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2018

It’s hard to believe it’s already time to reflect on the end of another year. As a Staff Liaison at NFPA, my role is to facilitate the development of NFPA 1 while ensuring the NFPA standards development process is followed and that we successfully revise our Code to best serve our end users. In addition, this process involves guiding the Technical Committee in addressing emerging issues and technologies related to their document and educating our stakeholders on the content contained in NFPA 1.

2018 was a busy year for the development of NFPA 1. We saw many important issues brought to the Committee; balancing building security and life safety, firefighter communications, energy storage systems, safety of portable generators, and many more. Early this year, NFPA staff and the Fire Code Technical Committee began the journey of developing the 2021 edition of the Code. This included the following activities:

  • Schedule update and customization – The 2021 revision cycle has been updated to reflect the challenges and needs of our technical committees, stakeholders as well as the staff involved in the developing a document that extracts from over 50 other NFPA standards and is over 750 pages in length. Changes to the schedule include:
    • Separating out the work on text owned by NFPA 1 versus the provisions extracted from NFPA 1. This will have an impact on the work by holding at least two meetings at both the First and Second Draft stages (we held two First Draft meetings in 2018.) This will allow for greater visibility of the work being done to extracted text for both our volunteers and the public.
    • Allowing for some additional time internally to process the changes both from NFPA 1 unique text as well as the extract updates. This includes pushing out the ballots and posting of the First Draft and Second Draft reports to maximize production time and product a higher quality end product.
  • Pre-First Draft Meeting – In May we held a Pre-First Draft meeting to address issues that arose early in the process and to plan ahead for the remainder of the revision cycle. At this meeting, five task groups were created to further review public inputs on topics such as life safety and security, standpipe provisions, portable generators, and emergency services communications. The Committee also developed draft actions on over 70 public inputs and reviewed emerging trends and technologies impacting the Code.
  • First-Draft Meeting #1 – In September we held the (first) First Draft meeting where the Committee acted on over 125 public inputs, developed 93 First Revisions and created 51 Committee Inputs. These actions account for future extract updates and the many emerging issues that will need to be addressed by the Fire Code this cycle. Six new task groups were formed to work on issues that arose during the meeting. These task groups will further evaluate topics such as photovoltaics, Monitor-it-Yourself (MIY) systems, energy storage systems, and portable generators.  
  • First Draft Meeting #2, extract review – In November was the second, First Draft meeting. At this meeting the Committee addressed only the review and updating of Code provisions that are extracted from other documents. At this meeting the Committee reviewed over 300 pages of updated text from 14 different NFPA codes and standards. The remainder will be reviewed and updated at the Second Draft.

There is such a large volume of information contained in this Code. The more we can educate our users the more we can help with the enforcement of the Code and the safety of buildings and their occupants. I am hopeful that you have found this blog as a successful way to communicate knowledge and information related to Code revisions, FAQs, current events and other seasonal related Code topics. (You can view all past Fire Code Friday blogs here!) In addition, the 2018 edition of the Fire Code Handbook was released earlier this year. This resource provides not only the Code text but commentary that provides explanations behind many of the Code provisions.

Looking ahead, 2019 will bring another busy year. It will be the second year of the revision cycle and the committee will hold at least two Second Draft meetings. We will continue our discussions on improving the Code development process for NFPA 1 to best serve our stakeholders, our inspectors, and the many staff involved in the production of the document. I look forward to continued advances in our work and the development of an NFPA 1 that will continue to serve as the go-to resource for fire inspectors.

In closing, thank you, all, for reading Fire Code Fridays. I hope you have benefitted from the information.  If you have suggestions, or feedback, or future topics you would like to see discussed please comment here. Let’s keep the discussion about the Fire Code and fire safety going in 2019.

Best wishes for a safe and happy New Year!

Kristin Bigda, P.E. NFPA 1 Staff Liaison


Pictured here: Head house and silos, as seen from southeast after the explosion. Grain Tank 1 collapsed, and contents of Grain Tank 2 are burning.

Eighteen people were killed in a massive dust explosion on December 27, 1977 at the Farmers Export Grain Elevator in Galveston, Texas. Twenty-two people were also injured from the incident.

The explosion occurred at 8:31 p.m. and completely destroyed Grain Tank 1 and much of the surrounding facilities. Multiple investigations examined the explosion, including one conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which issued citations with proposed penalties totaling $116,000. According to the citations, “there were 11 alleged willful violations and six alleged serious violations. Five of the alleged violations directly concerned the railroad dump shed, and seven related to dust dusty atmospheres. “

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please reach out to NFPA's 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.

