get calls from irate boat owners who were at their wits end about how to get power to their boats. That dang GFCI just keeps tripping, they'd say! And I know that many of them waited until after the inspection and found a solution outside of what the NEC allows (if you know what I mean), which, in my opinion, is on par with letting your children make toast while taking a bath. However, while nobody would allow a child to take a bath while using a toaster, many people still bragged on social media about how they waited for the inspector to sign off and then pulled out the ground-fault protection. This just blows my mind!   
Marina safety
Based on these issues, the result of the discussions when it comes to changes in the NEC is one of a happy medium designed to protect swimmers from ESD, and centers around this: 30mA. At this level it is not likely that enough current could pass through a person to cause the temporary paralysis that leads to ESD. However, the conversation didn't end there. For the 2017 NEC it was decided that from an installation stand point it would be best to limit any and all leakage current to 30mA. This included feeders and service level overcurrent devices. The problem is that leakage current on the service is additive, so it doesn't take long to hit that 30mA mark. For instance, a marina with 11 boats that each leak 3mA would cause this protection to jump into action even though 3mA is below the trip value set to protect us in the kitchen and bathroom. To find out how some of the conversation played out, check out my recent In Compliance column in NFPA Journal magazine. 
Through all of the well-intended efforts to protect us around new installations, you're probably asking, "But what about my marina that was built in 1984?" And here is where we run into issues. There are many existing marinas and docking facilities where none of these precautions have been taken, so how do we handle those? Well, this is where we need your help. This is where we need to educate people across the country about why it is so dangerous to jump in the water in these areas. Check out NFPA's video below on water safety aimed at informing the public of the dangers surrounding marinas, docks, and boatyards. 
So I hope this helps shed some light around these silent killers lurking in the water and I encourage all of us to do our part to foster discussions in our communities about safety in the water. The Electric Shock Drowning Association along with the Electrical Safety Foundation International both have some great resources in battling this deadly issue. You can also find information on NFPA's "electrical safety around water" webpage. Through awareness of this disturbing trend, we aim to educate people on why we need certain safeguards in and around marina and dock installations. Everything points to fixing the problem, not removing the solution, so I leave you with this final question, "Are you ready to stop swimming with toasters in the water?"
NFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers; NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems; NFPA 68, Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting; NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®; and NFPA 130, Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems:
  • NFPA 10, Errata 10-18-1, referencing D.4.5 of the 2018 edition, issued on May 9, 2018
  • NFPA 14, Errata 14-16-1, referencing Table A.7.8, of the 2016 edition, issued on May 8, 2018
  • NFPA 68, Errata 68-18-3, referencing Table D.1(b) and Table F.1(b), of the 2018 edition, issued on May 8, 2018
  • NFPA 70, Errata 70-17-5, referencing Article 430.97(C), of the 2017 edition, issued on May 9, 2018
  • NFPA 130, Errata 130-17-1, referencing Equation A., of the 2017 edition, issued on May 11, 2018
An errata is a correction issued to an NFPA Standard, published in NFPA News, Codes Online, and included in any further distribution of the document.


We, at the NFPA, work closely with EMS providers whose dedication to their patients and their colleagues often goes unrecognized every day. As we celebrate another EMS Week, we want to thank each of you, your families and all the people who make it possible for you to help people day in and day out.


The theme of EMS Week this year is "Stronger Together," which recognizes not only the bonds we form with our fellow EMS providers, but also the importance of collaboration. Whether working with colleagues in your organization, partners within your community, or agencies in neighboring jurisdictions, we truly are stronger EMS communities when we do things together as a team.


At the NFPA, we know this firsthand - thanks to our work with many organizations supporting EMS efforts across the nation. As members of Technical Committees on EMS, Cross Functional Emergency Preparedness and Response, Small Unmanned Aerial Systems, Ambulance Design and Construction, Hazardous Materials Response, and many more relevant topics, the EMS community helps to prescribe and inform NFPA's life safety efforts every day.  This year we have completed the draft of NFPA 451; Guide for Community Healthcare Programs, which will help EMS systems evaluate and partner with organizations so that, together, they can expand services and provide community paramedicine/ mobile integrated healthcare programs.  The EMS community was also incredibly vital in the creation of NFPA 3000 (PS); Standard for An Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program.  This first of its kind body of knowledge is already helping authorities every day - and EMS providers are very much a part of this planning, response and recovery process!


We encourage you to embrace this year's theme, "Stronger Together".  We believe that our EMS providers play a vital role in society; and our association is grateful for the insight and input that is so readily offered by the EMS community when it comes to updating existing documents and creating new guides and standards that increase coordination, safety, and the capability of our emergency responders.


