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2018

campus fire safety

NFPA and The Center for Campus Fire Safety have long been advocates for fire safety on college campuses and September we’re teaming up again to promote Campus Fire Safety for Students, a campaign that raises awareness about the dangers of fires among college-aged students who live in on- and off-campus college housing.

 

According to The Center, during the 2017/2018 school year, one student lost her life in a Portland, Oregon off-campus fire.  A recent fire in San Marcos, Texas claimed the life of four additional students living off-campus during the school break in July.  From 2000 through mid-August 2018, 132 students died in 92 fatal fires on college campuses, in Greek housing, or in privately owned off-campus housing within three miles of the campus. Of the 92 fatal fires, 79 of them occurred in off-campus housing claiming 113 victims.

Are you involved in campus fire safety activities where you work? If yes, use September as the catalyst for raising awareness of college fire safety and have those conversations with students. The campaign provides a host of resources that focus on fire safety in college housing to help. Many resources are customizable and have been designed for sharing via social media, on college websites, in school newspapers, and for posting in dorms and on common area bulletin boards. They include:

  • Videos
  • Checklists
  • Tip sheets
  • Infographics and flyers
  • Posters

Find these and additional resources and information at www.nfpa.org/campus.

The NFPA has released the third and final training module in a series of  learning programs surrounding the new NFPA 3000: Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program. The Recover program provides registrants with the critical knowledge and information needed to maintain business continuity, coordinate with hospitals, and establish key benchmarks so that communities can rebound quickly if a mass casualty event unfurls in their area.  
Participants can choose to take one of three distinct modules (Plan, Respond and Recover) and earn a single badge; or complete all three modules of NFPA 3000 training for a comprehensive overview. Those opting for the latter, will receive an NFPA 3000 Program Specialist badge, signifying that they have been trained in the content and implementation of the new standard. 
The four main components of NFPA 3000 are: whole community; unified command; integrated response; and planned recovery. These themes are woven throughout the fabric of the first-of-its-kind standard. The  training covers each of NFPA 3000’s 20 chapters so that different stakeholders have a strong understanding of what needs to be done before, during and after an incident to reduce harm. Throughout the document and the training, the importance of working together is accentuated. 
With hostile events dotting our news feeds on a regular basis, we are reminded almost daily that our world is different and we need to be well-prepared for new challenges. NFPA 3000 and NFPA’s 3-part  learning program were designed to help communities deal with new threats. 
Do you have a unified ASHER plan in place in your city or town?

A Grand Jury investigation indicted three men on arson charges after a large conflagration in New Orleans on August 30, 1908. The vice-president, manager and one employee of the glass company in which the fire started all confessed to involvement in the act.

 

 

From the NFPA Quarterly vol.2, no.2, 1908:
The construction of the buildings in the block was very inferior, practically all of the walls being ‘party walls’ and a number of them were less than standard thickness. The floor openings were as a rule unstopped and the openings in rear and side walls generally unprotected, and where protection was provided for the openings the doors and shutters were sub-standard. An extremely poor grade of brick and mortar was found in a number of cases, causing a complete wall failure, and interior cast-iron columns failed in every case.”


The fire could have been much worse than it actually was and it was believed that the city of New Orleans “was saved from catastrophe by the great proportion of slate and metal roofs existing.”

 


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.


Associated Press

In 2017, fire departments in the United States responded to just over 1.3 million fires, which killed an estimated 3,400 civilians and injured 15,000 more. These are the major findings from NFPA's Fire Loss in the U.S. in 2017 report, detailed in a new feature article in the September/October issue of NFPA Journal
In addition to providing the most recent U.S. fire loss statistics, the article also provides historical context for the numbers. "Home fire deaths reached their peak in 1978, when 6,015 people died in such fires," writes Ben Evarts, a data collection and research manager at NFPA. "The number has trended downward until recent years, with fewer than 5,000 annual deaths since 1982, and less than 4,000 deaths since 1991, with the exception of 1996. Since 2006, home fire deaths have remained below 3,000 per year."
Other notable stats from the article include the amount of property damage caused by fires in the U.S. last year. At an estimated $23 billion, the figure was a large increase from 2016—mostly due to the deadly northern California wildfires that struck in October 2017, resulting in $10 billion in property damage. 
Read or listen to an audio version of the article here. 

One of the newsletters I subscribe to comes from Steve Adelman, a Phoenix-based lawyer who specializes in venue and event safety. Steve did a “hot take” video on the entrance structure collapse that occurred at the WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma, on August 18. The outdoor venue was set to host a Backstreet Boys concert that evening. This video analysis was based on the most fundamental pieces of information, is not the final story, and is derived from venue statements and social media accounts. The WinStar Twitter feed provided the following account of events.

 

"At 5:00 p.m., WinStar World Casino and Resort officials began evacuation of the outdoor concert venue after observing that lightning was within four miles of the casino. All patrons in the area were asked to move and to seek shelter from the storm. However, about 150 patrons who were standing in line for the Backstreet Boys concert did not heed staff’s warnings. 

At approximately 5:30 p.m., the storm hit and knocked over the concert entrance trusses with 70-80 mile an hour winds and heavy rain. 14 people were treated at the scene and then transported to local hospitals. Two have already been released. 

Love County emergency responders, Lighthorse Police, and Oklahoma Highway Patrol are on scene.

We know that fans often suffer through inclement weather for their favorite acts, but this was an unusual event and our thoughts are with those who were injured during this storm."

The good news is the 14 patrons sent to the hospital were all discharged by the next day, and the resort had a plan and a contingency for such events that was executed in a timely manner. But what circumstances kept 150 people from leaving the area to go to a more protected area after the warning was issued? Steve’s initial thoughts connect the reluctance to relocate to the fact that some of the seating was general admission of a standing section (or what NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, calls festival seating) of the venue. In other words, some patrons had been waiting a long time to get into the venue. Again, from the WinStar Twitter feed: 

 

"We thought WE loved @backstreetboys. These fans have been waiting since 1AM!!!!! Only a few more hours to go.... #WinStarLive"

 

Human and occupant behaviors are sometimes tricky to predict. In this case, fans waited a long time to secure a prime spot in the standing section of the venue. Perhaps the desire of the approximately 150 individuals to get the best spot trumped their concerns for personal safety. In assembly occupancies, the Life Safety Evaluation (LSE) contained in NFPA 101 can help event organizers with this challenge. The LSE is a powerful tool that assists venue operators in identifying and addressing a wide range of scenarios, hazards, and crowd behaviors. The following are 10 broad conditions in the LSE. Those underlined have direct utility to this event. 

 

(1) Nature of the events and the participants and attendees

(2) Access and egress movement, including crowd density problems

(3) Medical emergencies

(4) Fire hazards

(5) Permanent and temporary structural systems

(6) Severe weather conditions

(7) Earthquakes

(8) Civil or other disturbances

(9) Hazardous materials incidents within and near the facility

(10) Relationships among facility management, event participants, emergency response agencies, and others having a role in the events accommodated in the facility

 

Here are some thoughts on the items noted.

(1) In this case, the nature of the event included being outdoors and attendees showing up very early and waiting.

(2) Access issues included certain admission tickets being standing only. First to get in would get a good spot.

(5) Temporary structures had been set up as part of the event.

(6) Severe weather was detected.

(10) The venue appears to have had a plan that was executed, including an immediate and appropriate response to the event and working to communicate follow-up information. 

 

Other considerations involving the LSE are in the annex of the code. These include ingress patterns, ticketing/seating policies, duration of the event, and occupants’ commitments to the event. The list of concerns for completing the LSE are wide-ranging by default and for good reason. 

 

The code also considers these types of occupant characteristics as it relates to performance-based design. One of those attributes states "Commitment—degree to which occupant is committed to an activity underway before the alarm." A report from the Fire Protection Research Foundation in 2012 actually looked at how widespread and diverse non-fire emergencies are in assembly occupancies. In many cases, the personal “commitment” to the event was oftentimes an influencing factor in the outcome. Assembly occupancies can accommodate a range of events, can be inside or outside, and can be influenced by countless factors.

  

Going out for a night of entertainment should be fun, relaxing, and safe. Quoting a popular Backstreet Boys song, "I want it that way."

