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Amanda Kimball has been named executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation (Research Foundation). The eight-year veteran of the independent, non-profit research affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association replaces Casey Grant who is retiring in December after 16 years with NFPA and 15 years of directing Research Foundation efforts that support the NFPA mission of eliminating loss from fire, electrical and related hazards.


Kimball spent the past three years as research director for the Research Foundation. Prior to that, for five years she managed projects ranging from  literature reviews to large experimental testing endeavors involving suppression, fire alarm, and building life safety.


She will now provide leadership on research initiatives that pertain to fire protection, emergency response, and virtually everything that challenges safety in the built environment. The role requires a great deal of collaboration with a half dozen staff members, NFPA colleagues, board of trustee members, project sponsors, project contractors, advisory panel members who provide peer oversight and guidance, and a broad range of stakeholders.


Kimball holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in fire protection engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and is a registered professional fire protection engineer in the state of Massachusetts. Before the Research Foundation, she was an Arup consultant for seven years focused on fire protection engineering, building code life safety, the design of fire protection systems, and the egress modeling of buildings and subway stations.


“It is an honor to be the new executive director of the Research Foundation,” Kimball said. “So often we hear incoming leaders state that they have big shoes to fill. I know exactly why they say as much, given Casey Grant’s accomplishments, his far-reaching influence, and the indisputable impact that he has had on reducing risk in our world,” Kimball said. “I applaud Casey’s extensive contributions and thank him for the incredible mentorship that he has offered our team members along the way.”


Outgoing executive director Casey Grant earned a reputation for being a well-connected, tireless, game-changer with an eye on emerging issues and a penchant for keeping first responders and the public free from harm.


The Research Foundation was established in 1982 in response to a growing need for research that better informed the expanding body of NFPA codes and standards. Since then, the Research Foundation has facilitated major domestic and international research programs that address industry challenges in detection and signaling, hazardous materials, electrical safety, fire suppression, storage of commodities, firefighter protective clothing, equipment, public education, and public policy.


Amanda Kimball is certain to build upon the great work that the Research Foundation is doing; she is committed to cultivating synergies and working with a wide range of professionals to reduce risk in the world.

Many people who work with NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, or any other building or life safety code, can understand finding themselves in a Goldilocks scenario, where the prescriptive requirements in the code just don’t fit. For this reason, the code offers several option for compliance:

(1) Prescriptive

In general, the core requirements in the code are prescriptive requirements. The code specifies that new stairs are required to have no more than a 7 in. rise and an 11 in. run, or that a new sprinklered office building is limited to an exit travel distance of 300 ft. The prescriptive requirements provide quantitative, measurable, and enforceable requirements. These requirements provide designers with clear guidance on minimum design requirements to achieve an acceptable level of life safety.

(2) Equivalency

The code also offers an option for equivalent compliance in section 1.4. It is developed on a three-year cycle and several more years before being adopted by a jurisdiction. In a world where technology and innovation are changing rapids, there may be times that a technology is not specifically addressed in the code, or an edition of the code. It is not the intent of the code to exclude the use of new technologies based on the sole reason that it was developed or popularized after the code was published. Hence, section 1.4 provides an equivalency that allows the use systems, methods or devices of equivalent or superior quality.

It is the responsibility of the building owner or designer to provide technical documentation to the AHJ demonstrating that their technology, design, or method provides equivalent protection to the prescriptive requirements in the code. If it is determined by the AHJ that equivalent protection is provided, the alternate technology, design, or method is considered to be code compliant. Therefore, although I have broken it out as a separate option for compliance, it is really a subset of prescriptive compliance.

(3) Performance

Finally, there is the performance-based option. Sometimes the design of a building is too specialized or a building designer wishes to incorporate a building element that is too unique to fully comply with the prescriptive requirements of the code. Then the use of the performance-based option in accordance with Chapter 5 may be necessary for a desired design.

The purpose of a performance-based design is to determine if a building or building element meets the fire and life safety goals and objectives of NFPA 101, without strictly complying with the prescriptive requirements. Performance-based designs are required to be completed by a registered design professional and can provide designers with a significant amount of flexibility in their designs. Similar to equivalencies, it is the final determination of the AHJ to determine if the performance objectives are met.

The design of a building does not need to take a singular approach. A designer can use a combination of prescriptive, equivalent, and performance-based approaches. Therefore, just like Goldilocks, through proper application of NFPA 101, you should be able to find a solution that is “just right” for most every design problem.


Got an idea for a topic for a future #101Wednesdays? Post it in the comments below – I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Did you know NFPA 101 is available to review online for free? Head over to and click on “FREE ACCESS.”


NFPA is developing a free public safety drone compliance program with immersive training and a searchable knowledgebase - thanks to a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant from FEMA.