From all of us at the NFPA, thank you for everything you do every day.

The May/June issue of NFPA Journal includes several features on changes to important NFPA codes and standards, including updates to the 2019 edition of NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®.
In “Smarter About Smoke,” Richard Roux, staff liaison for NFPA 72, outlines a handful of key changes to the code, including the addition of a date: January 1, 2022.
“That’s the day NFPA 72 will require all new installed household smoke alarms to meet listing specifications to distinguish between smoke generated by routine cooking and smoke generated by potentially more serious sources, such as furniture,” Roux writes. “This push to develop more discriminating smoke alarms is a direct response to the problem of nuisance alarms, which leads many residents to remove alarm batteries or entire alarms, significantly increasing occupants’ risk of death or injury in a home fire. The listing requirements were developed by UL at its new testing facility, and the inclusion of the date in the new NFPA 72 underscores what is arguably the most important lifesaving change in smoke alarms since their introduction in the 1960s, along with codes to require their installation.”
Roux also looks at the integration of NFPA 720, Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment, into NFPA 72; developments related to fire service access elevators and occupant evacuation elevators; communications methods for forwarding signals from protected premises to supervising stations; and enhancements to Class N pathways.
The story also includes info on four education sessions on NFPA 72 scheduled for the NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.
For more information on NFPA 72, visit

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) for the 2018 edition of NFPA 68, Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting, is being published for public review and comment:


Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by July 19, 2018.  Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

This webinar will present the fire safety challenges of tall wood buildings, specifically discuss the contribution of Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) building elements. Under the auspices of the Fire Protection Research Foundation, the second phase research on fire safety challenges of tall wood buildings was conducted to quantify the contribution of cross-laminated timber (CLT) building elements in compartment fires. The research encompassed literature review, experiments and modeling. Based on gap identification in the literature review, a series of full-scale CLT compartment fire tests were designed and conducted under various exposure conditions and produced a large amount of experimental data including heat release rates, heat fluxes, char patterns and char depths. The experimental data were analyzed and used to quantify the contribution of CLT building elements to compartment fires. Additionally, an intermediate scale fire testing method was developed to identify adhesives that lead to an improved fire performance and a reduced contribution of CLT to the fire. An engineering calculation method, validated using the experimental results, was refined to predict the influence of exposed CLT on the severity and the duration of compartment fires. The technical data developed from this project will enable designers to develop a fire protection strategy to mitigate the potential hazard to occupants, fire fighters and property. Full final reports on this research are available from the Foundation's website.
When: Wednesday, May 30, 12:30-2:00 pm EDT
Presenters: Joseph Su, Ph.D., National Research Council of Canada, and Daniel Brandon, Ph.D., Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) 
If you would like to hear more from Joseph Su and Daniel Brandon on this topic, as well as other thought leaders, please plan to attend the NFPA Conference & Expo® - June 11 - 14, Las Vegas - one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive fire, electrical, and life safety education events. For details visit
Dr. Joseph Su is a Principal Research Officer, Group Leader at the National Research Council Canada’s Fire Safety Unit. He has over 30 years research experience in combustion chemistry, fire development, fire detection and suppression, fire performance of materials and systems and full-scale fire testing with over 200 publications. Currently, he serves as the International Convener of ISO/TC92/SC3/Working Group 2 (Generation and Analysis of Fire Effluents). He was a recipient of the 2000 Jack Bono Engineering Communications Award from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers.
Dr. Daniel Brandon works as a researcher at Research Institutes of Sweden - Fire Research. He has a PhD degree from the University of Bath in the UK, where he studied the behavior of timber connections in fire and ambient conditions. He is currently leading national and international research projects on fire safety in timber buildings. Furthermore, he is a Swedish delegate in the Eurocode CEN SC5 committee, dealing with the revision of the European standardization for Structural Fire Design of timber structures. Recently, he received the Howard medal for best paper from the Institution of Civil Engineers.


Ten people were killed and another 10 injured during an active shooter event at a high school in southeastern Texas today, according to CNN. The latest tragic incident comes just 17 days after NFPA released NFPA 3000™ (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program to help entire communities organize, manage, communicate, and sustain an active shooter/hostile event preparedness, response, and recovery program.


In the wake of the tragedy at Santa Fe High School, Governor Greg Abbott called for policymakers and other authorities to do more. According to CNN, Abbott said, “"We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families. It's time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again."