At its August 2018 meeting, the NFPA Standards Council considered the issuance of several proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs). The following TIAs on NFPA 1, NFPA 13, NFPA 22, NFPA 25, NFPA 30B, NFPA 68, NFPA 70, NFPA 72, NFPA 1994, and NFPA 1999 were issued on August 14, 2018 by the Council:

 

  • NFPA 1, TIA 18-1, referencing 42.12(new), 2018 edition
  • NFPA 13, TIA 19-1, referencing Table 17.2.2.1 note, 2019 edition, issued concurrently
  • NFPA 13, TIA 19-2, referencing various sections of Chapter 25, 2019 edition, issued concurrently
  • NFPA 22, TIA 18-1, referencing 15.2.1, 16.1.2.1, 1, 16.4.4, 16.5.1, and 16.5.10, 2018 edition
  • NFPA 25, TIA 11-5, referencing various sections, 2011 edition
  • NFPA 25, TIA 14-1, referencing, various sections, 2014 edition
  • NFPA 30B, TIA 19-2, referencing Chapters 6 and 7, 2019 edition, issued concurrently
  • NFPA 68, TIA 18-1, referencing 6.4.3.3.1, 2018 edition
  • NFPA 70, TIA 17-17, referencing 695.14(F) and 700.10(D)(3), 2017 edition
  • NFPA 72, TIA 16-1, referencing 29.8.3.4(5), 2016 edition
  • NFPA 72, TIA 16-2, referencing 29.7.3, 2016 edition
  • NFPA 72, TIA 19-1, referencing A.24.3.10 and I.1.2.14, 2019 edition, issued concurrently
  • NFPA 1994, TIA 18-8, referencing various sections, 2018 edition
  • NFPA 1994, TIA 18-9, referencing 7.1.2.6(new), 7.1.2.8.4.1(new), 7.3.2.5.1(new), and 7.3.2.8.3.1(new), 2018 edition
  • NFPA 1994, TIA 18-10, referencing 8.25.4.3, 2018 edition
  • NFPA 1994, TIA 18-11, referencing 8.28.5.3, 2018 edition
  • NFPA 1994, TIA 18-12, referencing 7.1.1.3 through 7.1.1.8, 2018 edition
  • NFPA 1999, TIA 18-3, referencing 7.1.2.7.1(new), 2018 edition
  • NFPA 1999, TIA 18-4, referencing 8.1.3 title, Table 8.1.3.4 title, 8.1.3.6, 8.1.5, and 8.3.3.2, 2018 edition

 

Prior to the August 2018 meeting, the Council issued one TIA concurrently with NFPA 30B:

  • NFPA 30B, TIA 19-1, referencing 6.4.5.2, 2019 edition, issuance: 5/4/2018

 

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.
Image ideas?

NFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 14, codes and standardsStandard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems; NFPA 68, Standard on Explosion Protection by Deflagration Venting; NFPA 76, Standard for the Fire Protection of Telecommunications Facilities; and NFPA 85, Boiler and Combustion Systems Hazards Code:
  • NFPA 13, Errata 13-19-1, referencing 6.4.3.1.1 of the proposed 2019 edition, issued on 7/3/2018
  • NFPA 14, Errata 14-16-2, referencing A.7.10.1.2 of the 2016 edition, issued on 7/20/2018 
  • NFPA 68, Errata 68-18-4, referencing Equation 8.2.1.2 of the 2018 edition, issued on 8/14/2018
  • NFPA 76, Errata 76-16-1, referencing Figure A.6.5.2(a) of the 2016 edition, issued on 8/14/2018
  • NFPA 85, Errata 85-19-1, referencing Table J.1(Title) of the proposed 2019 edition, issued on 
An errata is a correction issued to an NFPA Standard, published in NFPA News, Codes , and included in any further distribution of the document.


An inmate firefighter is seen battling a wildfire in California in July (Getty Images)

On July 31, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation tweeted about the thousands of inmates who were fighting the state's historic wildfires. The tweet received over 1,000 comments, with many people expressing shock and outrage at the concept of using prisoners to fight fires.

 

 

News reports soon followed, with publications including The Washington Post, Newsweek, USA Today, and others covering the topic. While this mainstream discussion shed light on legitimate concerns related to California's decades-old practice of employing inmates, who have volunteered for the job, as wildland firefighters, it also included misconceptions about the program, according to a senior official at CAL FIRE. 

 

"I think people look at these inmates and think back to the early 1900s where you had chain gangs and they were digging trenches, the kind of stuff you see in movies," she told me for an article appearing in the September/October issue of NFPA Journal. "I think that’s a misconception. I think people don’t understand what these inmates are actually doing."

Read the full story, "Cellblock to fireline," and in the comments section, tell us what you think of the practice of California—and other states around the country—employing inmates as wildland firefighters. 

The First Draft Reports for NFPA 78, Guide on Electrical Inspections, and NFPA 1078, Standard for Electrical Inspector Professional Qualifications, are available. Review the First Draft Reports for use as background in the submission of public comments. NFPA's regional electrical code specialist, Jeff Sargent, discusses the development of these documents as well in this short video below.
To submit a public comment using the  submission system, go directly to the specific document pages for NFPA 78 and NFPA 1078 or use the List of NFPA codes & standards to search for these Standards. Once on the specific page, select the link "Submit a Public Comment" to begin the process. You will be asked to sign-in or create a free  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  system is October 31, 2018
If you like this and are interested in learning more about NFPA 1078 and NFPA 78, read Derek Vigstol's blog as he breaks down the question, "Installation vs. Inspection: What is best for safe installations?" Derek is NFPA's technical lead for electrical services.
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.
hurricanes
Hurricane Lane has made landfall along parts of Hawaii’s Big Island today triggering landslides and threatening serious flooding, according to CNN. About 7 to 12 inches of rain have already fallen since this morning and is considered one of the biggest threats to the island in decades. 
As Lane bears down on the Aloha State, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) is alerting contractors in the area of their “Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment” document aimed specifically at contractors who will be called in to help with the damage assessment once the waters have receded. The guide is free and available to download on NEMA's website.
The document provides guidelines on how to handle electrical equipment that has been exposed to water. It’s designed for suppliers, installers, inspectors and users of electrical products, and outlines items that require complete replacement or those that can be reconditioned by a trained professional. Such equipment includes:
  • Electrical distribution equipment
  • Power equipment
  • Transformers
  • Wire, cable and flexible cords
  • Wiring devices
  • GFCIs and surge protectors
  • Lighting fixtures and ballasts,
  • Motors and electronic products
According to NEMA, field representatives are reaching out to local officials in Hawaii with guidance on restoring electrical systems affected by wind, rain or flooding. NEMA also recommends that inspectors, suppliers and others contact the original manufacturer of the equipment if there are questions and/or a need for specific recommendations. 
Industry professionals looking for additional information about electrical safety related to hurricanes and storms can visit NFPA’s webpage for emergency preparedness.  
Photo: CNN

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) on the proposed 2019 edition of NFPA 52, Vehicular Natural Gas Fuel Systems Code, is being published for public review and comment:


Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by September 27, 2018. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.



Following in the steps of publications such as The Atlantic, NFPA Journal is now experimenting with offering audio versions of select articles. Audio has already been added to two articles from the July/August issue—my feature story on the challenges of regulating short-term rental properties, and an overview of NFPA's 2017 Firefighter Fatalities report
Providing audio versions of written articles makes it easier for people to digest Journal content on the go, in the same way you might listen to a podcast in the car on your evening commute. It also makes the content more accessible for people who are visually impaired. 
To keep up with NFPA Journal's audio offerings, visit the Soundcloud page.
In the summer of 1910, over 3 million acres burned across northern Idaho and western Montana. Eighty-five people died and multiple towns were destroyed in the fire.
1910 was considered a dry year by anyone’s account at the time. Much like the environmental conditions we are experiencing today in many parts of the United States, the snows melted early and the spring rains simply did not come… “By June, the woods were on fire in a hundred different places.”
Descriptions from the time include those of firestorms and “trees by the millions [that] became exploding candles”.
The impact of this incident shaped US Forest Service policy for decades and influence the public perception of fire suppression and fire within wildlands.
The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program has set up a Staff Ride website where participants are put in the shoes of the men who were at The Great Fire in Idaho. It serves as a Case Study and an opportunity for people to learn what happened and ask questions about decision-making.
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.

 

A summer camp on Long Island suffered serious damage as a lightning strike set several buildings on fire. Just after celebrating its 50th anniversary, Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts had two art studios destroyed by the fire, while other buildings nearby were also affected. Emergency vehicles navigated the narrow roads of a predominantly wooded campus just after 7:15 pm, requiring about 75 first responders to bring the fire under control, according to Newsday.

 

When responders first arrived on the scene they found a burnt out electrical transformer that had been struck by lightning. It wasn’t until later that they returned to the camp to find an art building ablaze. A firefighter and camp employee were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

 

The camp estimates at least $250,000 worth of damage, and a representative told NFPA that a campaign called the Reimagine Fund has been launched to help rebuild the Visual Art Department and upgrade overall infrastructure.

 

Executive Director, Lauren Brandt Schloss, wrote on the camp’s website "I want to express my extreme gratitude to the Melville Fire Department and Suffolk County Police Department. Their quick and efficient work ensured minimal impact on our campus. Additionally, I am so thankful for the support of the Usdan community. This summer, nearly 2000 students and staff, along with their families, brought these grounds to life. Together, we can, and will, weather any storm."

 

An NFPA report states that lightning-related fires are more common in June through August and in the late afternoon and evening. Check out these safety tips for more information.