Fire departments are increasingly using drones for structural fires, wildland fires, search and rescue efforts, hazardous material responses, natural disaster efforts, and other events that would benefit from increased situational awareness. Despite this trend, many US fire departments lack the proper information, knowledge, and experience needed to establish and maintain a legally sound public safety program that is compliant with FAA regulations, and the standards produced by ASTM International, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and NFPA. This may result in fire departments deploying unmanned aerial devices inaccurately; inappropriately gathering information during an incident; and interference with manned and unmanned flight operations. All these missteps needlessly expose fire departments to liability.


The NFPA research project will document fire service drone programs and case usage – and produce the guidance, learnings, and best practices that US fire departments need to establish successful drone programs. More specifically, the research project will:


  1. assess the current level of understanding, policies, and standards on public safety drone usage;
  2. generate educational content that helps departments to comply with current regulations and standards;
  3. track fire service drone programs via an accessible portal; and
  4. freely disseminate information and training so that departments can establish regionally and nationally compliant public safety drone programs.


Here’s what the project will entail.


  1. The Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA, will conduct a literature review of the fire service drone landscape and collect compliance and usage data.
  2. NFPA and subject matter experts (SMEs) at the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting at the State of Colorado, Department of Fire Services will review the latest public safety drone usage research, testing, regulations, policy, and training content.
  3. The Research Foundation will then convene a technical advisory panel consisting of fire authorities, standards developers, public safety officials, emergency managers, researchers, regulators, and government leaders to advise on the project’s scope, messaging, curriculum, and deliverables.
  4. The NFPA data and analytics team will synthesize the collected information to support curriculum development efforts and populate the portal.
  5. The Research Foundation will host a public safety drone workshop and findings will be distributed.
  6. SMEs and curriculum developers will build a self-paced, interactive online training program, educational videos, and augmented virtual reality tools as part of a full educational suite. The curriculum will cover proper administration, operation, safety, and maintenance of public safety drone deployment.
  7. All materials, research, and information collected as part of the project will be available for free to U.S. firefighters on the NFPA website.
  8. The NFPA data team will build an online repository for all the information captured, and host content on a dedicated, interactive, searchable site where departments can upload and search drone action incident reports.


NFPA released NFPA 2400 Standard for Small Unmanned Aerial Systems in 2018 to help the fire service address organizational deployment, professional qualifications, system selection, as well as care and maintenance for public safety drone programs. The new NFPA drone research project is currently underway and deliverables will be available in September 2021.

Sparky the Fire Dog was created for the NFPA in 1951 and has been the organization’s official mascot and spokesdog ever since. He is a widely recognized fire safety icon who is beloved by children and adults alike. In addition to connecting with the public through educational programs, he has a very active website,, which allows kids to explore and learn about fire safety in a trusted, interactive environment.



As the mascot of the National Fire Protection Association, Sparky the Fire Dog has a full biography:


  • Name:  Sparky the Fire Dog
  • Occupation: Fire Safety Advocate and Spokesdog for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • Registration: The name and image of Sparky, as well as the title Sparky the Fire Dog, are registered as trademarks and service marks of the National Fire Protection Association in both the United States and Canada.
  • Base of Operations: Headquarters of the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association in Quincy, Massachusetts
  • Born: March 18, 1951
  • Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Description: Sparky is an anthropomorphic fanciful character depicted as an adult Dalmatian who appears in full firefighter protective clothing at all times.
  • Identifying Marks: Sparky has three freckles on each side of his muzzle and five spots on each ear.
  • Personality: A positive approach to communicating fire safety advice.
  • Mission: Help save lives and reduce loss with information, knowledge and passion.


For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.

 The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.

 Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has sent a New Project Initiation Request to the NFPA Standards Council asking for the development of an ANSI-accredited standard for community-based response to drug overdoses (CReDO). This new standard would address the necessary functions and actions related to the prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery to drug overdoses by any community, AHJ, facility, and/or organization that handles these types of incidents.


According to the DHS request, NFPA was selected to develop the proposed CReDO standard because of its open-consensus codes and standards development process. The DHS request states:


"To address this national public health emergency, we need a multi-level community response to prevention, identification, response and recovery to these overdose events. Communities need to recognize and share best practices and tools to tackle the issues within their respective jurisdictions. It requires consistent training, terminology, tools, systems, frequent updates of current information, and overall coordinated management of response actions.


A national voluntary consensus standard would bring together all vested stakeholders to tackle this problem together. It would include participation by federal, state and local government, law enforcement, EMS, fire, hospitals, poison centers, professional organizations, laboratories, addiction treatment programs, drug prevention experts and private sector partners."


As first responders have become increasingly relied upon to provide emergency response to a growing range of incident, NFPA has worked to support their roles and responsibilities by developing standards, trainings, resources and initiatives that help them perform their work as effectively and safely as possible, wherever they’re required to go. Development of our ambulance and active shooter are just a couple of examples of first responder issues we’ve addressed in recent years.