An employer using NFPA 70E®, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace®can be either a host or contract employer. If an employer is using in-house workers it is obvious who has the responsibility for 130.2(A). When a contractor is working for a host employer it may become less obvious for the application of 130.2(A). However, consider that both the host and contract employer have responsibilities set forth in Article 110. Each is responsible for assuring proper protection for their own employees.
In a host/contractor situation, the host may determine that energized work is justified or simply that they don’t want the system to be turned off. However, the contract employer should fully understand the reason behind the energized work and has the responsibility of protecting their employees from electrical hazards. If the contract employer feels their employees are at undue risk, there is no requirement that they perform the proposed task. On the other hand, the contract employer may decide that their employee can handle energized work or may determine that energized work is justified. However, if the host employer feels the contract employer will use unsafe work practices there is no requirement that the contractor be used to perform the work.
From an NFPA 70E viewpoint, both the host employer and contract employer should have a fully developed electrical safety program. For the host employer, the program should address both in-house and contract work. Using contract workers does not absolve the host employer of their obligation to provide a work environment that is federally mandated to be free of recognized hazards. In order to do so, the host employer must notify a contract employer of known hazards. The contract employer’s electrical safety program should not only address common electrical safety issues but also conditions anticipated for the specific tasks conducted at a host employer site. The contract worker must be qualified to perform the assigned task on the specific equipment present at the host employer site.
If electrical work is to be performed there will almost always be known hazards. This is true whether an electrically safe work condition (ESWC) will be established or energized work will be justified. A documented meeting between the host and contract employer is therefore required. The meeting should cover many things. Before any work has begun it is first necessary to determine that the equipment is indeed in a normal operating condition. Anything otherwise can pose risks not anticipated. Inspection, maintenance, and failure logs should be reviewed. A risk assessment is necessary for the assigned task on the specific equipment. This could be a review of the risk assessment provided by the host employer or a previous risk assessment by the contract employer. It could be the first assessment for that task on that equipment. It may require verification of the parameters on the equipment label.  
If an ESWC is to be established, it is possible that each employer has a procedure. One procedure may be more thorough or stringent than the other. The host and contract employers must agree on the procedure to be used. A contract worker may not be familiar with the host’s procedure, and training should be provided to that worker. A detailed record should be developed if a task will be conducted while energized. The host employer is typically responsible for the safety of anyone present in their facility. A contract employer has a responsibility to protect their workers at a contract site. In no case should an employee be subjected to unjustified, exposed, energized electrical hazards.
There are many other things that a host and contract employer must reach agreement on before a contract worker begins a task. Who decides that the equipment is under normal operating conditions? Whose PPE will be used? Who will provide any specialized equipment? Who is responsible for verifying that all PPE is suitable for the assigned task? How will affected host employees be notified of the task? Who will be responsible for establishing and enforcing the approach boundaries? What happens when the procedure will include a complex lockout program? A host employer occasionally feels that they have no obligations or responsibility for safety of a contract worker. A contract employer sometimes feels as if they know better than the host employer. The rules of electrically safety apply regardless of a host or contract employee conducting the task but someone must make sure that the rules are followed. This needs to be determined before any task has begun. 
The host and contract employer relationship is unique. Both employers are responsible for the safety of a contract worker at risk of an injury. There must be open and honest dialog between the two employers for there to be a true safety culture for a contract worker. The host employer may look at things differently if they treat the contract worker as one of their own. The contract employer may benefit by considering employee safety above all else. The welfare of the employee should always be in the forefront of any decision and revenue for either party should not be part of the safety discussion.
For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange
Next time: Maintaining protective equipment.
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/submitfor instructions.

The winter is upon us. A major seasonal fire safety issue that impacts those of us in cold weather environments is the use of heating appliances, both in residential and non-residential type applications. The cold winter weather means a more frequent use of portable electric heaters (space heaters) and other heating equipment. Fire inspectors need to be aware of installation requirements, referenced standards applicable to these appliances and safe practices to help ensure fires caused by heating devices are kept to a minimum and buildings and occupants are protected.


NFPA 1 addresses heating appliances in Section 11.5. It primarily addresses the installation of liquid fuel-burning appliances as well as the accessories and control systems and the liquid fuel storage and supply systems related to these appliances, which includes industrial, commercial and residential type steam, hot water or warm air heating appliances. Portable electric heaters (space heaters) are covered in Section 11.5.3. Heat producing appliances such as clothes dryers, kerosene burners and oil stoves are also addressed.


The installation of most stationary liquid fuel-burning appliances must comply with NFPA 1 as well as NFPA 31, Standard for the Installation of Oil-Burning Equipment. NFPA 31 is a standard for the safe, efficient design and installation of heating appliances that use a liquid fuel, typically No. 2 heating oil, but also lighter fuels, such as kerosene and diesel fuel, and heavier fuels, such as No. 4 fuel oil. NFPA 31 applies to the installation of these systems in residential, commercial, and industrial occupancies.


The installation of gas-fired heating appliances must comply with NFPA 1 and NFPA 54, National Fuel Gas Code. The use of unvented, fuel-fired heaters is prohibited by NFPA 1 and NFPA 101 in numerous occupancies, unless they are approved units that comply with NFPA 54. The remainder of this Code section is extracted directly from the source document, NFA 31, and addresses acceptable liquid fuels permitted for these types of fuel burning appliances.

Other miscellaneous type heat producing appliances are also addressed here so it’s important as a user of the Code to review in its entirely all of Section 11.5 to not miss out on critical safety requirements:


Clothes dryers (Section 11.5.1.11)
shall be cleaned to maintain the lint trap and keep the mechanical and heating components free from excessive accumulations of lint. This is application to commercial type applications but is also good practice for residents in their individual dwelling units (not enforceable by NFPA 1).