Early bird registration is open until August 28 for the Foundation's 2018 SUPDET® symposium, which will be held at the Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham-Research Triangle East, Cary, NC from September 11-14, 2018.  This year's symposium will feature over 25 presentations on suppression and detection and signaling research and applications.  
The detection and signaling section will take place September 11-12 and includes research on residential smoke alarms, smart building applications, and more.
The suppression session, which will take place September 13-14, will feature presentations on the latest applications and research on warehouse sprinkler protection, research on the protection of energy storage systems, advancements in gaseous and clean agent systems, and more.
Between the two sessions on the afternoon of September 12 will be a free half-day special workshop “Energy Storage System (ESS) Design Challenge in High Rise Buildings” that is open to all SUPDET attendees!  Design teams will review preliminary design concepts which illustrate innovative approaches to fire protection of a case study ESS installation within a high-rise building to meet the general design objective of minimizing loss and preventing re-ignition hazards.
Don't miss out - register today for the full symposium, or choose either the Suppression Program or the Detection Program.  For additional details and the full program visit: www.nfpa.org/supdet
The Foundation would like to thank our generous sponsors Gentex and Zurich.  Break and reception sponsorship opportunities are still available.  Please contact Amanda Kimball (akimball@nfpa.org) for details.
codes and standards
The Second Draft Reports for NFPA Standards in the Fall 2018 revision cycle are available for review with a deadline to submit a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM) of August 30, 2018
These proposed Standards with Second Draft Reports are listed below:
  • NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems
  • NFPA 45, Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals
  • NFPA 52, Vehicular Natural Gas Fuel Systems Code
  • NFPA 67, Guide on Explosion Protection for Gaseous Mixtures in Pipe Systems
  • NFPA 69, Standard on Explosion Prevention Systems
  • NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance
  • NFPA 82, Standard on Incinerators and Waste and Linen Handling Systems and Equipment
  • NFPA 85, Boiler and Combustion Systems Hazards Code
  • NFPA 253, Standard Method of Test for Critical Radiant Flux of Floor Covering Systems Using a Radiant Heat Energy Source
  • NFPA 262, Standard Method of Test for Flame Travel and Smoke of Wires and Cables for Use in Air-Handling Spaces
  • NFPA 265, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Room Fire Growth Contribution of Textile or Expanded Vinyl Wall Coverings on Full Height Panels and Walls
  • NFPA 276, Standard Method of Fire Test for Determining the Heat Release Rate of Roofing Assemblies with Combustible Above-Deck Roofing Components
  • NFPA 285, Standard Fire Test Method for Evaluation of Fire Propagation Characteristics of Exterior Non-Load-Bearing Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components
  • NFPA 286, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Evaluating Contribution of Wall and Ceiling Interior Finish to Room Fire Growth
  • NFPA 350, Guide for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work
  • NFPA 701, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films
  • NFPA 801, Standard for Fire Protection for Facilities Handling Radioactive Materials
  • NFPA 900, Building Energy Code
  • NFPA 914, Code for Fire Protection of Historic Structures
  • NFPA 1003, Standard for Airport Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1005, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Marine Fire Fighting for Land-Based Fire Fighters
  • NFPA 1041, Standard for Fire Service Instructor Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1091, Standard for Traffic Control Incident Management Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1402, Guide to Building Fire Service Training Centers
  • NFPA 1600, Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity/Continuity of Operations Programs
  • NFPA 1963, Standard for Fire Hose Connections
  • NFPA 1975, Standard on Emergency Services Work Clothing Elements
To submit a NITMAM using the  submission system, go directly to the document information page by using the List of NFPA codes & standards. Once on the specific document page, select the link "Submit a NITMAM" to begin the process. You will be asked to sign-in or create a free  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 NITMAM through the  system is August 30, 2018
The following Standards were issued by the NFPA Standards Council as Consent Standards and therefore, do not have a Second Draft Report:
  • NFPA 16, Standard for the Installation of Foam-Water Sprinkler and Foam-Water Spray Systems - issued: May 5, 2018
  • NFPA 211, Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances - issued: 7/26/2018
  • NFPA 551, Guide for the Evaluation of Fire Risk Assessment - issued: 3/15/2018
The following Standard was determined for withdrawal by the Committee as the material is being incorporated into NFPA 1964, Standard for Spray Nozzles.  This Standard is being balloted on the withdrawal by the NFPA Standards Council. 
The Second Draft Reports will be delayed for the following two Standards and thus, will have revised NITMAM closing dates:
  • NFPA 59A, Standard for the Production, Storage, and Handling of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
  • NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting

Summer is a busy time at NFPA.  This year, the Building and Life Safety Systems Department has been preparing for and staffing NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, First Draft meetings in Minneapolis; I am off to another week of NFPA 101 meetings this Sunday.  In addition, the Fire Code Technical Committee will hold their First Draft meeting this September working towards the development of the 2021 edition. 

 

While I am preparing in the office, a lot of students are preparing to head back to college, maybe on their way for the first time and have lots of preparation to do themselves including the ever-important shopping for dorm room décor; posters, strings of lights, wall hangings, and new furniture.  It’s important to understand the fire safety requirements that colleges and universities must abide by and the various roles that students, building managers as well as fire inspectors play in enforcing these regulations and keeping students safe.

 

campus safety

 

Here I will discuss the requirements specific to dormitories, where it’s most common for violations to occur related to furnishings and decorations.  However, it is important to remember that college campuses contain a number of different occupancies such as business, assembly, and even industrial and the requirements for those occupancies may vary. Generally, the occupancies that do regulate furnishings and contents involve occupants who are non-ambulatory, who are otherwise restrained or detained, or who are asleep, such as dormitories.

 

      NFPA 1 regulates furnishings and contents in dormitories in Section 20.8.  The requirements are primarily extracted from NFPA 101 and are as follows: 

  • New curtains and other similar loosely hanging furnishings and decorations must meet the flame propagation performance criteria from Test Method 1 or Test Method 2 of NFPA 701.  Hanging thin tapestries is a common decoration in dormitories. The testing requirements of NFPA 701 measure the level of hazard posed by draperies and other loosely hanging fabrics and films.
  • Newly introduced upholstered furniture must be tested to ASTM E1537 and demonstrate limited heat release rates (a single furniture item cannot have a peak rate of heat release more than 80kW).  This is not applicable to furniture in a fully sprinklered dormitory!
  • Newly introduced mattresses must be tested to ASTM E1590 or ASTM F1085 and meet the applicable performance criteria.  This is not applicable to mattresses in a fully sprinklered dormitory!
  • Furnishings and decorations of a highly flammable material cannot be used.
  • Bulletin boards, posters, and paper attached directly to the wall cannot exceed 20 percent of the aggregate wall area to which they are applied.  This is applicable to inside dorm rooms as well as in the corridors and common areas.  Bulletin boards, posters, and paper attached directly to a wall can behave similarly to interior finish materials with the potential for spreading flame. The 20 percent criterion helps ensure that there are not sufficient expanses of such materials, for which classification is unfeasible and unenforceable, that could spread flame more quickly than would occur with wall finish materials complying with applicable interior finish requirements.

 

While not part of the Code sections on furnishings and decorations, other Code provisions should be considered when regulating and enforcing this issue in dormitories.  Decorations should never be placed on any fire protection equipment such as sprinklers or alarms as residents must not render any portable or fixed fire extinguishing system or device or any warning system or device inoperative or inaccessible.  Candles are another hazard, on their own, and when used carelessly around furnishings and decorations.  Section 10.10.2 of the Code gives the AHJ the authority to prohibit their use wherever such use is deemed to be hazardous.

 

Enforcers of the Code must be aware of the provisions relating to furnishings and contents when inspecting dormitories.  However, some Code issues, such as regulating decorations or other parts of a person’s residence, can be difficult to enforce regularly. Utilizing campus safety personnel and residential staff can assist with spreading the word about fire safety. Educating dorm residents about fire safety is a critical part of their overall safety while living in dorms.  Colleges should establish best practices for how students and residents in dormitories are educated on fire safety requirements and responsibilities including any limitations on furnishings and decorations, the presence of fire safety equipment and roles and responsibilities for emergency drills and evacuation procedures.

 

What Code enforcement issues related to furnishings and decorations have you faced while inspecting buildings at a college/university? 

 

Thank you for reading.  Stay safe!

 

(To view the 2018 edition of NFPA 1 visit www.nfpa.org/1 .  You can also view all past #FireCodefridays here. Follow along on twitter @KristinB_NFPA for further Fire Code news and fire safety stories)


The Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, California, following a deadly fire. (Getty Images)


Boston city officials announced this week that they recently ordered a number of occupants who were illegally living in a storage facility to vacate the area "given the unsafe living conditions and health conditions," according to The Boston Herald
The undocumented repurposing of buildings such as storage facilities and warehouses is one of the biggest challenges faced by the enforcement community. It's an issue that was thrust into the spotlight nearly two years ago, when 36 people were tragically killed in a fire in a warehouse-turned-living quarters in Oakland, California. The space was also being used as an arts and performance venue, and the fire ignited during a late-night concert there.  
I wrote about the incident in a story called "Under the Radar" in the January/February 2017 issue of NFPA Journal:
FROM THE OUTSIDE, the building looked like a run-of-the-mill disused warehouse. Sitting on a crowded block in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood, adjacent to an auto body shop, the structure’s cracked concrete walls and wide windows were emblazoned with graffiti. Inside, however, the building told a different story.
The warehouse, known locally as the Ghost Ship, had been converted into an unpermitted residence and performance space for artists. Makeshift interior walls divided a warren of living, working, and performance areas; a staircase made partially of wooden pallets connected the two floors of the 10,000-square-foot space. Musical instruments, artwork, antique furniture, and other collectibles were amassed in hoarder-like fashion, creating a claustrophobic, mazelike atmosphere. In addition to the clutter and makeshift nature of the building’s interior, there were no sprinklers or smoke alarms and no proper exits or signage. In nearly every way, the Ghost Ship was primed for a disastrous fire.
Read the full story here. A year later, a follow-up article was published in NFPA Journal called "Ghost Effect," which examined the aftermath of the incident and how NFPA has worked to develop tools for cities to manage high-risk properties. 