When the NFPA Standards Council receives requests to develop a new standard, comments are solicited from as many groups and individuals as possible to gauge levels of support or opposition. This feedback ultimately enables the Council to determine whether or not to begin standards development.


We fully recognize that there will be many points of view and perspectives to be considered on the proposed CReDO standard. NFPA is now soliciting public comments, which can be provided to the Standards Council at through December 31, 2019. We encourage everyone to actively participate in this process to make sure all voices and opinions are heard.

If you’re looking for some creepy ambience, a tricky puzzle, or just a good old fright, you might find yourself at what NFPA 101, Life Safety Code refers to as a special amusement building. Most commonly these are haunted houses, but the classification is also used for escape rooms.


These places can be a lot of fun, but they also present significant life safety challenges to first responders and building operators. Check out these resources to learn more about the role of special amusement buildings in NFPA code.


NFPA Journal on escape rooms

How a Haunted House fire affected NFPA 101, Life Safety Code

What is a special amusement building?

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 inputs for their next revision cycles:


  • NFPA 2, Hydrogen Technologies Code
  • NFPA 55, Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids Code
  • NFPA 78, Guide on Electrical Inspections
  • NFPA 115, Standard for Laser Fire Protection
  • NFPA 130, Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems
  • NFPA 302, Fire Protection Standard for Pleasure and Commercial Motor Craft
  • NFPA 326, Standard for the Safeguarding of Tanks and Containers for Entry, Cleaning, or Repair
  • NFPA 329, Recommended Practice for Handling Releases of Flammable and Combustible Liquids and Gases
  • NFPA 410, Standard on Aircraft Maintenance
  • NFPA 470, Hazardous Materials Standards for Responders (combining Standards NFPA 1072, NFPA 472, and NFPA 473)
  • NFPA 475, Recommended Practice for Organizing, Managing, and Sustaining a Hazardous Materials/Weapons of Mass Destruction Response Program
  • NFPA 502, Standard for Road Tunnels, Bridges, and Other Limited Access Highways
  • NFPA 556, Guide on Methods for Evaluating Fire Hazard to Occupants of Passenger Road Vehicles
  • NFPA 557, Standard for Determination of Fire Loads for Use in Structural Fire Protection Design
  • NFPA 654, Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids
  • NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems
  • NFPA 801, Standard for Fire Protection for Facilities Handling Radioactive Materials
  • NFPA 820, Standard for Fire Protection in Wastewater Treatment and Collection Facilities
  • NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems
  • NFPA 1000, Standard for Fire Service Professional Qualifications Accreditation and Certification Systems
  • NFPA 1078, Standard for Electrical Inspector Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1082, Standard for Facilities Fire and Life Safety Director Professional Qualifications
  • NFPA 1140, Standards for Wildland Fire Safety (combining Standards NFPA 1051, NFPA 1141, NFPA 1143, and NFPA 1144)
  • NFPA 1142, Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Fire Fighting
  • NFPA 1145, Guide for the Use of Class A Foams in Fire Fighting
  • NFPA 1225, Standards for Emergency Services Communications (combining Standards NFPA 1061 and NFPA 1221)
  • NFPA 1990, Standard for Protective Ensembles for Hazardous Material and Emergency Medical Operations (combining Standards NFPA 1991, NFPA 1992, NFPA 1994, and NFPA 1999)
  • NFPA 2113, Standard on Selection, Care, Use, and Maintenance of Flame-Resistant Garments for Protection of Industrial Personnel Against Short-Duration Thermal Exposures from Fire
  • NFPA 2500, Standard for Operations and Training for Technical Search and Rescue Incidents and Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services (combining Standards NFPA 1670, NFPA 1983, and NFPA 1858)

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.

NFPA has issued the following errata on NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®:

  • NFPA 70, Errata 70-20-1, referencing 700.16(B) of the 2020 edition, issued on October 10, 2019

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.

Over the years Sparky the Fire Dog has had many looks and messages. The constant has been his devotion to fire safety and fire prevention. This week’s Throwback Thursday looks back at the year 1973 and Sparky’s Spring Clean Up campaign messaging.

Sparky says Clean up


Sparky regularly takes part on local Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activities. Research around home destruction vs. home survival in wildfires point to embers and small flames as the main way that the majority of homes ignite in wildfires.


You can learn more about how wildfires spread and ignite homes in NFPA’s online course Understanding the Wildfire Threat to Homes. An overview of fire history, fire basics, and how homes burn.


For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.

 The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
 Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation, the research affiliate of NFPA is overseeing a two-year project on the Economic and Emotional Impact of an Active Shooter/Hostile Event – thanks to Fire Prevention and Safety Grant money from FEMA.


The technical committee for NFPA 3000, Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program (the world’s first standard to help communities holistically plan for, respond to, and recover from mass casualty events) will play an integral role in the research effort.