NFPA 3000™ (PS) was developed at the request of first responders following a previous active shooter event. The new body of knowledge provides guidelines for integrated, proactive, practiced, whole community strategies.


The first of its kind standard was developed by a 50-member Technical Committee made up of representatives from law enforcement, fire, medical, education, facility management, private security and government agencies including the FBI, DHS, DOJ and more. During the fast-tracked standards development process, committee members provided invaluable job perspective and insight from horrific mass casualty incidents including Sandy Hill, Mandala Bay, Pulse Nightclub, and the Boston Marathon.


As Governor Abbot stated today, it’s time to do more to reduce active shooter/hostile event risk, improve unified response and ensure that authorities are working together before, during and after the unthinkable happens.


While we cannot prevent these tragedies from occurring, we can do more to help communities prepare, respond and recover more effectively. For more information on resources to support communities visit

It’s almost here; the “unofficial” marker of summer – Memorial Day – and after a long, long, LONG winter, many of us are more than ready to start enjoying the warm days and nights, outdoor parties, and lots of grilling!


To start off the season on the right safety foot, we created this short, fun video that puts your knowledge about grilling to the test. See if you can answer all four questions correctly. Learn the basics of safe grilling practices side by side with other homeowners who bravely, and in good fun, volunteered in our video to answer the same questions. Watch the video below:

If your plans take you away from home, NFPA provides additional information on portable grilling including tips and reminders about using charcoal and staying fire safe at places like campgrounds, tailgating parties, and other outdoor venues.


Statistics show that most grilling fires happen in July, followed by May, June and August. So wherever your plans take you this Memorial Day weekend and through the summer, remember that fire safety is one of the best gifts you can give yourself, your family, and friends. Enjoy the holiday, everyone!


For this and more great grilling information, visit

Photo courtesy of Daniel Prevade
One-hundred years ago tomorrow, an explosion at a TNT manufacturing plant in Oakdale, Pennsylvania, killed almost 200 people and injured many more in what is still the deadliest fire or explosion in a United States manufacturing plant. The incident is featured in the Looking Back section of the May/June issue of NFPA Journal
The blast occurred after the plant, which manufactured TNT for the Allied Powers during World War I, reportedly ignored an order from the federal government to stop using a chemical that was linked to dangerous reactions. 
Newspapers of the time provided detailed coverage of the horrific scene. "Just when I thought I would faint from heat and smoke, a second explosion shook the debris that held me and an iron bar was hurled about two feet above my head," the plant superintendent told one paper. "It stuck fast and by grasping hold of it I was able to pull myself to the top of the wreckage and got my lungs full of fresh air. I knew I was injured because blood was pouring over my face, but I couldn’t feel anything but the terrible heat."
Read the full article here.

On May 17, 1923, the community of Camden, South Carolina suffered a terrible loss when 77 people died resulting from a fire at the Cleveland School commencement exercises.


The building was completely destroyed by fire.


On the day of the fire, the Cleveland School auditorium was filled to capacity (200-300 people) to watch the commencement exercises. Dressing rooms had been constructed by hanging burlap on the stage. During the play, the hanging oil lamp had ignited the ceiling above it. The heat caused the lamp to fall to the stage and the oil began to burn. People made attempts to extinguish the flames but the burlap curtains ignited. The crowd panicked and began trying to make their way down the one stairway. Panicked parents throwing children over the railing caused a jam at the doorway. Many who escaped the fire went back in attempting to save family members. Some escaped by jumping out windows or escaped via the roof of the building.


Causal Factors:


  • The oil lamp was suspended without sufficient protection, which allowed it to burn the top of the ceiling, and fall to the ground.
  • The stairway was combustible.
  • The stairway should have been the same width all the way to the exit.
  • There should have been more than one exit from the building.



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.

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus, and NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS), are being published for public review and comment:



Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the June 14, 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.

This year's NFPA Technical Meeting (Tech Session) will be held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas on June 14, 2018 at 8:00 a.m. in Oceanside Ballroom ABCD. NFPA will be providing wireless internet access during the Tech Session so attendees have the option of downloading the agenda prior to or during the Tech Session. Also, documentation such as First Draft Reports and Second Draft Reports can be viewed on the Next Edition tab of each specific Document Information Page.


