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2020

In my recent NFPA Journal columns and in the many engaging conversations I have had with people around the world, I have talked about how NFPA continues to grow and evolve to meet the changing needs of our diverse global audiences. We are committed to knowing what matters most to you, listening carefully to what your needs are, and working diligently every day to deliver the most useful tools to you.

As part of this commitment, I am pleased to tell you that this month, NFPA launched a new monthly e-newsletter called NFPA Network that is replacing the previous newsletters you have received. NFPA
Network aims to deliver the content you want and need, while at the same time providing additional insight into the broader fire and life safety issues that directly impact the work we all do every day.

With each issue, we will highlight themes that resonate across the 
NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem, helping to drive home the idea that the work we do is an integral part of a larger, interconnected system. It is my hope that these pieces will prompt broader discussions about how we tackle today’s challenges in fire, life safety, electrical, and related hazards, and how we engage with others on shared solutions.NFPA Network

In our inaugural issue, we look at the subject of fires in unsprinklered high-rise residential buildings. In the past few years, we have witnessed a string of tragic events across the United States—New York City, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and elsewhere—that have brought to light a clear breakdown in the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem. These incidents have also raised an essential question around whether it’s time for jurisdictions to follow the lead of codes including 
NFPA 1, Fire Code, and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, which require that all existing high-rise residential buildings be protected with sprinkler systems.

This isn’t just a US problem—it’s a complex global issue, and it’s a perfect example of why we need to stay connected on the issues that matter to us the most. NFPA Network is just one way we are helping set the stage for more engaged and meaningful conversations and creating strong catalysts for change. 
We invite you to subscribe to NFPA Network and to tell us about the topics and stories you’d like to read about every month. We look forward to hearing your comments.  

 

As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.

With Friday’s passage of the CARE Act, over $150 billion will soon be available to help states and municipalities with immediate needs related to the coronavirus. Of these needs, one of the most acute is for personal protective equipment (PPE), like N95 masks, and related supplies. In a recent survey of over 231 cities by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, over 91.5% reported not having enough face masks for both first responders and medical workers; 88.2% reported a shortage in other types of PPE for these same personnel; and 92.1% reported a shortage of test kits.

 

As more resources become available, authorities are urged to provide access to all of these supplies to first responders, as well as medical workers. Currently, the U.S. Public Health Service has classified fire service and EMS personnel as Tier 2 or Tier 3 as they prioritize access to testing.

 

Today, NFPA came together with the nation’s leading response organizations to implore that Vice President Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar provide first responders with the same access to PPE and testing, as healthcare workers.

 

Why is this so critical right now? Experience from Bergamo, Italy reveals the role of these workers in disease transmission, and their particular vulnerability to sickness. In an Op-Ed sent to the New England Journal of Medicine, Italian doctors wrote, “We are learning that hospitals might be the main Covid-19 carriers, as they are rapidly populated by infected patients, facilitating transmission to uninfected patients. Patients are transported by our regional system, which also contributes to spreading the disease as its ambulances and personnel rapidly become vectors. Health workers are asymptomatic carriers or sick without surveillance; some might die, including young people, which increases the stress of those on the front line.”

 

For American first responders, that lesson now has a face. On Wednesday, the family of 34-year-old FDNY EMT Christell Cadet reported she is now on a ventilator after contracting the virus and becoming sick. This as the New York Post reports that the city’s emergency medical calls are the busiest since 9/11.

 

Between fires and calls for medical aid, it is the worst time for fire departments to be forced to quarantine personnel, or worse, endanger the health of responders on the job. If communities do not ensure that firefighters, EMS and law enforcement have access to the PPE they need to protect themselves they cannot expect that they will have access to first responders when safety is on the line – as illustrated within the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem.

 

Learn more about how the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute and NFPA are responding to the coronavirus pandemic by visiting www.nfpa.org/coronavirus

 

(Meghan Housewright is Director of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute, which supports policymakers around the globe in protecting people and property from fire and other hazards with best practice recommendations and approaches to develop and sustain a strong fire prevention and protection system.)


Free webinar on “Fuel Load Survey Methodology in Buildings”

When: Thursday, April 2, 2020, 12:30-2:00 pm ET.

