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2019

It’s that time of year that so many American sports fans relish, as the dark of winter recedes, the days grow longer, and our thoughts turn to a certain beloved warm-weather sport.

 

I’m talking, of course, about professional bike racing and the venerable spring classics: the pageantry and passion of the Tour of Flanders, the fearsome cobbles of Paris–Roubaix, the punchy hills of the trio of Ardennes races. It’s the time of the season dedicated to the truly hard men of the pro peloton, the rouleurs who embody what bike racing should be—gutsy, impulsive, risky, all-out—rather than the practitioners of the careful “marginal gains” approach who can make a three-week grand tour about as exciting as watching a very, very long baseball game.

 

Actually, wait a second—the beloved warm-weather sport I’m supposed to be addressing is baseball.

 

Sorry. My bad.

 

Today is opening day for Major League Baseball—the earliest opening in MLB history, apparently—and a lot is going on with the design, use, and safety features of the stadiums where all those games are played. That applies to baseball’s oldest stadium—Boston’s Fenway Park, which opened in 1912—as well as its newest: Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, which opened in 2017.

 

Stadiums host a wider range of events than ever before, from athletic contests to concerts to extreme-sport spectacles like the Red Bull Crashed Ice tour that transformed Fenway in February. Accordingly, stadiums and the people who manage them must be able to provide safe operation for a range of audiences across an assortment of facility configurations.

 

NFPA Journal has reported on the steps necessary to make this happen, most recently in our July/August 2018 issue that included a “Perspectives” conversation with Nick Dawe, a deputy fire marshal and captain with Cobb County (Georgia) Fire & Emergency Services. Dawe worked extensively with the Atlanta Braves organization, as well as the management of SunTrust Park, to establish fire and life safety benchmarks for the stadium, which is part of a large town-within-a-town complex that includes other concert venues, restaurants, bars, a brewery, shops, and office and residential space.

 

Coincidentally, that same issue included a “Looking Back” feature recounting a 1993 fire at a previous home of the Braves, Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium.

 

Finally, it’s worth noting again our 2012 story that detailed the decade-long renovation of Fenway, a process driven in large part by fire and life safety considerations. “At 100 years of age, Fenway is the nation’s oldest professional sports stadium currently in use and the smallest stadium in Major League Baseball,” author Steve Adelman wrote seven years ago. “While not perfect, its recent improvements have made it remarkably compliant with NFPA codes regarding life safety, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and emergency messaging. In a larger sense, Fenway’s modernization is a prism through which to view not just one important building’s rebirth, but also the growing importance of life safety in how people all across the country experience a day at the ballpark.”

 

And so another season is upon us. Play ball.

 

 

Confused about where certain topics are addressed in the latest 2019 edition of NFPA 13? You are not alone! Check out this article in PM Engineer Magazine which explains WHY NFPA 13 was reorganized and also provides an overview of who’s on first.

 

https://www.pmengineer.com/articles/94153-jacqueline-wilmot-navigating-the-2019-edition-of-nfpa-13

This week we mark one hundred and eight years since the disaster and tragedy known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. On March 25, 1911, fire spread through the cramped garment factory on the 8th, 9th and 10th floors of the Asch Building in lower Manhattan. The rapidly spreading fire killed 146 workers, many of whom were young women.

The building only had one fire escape and this inadequate means of egress collapsed during the rescue efforts. Workers were crushed in the panic as the fought to open locked doors and only a few water buckets were available to douse flames.

After the incident, the labor movement and other groups created a public outcry over what was clearly a preventable tragedy. There was a renewed sense of urgency toward creating safer working environments and improving the rights of women and immigrants at this time as well.

According to OSHA, “the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire remained the deadliest workplace tragedy in New York City’s History” until the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Read more from the 100th anniversary in NFPA Journal.

 

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. 

 

Stay up to date by signing up for NFPA Newsletters.

Vicki Christiansen, who became full time chief of the United States Forest Service last October, has one of the most challenging tasks in all of federal government. Her agency, more than any other, is responsible for addressing the US wildfire problem, which over the past few decades has been defined by trends headed in all of the wrong directions.

 

I spoke to Christiansen over the phone last December, just a month after the Camp Fire devastated northern California, killing more than 80 people and causing an estimated $10 billion in damage. Our conversation, which has been published in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal, led us through a wide range of thorny issues, including the Forest Service’s budget quandary and proposed fix, as well as the agency's detailed strategy to address the growing and complicated problem of wildfire in America. 

 

To read Christiansen's thoughts about the changing scope of wildfire in America and what to do about it, and to learn more about the the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, check out the Perspectives feature in the new NFPA Journal

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments to NFPA 86, Standard for Ovens and Furnaces; and NFPA 451, Guide for Community Health Care Programs, are being published for public review and comment:

 

  • NFPA 86, proposed TIA No. 1440, referencing 8.5.1.9(3) of the 2019 edition, public comment closing date: 4/29/2019
  • NFPA 451, proposed TIA No. 1441, referencing 3.3.51.1 and A.3.3.51.1(new), of the proposed 2020 edition, public comment closing date: 4/24/2019

 

Anyone maysubmit a comment  on these proposed TIAs by the comment 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.

marinas

Spring is right around the corner and after the winter that many of us have experienced, especially in the northern regions of this country, I know I’m not alone when I say that it can’t come soon enough! The snow will melt, the grass will grow, trees will bud, and people will flock to the water. But there is a hidden danger - electricity - in marinas and boatyards that many of us may not be aware of. So whether you own the marina or you're a contractor who services one, there are key safety steps that must be considered and acted upon.