Kerosene burners and oil stoves (Section 11.5.2).
Kerosene heaters must be listed and provided with appropriate safeguards. Kerosene stoves are self-contained, self-supporting, kerosene-burning ranges, room heaters, or water heaters not connected to chimneys but equipped with integral fuel supply tanks with a maximum capacity of 2 gal (7.6 L). Because these heaters are not connected to chimneys, they can be moved rather easily, although they generally are not considered portable. Each year, many serious fires result from the improper use of these heaters. Because of their mobility, these stoves pose a hazard when placed near combustible materials or where they can block a means of egress.


Portable Electric Heaters (Section 11.5.3).
These devices are used in many locations, including a common used under desks in offices. Although placing a heater under a desk or table lessens the chance of the heater being easily overturned, the heater also can easily be forgotten. A heater that is left on for an extended time can overheat combustible materials that might also be stored under the desk or table. Managers of facilities that allow the use of electric space heaters should be instructed to remind employees to shut them off at the end of the day and keep combustible material away from the heater. In addition, because of the amount of electric current drawn by space heaters, electric heaters should be used only where they can be plugged directly into appropriate receptacles or extension cords of adequate current capacity. (See 11.1.5 for requirements addressing extension cords.) The AHJ is permitted to prohibit the use of space heaters where an undue danger to life or property exists. The AHJ can use past inspection findings, such as portable heaters that were left turned on and unattended, fire incidents, and other reasons to prohibit the use of such heaters.

 

(And finally, we are merely days away from Christmas, and all of us, regardless of our role in the application of NFPA 1, should make sure that our chimneys are in good working condition for the arrival of the big guy. Section 11.5.4 requires all chimneys and similar devices be installed and maintained in accordance with NFPA 54 and NFPA 211. NFPA 211 contains many detailed requirements on the design, installation, and maintenance of chimneys, fireplaces, venting systems and solid fuel-burning appliances. But as a reminder, chimneys, fire places, and vents must be inspected at least once a year, and cleaned as necessary so as to not impair the structural or thermal performance. Compliance with NFPA 211 makes sure Santa stays safe, too.)

 

And, for additional information on heating safety, check out NFPA's Safety Tip Sheets.


Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays to all!

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



As 2018 comes to a close, the NFPA Journal editorial staff has each chosen his favorite article from the past year. From a story covering a primetime cry-fest to one covering a groundbreaking new NFPA standard, here are our choices, presented with explanations on why we chose them. 
Executive Editor Scott Sutherland's pick: "This is Safety,"March/April Dispatches lead story
This challenge is difficult to the point of being unfair, when you consider the breadth of the topics we covered and the urgency that drove a lot of our coverage. There were big, pressing stories like Angelo Verzoni’s feature on the new NFPA 3000 ("Writing History,"May/June), or Jesse Roman’s big-picture consideration of development in the wildland/urban interface ("Build. Burn. Repeat?,"January/February). A personal favorite was one of our last features of the year—Jesse’s piece on the remaking of NFPA 150, the standard on animal housing facilities ("Critter Life Safety Code," November/December), with its plucky cow that graced our cover. 
But I think my favorite, for entirely subjective reasons, wasn’t a feature at all—it was Angelo’s March/April Dispatches lead story on the season-ending episode of "This Is Us," the NBC tear-jerker series that featured a home fire and prompted a national conversation on fire and life safety—and sparked a kerfuffle on slow cookers for good measure. NFPA and NFPA Journal are uniquely positioned to consider fire and life safety as depicted in popular culture, and Angelo’s piece was a great example of how we can probe the zeitgeist and help readers understand why it matters and what it all means.
Associate Editor Jesse Roman's pick: "Build. Burn. Repeat?,"January/February cover story
In light of the terrible events that unfolded recently in California, in my opinion the most important article that ran in our pages this year is the feature "Build. Burn. Repeat?," the cover story in January/February.
The main takeaway from the piece is that wildfires are a natural element of the landscape; as with hurricanes, tornados, and other natural disasters, they are not preventable, so best to prepare, plan ahead, and take steps to dull the impact. In reporting the piece, expert after expert told me that we have the knowledge and technology today to prevent almost all houses from igniting during a wildfire—what we lack is the will to mandate that residents build a certain way and in certain locations.
Instead, the opposite is happening: building codes are being relaxed, and development is expanding further into the wilderness. Even in places like Santa Rosa, California, and El Paso County, Colorado, where huge wildfires have recently destroyed homes and taken lives, instead of taking steps to lessen the chance of another wildfire disaster, local governments choose to relax building codes. This is typically done out of a desire to help the victims get back on their feet by making it fast, easy, and more affordable to rebuild their homes in the same fire-prone areas; often, the rebuilt homes have even less fire protection than the ones that just burned. It’s an understandable reaction, but one that leads to predictable outcomes. Hence the headline, "Build. Burn. Repeat?"
Upon rereading the piece recently, it’s almost eerie how true this is. Almost exactly a year ago as I was writing "Build. Burn. Repeat?" residents of Santa Rosa were still coming to grips with the Tubbs Fire, which had torn through neighborhoods destroying nearly 15,000 homes, and killing 44 people. A year later, it's the residents of Paradise who are picking up the pieces. Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight, and it seems that the lessons in "Build. Burn. Repeat?" will be relevant long into the future.
Staff Writer Angelo Verzoni's pick: "Writing History,"May/June cover story
It's not every day as a journalist that you get to sit down with the nation's most prominent public safety leaders, some of whom responded to the nation's deadliest, most horrific mass shootings: Newtown, Orlando, Las Vegas. The sources are what make this story shine, in my opinion, and there are plenty of them quoted in the piece. It was published in May to mark the release of NFPA 3000, NFPA's biggest, most-talked-about standards writing effort of the year, and does a nice job explaining how those efforts came together and ultimately played out. It wasn't an easy process; when NFPA brought cops and firefighters to the same table, for example, they didn't always see eye to eye—to put it mildly. 
One of the most powerful interviews I conducted for the story was with Dr. Richard Kamin, a trauma surgeon who responded to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. "I walked out of that school and I was really afraid that I was broken," he told me. That quote will always stick with me. After writing the story, I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with Kamin again to interview him for a separate video project for NFPA. 

