NFPA has issued the following errata on the 2018 edition of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code; and the 2020 edition of NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting:
An errata is a correction issued to an NFPA Standard, published in NFPA News, Codes Online, and included in any further distribution of the Standard.
Protection of vertical openings is a subject about which we receive a fair number of questions here at NFPA. In general, floors need to provide a smoke-resistant barrier between stories in a building to prevent smoke from migrating vertically and affecting occupants on stories other than the story of fire origin. A vertical opening is a “hole in the floor” that requires some form of protection. Different vertical openings have different names: convenience opening; communicating space; atrium; two-story opening with partial enclosure; and others. The varied protection strategies offered by the code are, I think, what creates some confusion. To determine the protection requirements, refer to Section 8.6 and the X.3.1 subsection of the applicable occupancy chapters. A quick overview of a few scenarios based on the 2018 edition of the code follows:
Where full enclosure on all exposed stories is not practical or is undesirable, the code offers several alternatives. These are referred to as continuity exemptions in 8.6.3; here are examples of a few of them:
The atrium at NFPA in Quincy, MA
The code offers a handful of additional vertical opening protection strategies – see Section 8.6 for the details. Be aware that some of the Life Safety Code vertical opening protection requirements might differ from those in the International Building Code; in some cases, the Life Safety Code might be more restrictive (several attendees at classes I’ve instructed have indicated this is the case for two-story, unenclosed vertical openings). Where a jurisdiction has adopted both NFPA 101 and the IBC, designers will likely need to comply with the more restrictive provisions so as to meet the requirements of both.
Thanks for reading, and stay safe.
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 www.nfpa.org/101 and click on “FREE ACCESS.”
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When I host Thanksgiving, it’s a whirlwind. I’ve got multiple dishes to prepare in a very short window of time; I want my house to look welcoming, festive, and clean; and at some point (usually about 45 minutes before my guests arrive) I frantically realize that I still need to take shower and make myself look at least somewhat presentable.
From there, I’ve got to juggle a series of cooking feats to get multiple dishes on the table, all while chatting with guests, digging out a tray for my aunt’s appetizers because she forgot to bring her own, and rummaging through the bathroom cabinet for my sobbing niece who just fell on the driveway and cut her knee.
And through it all, I need to make sure to keep a close eye on what I’m cooking. So simple!
In theory, keeping focused in the kitchen while cooking really is a simple, straightforward message. But with all the distractions of the holiday, it’s easy to see why there are more than three times as many home cooking fires occur on Thanksgiving Day as on a typical day of the year. In fact, the number of home cooking fires on Thanksgiving spikes by a whopping 238 percent.
These and a wealth of home cooking fire statistics are included in NFPA’s latest U.S. Home Cooking Fires report, which shows that cooking is the leading cause of home fires year-round, accounting for almost half of all US home fires (49 percent) and reported home fire injuries (45 percent). Cooking is the second-leading cause of home fire deaths, accounting for 22 percent of all fire deaths. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires.
All these statistics and risk factors beg the question: How can everyone ensure a festive, fire-safe Thanksgiving with the people we care about most?
First and foremost, plan ahead so that staying in the kitchen while you’re cooking is actually doable. Assign family members and guests to tasks like answering the door, fetching band aids, etc., so that you can do the following:
With all that in mind, here’s the tip I keep reminding myself as Thanksgiving Day fast approaches: I can only do what I can – and I need do it safely – so that I can ensure a festive holiday for my guests while focusing on what I’m truly thankful for, first and foremost my two boys, who after dealing with me prepare for the day, are surely grateful we’re not hosting any other holidays this season.
NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®, is accepting public input for the Annual 2022 revision cycle (2023 edition).
To submit public input through NFPA's online submission system, go directly to the NFPA 70 document information page or use the search feature on the List of NFPA codes & standards. Once on the NFPA 70 page, select "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. The system shows any changes made by the submitter in legislative text and provides the option to submit the public input right away or save it for later completion before the September 10, 2020 closing date.
We are here to assist! If you have any questions when using the online submission system, a chat feature is available or contact us by email or phone at (800) 344-3555 (select 4).
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 ongoing push toward sustainability of refrigeration systems requires the adoption of low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants to meet the shift in environmental regulations. In 2016, nearly 200 countries signed the Kigali Agreement, a legally binding accord focused on the reduction of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - the hydrogen, carbon, fluorine based compound that is commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners. The new class of replacement refrigerants pose various hazards including increased flammability risks.