Emergency responders, who are directly involved with horrific active shooter/hostile event tragedies can suffer life-long impact. This toll is felt acutely by the individual sufferer, but it is also affects the 29,819 fire departments in the U.S; 18,000 law enforcement agencies (according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics); and 51,808 local government units (per 2012 Census of Governments data) - most of which bear the costs associated with expanded mental health resources, staff turnovers, early retirements, and staff reassignments. Additionally, victims and community members experience ongoing trauma, and yet, there is little information available on the cost of these impacts to inform resource allocation and public policy.


The AFG-funded project will define a sustainable, quantified approach to measure the impact of ASHER incidents by:


  1. establishing valid economic measures for the fire service and others;
  2. quantifying the short-and-long-term emotional impact on emergency responders;
  3. justifying resources needed for preparedness, training, equipment, and other critical needs;
  4. and supporting the unified approach outlined in NFPA 3000


In May 2018, Chief Otto Drozd of Orange County, Florida asked the Research Foundation to look at how a first responder’s psyche and physical well-being are affected, and departmental budgets are impacted by hostile events. Drozd is passionate about the topic given that his department responded to the Pulse Night Club shooting incident in Orlando. In September of that same year, the topic was discussed at the Urban Fire Forum and a position paper that touched on the impact to the fire service was released. As the year rounded out, the Research Foundation convened a sub-group of the full NFPA 3000 Technical Committee to determine what they considered to be an ASHER-related research priority. Representatives from the fire service (International Association of Fire Fighters, Metro Chiefs, NFPA, Orange County Fire/Response Department); emergency medical services (American Ambulance Association), and law enforcement (Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, Department of Justice, Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Police Foundation) supported the proposed economic and emotional impact research project, and the Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) proposal was submitted, on their behalf.


The project will quantify the toll on public safety departments, including the long-term emotional impact on personnel; and highlight costs that can help justify the necessary resources to plan and train for all phases of active shooter and hostile event incidents, including the highly-complex recovery phase. The project will:


  1. identify the relevant impacts on public safety departments, as well as available data and methodologies to estimate their costs in dollars;
  2. develop a framework to benchmark costs, and identify gaps in data;
  3. use the framework to complete three case studies utilizing communities of different sizes and demographic compositions;
  4. establish recommendations for planning, training, and recovery for active shooter and hostile event response that could help reduce or avoid costs;
  5. and disseminate methodology/framework, case studies, and recommendations to appropriate audiences.


The ASHER economic and emotional impact research will begin this fall, and the final report and other deliverables are expected to be completed by September 2021.


Halting Halloween Hazards

Posted by pstaples Employee Oct 16, 2019

Halloween has become a hugely popular time for fun and festivities, but with it comes the potential for a variety of fire hazards. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) encourages everyone to take these simple precautions to stay safe without sacrificing that fun.


According to NFPA research, between 2012 and 2016, decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 800 reported home structure fires per year, resulting in an average of two civilian deaths, 34 civilian injuries and $11 million in direct property damage. The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in almost half of these fires.


NFPA offers these tips to stay safe during the spooky season:


Costumes: Avoid fabric that billows or trails behind you, as these can easily ignite. If you are making your own costume, avoid loosely woven fabrics like linen and cotton, which can be very flammable.


Decorations: Many common decorations like cornstalks, crepe paper, and dried flowers are very flammable. Keep these and similar decorations far away from any open flames or heat sources, like candles, heaters, and light bulbs.


Candles: Using candles as decoration can be risky if not done correctly. Keep them in a well attended area out of the path of potential trick-or-treaters. Remind children of the dangers of open flames, and make sure they are supervised at all times when candles are lit. Extinguish candles before leaving an area.


Jack-o-lanterns: Glow sticks or electric candles are the safest choice when it comes to lighting up your jack-o-lantern, but if you choose to use a real candle, do so with extreme caution. Light a candle inside a jack-o-lantern using long fireplace matches or a utility lighter, and keep it away from other decorations.


Visibility: Give children flashlights or glowsticks for lighting, these can even be incorporated into the costume. If your child has a mask, ensure the eye holes are large enough for them to see clearly.


Smoke Alarms: This is a great time to make sure your smoke alarms are functional and up-to-date.


Exits: Exits are NOT an appropriate place for decorations. When decorating, ensure that nothing is blocking any escape routes.



For more info, check out our Halloween safety video on ways to reduce risk associated with Halloween. You can also visit Sparky the Fire Dog at his website to find tip sheets, kids activities, a pumpkin-carving template, and more!


Have a spooky (but safe) Halloween!

Not Every Hero Wears A Cape

Since 1922, the NFPA has sponsored the public observance of Fire Prevention Week. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country. During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults, and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire. Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.

Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage. This horrific conflagration killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.