 

As many of us know, electricity finds its way into the water through a myriad of ways and often can be deadly before an issue is noticed. However, many of the problems that can exist in and around docks and marinas can be prevented or mitigated. Actions can be taken to ensure that the equipment designed to keep us safe remains functional. Regular inspections, testing, and maintenance help to find deficiencies in the system and lifesaving equipment such as ground-fault circuit interrupters. When docks and marinas open up in the springtime they need to be ready to operate safely.

 

So what does this entail? Taking a deeper dive into the integrity of the electrical system before the boats arrive. What exactly should a marina owner be looking for? Where should they be looking and what should they be doing to make sure that the summer doesn’t start off in tragedy? The following are three considerations you must keep in mind:

 

            1. Test, test, and test some more!

Devices like GFCI receptacles and ground-fault protection circuit breakers always come with a recommendation from the manufacturer to test their functionality on a regular basis. Each device needs to be tested to ensure that it will work when it needs to work. Every manufacturer has their own process, but the basics are the same. Activate the test function, often a button with the word “TEST” on it, and verify that the circuit has indeed been interrupted. This can usually be accomplished without the need for fancy testing equipment, often a simple plug-in circuit tester is sufficient to show power is on and off after the “TEST” function of the receptacle or circuit breaker has been activated. It should be noted that it is important to use the provided test button and not one on a “tester” as the manufacturer put it there for a reason. Many manufacturers require the provided test button be used to verify operation of the unit, but you should check with your specific equipment as to what is allowed.

 

2. Check the physical condition of the wiring system

The shoreline of a body of water can be an unforgiving place and is brutally hard on electrical systems that are installed in and around the water. Raceways can come apart at fittings from movement due to waves, collisions with boats can damage wiring methods or shake loose connections, and moisture can wreak havoc on anything metal. And if your marina is close to the ocean, all of these issues can be far more exaggerated. So where to look? Wiring around expansion joints or where a dock or pier connects to a solid structure tend to be exposed to movement that is likely to separate conduits whether they are glued or mechanically connected. Another point in the system that is prone to damage is where conduits or other types of raceways connect to fixed equipment. For this reason, keep an eye out for raceways that have pulled loose from boxes and terminations around equipment like shore power outlets or lamp posts. Also, make sure that raceways are still adequately supported. Often the corrosive environments around water can lead to screws and fasteners rusting and falling apart. This can then put a strain on the raceway terminations and ultimately the conductors themselves.

 

3. Obtain a leakage current measurement device

A leakage current measurement device is a tool that every marina owner should have. In fact, per the 2020 National Electrical Code® these devices are required where there are more than three receptacles that supply shore power to boats. This allows the boats themselves to be tested to see how much current is leaking into the water from the boat. However, they will only work to prevent hazards from the boats if marina owners have them and use them.

 

So remember, inspecting electrical systems is the first line of defense against this silent killer that can turn fun into tragedy without warning. Testing the lifesaving devices like GFCI receptacles and GFP circuit breakers can ensure they operate when we need them the most. And having the right tools to determine where the problem is coming from can also help prevent problem boats from connecting to the electrical system and putting a hazard on your shores.

 

For additional, related information, please visit NFPA’s NEC webpage.

Attention to firefighter cancer in recent years has helped to encourage a variety of efforts aimed at reducing exposure to harmful contaminants.


While cancer understandably has a way of capturing attention, it is important to note that there are additional health effects associated with the toxins produced during firefighting operations, including kidney and liver disorders, neurodevelopmental effects, decreased fertility, respiratory disease, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and more.


Furthermore, not all fires emit the same level of contaminants, and not all firefighters at the scene experience the same degree of exposure. Research has found higher levels of contaminants on the turnout jackets of personnel assigned to inside attack and search duties post-fire than those assigned to overhaul and backup; however, overhaul activities also entail significant exposure to contaminants because contaminants can be disturbed and enter the breathing zone.


The bottom line is that decontamination is an emerging issue that requires commitments from everyone. Fire departments need to provide environments that support best practices, while firefighters and fire officers must also accept responsibility for reducing exposures and limiting risk.


Decontamination best practices and procedures have been shared by every major fire organization to date – but they bear repeating and sharing, over and over again. They demand commitment at the department level, ownership by first responders, and guidance at every turn by fire service leadership.


Financial resources and outdated protocols continue to hamper decontamination efforts at certain departments. For instance, not every department has the ability to purchase a second set of gear or secure proper laundering solutions; but there are a number of practices that can substantially reduce harm to firefighters. Here’s 15 that may just help save a life:

 