The Tech Session is an important step in developing a complete record to assist the Standards Council in determining the degree of consensus achieved on proposed changes to NFPA Standards. During this meeting, NFPA members are given an opportunity to vote on proposed changes and members of the public can voice their opinions on these actions. Only NFPA members of record as of December 16, 2017 who are currently in good standing are eligible to vote at this meeting.
The following is the order of NFPA Standards with Certified Amending Motions to be presented for action:


  • NFPA 51B, Standard for Fire Prevention During Welding, Cutting, and Other Hot Work
  • NFPA 400, Hazardous Materials Code
  • NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations
  • NFPA 260, Standard Methods of Tests and Classification System for Cigarette Ignition Resistance of Components of Upholstered Furniture
  • NFPA 289, Standard Method of Fire Test for Individual Fuel Packages
  • NFPA 101A, Guide on Alternative Approaches to Life Safety
  • NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems
  • NFPA 13D, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler System in One-and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes
  • NFPA 1981, Standard on Open-Circuit Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services
  • NFPA 1001, Standard on Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1730, Standard on Organization and Deployment of Fire Prevention Inspection and Code Enforcement, Plan Review, Investigation, and Public Education Operations
  • NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems
  • NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
Just when I think people are beginning to understand what is involved with electrical safety, I get a series of calls that convince me otherwise. Other than for the determination of PPE category or incident energy, the requirements in NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® do not really include a time constraint for the conditions of conducting energized work. However, it seems that many want to include time in their safety consideration. How long can someone leave a site unattended before they have to verify an electrically safe work condition (ESWC)? How long can an employee work on electrical equipment before they have to establish an ESWC? How long does someone have to be inside the arc-flash boundary before they have to don PPE? How long do energized electrical parts have to be exposed before they must considered to be an electrical hazard?
Those are just some of the actual questions that I have been asked. I am not aware of a method to determine that sticking a screwdriver into energized electrical equipment for only few seconds is considered safe. I am not sure that leaving an area for a ten minute smoke break is insufficient time for someone else to enter the area and do something unanticipated. I am not convinced that quickly walking through the arc-flash boundary removes the possibility of an arc flash occurring. I do not know the length of time necessary to avert an incident when “only” operating an internal switch after opening an enclosure. 
How suddenly does a screwdriver slip from a terminal to initiate an arc flash or electrocution? How swiftly can an employee run when an arc flash occurs near them? How quickly can an employee react to prevent an injury after dropping a screw into switchgear? How long must electrical current pass through an employee’s body before a shock becomes an electrocution? 
There are many electrical safety aspects that rely on common sense. Use yourself as a litmus test. If you think you could be injured so does your employee. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing what is being proposed neither will your employee. If you think something could go wrong it possibly will. Do you really believe that putting your employee at risk only for a short time, removes the chance of an incident occurring? If you are asking these types of questions to get around providing protection for your employee, choose safety.  
For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange.  
Next time: The act of establishing an electrically safe work condition (ESWC) or a properly established ESWC.

Participants of NFPA's two-day Building Safety & Security workshop in Quincy, MA


NFPA’s Building Safety and Security workshop wrapped up this afternoon, with attendees reporting on key conclusions from breakout sessions held over the past two days. Discussions focused on challenges within the built environment; emergency planning for occupants; messaging challenges; and coordinating with first responders.


After much conversation and debate, key conclusions for multiple aspects of active shooter and hostile events were developed, including ideas and recommendations for effectively preparing for and responding to these violent threats. Common threads for many of the strategies and concepts revolved around more education and training, clearer communications, and increased collaboration between stakeholders and communities.


Participants discussed extensively the need to strike the right balance between addressing security and fire safety in today’s world.


NFPA moved very quickly to organize this workshop as a result of the mass shootings that we have already witnessed in the first few months of 2018. NFPA ran a similar workshop in December 2014 with a specific goal of looking at built environment, response and security issues in the K-12 and college/university environment.  The report for that workshop was released in May 2015. Several recommendations in that report have been included in the 2018 editions of the NFPA 1, Fire Code, NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, and NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code®. In addition, other changes have been made to the premises security documents that NFPA develops – NFPA 730, Guide for Premises Security and NFPA 731, Standard for the Installation of Electric Premises Security Systems.


Another recommendation in the 2014 workshop report identified the need for better coordination and training among first responder agencies — specifically law enforcement, EMS providers and fire departments. Earlier this month, NFPA officially announced the release of a new provisional standard, NFPA 3000™(PS): Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostilve Event Response (ASHER) Program, that was developed on a fast-track schedule to address that specific planning component. 


This workshop encompassed a two-day commitment from a dedicated cross-section of more than 40 professionals to continue the discussion. Each brought their diverse experiences, insights and perspectives to the event, all with the ultimate goal of saving lives.