1979 Fire Prevention Week poster featuring Sparky the Fire Dog

This week’s throwback from the NFPA Archives has us visiting 1979 and checking out what Sparky the Fire Dog looked like then.


Sparky the Fire Dog was created for the NFPA in 1951 and has been the organization’s official mascot and spokesdog ever since. He is a widely recognized fire safety icon who is beloved by children and adults alike. In addition to connecting with the public through educational programs, he has a very active website,, which allows kids to explore and learn about fire safety in a trusted, interactive environment.



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.

According to the Farmers Almanac, this winter will be freezing, frigid and frosty with wide temperature swings reminiscent of a Polar Coaster. Here’s how you can prepare your building’s fire protection systems to cope with the cold.

Wet pipe systems as their name suggests are filled with water and we know that water will freeze when temperatures drop below 32°F (0°C). And when water freezes it expands and can cause cracks in the pipe or fitting in which it resides. If any part of your wet pipe system is exposed to freezing temperatures, the system should be equipped with a heat trace system which is one accepted method of freeze prevention. Heat tracing is simply an electrical conductor which produces a small amount of heat when electricity is passed through it. This heat is usually sufficient to prevent a pipe, fitting or sprinkler from freezing. It is important to have this system inspected to ensure that it is functioning, is not damaged, and pipe insulation is intact. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for inspecting this type of system. (NFPA 25: 5.2.7).

Another method of freeze protection is to add liquid anti-freeze to the piping system which is very similar to the anti-freeze that is in your cars radiator. Anti-freeze solutions should be tested to make sure that the mixture will not freeze at the lowest anticipated temperature. If the mixture is not correct, replacement may be necessary, be sure to use a listed anti-freeze solution. Your sprinkler contractor can complete this test very easily. (NFPA 25: 5.3.4)

Where heat tracing or anti-freeze is not practical, a dry pipe system is normally installed. As its name suggests, the piping in a dry pipe system is not filled with water but is pressurized with air or nitrogen gas. Unlike a wet pipe system where the pipe can be installed level, the piping in a dry pipe system must be pitched to drain automatically. This can result in trapped sections of pipe which must be drained manually. To drain a system manually, a drain connection called a drum drip or simply low point drain is installed. This type of drain assembly permits releasing accumulated water without releasing sufficient pressurized air to trip the dry pipe valve. Water that accumulates in the system (due to condensation or testing) should be removed before freezing temperatures set in. In Figure from NFPA 13 (below), close valve “A”, remove the 1” (25 mm) plug, open valve “B: until all moisture has drained. Close Valve “B” and open valve “A”. Repeat this process until all moisture has been removed. (see NFPA 25, Chapter 13).

Where a dry pipe, pre-action or deluge system is installed, the system control valve must be installed in a heated enclosure. This enclosure must be heated since water is always present in the bottom of these valves and of course in the supply main. Now is a good time to test the heater and verify that adequate heat will be provided when the temperature outside drops. (see NFPA 25, Chapter 13).

Don’t forget the outside of the building! This can include a number of things such as hydrants and water tanks! We very rarely think about hydrants until they are needed but now is a good time to flush that hydrant and get rid of any debris inside. More important, take note of how well (or how poorly) the hydrant drains. In cold climates if the hydrant has to be used and does not drain properly it will freeze. (NFPA 25: On the subject of hydrants, now is also a good time to flag that hydrant so it can be located when the snow piles up high. (NFPA 1: Don’t forget some clear space around the hydrant after the snow starts falling. A good guide is 36 in. (900 mm) all around the hydrant and 60 in. (1500 mm) in front of the steamer connection. (NFPA 1:

If your system is supplied by a water tank, for most locations in the US, that tank must have a heating system. Is the heating system functioning correctly? (NFPA 25:9.2.3) The temperature of the water inside that tank is required to be maintained at 40°F (4°C). Low and high temperature alarms are required to be tested prior to the heating season. (NFPA 25:9.3.3 & 9.3.4). This is important because the tank is sized with a specific amount of water based on the calculated system flow and required discharge duration. If substantial ice builds up inside the tank, the ice will reduce the amount of available water from this required amount of water not to mention the possibility of damaging the tank itself.

Speaking of ice buildup. If your fire protection system is supplied by a pond or other natural or man-made source of water, does that water source freeze over? If it does, is there sufficient water left once frozen to meet the fire protection system demand? NFPA 24 is being revised to address such issues in Chapter 5 “Water Supplies”. The proposed revision includes a method for determining ice thickness to make sure that sufficient water is left over for fire protection purposes. It may be time for an evaluation to ensure that your natural source of water has sufficient capacity during the winter months.

Remember, according to NFPA statistics, 10% of sprinkler system failures are due to lack of maintenance and 7% of failures are due to damaged system components. With a little care these types of failures can be avoided when the temperature starts to drop!