 

The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (VCOS) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) released a comprehensive report providing key steps to reduce risk factors in the fire service. The Lavender Ribbon Report, named after the symbol for general cancer awareness, highlights best practices to ensure that the risk of occupational cancer is minimized for first responders.

 

The Firefighter Cancer Alliance reports that cancer is the second leading cause of deaths for firefighters in the U.S.; while NIOSH statistics show that firefighters have both a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population. To help reduce these numbers and stimulate cultural, behavioral shifts in the fire service, VCOS and NVFC have identified the following key actions.

 

  1. Full personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn throughout the entire incident, including a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) during salvage and overhaul. 
    Since 1973, NFPA has worked to ensure that  firefighter protective clothing and equipment is shielded from thermal, physical, and environmental hazards they may encounter via NFPA 1971 Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting  and NFPA 1977 Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting
  2. A second hood should be provide to all entry-certified personnel in the department. 
    Protective hoods are designed to protect a firefighter’s head and neck. Use this safety bulletin to drive the point home in your firehouse.
  3. Following exit from an immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) incident and while still on air, you should begin immediate gross decontamination of PPE using soapy water and a brush if weather conditions allow. PPE should then be placed into a sealed plastic bag and placed in an exterior compartment of the apparatus, or, if responding in personally owned vehicles, placed in a large storage tote, thus keeping the off-gassing PPE away from passengers and self.
  4. While still on scene, the exposed areas of the body (neck, face, arms and hands) should be wiped off immediately using wipes, removing as much soot as possible from exposed areas. 
    Wipes should not be used in lieu of a shower, but can prevent carcinogens from entering the skin immediately. 
  5. Change your clothes and wash them after exposure to products of combustion or other contaminants. 
    NFPA 1851 Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting offers great insight on PPE.  
  6. “Shower within the hour.” 
    Let’s hope this slogan catches on in fire departments around the globe.
  7. PPE, especially turnout pants, must be prohibited in areas outside the apparatus floor (i.e., kitchen, sleeping areas, etc.) and should never be in the living quarters.
  8. Wipes, or soap and water, should also be used to decontaminate and clean apparatus seats, SCBA and interior crew areas regularly, especially after incidents where personnel were exposed to products of combustion. 
    New vehicle enhancements including air filtration systems to remove contaminated particles from vehicles and non-SCBA seats to help prevent contamination from air packs entering the cab may also help minimize risk. 
  9. Get an annual physical, as early detection is key to survival. 
    The American Cancer Society also suggests regular physical activity, limiting alcohol intake, and knowing your family history and potential risks.
  10. Tobacco products of any variety, including dip and e-cigarettes, should never be used at any time, on or off duty. 
    It’s not surprising that the likelihood of getting cancer is significantly higher for firefighters using tobacco products.
  11. Fully document all fire or chemical exposures on incident reports and personal exposure reports.
    Documentation is essential to establish clear correlation between a firefighter’s work and his/her health. Record-keeping helps others to see the extent of exposure that a firefighter experiences in his/her career.

 

It’s time to reverse occupational exposure in the fire service, and The Lavender Report offers career and volunteer departments bite size safety morsels that could vastly improve health and wellness in the fire service.


The issue of temperature usually comes up in any discussion of sprinklers and sprinkler systems, and NFPA receives a great deal of questions related to the required temperature rating for sprinklers. This is important because any sprinkler that is located too close to a source of heat can result in an unintended activation. For many years sprinkler designers have known that a sprinkler located next to a unit heater, for example, must be either a high temperature rated sprinkler if located within a 7ft (2.1 m) radius around the unit heater, or an intermediate temperature sprinkler if located in the discharge pattern of the unit heater out to a distance of 20ft (6.1 m) (see Figure 8.3.2.5). There are many other examples of where a higher temperature rating is needed for sprinklers, such as in unventilated attic spaces, under skylights, or in unventilated show windows, etc.


Up until recently, all sprinklers within a building were required to be of the ordinary temperature rating unless located near one of the above mentioned heat sources, so it is not uncommon to have a variety of temperature ratings for sprinklers within the same building or sprinkler system. However, beginning with the 2010 edition of NFPA 13, ordinary and intermediate temperature sprinklers are now permitted for use throughout a building. Why the change? Many buildings are designed without the traditional dropped ceiling, leaving an unfinished space which incorporates a large number of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) diffusers. The diffusers drive the need for a significant number of intermediate temperature sprinklers in addition to ordinary temperature sprinklers within a system. To accommodate such installations, the sprinkler committee decided to allow ordinary or intermediate temperature sprinklers throughout a building. Now that quick response sprinklers are required and with the knowledge that the activation time between the two temperature ratings is not significant, either temperature rating is allowed. Can we mix temperature ratings within the same building? Absolutely, although it is best to use the same temperature rating throughout if at all possible. Doing so makes the replacement of sprinklers at some point in the future a simple effort.

 

Another factor to consider is how sprinklers are stored and treated before and during installation. If a sprinkler system is being installed or roughed-in in a building under construction, the sprinklers can be exposed to an untreated space inside the building. If the temperature during construction is above 100°F (38°C), ordinary temperature sprinklers will be exposed to a temperature for which they are not rated (see Table 6.2.5.1). This situation can stress the glass bulb and cause unintended operation at a later time. This has already occurred in some parts of the country and is an on-going concern whenever an area experiences a heat wave.


Suppose the temperature where you live and work does not exceed 95°F (35°C); consider where the sprinklers might be stored in such situations. A box of sprinklers is usually labeled “Store in a cool dry place” by the manufacturer. Placing a box of sprinklers in a Conex box (a large metal storage container frequently used on construction sites) on a job site in the sun in 95°F (35°C) temperatures will expose the sprinklers to temperatures of 120°F (49°C) or more. This temperature is much too high for ordinary temperature sprinklers and is approaching the threshold for intermediate temperature sprinklers.


Sprinkler temperature ratings are designed for very specific uses. Treating sprinklers properly before and during construction is important to ensure that they operate only when needed. Baby, it’s hot outside, so avoiding heat stress is important for you and sprinklers!

electrical safety
When you think of summer, many things immediately come to mind: warm days filled with outdoor activities, delicious barbecues, and evenings spent with family and friends or at your favorite baseball team’s game. But what many people are not thinking about this time of year is whether their home’s electrical system is adequately protected against the effects of something else that summer brings…thunderstorms. Depending upon where you live (and it seems like they’re popping up all across the country these days), thunderstorms are more often than not a regular or semi-regular occurrence. Many people don’t realize that the real enemy of our electrical system is not the thunder, but the lightning that precedes it; dozens of fires that happen around the country every year are attributed to lightning.
The power of lightning strikes
Lightning that strikes directly and in the vicinity of power lines or a structure can introduce high voltage impulses, known as transients, into the electrical system of a building or home and can cause equipment damage or failures. These damages cost property owners millions of dollars every year. The damage may be the cumulative result of transients on the electrical system that have occurred over an extended period of time, or in the case of a severe lightning strike during a rain storm or other surge causing event, it can be immediate. And while lightning is the most common cause of these voltage surges in homes, other events such as trees blown down on power lines or an automobile accident that takes out a utility pole, can result in an equipment damaging surge, too.
Investing in electrical safety
While the effects of transients due to lightning strikes do not make the headlines like a major hurricane, tornado, wildfire or flood, the impact can be significant. As a homeowner you know how much your family relies on electronic equipment in your home and the investment you’ve made in such equipment, which is often worth thousands of dollars. But while computers, printers, televisions and other home entertainment devices, as well as many appliances, are all built with electronic circuitry that is powered by the home electrical system, they are often sensitive to a sudden increase or spike in the voltage on the supply line. 
Other home safety devices such as smoke alarms, ground-fault circuit-interrupters and arc-fault circuit interrupters also have sensitive electronics that can be damaged by transients. It’s true that electrical systems of homes have devices such as circuit breakers and fuses that protect against overcurrent conditions, but there are no mandatory requirements in the current NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code® - the code that helps keep homes and buildings safe from electrical hazards - that mandate overvoltage protection in homes. That means that while electronic circuitry has been around for decades, the amount of electronic equipment in today’s home has necessitated that the electrical industry become more proactive about protecting a family’s valuable property. 
Surge protection options
So how does a homeowner in today's electronics-filled world reduce the risk for electrical equipment fires, damage or failures? From whole-house type equipment to localized protection such as receptacles (commonly referred to as outlets or plugs), there are many different forms of surge protection available. Some options include:
  • Relocatable power taps (plug strips) that have a surge protective component built into them 
  • Surge protective devices (SPDs) to protect large-scale electrical equipment (large HD flat screen televisions, high-end appliances, etc.) in the home
  • Surge protective devices located at the service panel that protect life safety devices such as smoke alarms, ground-fault circuit-interrupters, and arc-fault circuit interrupters 
Best practices dictate that before embarking on any electrical project you should first consult a qualified electrical contractor who can help you determine what you need and the best course of action. And always make sure that any device used to provide surge protection has been evaluated and carries the mark of a recognized third-party electrical testing organization. Lastly, you may want to consider checking with your insurer to see if you are covered for lightning-induced overvoltage damage to electronic equipment in your home since not all policies are the same. 
So what are you waiting for? Protect your home and electronic equipment against the impact of surges and the damage they can cause. By preparing ahead you'll feel better knowing you're keeping you, your family and your home, safer from fire and other electrical hazards.   
For additional information about electrical safety including tip sheets and checklists please visit NFPA’s webpage. 