Findings from the workshop will be presented in a report, which we’ll be putting together and posting online in the coming weeks. Information and recommendations in the report will be fed directly to various NFPA technical committees with the idea of developing and proposing code changes for future editions of NFPA documents. They will also be shared with groups within NFPA such as NFPA’s Policy Institute, government affairs department and public education departments to help facilitate and achieve the goals and recommendations of the report.

The May 2018 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.
In this issue:
  • NFPA 921 public input extended
  • NFPA  3000 (PS) issued by Council
  • NFPA 277 ceasing standards development
  • Call for applications for Fire Investigations Committee
  • Standards development sessions at the Conference & Expo
  • Proposed TIAs seeking comments on  NFPA 1, 13, 22, 70, 90A, 260, 400, 1906, 1982
  • New project being  explored on spaceports
  • Committee meetings calendar
  • Committees seeking  members
  • Standards seeking public input and public comment   
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. 


NFPA held a School Safety, Codes and Security workshop in December 2014 that addressed the need to balance fire safety against security safety in response to a number of active shooter and hostile events that had occurred in recent years. While many of the recommendations from that report have been integrated into several NFPA codes and standards, the multiple deadly incidents that have taken place since then underscore the fact that there’s still much more work to be done.

Following up on the 2014 workshop’s initial recommendations, NFPA kicked off a two-day Building Safety and Security workshop today with the goal of expanding the discussion to include all types of buildings and venues, and to identify other solutions that can be applied to targeted violence events. Attendees invited to help us in this effort reflect professionals from a diverse range of industries, groups and organizations directly and indirectly impacted by active shooter and hostile events. They arrived at NFPA headquarters ready to bring their experience and insights to the table as we work to fulfill this challenging agenda.

The morning kicked off with a presentation by Natalie Hammond (photo above), who was the lead teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 people were killed on December 14, 2012. Hammond provided an overview of the morning’s events, demonstrating where gaps in existing procedures and protocols can contribute to tragic outcomes. Her gripping and informative overview was followed by Geoff Craighead (photo below), a security executive at Allied Universal, the largest security firm in the U.S., who delivered an overview of today’s security and life safety threats (including terrorist attacks) in multiple occupancies, and discussed best practices for preventing and managing them.

From there, attendees broke out into two focus groups. One group worked to address built environment challenges, while the other is addressing emergency planning for occupants, as well as messaging challenges and first responder coordination. These breakout sessions will continue tomorrow, and additional presentations will be made to continue addressing specific aspects of the issues at hand.

As the first day of the workshop resumes, it’s clear that managing the complexity of the mitigation measures, developing operational plans for building occupants, and ensuring coordinated efforts by first responders will be no easy task, but these efforts are paramount if our codes and standards are expected to make a difference in the long run.

Eighty-five years ago, the city of Ellsworth, Maine was almost completely destroyed by fire on May 7, 1933. Combustible wood frame construction, wooden shingle roofs, limited water supplies, and high winds were responsible for the speed and destruction of this conflagration.


An overview of the devastation after the fire in Ellsworth, Maine on May 7, 1933.


From NFPA’s Volunteer Firemen v.1, no.1, 1933:
“The fire started in an old two-story frame building which was used for storage of old lumber…The fire was discovered about ten o’clock in the evening by two boys, who telephoned an alarm to the fire department. The two pumpers in town responded promptly, each with a driver. The volunteers, most of whom lived near by, were at the scene of the fire within a few minutes. The volunteer department from Ellsworth Falls, two and one-half miles away, responded promptly and within a short time four hose lines were directed on the burning building. The combustibility of the building made the spread of the fire very rapid and the hose streams had little effect. The burning brands from the wooden shingle roofs soon ignited the roofs of other buildings and the fire spread rapidly through the congested district of the city. The intense heat and flames forced the fire department to abandon some hydrants and leave the hose lines with water still running. This resulted in considerable loss of water and pressure and handicapped fire department operations at other points.”
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.
We house all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.
Getty Images

A fire that killed over five dozen people—more than half of them children—in a Russian shopping mall in March has shed light on a deeply flawed system of fire safety in the world's ninth most populous country. 