Wherever there is electrical energy there is a potential for an exposure to an electrical hazard. What makes a work environment safe from electrical hazards? For that matter, who makes sure that you are not exposed to electrical hazards? Is it the equipment manufacturer, your employer, or someone else? Although all of these play a part in electrical safety in the workplace, there is only one who truly has control over it. That person is you and there are steps you can take to keep yourself safe while at work.

Step One: Overcome our own ignorance. It only takes a little bit of knowledge and by reading this blog the hard part is already over. You are now aware that there are electrical hazards out there that can kill you. That was easy. Step One: done. 

Step Two: Recognize when you might be exposed to electrical hazards. NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace lists conditions of equipment that should permit normal operation of that equipment without exposing you to an electrical hazard. These are properly installed, properly maintained, used in accordance with the instructions, doors closed and secured, covers installed and secured and no sign of impending failure. You should know what the equipment you are working around looks and acts like when it was new. If something has changed or if anything looks out of place (i.e. broken parts, smoke, or funny smell) you may be exposed to an electrical hazard. Step Two: done.

Step Three: Recognize exposed known electrical hazards. The first hazard is a shock hazard. If there is an exposed, conductive, electrical part there is most likely a shock hazard. The exposed part could be a wire, circuit in an open enclosure or broken light bulb. There is a possibility that electrical current will pass over or through your body with fatal consequences if you contact the exposed part. The second hazard is an arc-flash hazard. If electrical equipment is not under normal operating conditions (see Step Two) there might be a possibility of an arc-flash. Unless your employer has done a comprehensive hazard assessment throughout the facility, you should not assume that the absence of an arc-flash label means that there is no arc-flash hazard. Step Three: done.

Step Four: Trust your instincts. A gut feeling often lets you know that something does not seem safe to do. You know when you are out of your comfort zone. You know when equipment appears to be acting funny. You know that is not a normal situation for everything to seem OK, but you still experience near-death experience (receive a shock). Step Four: done.

Step Five: Do not interact with the equipment. If everything is normal (see Step Two) you should be good to go. If it is not normal do not touch, operate or remain around the equipment. Step Five: done.

Step Six: Report the situation. You have recognized a problem. You may have been lucky enough to have just missed becoming a fatality when you received a shock. Without this important step the next person around the equipment could become a fatality. Make sure that you properly report the hazard and you might want to have it documented. Remember, if something is not documented it did not happen. Step Six: done.

Step Seven: Do not assume that someone has fixed the problem. If you have received an electric shock do not let someone tell you not to worry about it. The next shock may be fatal to you. I have many incident reports where the employee reporting more than one shock incident ended up being a fatality due to that same circuit. If the equipment is damaged make sure it has been repaired. Confirm that the hazardous situation has been satisfactorily addressed. Until someone assures you that the problem has been fixed do not interact with the equipment. Step Seven: done.

Step Eight: Enjoy the rest of your workday. Continue to be aware of the electrical hazards around you and how to avoid them. Step Eight: done.

Step Nine: Go home. The most important step for your family. Return home uninjured from your workday. Remember that all of these steps apply to the administrative assistant and the production line worker, as well as the master electrician. Step Nine: done?

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: Smoke on the Horizon (Signs of Weaknesses in a Safety Culture).

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 for instructions.

Fires in wildland-urban interfaces (WUI) are associated with severe negative consequences, such as large community evacuation, property losses social disruption, short- and long-term damage to infrastructure, injuries, and evacuee and responder fatalities. Wildland fires represent an important safety issue in many regions of the world. The future expansion and increased complexity of wildland urban interfaces (WUI) pose severe challenges to community safety from an evacuation perspective.


WUI incidents require a multi-domain approach to assess their impact and the effectiveness of any mitigation efforts implemented. A simulation framework that can establish evacuation performance ahead of time (before responses are implemented), would complement current planning and educational approaches and broaden the scope of the evidence available in a cost-effective way. Such a framework might be used to predict how an evacuation develops based on current and possible future fire conditions, given different affected populations and evacuation decisions and the access/availability of different resources (e.g., road access, public transport, traffic congestion, etc.). To achieve this, the simulation framework would need to represent the core components driving the incident; e.g., a predictive model of residential response, fire development and traffic flow.


A specification for such an integrated platform architecture was developed during a 2017 FPRF research project. The WUI-NITY project aims at developing an integrated software platform for the simulation of wildland-urban interface (WUI) evacuation scenarios that can be used both before an incident for planning and during an incident to inform decisions. The primary application of this platform is the ability to generate dynamic vulnerability maps from coupled fire, pedestrian and traffic sub-models. The webinar will discuss the outcomes from this effort. The final project report will be available on the FPRF website.


Register for the webinar today. Visit for more upcoming NFPA webinars and archives.


When: Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 12:30-2:00 pm ET.