Presenters: Dr. Negar Elhami-Khorasani, The State University of New York Buffalo, and Dr. Thomas Gernay, Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering

 

As the use of performance-based methodologies evolve, it is becoming critically important to identify, characterize, and quantify design fires for buildings. NFPA 557, Standard for Determination of Fire Loads for Use in Structural Fire Protection Design, was developed to provide fire load data for structural fire protection design. NFPA 557 calls for the use of either occupancy-based fuel load data or surveying fuel load density. Fuel load surveys using current methodologies are a substantial undertaking, which has resulted in the availability of only very limited fuel load data. Thus, occupancy specific fuel load data is currently very limited within NFPA 557. More efficient fuel load survey methodologies are needed to develop fuel load data for a variety of building occupancies. This presentation will present the results of the Research Foundation project to develop a prototype fuel load survey methodology with a focus on efficiency to facilitate the development of fuel load data for a variety of building occupancies. The methodology is intended to consider the necessary accuracy of the fuel load data to allow for efficient data collection. A final report from the study is available from the Research Foundation Website.

 

Register for the webinar today. Visit www.nfpa.org/webinars for more upcoming NFPA webinars and archives.

 

Research Foundation Webinar Series 2020 is supported by: American Wood Council; Edwards Fire & Life Safety; Johnson Controls; Telgian Engineering and Consulting; The Zurich Services Corporation.

As of March 1, 2020, Massachusetts was the only state working off of the newest edition of NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC). However, there are 16 states that have started the process of shifting to the 2020 NEC and joining Massachusetts in enforcing the latest requirements for safe electrical installations. This means that over the next few months, those who will be responsible for installing electrical systems will need to learn and understand the changes between their previous edition and the 2020 NEC. Depending on the type of work that they do, this might be a lot or they might do work in an area that was minimally affected by the most recent revisions.nfpa 70

 

What areas of electrical installations were most affected by the 2020 revisions? Let’s take a look at a few of the corners of the electrical industry that were the most impacted and the changes installers really need to be aware of and understand. We can start in residential-type occupancies as many of the more significant changes took place in areas that either only apply to dwelling units or have an impact on dwelling units in another way. The following list is a few of the big changes directly related to dwelling units that installers will need to know:

 

  1. The expansion of GFCI—In dwelling units, GFCI protection for personnel has been expanded to include any receptacle rated up to 250 volts in the areas listed in 210.8(A). The list of areas requiring GFCI protection has also been revised to include all areas of a basement, not just the unfinished spaces or areas not intended for use as habitable rooms. Lastly, outdoor outlets up to 50 amperes will need GFCI protection as well on systems that are 150 volts to ground or less, which is most residential systems. This applies to both receptacle outlets and hardwired outlets, with the exceptions of snow melting equipment and outdoor lighting.
  2. The emergency disconnect—One- and two-family dwelling units are now required to have a disconnect mounted in a readily accessible, outdoor location so that emergency responders are able to safely disconnect power to the building. This can be the service disconnect but there are other options as well that can be found in 230.85.
  3. Surge protection—All services supplying dwelling units are now required to include a surge protective device. New section 230.67 outlines where the SPD must be installed and what type it has to be. This also coincides with Articles 280 and 285 being combined into the new Article 242 for overvoltage protection.

 

This list of course, does not cover all changes that affect residential installations, but is hitting on some of the big ones. But what about everywhere else? There were a lot of major changes that will affect the installation of electrical equipment in non-residential settings. Here are just a few of the major revisions and again, this isn’t all of them, nor is this in any particular order:

 

  1. Lighting load values—Table 220.12 has been revised to now only apply to non-dwelling type occupancies and the list of occupancies has also been revised to align better with the occupancy types in ASHRAE energy codes. The values based on VA/unit of area have also been revised to align better with lighting density values determined through case studies performed in the various occupancies.
  2. Six disconnect rule for services—Section 230.71 has been revised to require that each service have only a single disconnecting means unless the two to six disconnecting means are in their own separate space, such as a single disconnect enclosure or separate section of switchgear. This is to prevent the situation where the bus in service equipment cannot be de-energized without involving the utility, a condition that led many workers to not place service equipment in an electrically safe work condition even though there was no justification do perform energized work. Also, this is not specific to non-dwellings, but is a situation more commonly found outside of one- and two- family dwelling locations.
  3. Reconditioned equipment—The idea that equipment can be new, used, rebuilt, refurbished, or reconditioned came about in the 2017 edition of the NEC. However, many revisions were made to the 2020 edition with respect to the reconditioning of equipment. Section 110.21 was revised to clarify what must be included on the marking for reconditioned equipment and throughout the code, sections were added to specify what specific equipment is allowed to be reconditioned and which equipment is not permitted to be reconditioned.