Unfortunately, the reality is that "Writing History" and NFPA 3000 are just as important and relevant today as they were several months ago, as mass shootings have continued to plague the country. My hope is that communities and leaders who haven't already will learn from the standard and from leaders like Kamin who have gone through hell and back to better prepare themselves should an incident like that occur on their turf, and reading "Writing History" might be a good place to start. 
What did readers think? Based on web traffic, the most popular Journal articles in 2018, in order of first to fifth, were: "Smoke Signals"(March/April); "Smarter About Smoke"(May/June); "Firefighter fatalities in the United States in 2017"(July/August); "Small Scale, High Proof"(March/April); and "The Makeover"(May/June).
NFPA Journal will be back in the new year, with an issue focusing on health care, violence against responders, the Camp Fire, and more. 

 

From Fire Journalv. 72, no. 3 (May 1978): 

Early in the morning on December 21st, a family in Wakefield, MA was saved by an uninstalled smoke alarm.

“The father of the family of four bought a battery-operated smoke detector. Intending to install it the next day, he left it in its box on a chair overnight.
At 12:30AM the next morning, he was awakened by the detector’s alarm. Investigating, he went downstairs and found flames in the partition behind a wood-burning stove in the kitchen. He awoke his wife and two children. All four escaped safely.”
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.

 

Is the electrical industry 'qualified' for safety in the same way we require workers to be qualified? NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace provides a definition for a "qualified person" and requires that only qualified workers perform work involving electrical hazards. However, the fact remains that in many aspects, the electrical industry as a whole is not supportive of a safety culture.


In my recent NFPA Live, I presented examples that demonstrated how, as an industry, we have yet to adopt safety on the same level as energy efficiency and functionality. During the live event I answered this question from a member. I hope you find some value in it.


NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through the Member's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this link. If you're not currently a member, join today!

The NFPA Standards Council considered the issuance of proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIA) on the 2019 edition of NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection.  These TIAs was issued by the Council on November 6, 2018:
  • NFPA 20, TIA 19-1, referencing 10.10.3.5, on the 2019 edition
  • NFPA 20, TIA 19-2, referencing 12.4.1.4, on the 2019 edition
NFPA has also issued the following errata on NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, and NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code, with an issuance date of December 5, 2018:
  • NFPA 10, Errata 10-18-2, referencing Figure A.7.7.1.1(c) on the 2018 edition
  • NFPA 58, Errata 58-17-2, referencing 6.21.4, M.1 on the 2017 edition  
Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) are amendments to an NFPA Standard processed in accordance with Section 5 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. They have not gone through the entire standards development process of being published in a First Draft Report and Second Draft Report for review and comment. TIAs are effective only between editions of the standard. A TIA automatically becomes a public input for the next edition of the standard and is then subject to all of the procedures of the standards development process. TIAs are published in NFPA News, Codes Online, and included in any further distribution of the standard after being issued by the Standards Council.    
An errata is a correction issued to an NFPA Standard, published in NFPA News, Codes Online, and included in any further distribution of the document.
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As California recovers from its worst wildfire season on record, the landmark report released in October by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) carries even more weight. NFPA Journal covered the release of the UN climate change report in the "International" sectionof Dispatches in its November/December issue.
The report paints a grim picture of a world plagued by more wildfires even if the most ambitious climate change goals are met. Researchers said the most at-risk areas include the United States, Canada, and the Mediterranean—areas where we've already been seeing intense wildfire activity in recent years. In the past several months alone, California has seen its largest ever wildfire, the Mendocino Complex fire, and its deadliest and most destructive, the Camp Fire. (The next issue of NFPA Journal will include comprehensive coverage of the Camp Fire.)
"We've spent decades now creating this problem," NFPA Wildfire Division Director Michele Steinberg told the magazine for its article on the UN report. "The impacts of climate change constitute a systemic global problem, and this report confirms what many fire and land management experts already knew."
Read the full UN report here.
Completely revised to support the reorganized standard,  the new Automatic Sprinkler Systems Handbook helps you implement the 2019 edition of NFPA 13 smoothly and efficiently.
In a major update, NFPA 13 has been fully reorganized by structuring the technical content in the order you need to do your job. The handbook provides essential know-how and support for all aspects of your work. It includes: 
  • checklists and worksheets that include a plans review feature from the AHJ perspective 
  • project workflow diagrams and flowcharts to illustrate the progress of a sprinkler project
  • decision trees on protection for storage to show how to choose the right sprinkler strategy for any facility
  • "Ask the AHJ" and FAQs to help installers avoid common errors
  • Designer's Corner features that take a deep dive into design topics
Steer clear of issues that could compromise sprinkler operation; obtain your copy of the new Automatic Sprinkler Systems Handbook.
This Live Q&A session guided users through where to find the requirements in the code for fire protection systems and how to navigate NFPA 1's chapter 13 and other occupancy specific requirements for fire protection systems. We also addressed how to locate provisions for standpipes, automatic sprinklers, fire pumps, fire extinguishers and fire alarms.
In my recent NFPA Live, I addressed this topic for members and received this follow-up question. I hope you find some value in it.
NFPA Live is an interactive video series in which members of NFPA staff address some of the most frequent topics they receive through theMember's Only Technical Questionservice. If you are currently an NFPA Member you canview the entire video by following this link.If you're not currently a member, join today!