  • Enrico Ronchi, Lund University
  • Guillermo Rein, Imperial College London
  • Max Kinateder, National Research Council Canada
  • Steven Gwynne, Movement Strategies

IMPORTANT NOTE: This video was designed with messages for adult audiences, not children.


Fire Prevention Week, October 6-12, is officially here, and we’re encouraging all fire departments and safety educators to make the most of it!

With this year's theme year, Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape.," our ultimate goal is to motivate as many households as possible to develop and practice a home escape plan. Our “Make your plan” page provides all the information needed - please share this resource as you work to promote the campaign in your communities.

We'll also be posting content on our social media platforms each day this week in support of Fire Prevention Week. To kick things off, the above video was posted this morning and is available for you to share. (IMPORTANT NOTE: Although this video is animated, it is intended for adult audiences, not children!)

As we continue to post Fire Prevention Week content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, we encourage you to share these resources as well, so that together we can reach as many people as possible. Meanwhile, our Fire Prevention Week website includes a wealth of free resources, including lesson plans, media materials, videos, activities, and more, which can all be used to help promote the campaign locally - make sure to take full advantage of them! 

Thanks to all of you for your hard work, and best of luck promoting Fire Prevention Week!


As so often is the case when you work in building and life safety, and strive to bring attention to potential hazards, a tragic incident has occurred to underscore the concerns and opportunities noted in this blog. Newsweek reports that, a 67-year old, oxygen-dependent Northern California man with COPD and congestive heart failure, died when a utility company cut power to his home. His medical equipment required power to deliver the needed oxygen. Within 15 minutes of PG&E turning off electrical service in the area due to the threat of wildfire, local first responders received and responded to an emergency call from someone on life-saving medical equipment. Despite their rescue attempts – while using flashlights - the man died. Please read and share.


Durable medical equipment (DME) is the term used for medical equipment that patients use in the home to maintain optimal health. In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in health care placing a greater emphasis on controlling patient health and the transitioning of health care from hospitals and doctors’ offices to patients' homes and mobile devices. Given this shift, it is safe to say that the use of DME will increase in the future.


The use of DME makes sense for health care organizations looking to reduce overhead and operational responsibilities; insurance industries interested in paying less in premiums; and patients hoping to save some money on medical expenses. Some studies show that patient healing is also enhanced while being treated or recovering in familiar surroundings. The thing is, those that use DME including oxygen concentrators, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines, ventilators, IV infusion pumps, suction pumps, electric beds, and various other pieces of equipment, rely significantly on a dependable power source to ensure their safety and well-being. Most DME is electrically-powered, therefore if there is a loss of primary power to the home, patients could be at grave risk if there are no alternate power plans in place.

Power loss can stem from a natural disaster, power grid issues, or intentional controlled power outages (sometimes referred to as a “public safety power shutdown”), like those being considered in areas of Northern California by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). PG&E power lines have been responsible for some recent wildfires in their market, including the 2018 Camp Fire that killed 86 people, so the company is hoping to reduce or eliminate potential ignitions from its power lines by initiating controlled power outages in areas where there might be a high risk of a wildfire occurring.

According to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response, approximately 2.5 million people covered under Medicare in the United States use some form of DME, thus the reason it is essential that we have a resilient power supply infrastructure in place to ensure that DME is fully powered for proper use. The number of DME users covered by other programs such as Medicaid, private pay insurance and VA programs are unknown. Some DME may be equipped with back-up battery power, but that source will typically only last a few hours.

Ensuring the safety of patients reliant on DME should be a priority among emergency managers and those responsible for policy planning too. Jurisdictional emergency plans should include a way to identify the most vulnerable residents who rely on DME. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) program, emPOWER, which uses the Medicare claims database to identify patients that utilize DME, can help with that effort. Emergency plans, for example, might call for the evacuation of the patient, if possible, and relocation to a health care facility that has a back up power system in place. Other plans may call for the patient to be checked on, if they have a generator or other means that enable them to defend in place. The latter option may be a better strategy, in some cases, if relocating the patient is impractical due to the patient’s condition, environmental conditions, resources available at the time, and logistics associated with moving the patient and multiple pieces of DME. Beyond evacuating and defending in place, the emPOWER database can also be used to help utility companies prioritize power restoration efforts and emergency managers to focus their response resources.

In June, NFPA staff members joined representatives from the Meridian Institute, Clean Energy Group, the health care industry, energy sector, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and several other organizations at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts to discuss today’s resilient power supply system and potential issues for patients that use DME. Two common methods of supplying back up power – generators, and combination solar/energy storage systems (ESS) – were considered.

Generators, it was noted, have their limitations as the equipment must be maintained, refueled, can be noisy, and are likely to produce pollutants. Solar and battery storage systems may be a good option, it was determined, but the cost can be prohibitive, especially for low-income patients. Key findings were shared in the Meridian Institute report, including recommendations that solar and ESS options be further researched to see how patients can affordably access and pay for potentially life-saving alternative energy solutions.