  1. Perform some decontamination before leaving the scene. For example, gross decontamination with an industrial scrub brush is an effective initial step to remove debris and contaminants. It should be followed by using a garden hose or low-volume fire hose to avoid contaminating personal areas of vehicles or the fire station.
  2. Clean face pieces every time they are used. Research has found contaminants on the inside of face pieces which can lead to concerning inhalation and skin contact hazards. At the fire scene, use disposable wipes for cleaning your mask.
  3. Tools and equipment should also go through gross decontamination before returning to the station in order to avoid cross contamination.
  4. Establish a personal hand washing station to be used onsite by connecting a simple diverter valve from the apparatus heat exchange to the pump panel. Stock with soap, towels, and disposable wipes.
  5. Wear under gloves and glove liners when removing and handling contaminated gear to protect your hands from absorbing toxins on PPE and equipment.
  6. To avoid cross-contamination, remove, seal and store turnout gear, including PPE, boots, gloves, masks, and helmets, in large, leak-proof plastic bags in a designated turnout compartment (separate from the cab) before entering vehicles.
  7. If possible, avoid taking your gear home or storing PPE in personal vehicles. When this isn’t possible, as is often the case for volunteer firefighters, gear should be bagged or stored in containers and stowed outside personal space or vehicles.
  8. Open bags of gear and equipment outside the station for proper off-gassing.
  9. Prioritize decontamination laundering.
  10. Shower as soon as possible following exposure.
  11. Ensure that local exhaust ventilation systems (including those that attach to apparatus to capture diesel exhaust) are in place to reduce contaminants within the station.
  12. If your station has a laundry extractor, avoid mixing contaminated gear with less contaminated gear to reduce cross-contamination.
  13. Store decontaminated ensembles in dedicated, well-ventilated areas at the station.
  14. Wear alternate footwear inside the station to reduce contamination of indoor areas from footwear worn at the scene.
  15. Share these important steps with other crew members, and hold yourself and others accountable for doing all that you can to reduce occupational exposure to hazardous contaminants.

 

NFPA has had the backs of the fire service for more than a century. To help reduce firefighter exposure to harmful toxins on the scene, in department apparatus, at the firehouse and in personal spaces, please refer to our research, standards, and resources.

 

With historic flooding in the Missouri River and Mississippi River basins that have plagued the Midwest in the past few days, NFPA offers a timely resource in its hybrid/electric vehicle safety bulletin. The bulletin is designed to ensure that emergency responders and public safety officers are informed and safe when dealing with vehicles that are submerged or have been submerged in water. It was first introduced in response to the devastating floods and coastal surges that Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma produced in Texas, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in 2017.

 

NFPA's Alternative Fuel Vehicles Safety Training Program is the internationally recognized leader in emergency responder alternative fuel vehicle safety information and knowledge. NFPA maintains a collection of emergency response guides from more than 30 alternative fuel vehicle manufacturers, and offers emergency responders a best practices Emergency Field Guide, alternative fuel vehicle safety training information, relevant content, toolkits and videos like the one below.

 

 

 

Additional, related information can be found on NFPA's alternative fuel vehicle safety training webpage.

 

In December, several NFPA staff members got together to discuss a trend that's been making headlines in the construction industry: modular construction. From hotels to high-rise residential buildings, modular construction is becoming increasingly popular in the United States (it's been popular for a while in Europe). 

 

But the method—which entails prefabricating units, or modules, in a factory before shipping them to a construction site, where they're stacked together to form a full-sized building—caused folks at NFPA to take pause, and questions about modular construction safety and regulation swirled. How do inspections work? How are codes enforced across state or even country lines?

 

After the meeting, I and other NFPA staff members embarked on a mission to get to the bottom of things, and out of that work came a new feature article in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal, "Outside the Box," as well as a new video produced by NFPA Journal.

 

The video, titled "What is modular construction?," is the first in a series of planned videos called Learn Something New (LSN), which will run on the second Wednesday of every month on NFPA's YouTube channel and explore topics related to fire, electrical, and life safety hazards. LSN is targeted toward a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) student audience.

 

Essentially, the modular construction industry is regulated through a combination of language incorporated into state or local building codes, as well as self-inspection by the companies who fabricate modules.

 

Watch the video below, and learn more at nfpa.org/modular

 

Historic flooding in the Missouri River and Mississippi River basins has plagued the Midwest in recent days. While Nebraska and Iowa are seeing the worst of the flooding, still more rivers in six states at over 40 different locations have reached record levels.

 

In response to this crisis, NFPA is offering a timely video resource to help contractors in these areas assess electrical equipment that has been exposed to water through flooding. The video is part of NFPA’s popular and ongoing NFPA Live series and appeared in September 2017. During this live video event, host Gil Moniz, a former Senior Electrical Specialist at NFPA, answered follow-up questions submitted through the commenting tool.

 

The presentation provides information on how to assess electrical equipment that has been exposed to water through flooding. Moisture from flood water or contaminates in the water may affect the reliability and functionality of electrical equipment. Electrical equipment exposed to water can be extremely hazardous and must be properly assessed before it can be put back into service.

 


 

NFPA has additional, related information on this topic including NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, which provides a useful framework for recovering electrical equipment and systems after a disaster.

 

This NFPA Live has now ended. If you have further questions on this topic please submit a question through our Members' Only Technical Question service. If you are having trouble viewing this video there is an alternative version here.

 

Hazardous areas in buildings aren’t just those with high-hazard contents—a building’s areas, the materials stored in those areas, and the hazard of those materials are all factors in determining the level of protection according to NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®.

 

That’s one of a handful of timely code-related topics covered in the “In Compliance” department of the new March/April 2019 NFPA Journal, out now.

 

“Evaluating a hazardous area is relative and situational,” writes Kristin Bigda, P.E., a principal fire protection engineer at NFPA. “What constitutes a hazardous area in one occupancy may not be considered a hazardous area in another … The confusion often lies with the concept that a hazardous area is determined not just by the contents or materials in it, by also by the relative hazard of the space compared to the overall hazard of the occupancy. Understanding this distinction is critical to properly applying the code and isolating a fire within that space.”

 

The new “In Compliance” also includes a look at how new fire alarm systems must meet requirements contained throughout the entire NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®, not just pieces of the code. Our article on NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, helps readers understand when they need to replace sprinklers and what their sprinkler cabinets should contain. And our piece on NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®, looks at the issue of electrical load calculations in the 2020 edition of the NEC®.