"Although Russia has strict fire regulations, there is little enforcement and corruption is rampant," Don Bliss, NFPA's vice president of field operations, told me for an article appearing in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal
According to a report co-authored by NFPA and released last year, the number of fire deaths per 100 fires is 6.4 in Russia, compared to just 0.2 in the U.S. and the U.K. In fact, of the 30 other countries listed in the report, including developing countries like Mongolia and Vietnam, only Belarus, formerly part of the Soviet Union, had a higher fire death rate per 100 fires (7.9) than Russia. 
Read the full article here
Since May is Electrical Safety Month, it's time to ask the question: Is your workplace following the appropriate safety procedures? 
A few years ago, I took on some research into workplace electrical injuries sponsored by the Fire Protection Research Foundation. This work was requested by the technical committee for NFPA 70E: Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. After committee chair Dave Dini and I prepared a report of our findings (which drew largely on electrical injury data and OSHA incident reports) I realized that injuries were not happening as a result of any particular shortcomings in the formal standards for electrical safety. What we did discover was failure to apply basic safety precautions that are required in the workplace. Injuries were occurring when work was knowingly performed on or around equipment that was energized, usually needlessly so. Why was this happening?
There are multiple reasons for not following electrical safety procedures; there's possible fatigue that clouds decision-making, insufficient awareness of hazards due to inadequate training, and pressure to get the job done. Another contributor is routine shortcuts in safety protocols--or, deviations from safety protocols not recognized as deviant. If experience tells you that a formal safety procedure can be passed over with no bad result, there may be a temptation to treat it as superfluous. This judgment might be reinforced by others. The boundary between normal and deviant safety practices gradually becomes blurred and the deviation becomes acceptable -- at least until deviations from safety practice result in injury or death.
In her book The Challenger Launch Decision, sociologist Diane Vaughan described the “normalization of deviance” that contributed to the ill-fated launch of the Challenger space shuttle. For more on this term and its ties to electrical injuries, please read my column in Professional Safety. And keep your eyes peeled for additional reports on workplace electrical injury in the coming months.


NFPA 720, Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment, is to be retired this year. All requirements from NFPA 720 are being incorporated into the 2019 edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. Several Task Groups and Technical Committees have worked hard and diligently for over three years to integrate the requirements into one comprehensive document.


In my recent NFPA Live session with members I covered basic carbon monoxide principles, described simple application per NFPA 72 for household use and other installations and provided criteria to determine when carbon detection is required.


I received this follow-up questions from an NFPA 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 an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!

At its April 2018 meeting, the NFPA Standards Council considered the issuance of several proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs).  The following TIAs on NFPA 13, NFPA 31, NFPA 58, NFPA 70, NFPA 99, and NFPA 130 were issued on April 10, 2018 by the Council:
  • NFPA 13, TIA 16-9, referencing note, 2016 edition
  • NFPA 31, TIA 16-1, referencing 2.3.3, 3.3.31, 3.3.37, 3.3.62, 4.5.1, and F.1.2.4, 2016 edition
  • NFPA 58, TIA 17-1, referencing, 2017 edition
  • NFPA 70, TIA 17-15, referencing 555.2 and 555.3, 2017 edition
  • NFPA 70, TIA 17-16, referencing 682.2 and 682.15, 2017 edition
  • NFPA 99, TIA 12-8, referencing 11.7.4, 2012 edition
  • NFPA 99, TIA 15-4, referencing 11.7.4, 2015 edition
  • NFPA 99, TIA 18-2, referencing 11.7.4, 2018 edition
  • NFPA 130, TIA 17-1, referencing,,, A. and A., 2017 edition
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.
The making of a groundbreaking new standard shares the spotlight with the upcoming NFPA Conference & Expo in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal.

Our cover story offers a deep dive on NFPA 3000 (PS), Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program, a new provisional standard designed to help responders, emergency planners, facility directors, communities, and others better prepare for, respond to, and recover from an array of hostile events. The story traces the creation of the standard, from its origins following the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida in 2016 to key meetings of the technical committee charged with creating the standard. 
The result was a provisional standard—one created on an accelerated schedule to meet an urgent need, only the second such document created by NFPA in its 122-year history—that was introduced to the public on May 1. According to Jim Pauley, NFPA’s president, NFPA 3000 represents “an outstanding example if how we use our expertise to address a complex problem and create solutions.”
The May/June issue also includes a comprehensive preview of this year’s Conference & Expo, scheduled for June 11–14 in Las Vegas. Our coverage includes a roundup of emerging technology that will be discussed at the conference, from flying Ubers to the cutting-edge technology of the commercial pot industry. There are stories on important changes to the 2019 editions of NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, and NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®, an article on new developments in the world of energy storage systems, and a look ahead at the making of the 2020 National Electrical Code®. Our “Perspectives” department includes a hard-hitting first-person account of firefighter post-traumatic stress disorder, offered by a Connecticut firefighter who will give a presentation on the topic in a conference education session. The May/June issue also includes 22 pages of Conference & Expo exhibitor listings, vendors who will be on hand in Las Vegas with an array of products and services for safety professionals. 
At NFPA's Standards Council meeting April 10-11 in New Orleans, the Council acted on various agenda items, including the issuance of Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs). 
Some of the topics the Council addressed at the meeting include: 
  • the issuance of proposed TIAs on NFPA 13, NFPA 31, NFPA 58, NFPA 70, NFPA 99, NFPA 130, and NFPA 285
  • new  projects on contamination control of personal protective equipment (PPE); remote video inspections of existing buildings, buildings under construction, and building systems for code compliance; flammability of interior/exterior wall panels, and low pressure dispensing containers (LPDC)
  • new documents NFPA 1802, NFPA 1891, and NFPA 3000 (PS)
  • 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 nearly 300 documents addressing topics of importance to the built environment.