Early on the morning of December 13, 1977 a fire broke out in the Aquinas Hall dormitory at Providence College in Providence, RI. Ten female students died as a result of this incident.

 

Pictured here: The rear view of the dormitory where two women died after jumping from a window on the third floor, in the room where the fire started.
From Fire Journal v. 72, no. 4 (July 1978): 
“The primary fuel for the fire was highly combustible Christmas decorations that had been put up in the corridors. The extremely rapid fire development and dead-end corridor were the most significant factors that contributed to the multiple loss of life.”
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.
The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

NFPA’s EFFECT (Exterior Façade Fire Evaluation and Comparison Tool) has won an Innovation Award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). The world’s premiere authority on skyscrapers honors best in class tall buildings, urban contributions, technologies, and innovations that have emerged during the calendar year and impressed high-rise developers, designers, occupiers, operators and engineers.

 

EFFECT was created in response to fires occurring in tall buildings with combustible exterior wall assemblies around the globe. NFPA first worked with Arup to develop a risk assessment methodology that takes into account the building envelope; potential ignition sources; structure characteristics; and existing fire safety measures such as means of warning, containment, and extinguishment. Then it was time to build a comprehensive tool that would help building owners, facility managers and AHJs proactively assess risk in high-rise building inventory with exterior cladding. Since its release in February, various authorities, consultants and building owners have successfully used EFFECT to prioritize high-rise fire safety mitigation efforts and remediation work.

 

NFPA’s risk assessment tool is free to access and employs a two-tiered review process: 

 

  • Tier 1 entails an AHJ, building owner, or facility manager answering a small number of questions with clearly pre-defined answers, to inform the ranking of tall buildings within their portfolio. Some questions pertain to the combustibility of the insulation and facade cladding; the presence of sprinklers; potential ignition sources; and the type of alarm system.
  • Tier 2 is where authorities will complete a deeper fire risk assessment evaluation of those buildings deemed at risk in Tier 1. Onsite inspection; as-built information; maintenance records; samplings; and laboratory testing of unknown facade materials are considered in this section.

 

“This year’s Award of Excellence Winners communicate the diversity of interdisciplinary thought and innovation that will characterize both current and future generations of urban development around the world,” said Best Tall Building Jury Chair Karl Fender, Director at Fender Katsalidis Architects. NFPA’s EFFECT and other forward-thinking projects will now move on to the next stage of the CTBUH Awards Program in Shenzhen, China and vie for “Best in Category” distinctions in April 2019.

The December 2018 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.
In this issue:
  • New potential project on Fuel Gases Detection
  • Proposed Tentative Interim Amendments seeking comments on NFPA 72 and NFPA 291
  • Tentative Interim Amendments issued on NFPA 20
  • Errata issued on NFPA 72 and NFPA 1964
  • 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. 
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From Asia to Africa and even in the United States, informal settlements—often called slums or shantytowns—house the urban poor. With no building codes governing the construction of homes inside these areas, the use of open flames for heating and cooking, and high rates of drinking and smoking, fire is an ever-present threat.
The problem is poised to only get worse. Right now, an estimated 1 billion people live in informal settlements worldwide. By 2050, that number could swell to 2 or 3 billion. How can we keep these people safe from fire? More research and education on the fire problem in informal settlements is a good place to start, experts from the World Bank Group told me in October.
Read what they had to say in "A World Unregulated," which ran alongside "Sound the Alarm," a feature article on a project to install smoke alarms in a shantytown in South Africa, in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.

Every year I am amazed as how early in the season I see Christmas decorations for sale. This year I saw several locations displaying Christmas trees for sale as early as November 15. Like consumers, fire inspectors are also facing holiday issues long before the actual holiday date, sometimes months in advance. Retail stores, restaurants, and businesses are all jumping on board the holiday season earlier and earlier each year it seems. This requires diligence in ensuring that egress paths are maintained, proper protection is provided for storage and display of merchandise, cooking equipment is being properly cleaned and maintained, cooking is done safely in residences, and fire protection systems are all in good working condition.