 

The March/April issue of NFPA Journal is available in print, online, and through our NFPA Journal mobile apps for Apple and Android devices.

 

The NFPA Standards Council considered the issuance of a proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) on NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®; NFPA 291, Recommended Practice for Fire Flow Testing and Marking of Hydrants; and NFPA 1964, Standard for Spray Nozzles and Appliances.  These three TIAs were issued by the Council on February 28, 2019:

  • NFPA 72, TIA 19-2, referencing 2.3.2, I.1.2.2, and various other sections, 2019 edition
  • NFPA 291, TIA 19-1, referencing Equations a and b, 2019 edition
  • NFPA 1964, TIA 18-1, referencing Title, 4.7(title, 4.15(title), 5.5.(title), and 5.5.1, 2018 edition

Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) are amendments to an NFPA Standard processed in accordance with Section 5 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards. They have not gone through the entire standards development process of being published in a First Draft Report and Second Draft Report for review and comment. TIAs are effective only between editions of the Standard. A TIA automatically becomes a public input for the next edition of the Standard, as such is then subject to all of the procedures of the standards development process.  TIAs are published in NFPA News, NFCSS, and any further distribution of the Standard after being issued by the Standards Council.

On March 21, 1934, the city of Hakodate, Japan was overwhelmed by a conflagration that destroyed more than half of the city’s buildings and caused the loss of more than two thousand lives.

While fires and conflagrations were not unusual in the seaside community, the weather conditions that occurred on this particular date made this incident particularly tragic. There was a heavy rain that day that later changed to snow. As the afternoon progressed the snow was accompanied by a gradually increasing southwest wind which reached more than 60 miles per hour by 6pm. Added to these conditions were short circuits in the city lighting system.

From NFPA Quarterly v. 28, no. 2 (1934):

“The fire had its origin on the second floor of a two-story wooden building occupied by a Shinto priest in the southeastern part of the city. It is supposed to have been caused by burning embers from an open fireplace, which was exposed when the roof of the house was blown off by the wind. This section of the city is in a low place and the fire was first observed from the fire tower at the fire brigade headquarters more than a mile away, although there were street fire alarm boxes installed in the immediate vicinity. Three engines and three hose trucks were dispatched to the scene of the fire as promptly as possible. Some delay was experienced, however, due to the fact that most of the men and equipment of the brigade were engaged at fires caused by the short circuiting of electric wires in various other parts of the city…

Because of the direction of the wind at the start of the fire many people made their escape to Omori Beach, where they were trapped when the wind suddenly shifted toward the west. About 550 persons were burned, drowned or frozen when the fire overtook them at this point.

The greatest loss of life occurred at Shinkawa when the three bridges which spanned the Shinkawa River burned or broke under the weight of the panic-striken throngs. This cut off all escape to the north and 600 persons burned to death in this areas. Severe loss of life also occurred in the section burned at Takamori-cho, at Sunayama-cho some 400 persons who could not pass the mountain were all burned to death and at Shinkawa Beach 120 were burned, drowned, or frozen to death.”

 

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. 

 

Stay up to date by signing up for NFPA Newsletters.

One of the most notable features about NFPA’s standards development process is that it is a full, open, consensus-based process that encourages public participation in the development of its standards. A great way for your voice to be heard is to submit a Public Input (a suggested revision to a new or existing NFPA standard) during a Standard’s revision cycle. It is 100% free, easy, and done through our online submission system.


The following Standards are accepting public input for their next revision cycle:

  • 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 59A, Standard for the Production, Storage, and Handling of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
  • 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 211, Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents, and Solid Fuel-Burning Appliances
  • 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 Wall Assemblies Containing Combustible Components
  • NFPA 350, Guide for Safe Confined Space Entry and Work
  • NFPA 402, Guide for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Operations
  • NFPA 701, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films
  • NFPA 900, Building Energy Code
  • NFPA 914, Code for the 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 and Emergency Services Instructor Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1091, Standard for Traffic Incident Management Personnel Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1402, Standard on Facilities for Fire Training and Associated Props
  • NFPA 1600, Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management
  • NFPA 1963, Standard for Fire Hose Connections
  • NFPA 1975, Standard on Emergency Services Work Apparel
  • NFPA 2400, Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Used for Public Safety Operations 


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


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

 

Public input is a suggested revision to a proposed new or existing NFPA Standard submitted during the Input stage in accordance with Section 4.3 of the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards.

The March 2019 issue of NFPA News, our free monthly codes and standards newsletter, is now available.

In this issue:

  • New project on Fire Service Analysts and Informational Technical Specialists Professional Qualifications
  • 2019 edition of the Glossary of Terms
  • Proposed Tentative Interim Amendments seeking comments on NFPA 13, NFPA 14, NFPA 58, NFPA 101, and NFPA 1981
  • NFPA 35 and NFPA 36
  • 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.

As you know, NFPA 70E®Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® does not determine what normal operation of your equipment entails. NFPA 70E details the normal operating conditions necessary before someone can safely operate that equipment. So, in that regard, which of these do you consider to be normal operation of the equipment?