This past week was a busy one for NFPA 1.  I finished some of the final pieces for the 2018 edition of the Fire Code Handbook (shelf date June 2018) and at the same time began preparation for the upcoming 2021 revision cycle (stay tuned for a future post highlighting the many issues we will be addressing this cycle!).  Even once a Code has been newly published, NFPA staff’s job as Staff Liaison is never done.  There are ongoing items that must be completed year-round to finalize the development of one Code and then to prepare for the next one.  Exciting things to come for NFPA 1!


This week I also taught portions of NFPA’s 2 day hands-on course for facility managers.  We cover provisions from NFPA 25, 72, 101, 80, 96, 3 and 4…all over 2 days while also offering facility managers the opportunity to work hands on in a fire safety lab with equipment they deal with on their jobs daily.  I was excited to see a lot of enthusiasm about fire door safety as well as answer some questions on NFPA 1.


Facility managers cannot possibly know the Codes cover to cover, but must be able to manage the needs of systems in their building along with general housekeeping and fire safety issues.  One question I received was about storage in a boiler room and if it was permitted.  Searching through Chapter 10 of NFPA 1, which covers general safety requirements (a chapter important to fire inspectors but also to facility managers), we came across Section 10.18 for the storage of combustible materials.  More specifically, Section 10.18.5 addresses equipment rooms, as follows:


10.18.5 Equipment Rooms. Combustible material shall not be stored in boiler rooms, mechanical rooms, or electrical equipment rooms. Materials and supplies for the operation and maintenance of the equipment in the room shall be permitted.

The use of equipment rooms to store items, such as those needed for the equipment in the room, is normal. The storage of materials and supplies related to the operation of the equipment is permitted in accordance with Equipment should be stored in cabinets or other protected areas to limit the hazard.  Spaces such as boiler rooms, mechanical rooms, or electrical rooms are designed for a particular purpose and should not be seen as an opportunity for free storage within a building.  Storing combustible materials within one of those spaces increases the risk and also the fuel load within the space should a fire occur.  Controlling the combustible storage in these spaces can help to lessen the risk of a fire developing and/or interfering with the boiler equipment, mechanical equipment or electrical equipment. Materials that are not associated with the equipment are not permitted to be stored within equipment rooms.


Section 10.18 also addresses other generic storage conditions.  Storage of combustible materials, regardless of location, must be orderly and it cannot interfere with the location of sprinklers.  Storage is also not permitted in exits.  Attic, under-floor, and concealed spaces used for storage of combustible materials must comply with the protection from hazards requirement for storage rooms in NFPA 101.  Finally, any fueled equipment, including items like motorcycles, lawn care-equipment or portable cooking equipment cannot be stored, operated or repaired within a building unless the building has been constructed for that purpose using the building code or is allowed by another provision of NFPA 1.


Have you found storage in these equipment rooms in your facility?  How did you prevent this Code violation from occurring? 


Thanks, as always, for reading!  Happy Friday, stay safe!

(Follow along with the development of the 2021 edition of NFPA 1 here.  You can also view the 2018 edition of the Code for free here.)


Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

May is National Electrical Safety Month, and my feature article appearing in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal covers some of the anticipated changes to the 2020 National Electrical Code® (NEC®)and other ways NFPA is addressing emerging electrical safety concerns. 
One proposal for the 2020 edition of the code, for example, is to provide an update to the tables that guide NEC users through doing electrical load calculations. The change would give them the option to account for modern technologies like energy-efficient lighting systems, and in theory translate to safer, less expensive electrical systems. "This type of change creates a lot of relevancy for the NEC,” Michael Johnston, chair of the NEC correlating committee, told me in an interview. "It shows we’re progressive and proactive." 
Read the full article here.

Illustrated here: The effect of expansion of wood under water.