With Fire Prevention Week right around the corner (October 7-13), we thought this would be a great time to show off some of the pictures in our archives from the 1932 Indiana State Fair. 

The first day of the fair that year was September 3, 1932 and the Indianapolis Fire Department provided a fire prevention booth. 
From the NFPA Quarterly vol.26, no.2, 1932:
“In the front of the tent thirty-one major hazards found in the home were displayed, including home dry cleaning, electrical hazards,  flues, stoves and stovepipes, open bonfires, rubbish, careless handling of ashes, kerosene for lighting fires, wooden shingle roofs, matches-smoking, etc. All of these hazards were displayed in such a manner that even the smallest child could understand. Approved methods for preventing such hazards were similarly displayed. Twelve reels of fire prevention film were shown continually from 9AM to 10PM, and lectures were given at intervals on home inspection and the proper way of calling the fire department. During the period of the fair 48,666 people viewed the exhibit. The display was arranged by the firemen, using exhibits loaned by Indianapolis merchants.”

 

 

 

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 Research Library & 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.

 

New cooking and smoke alarms technologies, as well as other smart home technologies, can all play a significant role in strengthening home fire prevention and safety. NFPA has partnered with the Vision 20/20 Project and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to host a webinar that will address these new developments and their potential impact.

 

Presenters include Casey Grant (NFPA), Tom Cleary (NIST) and Anthony Hamins (NIST), who will focus on:

 

  • changes to new national standards that will require all coil-top stoves manufactured after June 2018 to incorporate technology designed to prevent stove-top fires;
  • new technologies that may prove effective at preventing fires for gas stove cook tops; and
  • new requirements for smoke alarms designed to help minimize the likelihood of nuisance alarms.


This webinar will take place on Thursday, August 23 at 2:00pm EST. Register today!

Not many years ago, buildings 10 stories or higher made primarily of wood would have been unthinkable. Today, hundreds of these tall wooden structures are being built in the United Kingdom alone, and many more are planned around the globe, including some truly massive structures with heights in excess of 50 stories. 


While architects and environmentalists tout wood’s strength, versatility, and sustainability, some fire safety officials worry how these structures withstand fire. 

“We are building combustible structures to greater heights, and anytime we go to greater heights it introduces more challenges for the fire service,” said Sean DeCrane, a 26-year veteran of the Cleveland Fire Department, and now the manager of industry relations for building life safety, security, and technologies at UL. DeCrane spoke at the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas last June during an education session titled, “Regulating Timber in Tall Buildings,” a panel discussion involving engineers, wood industry representatives, researchers, and others. 

Watch NFPA's interview with Sean DeCrane
 
While several of his co-presenters were very bullish on the virtues and future of tall wood buildings and mostly downplayed any fire and safety concern, DeCrane’s view was cautiously optimistic. 
“We know there is growing interest (in these structures), and this requires growing research,” he said in an interview with NFPA after the presentation. “We are building that knowledge base, and I think we are headed in the right direction.”
DeCrane, an NFPA member, has played a role in the research now being done to better understand how these tall wooden structures burn. This year, the Fire Protection Research Foundation released a report, “Fire Safety Challenges of Tall Wooden Buildings,” consisting of six, full-scale burns to assess how exposed timber might impact fire growth in a compartment or room made of 175-mm thick five-ply cross-laminated timber panels (CLT) panels. CLT, perhaps the most popular material used in mass timber construction, generally consists of three to seven layers of timber boards crisscrossed and bonded together with glue for maximum strength. DeCrane, who sat on the technical panel of advisors for the project, said that the study revealed how “critically important it is to ensure consistency of product and installation,” noting that the fire conditions changed dramatically during one test when the workers missed sealing a top wall joint.
After burning six simulated apartment rooms made of CLT panels—each 30 feet long, 15 feet wide, and nine feet tall, and filled with modern furnishings—researchers concluded that the exposed timber did influence the way the fire behaved. “In all tests with exposed CLT surface(s), flashover occurred approximately three to five minutes earlier than the two baseline tests (i.e., ≈ 15 min),” the report concludes
More work like this is critical “to ensure the performance of these buildings under fire conditions, and that the systems designed into these structure will perform well when under duress,” DeCrane said. “From the fire service perspective, we still have some questions and some consistency issues we’d like to see addressed, but we going down that road and I am confident we are doing our due diligence,” he said. 
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to all the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions here. If you're not currently an NFPA member, join today!
OSHA addresses Toxic and Hazardous Substances in the “Z” tables (29 CFR 1910 Subpart Z-Toxic and Hazardous Substances). When questions arise related to hazardous materials, NFPA 400-Hazardous Materials Code can provide some additional technical information.  
One of the most frequent questions we are asked about hazardous materials is what quantity can be used or stored. NFPA 400, the Hazardous Materials Code, breaks this down by hazard, by occupancy type, as well as whether it is in storage or in use. 
There are several tables in NFPA 400 that provide Maximum Allowable Quantities (MAQs) of hazardous materials per control area. The MAQs are a threshold quantity, and if the quantities used or stored are under the MAQ, then no special construction features are required. 
Certain hazardous material categories are not regulated by NFPA 400 but are incorporated by reference for informational purposes. For example, MAQs for flammable liquids from NFPA 30 and MAQs for gases and cryogenic fluids from NFPA 55 are included in the NFPA 400 MAQ tables.
The MAQs are not an absolute maximum. Once the MAQ is exceeded, additional controls will need to be put in place to make the facility safe and code compliant. Either the materials need to be separated into multiple control areas, or provisions for protection levels need to be applied (like automatic sprinklers, spill control, secondary containment, and separation from other occupancies).
Ready to check that you are within the MAQ or have the necessary controls put in place? Access the latest edition of NFPA 400 for free at www.nfpa.org/400.
Staff Liaison: Laura Moreno
The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIA) for NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, and NFPA 260, Standard Methods of Tests and Classification System for Cigarette Ignition Resistance of Components of Upholstered Furniture, are being published for public review and comments:
  • NFPA 110, proposed TIA No. 1388, referencing 2.3.2(new), 8.3.7, C.1.2.2 and C.1.2.3(new), of the proposed 2019 edition, closing date: September 20, 2018
  • NFPA 260, proposed TIA No. 1386, referencing 5.5.1 and 6.1.1, of the proposed 2019 edition, closing date: September 13, 2018
Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the closing dates listed above. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council.

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) approved a resolution, submitted by the IAFF Executive Board, to support and promote NFPA 3000™ (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program during their 2018 convention in Seattle last week.


The new policy requires fire/EMS departments sending rescue task forces (RTF) to ASHER incidents to ensure that both fire/EMS, and law enforcement members are trained on Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC); and emphasizes that they should train together initially and on an on-going basis so that response is unified and effective. The resolution states that fire/EMS departments must have PPE to protect personnel from the risks associated with hostile events; and to further safeguard the health and well-being of members by providing post-response behavioral health programs including the IAFF’s Peer Support Program.


The IAFF’s endorsement of NFPA 3000 is not limited to its 313,000 full-time professional firefighters and paramedics. Resolution No. 13 calls for union members to advocate for the guidance referenced in the new standard, especially during integrated ASHER planning efforts in their communities; and to inform the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and police labor and management organizations about the best practices outlined in NFPA 3000.

 

Released in May, NFPA 3000 helps entire communities organize, manage, communicate, and sustain an active shooter/hostile event preparedness, response, and recovery program. The Technical Committee responsible for the standard is made up of representatives from law enforcement, the fire service, EMS, hospitals, emergency management, private security, facility management, education, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice, and others. NFPA 3000 takes into consideration job-specific insight from mass killings at Mandalay Bay Resort, Pulse Nightclub, Sandy Hook Elementary, the Sikh Temple, the Boston Marathon, and other less publicized events.

 

NFPA 3000 is the first standard of its kind, but a clear example of the importance of coming together to reduce risk in our communities. The days of working in silos are over – and this endorsement reinforces that truth. NFPA applauds the IAFF’s Executive Board’s endorsement; greatly appreciates membership’s acceptance of this motion; and welcomes additional advocacy for proactive, integrated ASHER protocol from other top fire organizations, EMS authorities, and law enforcement leaders.