  1. Flipping a light switch in an office.
  2. Placing a light bulb into a socket.
  3. Opening a motor disconnect.
  4. Placing an ammeter into a circuit to measure current.
  5. Operating a circuit breaker in a panelboard after opening the hinged cover.
  6. Placing a fuse into a fuse holder.
  7. Replacing a ballast in a luminaire.
  8. Placing an appliance plug into a receptacle.
  9. Pushing an emergency stop on equipment.
  10. Racking a circuit breaker out of a cabinet.
  11. Plugging a circuit breaker into a panelboard.
  12. Replacing a damaged receptacle.
  13. Pulling conductors through rigid metal conduit.
  14. Programming a variable frequency drive.

Remember that the tasks you consider to be “normal operation” of the equipment should be able to be done while energized and without the need to use personal protective equipment (PPE). If you are required to use PPE it generally means that the equipment is not under normal operating conditions and therefore, the task is not normal operation. Opting not to wear PPE while performing a task does not make the task “normal operation.” Here in the United States of America, it is not believed that equipment meeting the normal operating condition requirements is inherently unsafe to the person properly operating the equipment. No interaction would be permitted with any electrical equipment if it were. Pulling the trigger on a hand tool, using a computer, charging a cell phone, or playing a video game would pose risks and hazards that could cause injury. Such a condition would require PPE for all of those tasks. Only qualified persons could perform those tasks. Luckily, society has agreed that such precautions are not necessary. 

All the tasks listed are necessary for the equipment to function as designed. I am pretty sure you will find manufacturer’s instructions that include the above tasks or the equipment is specifically designed to permit performance of the task. And if it is in the instructions or if the equipment is designed to do it, does that make the task normal operation of that equipment? Your decision to deem something to be “normal operation” plays a big part in protecting employees from injury. I am not going to state which of the above tasks are normal operation. That is not my call. That is not NFPA 70E’s call. It is your call.

For more information on 70E, read my entire 70E blog series on Xchange

Want to keep track of what is happening with the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) Subscribe to the NEC Connect newsletter to stay informed of new content. The newsletter also includes NFPA 70E information such as my blogs.

Next time: Elimination of an electrical hazard.

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.

 

What is Integrated System Testing for Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems? Why is it so critical now?

In my recent NFPA Live I identified various codes and standards that now require integrated system testing and review the types of buildings that are affected by these requirements. I received this follow-up 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 theMember's Only Technical Question service. If you are currently an NFPA Member you can view the entire video by following this linkIf you're not currently a member, join today!

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems; NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code; and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®; are being published for public review and comment:

  • NFPA 13, proposed TIA No. 1416, referencing Table 14.2.8.2.1, of the 2019 edition, closing date: 4/10/2019
  • NFPA 14, proposed TIA No. 1437, referencing 13.10 and 14.10(new) of the 2019 edition, closing date: 4/16/2019
  • NFPA 58, proposed TIA No. 1424, referencing 6.13.4.2 of the 2017 edition and proposed 2020 edition, closing date: 4/18/2019
  • NFPA 101, proposed TIA No. 1436, referencing 15.2.2.2.4(3)(new) of the 2018 edition, closing date: 4/16/2019

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.

On March 21, 1929 an explosion and fire occurred at the Kinloch Mine in Parnassus, PA. The origin of this explosion was underground and forty-six lives were lost when the incident occurred. At the time of the explosion, there were two hundred and fifty-eight men underground. Fortunately, the explosion was limited due to partial rock dusting and 213 people were able to escape.

From NFPA Quarterly v. 23, no. 1 (1929):

“The explosion traveled up the slope to the Tipple Building, which was ignited and burned for three or four hours. One man was burned to death here and four were injured. This structure, as shown by the accompanying illustration, was entirely of steel construction, with no combustible material except coal dust and pieces of coal, some wooden flooring, and the paint on the corrugated iron walls. The damage to this structure was largely due to the fire rather than to the explosion, which presumably did not have great force when it propagated outside the mine and into the Tipple Building, the floor of which was 25 to 30 ft. above the ground.

It would appear from the description that this fire might have been controlled with a minimum of damage by an automatic sprinkler system if sprinklers had been installed. Automatic sprinkler protection is not usual in this class of property; this case indicates the potential value of such protection.”

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. 

 

Stay up to date by signing up for NFPA Newsletters.

Sunday is St. Patrick's Day, and on that day in New York City 120 years ago, tragedy struck at the Windsor Hotel. After one careless guest attempted to flick a still-flaming match out of a window, a massive blaze engulfed the luxury hotel, killing 45 people. I wrote about the fire for the "Looking Back" article in the March/April issue of NFPA Journal

 

A number of disastrous conditions collided to drive up the death toll in the fire. The noise of the St. Patrick's Day parade occurring outside of the hotel made warning guests and authorities of the danger difficult. Outdated construction methods used to build the hotel, at the time 26 years old, contributed to rapid fire spread. The building lacked fire escapes. And the fire hydrant water supply in the city was inadequate.

 

Read the full article, which includes quotes from a 1930 NFPA Quarterly article, or listen to an audio version of the story here.

 

The Foundation has previously completed work on the impact of obstructions on ESFR sprinklers in storage occupancies. Similar research is needed related to spray sprinklers and obstructions.  There is a need to assess the current rules related to spray sprinklers, including the beam rule, four-foot rule, group obstructions, etc., along with the technical justifications and available research to determine the knowledge gaps.  This effort focuses on that review.  It is expected that future efforts would focus on filling in the knowledge gaps and developing the technical basis for any new requirements or guidance in NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems

The Foundation has issued an RFP for a project contractor for this project on “Impact of Obstructions on Spray Sprinklers.” You can find the RFP on the Foundation website. The deadline for proposals is March 29, 2019 at 5 pm EST. 