Between 2011-2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 6 deaths, 16 injuries, and $14.8 million in direct property damage annually. Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are much more likely to be deadly than most other fires. On average, one out of every 32 reported home Christmas tree fires resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 143 reported home fires. (See NFPA’s report “Home Structure Fires Involving Christmas Trees”, issued in November 2017) 

NFPA 1 addresses both artificial trees and natural cut trees in all occupancies under Section 10.13 for Combustible Vegetation. Natural Christmas trees, by their nature, are initially fire retardant. The problem arises when they have been cut and packaged without access to water for extended periods of time. The fire danger of Christmas trees and similar vegetation increases when the bottom end of the tree is not freshly cut and immediately placed in water when purchased. Other concerns include the length of time Christmas trees are on display (as noted above, retail stores often set up outdoor displays of natural trees for purchase before Thanksgiving.)  

The species of tree and the rate of moisture loss are important factors in determining the extent of moisture loss. Of the various types of evergreen trees available, the Noble fir retains its moisture longer than other species. The best preventive measures include using a freshly harvested tree, cutting the butt or bottom end immediately before placing it in water, and checking the water level frequently to ensure that the tree water container is filled. The person responsible for the display should check the tree periodically. When needles shed easily, the tree should be removed or replaced, since trees dry from the inside out. 

Artificial Christmas trees come in all shapes and sizes.  They even come pre-lit. In September 2016, UL published a white paper about reducing the fire risk of pre-lit trees.  This publication addresses the research that led to the development of performance testing criteria for pre-lit artificial trees.  It is a valuable resource for consumers and code officials when evaluating the safety of these type of holiday trees. With regards to artificial vegetation, the Code is concerned with its fire retardance (heat release rate or other fire performance criteria) which should be displayed on a label or identification from the manufacturer, ignition sources, and electrical components.

The requirements for artificial and natural cut Christmas trees in NFPA 1 are summarized as follows:

  • Allowances for natural Christmas trees are specified by occupancy and found in Table 10.13.1.1.
    • Note: Christmas trees are prohibited or limited in their placement in occupancies that pose special problems due to the capabilities of occupants, occupant or management control, or the number of occupants. Some exceptions permit live, balled trees, if maintained, and trees in locations where automatic sprinkler systems are installed.
  • Artificial Christmas trees must be labeled or otherwise identified or certified by the manufacturer as being fire retardant. (10.13.3.1)
    • The fire retardance is demonstrated by each individual decorative vegetation item, including any decorative lighting, in an approved manner.
  • Christmas trees cannot obstruct corridors, exit ways, or other means of egress. (10.13.4)
  • Only listed electrical lights and wiring can be used on natural or artificial Christmas trees. (10.13.5)
  • Do not locate open flames such as from candles, lanterns, and heaters on or near Christmas trees. (10.13.7)

 

  • Where a natural cut tree is permitted, the bottom end of the trunk must be cut off with a straight fresh cut at least 1⁄2 in. (13 mm) above the end prior to placing the tree in a stand to allow the tree to absorb water. (10.13.9.1)
  • The tree is to be placed in a suitable stand with water and the water level must be maintained above the fresh cut and checked at least once daily. (10.13.9.3)
  • The tree is to be removed from the building immediately upon evidence of dryness. (10.13.9.4)
  • A method to check for dryness is to grasp a tree branch with a reasonably firm pressure and pull your hand to you, allowing the branch to slip through your grasp. If the needles fall off readily, the tree does not have adequate moisture content and should be removed.

 

 

In addition to the Code requirements, NFPA also provides a valuable resource page dedicated to Christmas tree and decoration fires. 

Have you had any trouble enforcing provisions for Christmas trees? What challenges do you face with Code enforcement during the holiday season?

Thank for reading, stay safe!

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

NFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®:
  • NFPA 72, Errata 72-19-1, referencing Table A.18.4.4, A.24.12, and A.24.12.2, of the 2019 edition.  Issued: November 21, 2018  
An errata is a correction issued to an NFPA Standard, published in NFPA News, Codes Online, and included in any further distribution of the document.

Side-by-side Christmas tree burn conducted by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission demonstrates how quickly a dried out tree burns vs. a well-hydrated one, underscoring the importance of watering Christmas trees daily.

 

Festive meals, flickering lights and holiday decorations: they're all hallmarks of the holiday season. Unfortunately, Christmas trees, candles, electrical decorations, and cooking all contribute to an increased number of home fires in December, making it a leading month for U.S. home fires. Here are some statistics that underscore these risks.


Christmas trees: Christmas tree fires are not common, but when they do occur, they’re much more likely to be deadly than most other fires. One of every 45 reported home Christmas tree fires results in a death, compared to an annual average of one death per 139 reported home fires.

 

Candles: December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. In 2016, the top three days for candle fires were Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve. More than half (56 percent) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (31 percent) the remainder of the year. 

 

Holiday decorations: Between 2012 and 2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 800 home fires per year that began with decorations (excluding Christmas trees). These fires caused an annual average of two civilian deaths, 34 civilian injuries and $11 million in direct property damage. One-fifth (19 percent) of these home decoration fires occurred in December. One-fifth (21 percent) of decoration fires started in the kitchen; 15 percent started in the living room, family room or den.