 

The new and VASTLY improved NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Housing Facilities Code is now available! The total rewrite took about 3 years to complete, with task groups, committee meetings, and input from industry experts. The new edition is easier to navigate, adopt, and enforce.


NEW ANIMAL CATEGORIES: The document has evolved quite a bit since it’s development in 1979, when it was titled “Standard on Firesafety in Racetrack Stables”. Previous editions classified animals in only two categories: (1) animals that posed a risk or were difficult to move and (2) all other animals. The new document includes 7 different animal categories and 14 sub categories based on the animal occupancy. The 7 categories include Health Care, Horse Facilities, Research, Exhibition/Public Viewing, General Board and Care, Agriculture, and Emergency. Check out Chapter 6 for a description of each category.


NEW LAYOUT: The TC recognized an opportunity to improve fire safety in animal housing facilities if we could organize and present the requirements in an easy to use way. The document was re-formatted to mirror the layout of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, with specific chapters assigned to each animal occupancy. To make it even easier, we summarized all of the fire protection requirements in an easy to use table in Annex C.


UPDATED REQUIREMENTS: Seven task groups worked in preparation for the new edition-one on each of the animal categories. They addressed new concepts and hazards tailored to each occupancy. NFPA 150 now addresses disaster/emergency management programs, hazardous area protection, and hay storage.

 

The committee spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the requirements for agricultural animal facilities. NFPA 150 had not appropriately addressed the agricultural industry in the past. The number of animal lives lost during those fires is much more significant than any other animal facility. Due to the unique conditions within these facilities (limited access to water, dust, exposure to the outside) traditional methods of fire protection are not often feasible. The TC focused on more of a risk management approach, limiting the amount of combustibles, fuel, and other hazards that the facility might be exposed to.

 

ANIMAL HOUSING TIDBITS: 

 

  • Animal housing fires happen frequently and often result in dozens if not thousands of animal deaths. In June, 28 racehorses died in New York. A few days later 25,000 chickens died in a fire in Washington.
  • Contrary to what I believed, sprinklers and fire alarms are not always the answer in animal housing facilities. Some animals, like exotic fish, are so sensitive to changes in water temperature and quality, they would die if a sprinkler discharged into their tanks. Some primates are so sensitive to loud noises and lights, they could injure themselves if a fire alarm were to go off. Alternative protection methods should be used to address specific animal needs.
  • The Technical Committee was given the unique opportunity to tour the Smithsonian Zoo a few years ago. We learned that sprinkler piping and elephants don’t mix. A special enclosure was needed so the elephants wouldn’t pull the sprinkle piping off the ceiling.
  • Check out NFPA’s Barn Fire Safety Checklist for some great general safety tips.


You can review the new 2019 edition of NFPA 150 for free  at www.nfpa.org/150.


The August 2018 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.

 

In this issue:

 

  • New project being explored on fire service personnel professional qualifications
  • Proposed TIAs seeking comments on NFPA 13, NFPA 20, NFPA 260
  • TIA issued on NFPA 1982
  • Errata issued on NFPA 13, NFPA 14, NFPA 70, and NFPA 85
  • Committees seeking members
  • Committees seeking public input and public comment
  • Committee meetings calendar

 

Subscribe today! NFPA News is a free, monthly codes and standards newsletter that includes special announcements, notification of public input and comment closing dates, requests for comments, notices on the availability of Standards Council minutes, and other important news about NFPA’s standards development process. 

Hot work operations and confined space entry and work onboard marine vessels and in shipyards is done daily throughout the United States. Regulations such as the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Shipyard Employment Standard (29 CFR 1915); and Standards such as the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 306, Standard for the Control of Gas Hazards on Vessels, and NFPA 312, Standard for Fire Protection of Vessels During Construction, Conversion, Repair, and Lay-Up, are developed to eliminate or reduce the hazards associated with work in shipyards and related employment. But regulations and safety standards are only effective if they are followed.
In July 2018 the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued safety and health citations to shipyards and vessel repair contractors in Oregon and Kentucky. A shipyard in Portland, OR received 16 citations (more than $370,000 in fines) for ‘serious and willful’ safety violations following OSHA’s investigation of worker complaints related to workplace hazards during hot work in the engine room of a passenger ferry. Inspectors found that the company allowed employees to work on energized circuit boxes; failed to conduct fit-testing and medical evaluations before providing respirators and implement an effective hearing conservation program. According to media reports State workplace safety and health agencies in Alaska and Oregon have also cited the shipyard with similar violations. “This employer’s failure to monitor work areas for the presence of hazards, and implement effective controls is putting their employees at risk for serious injuries,” said OSHA Seattle Area Office Director Cecil Tipton. 
Also in July 2018, unrelated to the above action, OSHA cited five contractors for safety and health violations after three employees were fatally injured and two others critically injured following an explosion onboard a towboat on 19 January 2018. The five companies collectively received 55 of violations with proposed penalties totaling $795,254.
OSHA's investigation determined that the explosion occurred when employees were cutting and welding in an atmosphere that contained flammable gases. OSHA issued citations for failing to test confined spaces before entry; training employees on confined space entry and work operations; exposing workers to asphyxiation, fire, explosion, and chemical hazards; and allowing hot work/welding to be performed without testing for an explosive atmosphere – in addition to other violations.
One of the employers involved in this incident has been placed in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. "This tragedy could have been prevented if the employers had followed proper confined space procedures and implemented appropriate safety measures," said OSHA Regional Administrator Kurt A. Petermeyer.
Confined space entry and work safe practices and hot work safety are the primary focus of the NFPA Marine Field Service which administers the NFPA Certificated Marine Chemist Program. The Marine Chemists were created in 1922 at the request of insurance underwriters, marine transportation and shipbuilding industries. NFPA Certificated Marine Chemists are responsible for verifying that hot work and confined space entry can be done safely on ships, barges and in shipyards. The United States Coast Guard and OSHA require a Marine Chemist’s Certificate is posted on a vessel in the vicinity of the work before certain hot work or confined space entry can occur. The United States Navy also requires a Marine Chemist to authorize entry and hot work on its vessels when work is being done by private contractors. Those contractors must also have their employees trained to work safely in confined spaces. In accordance with Navy Standard Items, this training must be presented by the National Fire Protection Association or an NFPA Certificated Marine Chemist.
The NFPA has published fact sheets that address hot work and confined space entry and work in shipyards and on marine vessels. 
There is no shortcut to safe hot work operations and confined space entry and work. All personnel involved with the work need to be familiar with applicable safety regulations, standards and procedures. They must also follow those administrative controls – every time. Accidents like the one which occurred in Kentucky earlier this year are preventable. 
Shipyard personnel and vessel repair contractors need knowledge to recognize the hazards associated with hot work and confined space entry. They need to understand and use effective control measures to eliminate or minimize those hazards. NFPA provides information and training that can be used to make shipyards and similar locations safe places to work. For more information, please contact the NFPA Marine Field Service or call +1- 617- 984 - 7418.
Staff Liaison: Lawrence Russell 

 

This week I was in Nashville, TN attending the SES Annual Conference. I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended this conference and network with other professionals who use and develop standards like those developed by NFPA. And I had the opportunity to go to the Grand Ole Opry! (When in Rome.)


Also this week, a fire occurred in Atlanta, GA that is directly related to a unique issue addressed by the Fire Code. The fire began in a large pile of old tires located adjacent to a vacant apartment building and eventually spread to the building as well. It was reported that the vacant building had been serving as an, “illegal dumping ground for hundreds of tires”. Reports also suggest that the fire was intentionally set.


NFPA 1, Chapter 33, addresses the outside storage of tires including new and existing outside storage piles of tires and altered tire material, as well as emergency response planning, fire control measures, site access, and signs and security for these areas; it is applicable to facilities with outdoor tire pile storage of more than 500 tires. At this threshold there becomes the potential for large-scale events, such as the 1999 Westley tire fire in California where a lightning strike ignited a tire pile, which contained an estimated 7 million scrap tires. The fire burned for 30 days and significantly impacted the environment due to the runoff of pyrolitic oil and contaminated fire-fighting water. The cost of the fire to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was $3.5 million. If a fire were to occur at outdoor storage of tire piles not more than 500 tires, such as those at a typical retail store, standard fire-fighting guidelines should effectively extinguish the fire in most cases.