From the NFPA Quarterly v.7, no.1:

 "At the time of a recent flood in Dayton [Ohio], a quantity of oak dashes veneered with maple were stacked to within about one inch of a reinforced concrete girder in the basement of the Maxwell Motor Car Company's reinforced concrete factory. This girder was 12 x 19 x 24 inches and supported a six-inch reinforced concrete floor.

The accompanying photograph illustrates the enormous power exerted by the expansion of the wood under water. The girder was lifted three inches, together with the concrete floor which it supported. At the time [the picture was taken], ten weeks after the flood, the girder still rests on the dashes, but it has settled about three fourths of an inch. It will no doubt be necessary to make a complete replacement of affected girder and floor."

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.

NFPA 2400, Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) used for Public Safety Operations
NFPA 2400, Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) used for Public Safety Operations, covers the minimum requirements relating to the operation, deployment, and implementation of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for public safety operations.  It will establish operational protocols including minimum job performance requirements (JPRs), minimum requirements for maintenance when used by public safety entities and additional minimum requirements specific to public safety entities.
The First Draft Report for NFPA 2400 is now available.  Review the First Draft Report for use as background in the submission of public comments.
To submit a public comment using the online submission system, go directly to the NFPA 2400 document information page or use the List of NFPA codes & standards. Once on the NFPA 2400 page, select the link "Submit a Public Comment" to begin the process. You will be asked to sign-in or create a free online account with NFPA before using this system. If you have any questions when using the system, a chat feature is available or contact us by email or phone at 1-800-344-3555.  
The deadline to submit a public comment through the online system is June 20, 2018.   
The First Draft Report serves as documentation of the Input Stage and is published for public review and comment. The First Draft Report contains a compilation of the First Draft of the NFPA Standard, First Revisions, Public Input, Committee Input, Committee Statements, and Ballot Results and Statements. Where applicable, the First Draft Report also contains First Correlating Revisions, Correlating Notes, and Correlating Input.
NFPA 3000™ (PS), Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program, was released today, marking only the second time in NFPA's 122-year history that the organization has released a provisional standard to meet a pressing public safety need. NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley wrote about the groundbreaking new provisional standard in his "First Word" column appearing in the May/June issue of NFPA Journal
Since Chief Otto Drozd of Orange County (Florida) Fire Rescue first submitted the request in 2016 for NFPA to develop a standard on preparing for, responding to, and recovering from active shooter or other hostile events, a common question NFPA has been asked is "Why is a fire organization developing this?" Pauley answers that question in his column by saying, simply, "We go where responders go." 
"NFPA called for interested individuals and ultimately appointed a diverse and dedicated technical committee to take on this task," Pauley writes. "Members came not only from the fire and EMS communities, but from an array of federal agencies and national associations representing law enforcement, homeland security, the medical community, and many others." 
Pauley's column also includes a video of him speaking about the new provisional standard. Read the full piece and watch the video here. For more information and resources on NFPA 3000™ (PS), go to

It goes without saying that electricity makes our lives easier (just ask New Englanders who wrestled with four (!) blizzards in March that knocked out power for days and even weeks!) but there’s also a good chance that many of us are not really aware of the risks involved.

That’s why NFPA actively supports National Electrical Safety Month, an annual campaign sponsored by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), which works to raise awareness of potential home electrical hazards and the importance of electrical fire safety, including worker safety, during May. This year’s theme is: Understanding the Code that Keeps Us Safe. 


In case you didn’t know, the code we’re referring to in this year’s theme is the NEC (or NFPA 70: National Electrical Code). The NEC provides practical safeguards from the hazards that arise from using electricity. You may not know that it’s also the most widely adopted safety code in the U.S. and the world, and that the NEC serves as the benchmark for safe electrical installations for use by electricians (that's why NFPA strongly urges residents to use a qualified electrician to do all of their home electrical projects).

This month our organizations are providing resources you can use like infographics, videos, tip sheets, fact sheets, and more. The resources are easy to access and they cover a wide range of topics including electrical safety tips for the home, outdoor electrical safety, and workplace safety.

To help illustrate what we mean about electrical safety in the home, take a look at our video below called, “A Shocking Revelation.” The video features our beloved character, Dan Doofus, who learns from his mistakes and forges a new path for safer electrical practices in his home.

The more we’re all aware of the risks associated with electricity, the faster we can start putting safety practices into place. Let NFPA and ESFI help you get started. Find information on NFPA’s electrical safety webpage and share what you learn with family, friends and your neighbors. Together, let’s make a pledge this May to raise awareness about electrical hazards in our homes, work environment and schools, and help reduce the risk of electrical injuries and property damage in our communities.

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