NFPA recognizes there is also a need to address resilient power for DME in its codes and standards. To that end, the National Electrical Code (NEC) Correlating Committee is currently forming a task group to examine how the current requirements in the NEC should be managed for DME. The objective will be to determine if changes need to be made to the code to address the interface criteria between alternate power sources and the distribution system for the DME. Additionally, the new NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems and NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems may also play a role in addressing DME resiliency; those documents will need to be reviewed to see how their requirements can further support the infrastructure for DME.


NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code already contains requirements for patient care, electrical appliances, and equipment, however, the current application of NFPA 99 excludes home health care. Therefore, there are currently no requirements for DME in NFPA 99. The correlating committee on Health Care Facilities is meeting in Phoenix, Arizona next month to complete their work on the 2020 edition of NFPA 99. The topic of DME will be on the agenda and dialogue about whether DME should be factored into the standard in the future is expected.

Addressing the resiliency aspect of DME in emergency management protocol, via forward-thinking collaborations and in the codes and standards that provide benchmarks for safety, will help to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community are safe the next time power is compromised by weather events, power outages, and forced shutdowns.

Happy Fire Prevention Month everyone! Let’s spend some time getting to know one of our favorite characters and look back at some of Sparky the Fire Dog’s appearances through history.


Smokey the Bear introduces the world to Sparky the Fire Dog (circa 1952)Pictured here: An advertisement with Smokey the Bear introducing the world to Sparky the Fire Dog (circa 1952).


Sparky the Fire Dog was created for the NFPA in 1951 and has been the organization’s official mascot and spokesdog ever since. He is a widely recognized fire safety icon who is beloved by children and adults alike. In addition to connecting with the public through educational programs, he has a very active website,, which allows kids to explore and learn about fire safety in a trusted, interactive environment. The story of Sparky and a museum chronicling the changes in his appearance can also be found on the website. In addition to the name and image of Sparky, the title Sparky the Fire Dog is a registered trademark of NFPA. The name and image of Sparky have appeared on literally millions of copies of brochures, posters, workbooks, videos and other material distributed by the NFPA in the U.S. as well as internationally since the character’s initial creation.


Sparky has partnered with fire professionals, teachers, civic organizations, corporations and the media to deliver invaluable fire and life safety educational messages to children and adults alike. Over the years, the iconic fire dog has  used a multitude of educational techniques, including books, tip sheets, online resources, videos, apps and NFPA’s national public safety campaign, Fire Prevention Week, to share important safety messages like “Stop, drop and roll”; “Get out, stay out”; “Dial 9-1-1”; and “Know two ways out.” His dogged determination has ultimately helped reduce fire loss and injuries in North America. Be sure to visit for safety educational materials; and follow Sparky’s

adventures on the Sparky website, Twitter, and Facebook.


The name and image of Sparky and the title Sparky the Fire Dog are registered trademarks of the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA 02169.


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.

Over the weekend, an explosion and fire aboard the Stolt Groenland, a 25,000-tonne, Cayman Island–flagged oil tanker, left 10 people injured, one of them critically, Reuters recently reported. The blast and subsequent blaze occurred while the ship was docked at the Port of Ulsan in South Korea.


The incident is exactly the type of scenario safety officials in the United States worry about. It also serves as a perfect illustration of the danger fires or explosions on large marine vessels pose, especially when those incidents occur when the ship is at or close to port. I explored this topic in detail for the cover story of the September/October 2019 issue of NFPA Journal, "Close Quarters." 


"People have this misconception that if a fire or explosion happens on a boat, even in a port, it'll be contained," a Navy fire chief told me for the article. "But that's not necessarily true." The chief's words rang true during the incident in South Korea. The fire on the Stolt Groenland was so large that it spread to another, nearby ship, the 9,000-tonne, South Korean–flagged Bow Dalian. And most of the people who were injured were not even on board either of the ships when the fire broke out—they were workers at the terminal. 


While the US has been fortunate to not have experienced a large ship fire or explosion at a port, officials I interviewed for the story pretty much unanimously agreed that if one did occur, many cities' local fire service wouldn't be prepared. "We've started to see ships that are a lot bigger than anything we're used to," a veteran marine firefighter told me. "These vessels are huge, and I don't think any major city, much less a smaller one, is truly prepared."


The Agence France-Presse reported that South Korean firefighters "struggled to contain [Saturday's] blaze and prevent it from spreading." Still, all of the 25 people aboard the Stolt Groenland and the 21 aboard the Bow Dalian were rescued—and that represents one of the most difficult aspects of incidents like this, given ships' narrow passageways and limited access points. The cause of the explosion is under investigation, AFP said.

The following three proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®, and NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, are being published for public review and comment:



Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the November 7, 2019 closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

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