The tire fire in Atlanta, while on a much smaller scale (even perhaps below the 500 tire threshold), is still representative of the hazardous conditions that non-compliant tire storage can create. Chapter 33 of the Code addresses these hazards by containing the following requirements:


• Layout of fire department access roads to allow for effective fire-fighting operations and site access. The minimum exposure separation distance for tire storage is based on both the exposed face dimension and the pile height of the tires. It ensures adequate fire department access as well as fuel breaks between the tire piles to prevent fire spread.
• Separation of yard storage facilities from hazardous exposures and structures.
• Prohibition of ignition sources within the tire area. This includes smoking, cutting and welding, heating devices, open fires and/or proximity to power lines.
• Measures to provide for surface water drainage and protection of pyrolitic oil runoff. (Pyrolitic oil in the tires is burned off when the stored tire pile is allowed to burn. But one the pile begins to smolder or suppressed, the tires melt and release pyrolitic oil).
• Limitations on the location of storage piles (no wetlands, flood plains, canyons, etc.)
• Pile storage arrangement
o New tire storage – limited in volume to 125,000 ft2 and no greater than 10 ft in height, 50 ft in width and 250 ft in length.
o Existing piles – must meet the criteria for new piles within 5 years of adoption of the Code but until then they are limited to 250,000 ft2 and must not exceed 20 ft in height, 50 ft in width and 250 ft in length.
• Development, maintenance and use of an Emergency Response Plan.
• Presence of manual fire-fighting equipment.

 

This fire occurred at a vacant building, which has been accumulating old tires on the property. Section 10.12 of NFPA 1 also requires every person owning or having charge or control of any vacant building or premises to remove all combustible storage, waste, refuse and vegetation and secure the building or premises to prohibit entry by unauthorized persons. Compliance with this section could have prevented the accumulation of old tires on the property. The tire fire in Atlanta shows the important role that both the fire inspectors and building owners play in ensuring compliance with the Code.

 

Have you had to enforce tire storage facilities in your jurisdiction? What challenges have you faced?

 

Thanks for reading, stay safe!

 

Please visit www.nfpa.org/1 to view the free access version of NFPA 1 2018 edition. Follow along on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA. Looking for an older #FireCodefriday blog? You can view past posts here.

Many people have asked me how they can be part of NFPA’s technical committees, most notably in the electrical space. In this short video I discuss the process for becoming a member of the technical committee on electrical inspection and playing a role in helping develop the first editions of NFPA 78 and NFPA 1078. I hope you find the information valuable and look forward to hearing from you soon.


Photo: Associated Press

On August 1, a crowded
tour bus caught fire in the Hollywood Hills, temporarily shuttering the famous Mulholland Drive. Two-thousand miles away, on the same day, a school bus fire snarled traffic on one of Chicago's busiest highways. No injuries were reported in either incident. 
A Google search reveals bus fires occur with some regularity in the United States. But it was bus fires in Rome that made headlines a few months ago, when two of the Italian city's buses burst into flames in the same day. I wrote about the incident for the "Dispatches: International" pages of NFPA Journal
While the article sheds light on some of the problems plaguing the Eternal City's fleet of buses, it also includes some statistics on bus fires on U.S. soil.  "A report published in November 2016 by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which analyzed data from 2004 to 2013, found that fires in motor coaches (defined as buses designed for long-distance passenger transportation) occurred almost daily on average, while fires in school buses occurred more than daily for a combined average of over 550 each year," the article reads. 
While bus fires rarely prove fatal in countries like the U.S., that's not the case across the globe. In the March/April NFPA Journal "Dispatches: International," I wrote about a bus fire that killed over 50 people in Kazakhstan at the beginning of the year. According to NFPA data, the blaze was one of the deadliest bus fires in the world in the last 20 years. 

In the summer of 1909, two suspicious fires occurred at a Rubber Works Plant in Akron, Ohio. The first fire started was discovered by the watchman at 4:00AM on the morning of August 12th. 

Pictured here: The attic area of the plant where the fire originated on August 12, 1909.
From the NFPA Quarterly vol. 6, no.2, 1909:
“The attic, where fire occurred, [was] low and not accessible, except by stairways, there being no windows, and firemen had to cut holes in the roof to get at the fire properly. There were several metal ventilators in the roof and evidently the fire spread very rapidly along the wood sheathing, aided by the draft of the ventilators. Fire was under control in about one hour after it started, and damage [was] largely confined to stock of crude rubber, the building and machinery suffering but little damage.”
A second fire occurred a little before 2:00AM. The watchman discovered the fire at the far south end of the property within the frame sheds. In total, the combined loss estimated from the two fires was a little over $100,000. It was the final opinion of investigators that both fires had been intentionally set, though no one was charged in the incidents.
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.

In a recent webinar, industry expert and fire protection engineer, Merton Bunker, discussed significant ways NFPA 72 has changed and why. The information provides not only a great way for you to learn about the changes, but how they could also affect your job.Throughout the webinar, Bunker specifically talks about key changes aimed at designers, installers and AHJs, such as:

 

  • How to locate and apply the new carbon monoxide detector and alarm requirements
  • How to locate and apply the new testing requirements for Energy Storage Systems (ESS)
  • How to locate new requirements for HVLS fans
  • How to identify new requirements for air-sampling smoke detectors

 

The recording also covers the code's new mounting height requirements for fire alarm control units, new requirements for Class N circuit protection, and new document storage requirements, and more.

 

If you’re a registered Xchange user, you have immediate access to the full recording. If you haven’t subscribed to Xchange, you can register today for free. Xchange is a great way to connect with professionals worldwide, explore content, and ask questions. Don’t miss out on all that Xchange has to offer, and subscribe today!

2018 FPW banner - Look. Listen. Learn.
NFPA and Domino’s are teaming up for the 11th year in a row to deliver fire safety messages and pizza during Fire Prevention Week (FPW), Oct. 7 -13, 2018. To make this year’s campaign a success, we’re encouraging fire departments to join forces with their local Domino’s store to implement the campaign in their communities.
Here’s how the program works:
  • Partner with your local Domino’s store to participate in an easy-to-execute program that will promote fire safety during FPW.
  • Select a day and time period (usually 2-3 hours) to randomly choose one to three pizza orders to deliver aboard a fire engine. The participating Domino’s delivery expert will follow the fire engine in his or her car.
  • When the pizza delivery arrives, the firefighters will check the home for working smoke alarms. If the smoke alarms work, the customer’s order is free (cost absorbed by the Domino’s store). If the smoke alarms aren’t working, the fire department will replace the batteries or install fully functioning smoke alarms (cost absorbed by the fire department).
As you’ve likely heard by now, this year’s FPW campaign theme is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware – fire can happen anywhere.” It highlights some of the most basic but critical ways people can protect themselves from fire at home, or anywhere else they might go. Partnering with Domino’s presents a fun and powerful way to reinforce this messaging.
Domino's Fire Prevention Week SweepstakesDomino’s Fire Prevention Week Sweepstakes
Fire departments that sign up (from Aug. 12-Sept. 1) to participate in this program will automatically be entered into Domino’s FPW Sweepstakes. Domino’s will randomly select three winners who will receive the NFPA’s “Fire Prevention Week in a Box 300” which includes:
  • 1 FPW banner (super-sized 10' x 4')
  • 45 FPW posters – now two-sided with one side printed in English and the other side printed in Spanish (17" x 24")
  • 300 adult FPW brochures
  • 300 kids FPW activity posters
  • 300 FPW stickers
  • 300 FPW magnets
  • 300 FPW News booklet 
  • 300 FPW bags
Sign Up to Participate
If your fire department would like to participate in the NFPA and Domino’s FPW program, please email Danielle Bulger at dani.bulger@dominos.com. Signup emails that are sent Aug. 12-Sept. 1 will be entered into the Sweepstakes. The FPW Sweepstakes winners will be drawn on or around Monday, Sept. 3. 
The First Draft meeting for the 2021 edition of NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® will be taking place in St. Louis, Missouri next week (August 13th-17th) at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch. NFPA technical meetings are open to the public. If you want to witness the process first hand please come see what happens at this stage of the standard development process. 
There have been 332 inputs submitted for the next edition. They cover everything from basic editorial issues to substantial changes in the safety requirements. The Technical Committee will discuss the inputs and develop a draft standard during the meeting. After the meeting, the Technical Committee will be formally balloted on the changes made. Only changes that pass the formal ballot will be shown as a First Draft for viewing by the public. However, all the submitted inputs (whether they led to change or not) will also be viewable after the vote. If you cannot make the meeting you can see all the public inputs submitted and the first revisions made to the standard. These are available on NFPA's 70E "next edition" webpage. This link will also allow viewing the First Draft once it has been balloted by the TC and posted on the page.
It is up to you to review what has happened during the First Draft process. The First Draft allows you to see what the standard would require if it were to be issued at this stage (which could conceivably happen if no public comments are submitted). When the draft is posted, remember to read through it and the submitted public inputs. Doing so will allow you to comment on this draft when the Second Draft process starts. NFPA 70E is a consensus standard. That means that your involvement has a direct effect on addressing electrical safety. It is your standard, be part of it.
For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange
Next time: The 40 cal/cm2 limit.
Please Note: Any comments, suggested text changes, or technical issues related to NFPA Standards posted or raised in this communication are not submissions to the NFPA standards development process and therefore will not be considered by the technical committee(s) responsible for NFPA Standards development. To learn how to participate in the NFPA standards development process and submit proposed text for consideration by the responsible technical committee(s), please go to www.nfpa.org/submitpi for instructions.

The newest edition of our oldest standard, NFPA 13, Installation of Sprinkler Systems, underwent a significant reorganization. Making sure the standard's users easily find what they're looking for, NFPA 13 Staff Liaison David Hague recently hosted a webinar underscoring the 2019 edition's reorganization. The webinar examined how the revised NFPA 13 reduces redundancies in coverage and follows a more logical sequence of information.