As new refrigerants are phased in, there are new hazards that emergency responders need to be aware of in order to adjust response tactics. It is essential that emergency response and preparedness is emphasized during the transitional process and that firefighters and others are familiar with the change in material hazards and appropriate response procedures.
The Fire Protection Research Foundation (Research Foundation), the research arm of NFPA, collaborated with NFPA on a two-year research project on flammable refrigerants. Funded by an Assistance to Firefighter Grant from FEMA, the goal of the project was to enhance firefighter safety and reduce potential injury by providing training on the hazards that may exist in appliances with flammable refrigerants. More specifically, the objective was to document key information about the technology and potential hazards so that information could be shared via interactive training modules that include classroom sessions, online learning, and educational videos for the fire service.
As part of this research initiative, the Research Foundation facilitated a workshop in September 2018 with industry stakeholders and members of the fire service. The risks that firefighters will be exposed to during a call involving flammable refrigerants were discussed, and brainstorming about the content and materials needed to inform audiences took place. One clear takeaway was that although firefighting is an inherently dangerous profession, emergency responders need to be trained and educated on the shift in refrigerant materials in order to appropriately adjust tactics and keep safe. Participants also expressed concerns about the products of combustion, and recommended that possible symptoms for exposure during and after an incident be clarified; and that the adequacy of PPE and post-event de-contamination strategies be addressed. Workshop proceedings can be found here.
In May of this year, The Research Foundation published another report documenting the hazards associated with flammable refrigerant technologies. That document contains the results of a literature review, consisting of flammable refrigerants baseline information, existing product usage details, new implementation considerations, potential integration into future technologies, and current response and tactics guidance. Additionally, researchers looked at the current and potential use cases for refrigerants, the various applications in which they are employed, the types of environments in which they might be encountered, and a range of associated threats. These hazards must be balanced against their performance for specific applications, including toxic thermal decomposition, combustion products, increased flammability, explosion risks, and pressure release scenarios.
The report also identified a few existing knowledge gaps, specifically that fire service personnel are not well-versed on the evolving hazards associated with new flammable refrigerants. Although the potential production of hydrogen fluoride and other toxic thermal degradation byproducts exists for all halocarbon refrigerants, further investigation is needed to determine the difference in the toxic quantities produced by existing refrigerants versus the new refrigerants. To date, the variations in hazards have not been completely defined - most likely because the standards governing refrigerant charges are still under review. The gap analysis was intended to inform new NFPA training for the fire service which will debut later this year to assist first responders in recognition, evaluation, and mitigation of any flammable refrigerant related hazards. As part of this research, demonstrative tests were also conducted to support the development of these training materials.
The transition to this new class of refrigerants is already underway and being led by the countries that signed on to the Kigali Agreement. Thus, it is critical that firefighters and others are aware of the potential fire hazards that may occur in various applications such as retail food refrigeration units or air conditioning systems.
More information on the NFPA and the Research Foundation resources on this topic is available at www.nfpa.org/refrigerants.
The following two proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 59A, Standard for the Production, Storage, and Handling of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG); and NFPA 130, Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems, are being published for public review and comment:
Anyone may submit a comment on these proposed TIAs by the closing date(s) listed above. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.
National STEM/STEAM Day, celebrated November 8 this year, was established to help students recognize and advance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Females at NFPA working in STEM/STEAM roles celebrate this mission year-round by impressing industry stakeholders, judging science fairs, mentoring kids, developing activities for people of all ages, writing and presenting on topics of interest, and by generally highlighting all the cool things relevant to STEM/STEAM.
In support of National STEM/STEAM Day, we wanted to show that there is strength in numbers related to these disciplines at NFPA – hence the great photo above (which is missing a few awesome colleagues).
NFPA values STEM/STEAM studies and the female employees who are making an impact via their roles in engineering, research, data, technology, analytics and other more obscure positions that cover STEM/STEAM territory. By industry standards our 123-year old organization has a fairly large STEM/STEAM presence with about 100 STEM/STEAM positions at our Association filled by more than 30 women.
We possess bachelor and master level degrees in STEM/STEAM areas such as chemistry, mathematics, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, fire protection engineering, industrial engineering, environmental studies, information systems, architecture, electronics and instrumentation, library and information sciences, as well as non-traditional STEM/STEAM studies (marketing, professional writing, psychology, natural residential management, urban planning, social work, media art, law, and experience in the fire service).
NFPA female engineers are often the only women in the room at standards events or technical meetings, and sometimes the youngest attendees. This should come as no surprise, as women only make up 28% of the science and engineering workforce, according to National Science Board indicators. Additionally, reports show that 80.3% of network & computer systems administrators are male.