 

Stay up to date by signing up for one of NFPA's Newsletters.

The Call for Papers deadline is quickly approaching for SUPDET® 2019, which will be held September 17-20, 2019 at the Crowne Plaza Denver City Center in Denver, CO! Since 1997, the Research Foundation has organized SUPDET (Suppression, Detection, and Signaling Research and Applications Symposium), an annual symposium that brings together leading experts in the field of fire protection engineering for the purpose of sharing recent research and development on techniques used for fire suppression, detection, and signaling. These events are generally attended by a variety of fire protection professionals, such as engineers, researchers, insurers, designers, manufacturers, installers and AHJs.

 

Please submit your abstracts on new developments in research, technology, and applications for the fire protection community including the following topics. Case studies are always welcome.

 

Detection and Signaling:

 

  • Multiple Sensor and Multiple Criteria Based Fire Detection
  • Power over Ethernet and Emerging Technologies
  • Home Smoke Alarm Applications
  • Use of Data to Improve Performance/Effectiveness
  • Wildfire Applications

 

Suppression:

 

  • Advancements in Protection of High Hazard Commodities

  • Developments to Address Environmental Concerns

  • Protection of Li-Ion Battery Energy Storage Systems

  • Reliability and Maintenance of Systems (including remote maintenance)

  • Advancements with Gaseous and Clean Agents

     

Please submit your abstracts by email no later than March 15, 2019 to epeterson@nfpa.org. Abstracts should be absent of commercial overtones, be based on good science, present objective and credible results, and be without inherent bias. Abstracts that do not meet these criteria will not be accepted.

 

Abstracts will be reviewed by a program committee. If selected, presenters will be asked to submit an extended abstract, at most 3 pages, for publication in the meeting program or, at the author’s option, a full paper.

For more information on SUPDET - please visit our website: www.nfpa.org/supdet.

 

“REDUCE YOUR EXPOSURE: IT’S EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY” is the theme of the 2019 Safety Stand Down campaign. Each year, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) orchestrate a week-long awareness program to focus on significant issues within the first responder community. This year’s efforts will highlight critical decontamination protocols, research related to cancer in the fire service, and share resources that will help to inform the nation’s 1.3 million firefighters about carcinogens and other hazards.

 

Since its beginnings in 2014, Safety Stand Down has been embraced by more than 20 national and international fire and emergency-service organizations, including NFPA who hosts an online campaign quiz to elevate campaign awareness and engage the fire service.


According to a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report on firefighter cancer, firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnosis, and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general population of the U.S. These numbers underscore the issue of occupational exposure and confirm the importance of providing first responders with recent and relevant resources that will keep them safer from harm.


All fire and emergency service departments across the country will dedicate the week of June 16-22 to training, discussing, and performing drills so that firefighters are aware of contamination, cancer and other health issues associated with the toxins produced during firefighting operations, including kidney and liver disorders, neurodevelopmental effects, decreased fertility, respiratory disease, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease.


Topical information, tools, training, and videos can be found at the official Safety Stand Down website or by visiting NFPA.

The service, feeder and branch circuit load design requirements in NFPA 70, National Electrical Code® (NEC®) may need to be updated based on the increasing pace of technological innovation along the entire span of the electrical power chain.

 

Factors such as today’s energy codes are driving down the electrical load presented by end use equipment and thus load growth assumptions that justify “spare capacity” are being re-examined. In addition, larger than necessary transformers that supply power to service, feeder and branch circuits may expose unnecessary flash hazard to electricians working on live equipment. 

 

Recently, a Phase 1 research study reviewed the literature on this topic and developed a data collection plan (see “Evaluation of Electrical Feeder and Branch Circuit Loading: Phase 1”), with an emphasis on general commercial (office) occupancies. This project addresses this proposed data collection plan. 

 

To this end, the Research Foundation has issued an RFP for a project contractor for the “Electrical Circuit Data Collection” project. 

 

The goal of this project is to implement a data collection plan to provide sufficient receptacle demand and load data for a variety of occupancies, to provide a technical basis for considering revisions to the service, feeder and branch circuit design requirements in the National Electrical Code®. The project will seek to provide the necessary data and analytics for the targeted spaces and occupancies addressed by this project, and also set a clear approach for future efforts addressing other occupancies.

 

This research project will be conducted under the auspices of the Research Foundation in accordance with Foundation policies and will be guided by a Project Technical Panel who will provide input to the project, review periodic reports of progress and research results, and review the final project report. The Research Foundation will engage a contractor with appropriate technical expertise to conduct the project.

 

You can find the RFP on the Foundation website. The deadline for proposals is March 27, 2019 at 5pm EST.

Parking garages are ubiquitous in virtually every city on the planet, but they may not provide an adequate level of safety for the vehicles stored in them—or for the people driving and parking those vehicles.

 

That’s one of the major takeaways in “Safe Spaces?,” the cover story of the March/April issue of NFPA Journal, out now.

 

The issue also includes features on the trend of modular construction, fire safety in cold storage facilities, an interview with the new head of the US Forest Service, and much more.

 

Our cover story leads with a recap of a harrowing fire that destroyed a parking garage and more than 1,200 vehicles on New Year’s Eve 2017 in Liverpool, England. The fire did more than raise eyebrows; for safety experts around the world, the King’s Dock car park blaze was a game-changing event that has prompted an in-depth review of parking garage safety and sparked discussions of the need for additional research.