 

Holiday cooking: While cooking fires are the leading cause of U.S. home fires and injuries year-round, Christmas Day ranked as the second-leading day for home cooking fires in 2016 (behind Thanksgiving Day.) On Christmas Day in 2016, there was a 73 percent increase in the number of home cooking fires as compared to an average day.

 

Don't let these numbers put you in a bah humbug spirit! The vast majority of these fires can be prevented by taking some basic safety precautions. Check out our holiday fire safety tips and information for keeping fire-safe this holiday season; we encourage fire departments to use these materials as they work to promote holiday fire safety in their communities.

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code; NFPA 291, Recommended Practice for Fire Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants; and NFPA 1221, Standard for the Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Services Communications Systems; are being published for public review and comment:
  • NFPA 58, proposed TIA No. 1399, referencing 6.4.3 of the 2017 edition, comment closing date: January 17, 2019 
  • NFPA 291, proposed TIA No. 1411, referencing 4.7.3 Equations a and b, of the 2019 edition, comment closing date: January 9, 2019
  • NFPA 291, proposed TIA No. 1412, referencing Table 4.10.1(b) of the 2019 edition, comment closing date: January 9, 2019
  • NFPA 1221, proposed TIA No. 1413, referencing 3.3.10, 9.6.2.3, 9.6.2.4, 9.6.2.5(new), and A.3.3.10 of the 2019 edition, comment closing date: January 17, 2019  
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 by the closing date.
Is your sprinkler system ready for the holiday season? As the temperatures begin to drop, check out this article I wrote for PM Engineer Magazine to make sure your sprinkler system is prepared for this season’s cold-front. 
For more information, visit www.nfpa.org/13 or www.nfpa.org/25

 Read in NFPA Journal about the making of the "Critter Code"

 

By its own rules, every code and standard that NFPA develops must have a diverse committee comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, representing various groups with often divergent viewpoints. Even by these standards, the group that crafted of NFPA 150, Fire and Life Safety in Animal Facilities Code, was a hodgepodge rife with conflict.

 

In how many other circumstances would you see leaders of animal rights groups trying to find common ground with livestock industry executives? How often would fire marshals at zoos work alongside medical researchers, or stable managers, or swine farmers?

 

“This was probably one of the most interesting and complex exercises I’ve ever had as a staff liaison working on a document,” Tracy Vecchiarelli, an NFPA fire protection engineer and staff liaison for the code, told me.

 

NFPA 150 is the first comprehensive code out there dealing with all of the various types of facilities that house animals, from farms, to labs, to zoos, fairs, shelters, kennels, aquariums, and more. How it came to be is a fascinating story involving a bitter fight over fire sprinklers, a contentious letter-writing campaign, field trips, swine farms, and even a few tears.

 

To learn a lot more about the code, why it was necessary, and facts about how and why animals perish from fire, check out my cover story in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal “Critter Life Safety Code.” To get the inside scoop on the development of the code (which is a great tale all by itself) please read the sidebar to the main piece, called “Tension and Uncertainty.”

 

All of that, and a whole lot more is currently in the November/December issue of NFPA Journal.

On the morning of December 6th, 1917 the historic incident known as the Halifax Explosion occurred when two ships collided in the harbor. The temporary morgue that was set up after the event estimated that there were 2,000 fatalities and nearly 9,000 people were injured.
That morning, the Mont Blanc, a French steamer, was headed down the Narrows (a strait that connected Halifax Harbor and the Bedford Basin) towards the Bedford Basin. The steamer was carrying " bensol cargo on her deck, carboys of nitroglycerine in the forward compartments, TNT in midship, and oil in her ballast tanks." [Conlon] 
At the same time, the SS IMO, a Norwegian steamer was also heading down the Narrows towards the harbor faster than the 5-knot speed limit. The ships collided at 8:45am. The SS Imo hit the Mont Blanc on the starboard side. When the Imo pulled away from the Mont Blanc, the benzol was ignited by the sparks. The crew feared that the vessel would explode and abandoned the ship which struck the pier. [Fergusson] 
"Nineteen minutes after the collision, the Mont-Blanc's cargo erupted in a massive explosion, releasing energy equivalent to 2.9 kilotons of TNT." [Robinson] The explosion caused a shock wave and a 59 foot tidal wave. Many ships in the harbor were damaged or destroyed, piers were destroyed, and the city of Halifax and the town of Dartmouth suffered property damage and loss of life. [Fergusson] 
Everything in a 1.2 mile radius of the explosion was destroyed. 13,000 buildings, homes, factories, and schools were damaged or destroyed. 2,000 people died in the explosion or from exposure from being trapped in rubble during the blizzard that started after the explosion. The explosion caused over $35,000,000 in damage. 
Citations:
  • Conlon, Jacues. "The Great Halifax Disaster". 
  •  Fergusson, Charles Bruce "The Halifax Explosion." Nova Scotia Board of Justices (1971). 
  • Robinson, Kathie. "Looking Back: The 1917 Halifax Explosion" NFPA Journal, November/December (2015): 80. 
For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to theNFPA 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.
Many NFPA codes and standards specify the minimum requirements for periodic inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) of fire protection systems, but the need for a more data-based approach to ITM frequencies is growing as NFPA develops new documents that involve integrated systems (e.g., NFPA 4). This webinar will address related key issues, including establishing a data framework that standardizes the data collection format, submission process, data security parameters, and data analysis procedures. This is an ongoing effort and there is a need for additional work to be done to collect, evaluate and correlate fire protection system reliability data with existing code requirements. The Research Foundation facilitated a project titled “Applying Reliability Based Decision Making to ITM Frequency” and the project report is available on the FPRF website.
When: Wednesday, December 12, 12:30-2:00 pm ET
Presenters: 
· Casey Grant, P.E., Fire Protection Research Foundation, 
· Francisco Joglar, Ph.D., Jensen Hughes,
· Victor Ontiveros, Ph.D., Jensen Hughes,
· Gayle Pennel, P.E., Jensen Hughes. 
Visit www.nfpa.org/webinars for more upcoming NFPA webinars and archives. 