 

These are just a few of the highlights from the many revisions that occurred during the 2020 NEC revision cycle. Understanding what changed, why it changed, and how this will affect electrical installations going forward will help all of us make the transition to the latest edition of the NEC.

 

The NEC has evolved quickly from edition to edition, prompting some areas to perhaps skip an edition as they move forward in electrical safety. When this happens, it is imperative to be able to communicate how the code went from Point A to Point B. This is all the more reason to encourage our local jurisdictions to stay up to date with the NEC revision process and to not lag too far behind. As our industry evolves, so does the document that guides our day-to-day. Staying up-to-date with the current edition of the NEC helps us install systems in alignment with latest set of requirements aimed at keeping us all safe from the hazards that our use of electricity presents.

 

If you found this blog helpful, subscribe to the NFPA Network Newsletter for monthly, personalized content related to our electrical world, as well as fire and building and life safety information.

 

As all of us continue to navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, NFPA remains committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards. For information on NFPA’s response to the coronavirus, please visit our webpage.

 

My family and I are here at home finishing up week 2 of our new routine of working at home together and parenting at home together.  We are navigating the challenges of balancing work calls and online meetings with children’s activities and education.  It is a new adventure for all of us. 

 

Just like the new routine many families are now facing day to day, the rapid onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and across the world has forced many fire safety professionals into a new routine, balancing a unique crisis many if not all of us have never faced.  Fire inspectors are facing a new way of enforcing code requirements and prioritizing what to enforce and what can be modified.  The purpose of the Fire Code is to prescribe minimum requirements necessary to establish a reasonable level of fire and life safety and property protection from the hazards created by fire, explosion, and dangerous conditions.  That being said, balancing a global pandemic is not a condition model codes were written to address.  As an industry of fire safety professionals, with our day to day lives focusing on saving lives and protecting buildings from fire, we are now faced with a situation where fire safety requirements may in fact be overwritten by those provisions necessary to save lives from the infection of a virus. 

 

So, how is the coronavirus pandemic impacting fire safety and enforcing the Fire Code?  As society responds, reacts, and adapts, many unique inspection challenges have arisen, with impacts on healthcare facilities and beyond:

 

Storage and use of alcohol-based hand-rub (ABHR) sanitizers and other storage issue: The use of ABHR products is regulated by fire and life safety codes.  A unique fire safety requirement, the Code recognizes the need for almost all occupancies to provide ABHR dispensers to prevent the spread of infectious diseases without compromising life safety.  To balance this need, requirements for the safe use of ABHR address location of the dispensers and places limits on how much of the solution can be in use and in storage so that the overall hazard of this potentially flammable solution remains low.  The hazard arises when the aggregate quantity of the solution exceeds the maximum quantities permitted by the Code.  There is much greater chance that during this time and especially once businesses start to reopen and welcome back employees and the public into their buildings that they could likely be using or storing excess quantities of alcohol-based hand sanitizers in areas without proper protection. 

 

Other storage issues may arise when facilities, likely hospitals, use areas in the building to store extra supplies (masks,

linens, PPE) that were not designed or protected for a storage use.  The Code requires areas of buildings with a level of hazard greater than what would normally be found in that occupancy to be protected either with fire rated separation or sprinklers, or sometimes even combination of both.  Where the building wasn’t designed for storage in certain areas, changing its use to storage could result in an unprotected space. 