Those that work in STEM/STEAM-related roles at NFPA are passionate about encouraging male and female students to embrace STEM/STEAM courses. We take pride in discussing our jobs with potential up-and-comers so that they have real world career insights. The enthusiasm for our chosen field tends to shine through. Our hope is that we pique students' interest and help to usher in a new generation of STEM/STEAM-loving professionals.
The diverse projects that come with our positions and the NFPA mission are a powerful combination. We love covering a lot of ground as representatives of a global fire and life safety authority; and list the following among some of the “coolest” assignments that we are working on these days:
Without hesitation, the female STEM/STEAM contingent at NFPA points to collaborating with passionate co-workers, as well as working with outside parties who share similar interests, as the real secret sauce. We take a lot of pride in helping others protect people and property from risk – and know that we cannot do that in a vacuum. Additionally, we relish the chance to mold young minds who may consider STEM/STEAM studies.
As the photo up above suggests – there’s a lot to smile about on National STEM/STEAM Day - particularly when you work for a forward-thinking, game-changing organization like NFPA!
Does anyone else feel like 2019 is flying by, or is it just me? Here we are the first day of November, fire inspectors have had a busy few months inspecting haunted houses, corn mazes, carnivals, and other seasonal events, the NFPA 1 Technical Committee has just about finished up their Second Draft work for the 2021 code development cycle, and we are ready to turn back the clocks (don’t forget that when you change your clocks, it's a good time to check your smoke alarm batteries to make sure they're working!)
This past week, the NFPA 1 Technical Committee met at NFPA headquarters and through teleconference to finish up their Second Draft work. Most of the work this week focused on updating the extracted portions of the Code, with a few technical issues carrying over from the first, Second Draft meeting back in September. One of those issues relates to two-way radio communication enhancement systems. But before addressing some of the new issues facing the Committee on this topic, it’s important that inspectors and users of the Code are aware of how it got to where it is today in the 2018 edition.
The 2009 edition of NFPA 1 provided guidance on the design of two-way radio communication enhancement systems in Annex O. Annex O was deleted for the 2012 edition, because much of its criteria was incorporated into NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code at the time. For the 2012 edition of this Code, the mandatory reference to NFPA 72 was added to Section 11.10 for enforcement where the AHJ determines that a building requires such a system to facilitate fire department communications in the building. For the 2018 edition, the reference to NFPA 72 in Section 11.10.2 was replaced with a reference to NFPA 1221, Standard for the Installation, Maintenance and Use of Emergency Services Communications Systems. The 2016 edition of NFPA 1221 added requirements regarding two-way communications enhancement systems from NFPA 72 into Section 9.6.
So, as it stands in the Code today, for all new and existing buildings, minimum radio signal strength for fire department communications must be maintained at a level determined by the AHJ. Where required by the AHJ, two-way radio communication enhancement systems must comply with NFPA 1221, and where a two-way radio communication enhancement system is required and such system components, or equipment has a negative impact on the normal operations of the facility that its installed, the AHJ has the authority to accept an automatically activated responder system.
NFPA 1221 covers the installation, performance, operation, and maintenance of public emergency services communications systems and facilities. It applies to communications systems that include, but are not limited to, dispatching systems, telephone systems, public reporting systems, and one-way and two-way radio systems that provide the following functions: (1) Communication between the public and emergency response agencies, (2) Communication within the emergency response agency under emergency and nonemergency conditions, and (3) Communication among emergency response agencies.
Section 9.6 of NFPA 1221 specifically addresses two-way radio communications enhancement systems. It addresses system components, system degradation, approvals and permits, radio coverage, signal strength, radio frequencies, system monitoring, and documentation of technical criteria.
This current code revision cycle, the Fire Code Technical Committee has discussion expanding the provisions to address minimum safety and performance requirements, that currently do not exist in other codes and standards, for two-way radio communication enhancement systems. The First Draft Report shows expanded text that addresses how accepted installation practices have made their way through the industry via emerging technologies that did not exist years ago. New language addresses listing and labeling, minimum signal strength into the building, equipment installation, and acceptance test procedures. Further updates at the Second Draft meeting as discussed, but not formally voted on by the Committee, include updating the terminology and additional references to NFPA 1221. These changes as discussed at the Second Draft meeting will be voted on by the Committee in the coming weeks and published in the Second Draft Report early next year.
What challenges have you faced as an inspector when addressing these building systems? How have you addressed the provisions in NFPA 1 that rely heavily on AHJ decision and approval with regard to two-way communication systems? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Thanks for reading!