 

“It was dramatic to the point that everyone began asking, ‘What happened here?’” said Casey Grant, executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. “People began asking all sorts of critical questions.”

 

Many of those questions focus on the growing hazard posed by cars, trucks, and SUVs. Today’s vehicles use significantly more plastic and other combustible non-metal materials than vehicles of even a generation ago, and the increased fire hazard has safety experts concerned that the detection and suppression features of many parking facilities may not be a match for the threat. As one source in our story puts it, “Advances in automotive technology are very real and rapidly evolving. There are gaps in our understanding of how changes in automotive design and construction impact fire characteristics and fire growth.”

 

Also in this issue, our focus on industrial and storage occupancies includes an article on fire safety issues related to cold storage facilities, an aspect of the storage industry that is undergoing significant expansion driven by grocery-delivery services and pharmaceutical distribution.

 

There’s also a story on the growing popularity of modular building and the associated concerns among some AHJs over the decentralized nature of the process. Typically, modules are constructed off-site, often in another state or even another country, and shipped to a construction site, where they are connected, systems are added and tested, and exterior cladding is added to unify the look of the structure. Regulating this process has become an issue for some jurisdictions, and our story looks at different ways those jurisdictions are ensuring elements of building safety throughout the construction process.

 

Our departments include an in-depth “Perspectives” interview with Vicki Christiansen, who spent decades fighting wildfires and brings that on-the-ground point-of-view to her new post as head of the US Forest Service. Our wildfire coverage continues in “Dispatches,” with a lead story on how the recent government shutdown could have an adverse effect on the upcoming wildfire season, as well as a story on a new report on the Camp Fire that obliterated the town of Paradise, California, in November.

 

NFPA Journal is available in print, online, and through our apps for Apple and Android devices.

Pictured above are the charred ruins of a prison stockade near Kenansville, N.C.

On Saturday, March 7th 1931, eleven prisoners were trapped in their cells and died as fire destroyed the entire structure. The county investigation apparently ended with a coroner’s verdict stating that no criminal negligence was attached to any person and that the fire started from an unknown origin.

What was eventually referred to as “The Duplin Incident” sparked debate and increased awareness of the antiquated prisons located in the region. Governor Gardner of North Carolina was prompted to issue a statement appealing to the legislature to approve a bill that would allow construction of a more modern and less flammable prison facility.

 

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. 

 

Stay up to date by signing up for NFPA Newsletters.

 

Many health care facilities have recently been cited because their generators are not provided with emergency stop stations. Some have questioned whether existing installations should be "grandfathered" since they were previously accepted. Many authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and accreditation organizations have determined that this is not the case and are citing facilities and requiring the installation of switches.

 

In this NFPA® Live session I reviewed the code requirements, including how long the requirements have existed, why these switches are required, and where they are meant to be installed. I received this follow-up question from a member. I hope you find some value in my answer.

 

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!

In a recent TV interview, retired Fire Officer and FEMA Executive Fire Officer, Dr. Burton Clark shared insights about the state of fire safety today. A TV host with NewsChannel5 in Nashville, Tennessee opened up the discussion by pointing out a quote in Clark’s book, I Can’t Save You But I’ll Die Trying where he says, “Society needs to change how it thinks and feels about fire death.”


Clark responded by saying, “We can do better at preventing and surviving fire at all levels of society. To underscore his perspective and to reinforce the fire and life safety ecosystem that NFPA has been advocating for, Clark discussed the issue of complacency at length. Here are some of the gems from that interview.

 

  • Clark set the stage by talking about a 2017 survey out of California’s Chapman University that asked what people are afraid of. “They came up with 80 things and fire was not on that list of 80 things. Actually, zombies and ghosts were like 78 and 79, but fire was not on the list at all in terms of what people are afraid of,” the 40-year fire service veteran said.
  • “I am not blaming anybody (for not being concerned about fire). That is the way society has been almost from the Ben Franklin days. We are still stuck in a basic manual fire protection model, which means that when there is a fire people have to get on something, and go to where the fire is and put it out. Now we have big shiny apparatus and big hoses, and all the gear, but we are still doing the same thing. Somebody has to discover the fire, somebody has to be notified, and then we have to respond to it, to put the fire out. That is a manual fire protection model.”
  • “The difference is for the 21st century, we need to move to an automatic fire protection model, meaning that when the fire starts, the smoke alarm goes off to alert people, then the sprinkler head goes off, and the water puts the fire out. Then, the fire service can come. That is the only way that we will ever really solve the American fire problem. It is hard to do better with that manual fire protection model. We need to transition to an automatic building fire protection model.”

 

Clark told the interviewer that last year in Tennessee there were 99 fire deaths. “With all the best fire service in Tennessee, we still lost 99 people. Nationwide there were 2,278 fire fatalities in homes last year. We are doing the best that we can, but that’s not good enough. I think we can do better.”

 

To promote and advocate for home fire sprinklers, use NFPA and Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition resources.

Over 200 pages of NFPA 1 (including Annexes) are dedicated to the storage, use and handling of hazardous materials.  We receive many questions asking hazardous materials-related questions from fire inspectors, AHJs, and others, trying to better understand how to apply provisions to help them with their day to day job enforcing Fire Code requirements.  Most commonly we hear from users about how to determine the maximum allowable quantity (MAQ) of a hazardous material and how to properly protect a space with hazardous materials.

