The July/August NFPA Journal, out now, includes coverage on everything from a catastrophic natural gas incident to steps for improving safety in escape rooms, a popular type of amusement that is growing worldwide.
In our cover story, “The Day the Valley Exploded,” we look at how a gas line malfunction led to widespread fires and explosions in three communities in Massachusetts last year, and how effective mutual aid and incident command helped local fire departments respond to and manage what could have become a nightmare scenario for the Merrimack Valley.
Our features are anchored by a look at safety concerns in the global escape room industry, one that is poorly understood by many code officials, and by “Chasing the Chatter,” a timely look at how social media is monitored in emergencies to help responders determine what resources are necessary. The issue also includes a condensed version of the annual report, “Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2018.”
Our departments include an “In Compliance” article that takes a deeper dive on the code requirements related to escape rooms. Our “Perspectives” conversation is on the Event Safety Alliance, a group working to improve the safety elements of live events worldwide. In “Dispatches,” staff writer Angelo Verzoni leads with a fascinating, if sobering, look at the ongoing global problem of buildings that use combustible exterior wall assemblies, the kind of materials that played a major role in the devastating Grenfell Tower fire that killed scores of people in London two years ago.
In an equally sobering vein, “Wildfire” columnist Michele Steinberg offers a scathing assessment of the willingness of communities to overlook wildfire-resistant building standards, even though we’ve known for years that such standards work. On a recent trip to Santa Rosa, California, to tour a neighborhood recently rebuilt after being leveled by the 2017 Tubbs Fire, Steinberg encountered building and landscaping practices that ignore the harsh lessons that should have been ingrained in building officials after thousands of homes and other structures were lost in the city two years ago. “This is nothing less than an abdication of local government’s responsibility for public safety,” Steinberg writes.
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