 

The following is a clip from the webinar featuring Hague, who discusses how the new edition indicates technical changes: 

 

 

Spend an informative hour with Hague; the full webinar is exclusively available for registered users of Xchange. Log in to Xchange access the webinar or register today to view it. 

Are you interested in making changes to the codes and standards that affect your job? If yes, you’ll want to watch this short video as I discuss one of the tentative interim amendments (TIA) related to GFCI protection in marinas, and explain the process for commenting on the First Draft of the 2020 NEC. We hope to hear from you.
The deadline for comments is August, 30, 2018.

It’s the height of summer, which means it’s the height of festival season in North America, Europe, and elsewhere. Over the last decade, there has been a massive surge both in the number of multi-day music festivals across the globe, as well as the number of people attending. In August alone, there are 36 big festivals planned in the U.S., according to musicfestivalwizard.com, ranging from enormous festivals in big cities such as Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco and Lalapalooza in Chicago, to festivals quite literally in the middle of nowhere, such as the famed Burning Man event in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, held August 26 through September 3.

 

These events present enormous logistical challenges for local responders and emergency managers, with unique needs depending on size, location, the type of festival, and even the genre of music. The Newport Jazz Festival, happening this weekend in the small ritzy Rhode Island city, for instance, is going to pose many different challenges than say, Electric Zoo, an electronic music festival in New York City, according to industry experts.

NFPA Journal’s cover story “Life of the Party” from July 2016 looked into the life safety challenges of these festivals. I spoke with the founder of the festival industry’s largest event medical provider; the longtime emergency services operations chief at Burning Man; a Canadian group that runs an innovative drug testing service for concert-goers to ensure what they think they’re taking hasn’t been misrepresented; as well as numerous other industry experts about preparation, innovation, and all of the clever ways life safety professionals have devised to keep these enormous events safe for patrons.

 

For me, one of the most interesting discoveries I made while reporting the story was the “harm reduction” efforts at the Shambhala Music Festival, which takes place this August 10-13 in British Columbia. In addition to offering free water, mental-health counseling, and a special group of campsites set aside for “sober camping,” festival organizers have allowed a local nonprofit to set up a tent to test concert-goers’ drugs free of charge and judgment. It’s such a popular service; the line can at times be up to two hours long.

 

 “The fact is these services are accessed by people who have already made the decision to use drugs before they meet with us. We are there to meet them where they are—we don’t encourage people, and we don’t judge them,” said Chloe Sage, the director of AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society, which runs the tent. “Each contact we have is an opportunity to discuss with someone contemplating drug use before they take it about how they can stay safer. If we just had a table with a bunch of pamphlets on it, we would never have the kind of contacts we have, but we are offering a service people want.”

 

In 2015, 3,224 pills and powders were tested onsite. One drug-related death has occurred over the festival’s 19 years.

 

To learn much more about this approach, read the article I wrote, “Dude, What’s In This Pill?” And, to learn more about the innovative technologies emergency managers are using at festivals, check out the article “Fest Tech.” Both appeared alongside, “Life of the Party” in the July 2016 NFPA Journal.


This week we look back and remember a tragedy that significantly impacted wildland firefighter training nationwide. On the afternoon of August 5, 1949 fifteen smokejumpers and a national forest ranger were trapped while fighting a wildfire in the Helena National Forest in Montana. Only three of the smokejumpers survived.

 

Pictured here: The thirteen men who lost their lives during the Mann Gulch Fire on August 5, 1949

 

From the NFPA Journal vol. 108, no.105, 2014:

Shortly after 5 p.m., after gathering their gear, the crew was on its way from the head of the canyon, where it had landed, toward the Missouri River at the other end of the gulch. Before the crew reached its destination, however, the jumper foreman, Wagner Dodge, realized the fire had crossed the canyon to the side they were on, and he told his crew to go back the way it had come. It was 5:45 p.m.


After running about 300 yards, Dodge told his men to drop their gear so they could move faster. The fire was moving rapidly, with flames about 50 feet high, and the men made it another 200 yards before Dodge realized they were about to be overtaken. He lit an escape fire, hoping it would clear the area of brush, allowing he and his men to take refuge in the burned space. The rest of his crew, skeptical of Dodge’s unorthodox plan, kept running. Only two crew members (Walter Rumsey and Robert Sallee) made it up the rock face at the top of the canyon. Looking back at the fire from the top of the ridge, Sallee later told another smoke jumper, he could see flames “jumping above the trees, and the men…falling before the fire got to them.” Dodge survived unscathed in his burned area. It was later estimated that the fire covered about 3,000 acres in 10 minutes during this blow-up period.


The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program has set up a Staff Ride website where participants are put in the shoes of the men who were at The Mann Gulch Fire, as it is known. It serves as a Case Study and an opportunity for people to learn what happened and ask questions about decision-making.

 

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.

A recent North Carolina State University research project has led to the development of advanced fire shelter materials options, as well as an enhanced technical basis for evaluating fire shelter materials alternatives. In this video clip, you’ll meet Dr. Roger L. Barker and John Morton-Aslanis, both from North Carolina State, who give us a glimpse of the project that includes fire-blocking materials, the connection between lab tests and shelter performance in fires, and more.

 

If you’re a registered Xchange user, you have immediate access to the full recording. If you haven’t subscribed to Xchange, you can register today for free. Xchange is a great way to connect with professionals worldwide, explore content, and ask questions. Don’t miss out on all that Xchange has to offer, and subscribe today!

Bed bugs have been around for thousands of years and were thought to have been eradicated in the developed world around 1940. However, since about 1995, there has been a resurgence, most likely due to a number of reasons such as the banning of certain pesticides and an increase in international travel.


So, what does this have to do with sprinklers, you may ask? Well, one of the treatment strategies recommended by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) to rid an area or room of a bed bug infestation is the use of heat. As a matter of fact, a temperature of 113°F (45°C) is needed to kill most bugs in a living area, however that temperature would have to be maintained for several hours and might not take care of the problem entirely. A temperature of 122°F (50°C) is necessary to eradicate all life stages (bugs, nymphs and eggs) and only needs to be maintained for about one minute, which seems to be the more cost effective approach. Some companies are even suggesting a temperature range of 130°F to 160°F (54°C to 71°C).


Why is this a problem? As you may already know, sprinklers are heat sensitive devices that, when exposed to certain temperatures, are designed to activate and discharge water to control or extinguish a fire. Even when exposed to heat from sources other than a fire, sprinklers can and will activate and discharge water. The typical discharge from a single sprinkler can range from as little as 15 gallons per minute (gpm) [57 liters per minute (lpm)] to as much as 60 gpm (230 lpm)! This flow rate might be desired if your building is on fire, but for an unintended activation, that’s a lot of water!

 

So, regarding temperature, how much is too much? NFPA 13-2016 “Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems” tells us in Table 6.2.5.1.


 

As you can see in the Table, when ceiling temperatures exceed 100°F (38°C), ordinary temperature sprinklers (the type typically found in most buildings) are susceptible to activation. Even if the sprinklers do not activate immediately, the glass bulb or fusible link could be stressed, causing the sprinkler to activate at a later time.


There are a few methods that can be employed to avoid exposing sprinklers to heat. The pest management industry is addressing this problem with the development of sprinkler covers that either shield the sprinklers from excessive heat or contain a small amount of water that is frozen and placed over the sprinkler to keep it cool during the heat treatment process. Another manufacturer suggests using ice packs in their cover to keep the sprinkler cool during the treatment process. It is unclear how these covers and coolants will affect sprinklers, since these methods have not been evaluated by the usual testing labs. None of these devices presently indicate any type of listing or approval.


A more traditional method for dealing with the heat treatment process involves an impairment program as required by NFPA 25-2017 Standard for the Inspection, Testing and Maintenance of Water Based Fire Protection Systems. A system impairment involves closing the water supply valve to the sprinkler system, draining the water from the system and either leaving the system impaired for a short period of time or removing the sprinklers in the affected area and plugging the outlets temporarily so that the sprinkler system can be turned on while the heat treatment process is completed. The latter method will maintain protection in areas not being treated for bed bugs, although the impairment program will require either some form of temporary protection such as a fire watch with an extinguisher or some other method for providing temporary fire protection (a charged hose line from a standpipe perhaps) when using either method. For detailed information on system impairments, see NFPA 25, Chapter 15.


Keep in mind that once sprinklers are removed from a system, they must be replaced with new sprinklers; the old sprinklers cannot be reused (see Section 5.4.1.1 of NPFA 25). The traditional method of system impairment can be costly and will most likely involve a licensed sprinkler contractor to complete the work in addition to the pest removal contractor, but this will ensure that the bed bug infestation problem has been solved without compromising fire protection. The new covers that are recommended by pest control contractors are a nice idea, but testing should be done to verify that they work as advertised and will not compromise the operating element of the sprinkler. Regardless of the method used, this is not a (Do-it-Yourself) DIY type of project!


Be safe, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

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