 

NFPA 2400®Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Used for Public Safety Operations has been released to help public safety officials integrate drones into their emergency response.


The new body of knowledge supports police, fire and EMS authorities as they put forth sUAS programs that are based on industry standards; and connects with groundbreaking UAS integration advancements identified in Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, Aeronautics and Space.


Whether you are applying for Part 107, “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems” Waivers or taking the path of Part 91, “General Operating & Flight Rules” with a Public Operator Status & Certification of Authorization (COA), the FAA will have questions. As a public safety official or an emergency responder in the field, how are you going to demonstrate a truly integrated sUAS program? How are you going to show that you have considered a variety of fly operations? How will you demonstrate that you have considered the associated risks to you and the public, and most importantly your methods to lessen or mitigate those risks?


That’s where NFPA 2400 comes in - the first public safety-centric, ANSI-accredited standard to support your wholesale integration of sUAS. In short, NFPA 2400 will help public safety leaders meet FAA expectations and effectively deploy sUAS programs.


Developed by dozens of representatives from NIST, the fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services, manufacturing, transportation, aviation, and consultant organizations, NFPA 2400 is a clear, concise, all-encompassing standard that addresses everything from program criteria to Con-Op to training, and so much more. It applies to all public safety departments that operate sUAS, and breaks down SUAS program into three key areas:

 

  1. A section devoted to sUAS organizational deployment, which includes, program criteria, deployment, sUAS selection, and both general and multiple aircraft operations.
  2. A professional qualifications component with minimum JPRs for both the pilot and observer so that they can be trained in accordance with public safety and emergency responder-specific requirements.
  3. An area that identifies maintenance responsibilities such as record keeping, discrepancy reporting, routine cleaning, upkeep, and storage.

 

The consensus process for NFPA 2400 was fairly quick. Over the course of 27 months, a request for the standard was submitted; a Technical Committee was established; public input and comments were sought and received; the Standards Council approved the standard; ANSI accredited NFPA 2400; and the new roadmap on sUAS was released on November 25, 2018 to help authorities establish safe, swift emergency response protocol from up above.

 

To learn more about NFPA’s new public safety drone standard, visit www.nfpa.org/2400.

NFPA Conference & Expo voting

 

NFPA members have the unique opportunity to apply their professional expertise to improving fire and life safety by participating in the NFPA’s annual Technical Meeting. The Technical Meeting gives members the chance to comment and vote on possible codes and standards changes on a variety of the key safety issues you grapple with every day. Member input on these potential revisions helps ensure the codes and standards reflect the realities of today’s fire and life safety challenges, and help us all stay safer.

 

Join NFPA today to make sure your voice is heard at the Technical Meeting on June 20, 2019 at NFPA’s Conference and Expo in San Antonio. Voting privileges begin after 180 days of membership. The deadline to join is December 22, 2018.

 

As an NFPA member, you will be eligible to vote on NFPA Standards in the Annual 2019 revision cycle. Some of the Standards that could receive a Notice of Intent to Make a Motion and presented for action at the 2019 Technical Meeting include:

 

 

Your NFPA membership provides you year-round benefits—from expert support for your codes/standards questions to exclusive access to Member Sections with your peers. Voting at the Technical Meeting is not only a benefit to you—your input can help us all stay safer.


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Last month, the Smart City Expo World Congresswas held in Barcelona, Spain. The annual event, which showcases the technological innovations of so-called smart cities worldwide, drew over 21,000 visitors from more than 700 cities in 146 countries. 
The growth of smart cities, which employ technologies to collect and analyze data on citizens and infrastructure, is something the fire service should not only be paying attention to but also actively involved in, according to a position paper endorsed by the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association at the 2018 Urban Fire Forum (UFF), held at NFPA headquarters early this fall. I wrote about the chiefs' decision in the recent NFPA Journal article, "Get Smart."
"The safety of the public is one of local government's highest responsibilities," the chiefs wrote in their paper. "Given the unique capabilities now available for harnessing and analyzing data, it is critical that the fire chief be directly and intimately involved in decisions related to the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data used for planning, decision-making, operations, and evaluation of the programs for which he or she is responsible."
Read all of the papers endorsed by the Metro Chiefs at this year's UFF online

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