 

Inspectors are responsible for enforcing the safe use and presence of hazardous materials, which include aerosols, compressed gases and cryogenic fluids, corrosives, explosives, flammable and combustible liquids and solids, toxic materials, oxidizers and LP Gas.  The amount of material in the Code that one needs to understand in order to safely apply it can be complex and even overwhelming.  There are several key terms that must be understood first before applying the Code:

  1. Maximum Allowable Quantity (MAQ). The quantity of hazardous material permitted in a control area.  This term is deceiving.  NOTE! --> While the term is referred to as "maximum", it really means that the material allowed is the maximum quantity per control area before requiring additional protection.  So, its not really a "maximum", rather a threshold before additional requirements kick in. 
  2. Control Area. A building or portion of a building or outdoor area within which hazardous materials are allowed to be stored, dispensed, used, or handled in quantities not exceeding the maximum allowable quantities (MAQ). 
  3. Protection Level. While not an officially defined term in the Code, but, where the quantity of hazardous materials in storage or use exceeds the MAQ for indoor control area the occupancy is required comply with additional protection requirements (referred to as Protection Level 1, 2, 3 or 4.)

Here are the first steps for a fire inspector, facility personnel or designer planning for the presence of these materials in their building:

      1. Classify the hazardous material

      2.Determine the quantity of hazardous material to be use

      3. If the quantity exceeds the MAQ for a single control area, one can either apply the provisions for the various protection          levels, or apply provisions for multiple control area

      4. If the quantity does not exceed the MAQ for a single control area, no special construction features are required

 

FireCodeFriday

 

To apply steps 3 and 4, an inspector needs to know what the permitted MAQ is for the particular occupancy.  Table 60.4.2.1.1.3 presents what can be termed the “general” MAQs. These are maximum quantities of hazardous materials that are considered to be appropriate for industrial, mercantile, or storage occupancies without the need for special protective measures. This is used to determine the MAQ for any given material, unless the MAQ for the specific occupancy is different. In that case, the MAQ in the occupancy-specific table applies.

 

The following steps should be followed when using Table 60.4.2.1.1.3:

  1. The category of the hazardous material should be determined, based on the classification of the material and the definitions within the Code. Without this basic information, the limits and protection features cannot be identified. All physical and health hazards associated with the hazardous material must be identified and classified so that each risk can be determined and the protection features or limits can be specified.
  2. The use of the hazardous material in a building must be understood so that appropriate limits can be established. These uses are generally categorized as storage, use-closed, and use-open. The storage category is designed for a hazardous material that is intended to enter a building in a container, cylinder, or tank and is not removed from the original container, cylinder, or tank in the storage room or control area. If the hazardous material is shipped to the site, stored, then shipped off-site, only the storage column of the table is used.
  3. If the material is used in a process, the process system must be reviewed to determine whether it is classified as use-closed or use-open. Closed use and storage have very similar risks and are treated the same with respect to MAQ. Open use is considered the most hazardous and, therefore, is most restricted with respect to an MAQ 4
  4. Apply the appropriate footnotes (there are quite a few!)  Information in the footnotes may modify the values in the Table so this step cannot be overlooked.

 

Chapter 61 through 75 then contain requirements to specific types of hazardous materials (for example, Chapter 63 contains requirements for compressed gases and cryogenic fluids.)  Most of these provisions are extracted into NFPA 1 from the respective NFPA documents  (NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code; NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code...) 

 

Understanding how to properly protect areas with the storage, use or handling of hazardous materials benefits both life safety and property protection. In addition to understanding how to properly protect these areas, fire inspectors are required to meet the minimum professional qualifications established in NFPA 1031, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Inspector and Plan Examiner. One way to accomplish this is with a Certified Fire Inspector (CFI) certification, which includes demonstrating knowledge on protecting areas with hazardous materials.  These programs were created back in 1998 in response from local jurisdictions for a certification program based on the competencies in NFPA 1031.  Starting in NFPA 1, 2018 edition, compliance with NFPA 1031 is mandated for all fire inspectors and plans examiners.  The NFPA CFI I and CFI II certification programs are one way to demonstrate compliance with this requirement, promote professionalism in the role of a fire inspector, help demonstrate and understanding of the application and use of codes and standards, and improve job performance.  For more information on these programs and how to enroll, visit their page.

 

And finally, 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

Thanks for reading!

The updated 2019 edition of the NFPA Glossary of Terms (GOT) has been published and is available for free. 

The GOT is a list of the defined terms in NFPA's published codes, standards, guides and recommended practices. Over 16,900 terms are listed alphabetically and assembled into a free PDF available on the NFPA website. The document is used in a number of ways. It helps NFPA Technical Committees who are looking to define new terms or compare existing terms. It also helps members of the public who are interested in learning about how NFPA documents define specific terms. The GOT contains the following details about each term:

  • Term: The word being defined.
  • Definition: The description of the term.
  • Document (Edition):  Where the term and definition are found (document #) and the edition year of that document.
  • Document Defining Same Term:  A list of documents that also define the same term.
  • Document Using Same Definition:  A list of documents that also define the same term in the exact same way.


See the figure below for an example of how the GOT is organized. The term "Barrel" is defined in three documents: NFPA 1, NFPA 30, and NFPA 80.  NFPA 1 and NFPA 30 both define the term in the exact same way. The two definitions refer to a unit of volume while the definition from NFPA 80, refers to a rolling steel door component. To learn more about any of NFPA’s codes, standards, guides and recommended practices defining a term, visit the NFPA Document Information Pages – To go to a specific document page use the shortcut link: www.nfpa.org/(insert doc #). For example, NFPA 80 can be found at www.nfpa.org/80.

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