 

 

Access to buildings to conduct routine inspection, testing and maintenance procedures. Due to the plethora of federal, state and local restrictions on business operations, many facilities have either closed down or limited their businesses to very few essential personnel.  Security has been put in place to limit building occupants.  Where routine inspection, testing and maintenance is required by the Code to be performed on building’s fire protection systems, along with deferring the critical services, inspectors and contractors are also facing challenges with accessing buildings to do their jobs if they are hired to do so. NFPA urges officials to ensure that fire protection and life safety systems be maintained in all commercial and residential buildings with multiple occupancies throughout this global pandemic in order to avoid exacerbating the current environment by compromising fire and life safety, and leaving buildings vulnerable to vandalism. Following are some recommendations to help do this:

 

Maintain safe egress facilities. As facilities seek to control who enters their buildings and how many people entire their building so that the crowds remain safe, the risk increases for blocked, locked, or obstructed egress from the building.  We were made aware of a situation in which a grocery store manager was locking exterior exit doors (other than the main entrance/exit) from their facility in order to reduce theft, as shoppers were attempting to overstock on grocery items and other supplies.  There are provisions in place in the Code to balance security and life safety issues in mercantile occupancies that were developed for this situation.  Facilities should not compromise the fundamental need to provide multiple egress routes that are under the occupants control when businesses are open. 

 

Enforce residential fire safety requirements.  Quarantining, social distancing, remote work, students at home from school and college… many people have found themselves spending more, if not all of their time in their residences.  The more time at home, the greater the risk of fires in the home.  The Code addresses many basic fire prevention issues that impact us in our homes such as the use of candles, space heaters, location of grills, electric safety (that new home office setup might have overcrowded electrical outlets or daisy chained power strips), and the installation and maintenance of required smoke alarms.  The person responsible for the property is responsible for complying with this Code. The AHJ should work with property owners, operators, and occupants in residential facilities such as apartment complexes and condos, to educate them on the requirements of this Code.  Understanding that fire department resources are extremely tight at this time, if management takes a proactive approach to fire safety, others in the organization will likely do the same, thus increasing the fire safety of the property.

 

NFPA is continuing to address these and other issues as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, so make sure to regularly check our website and online platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, for new information, resources and updates.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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

 

IT’S A BIG WORLD. LET’S PROTECT IT TOGETHER.

 

As the public largely remains at home in response to COVID-19, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is urging everyone to use added caution around home fire safety.

 

Cooking, heating, and electrical equipment are among the leading causes of home fires each year. As people continue to stay at home and engage in these activities, it’s critical that they recognize where potential hazards exist and what can be done to prevent them.

 

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and is responsible for nearly half (49 percent) of all reported home fires involving cooking equipment. Moreover, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, meaning that home cooking fires occur most often when people aren’t keeping a close eye on what they’re cooking.

 

As many households are now dealing with unusual routines and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as kids home from school and parents working from home, there’s greater potential for distracted cooking.

 

NFPA statistic show that heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires, resulting in an average of 52,050 home fires each year. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment is involved in an annual average of 35,100 home fires.

 

For much of the country, heating systems are still in use and in many cases, for more hours than usual. In addition, with everyone at home, people may be using the same outlets to charge phones, laptops and other digital equipment, which also presents a fire hazard.

 

With these concerns in mind, NFPA reminds the public to use best practices for staying fire-safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond:

 

Cooking

  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, boiling, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.
  • Make sure all handles are turned inward, away from where someone can grab a hot handle or tip a pan over.
  • Be on alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, refrain from using the stove or stovetop.
  • If you have young children in your home, create a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

 

Heating

  • Keep anything that can burn at least three-feet (one meter) away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heater.
  • Have a three-foot (one meter) “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters.
  • Install and maintain carbon monoxide (CO) alarms to avoid the risk of CO poisoning. If you smell gas in your gas heater, do not light the appliance. Leave the home immediately and call your local fire department or gas company.

 

Electrical

  • When charging smartphones and other digital devices, only use the charging cord that came with the device.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed or on a couch.
  • Only use one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, toaster, space heater, etc.) plugged into a receptacle outlet at a time.
  • Major appliances (refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, microwave ovens, etc.) should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Extension cords and plug strips should not be used.
  • Check electrical cords to make sure they are not running across doorways or under carpets. Extension cords are intended for temporary use.
  • Use a light bulb with the right number of watts. There should be a sticker that indicates the right number of watts.

 

In addition, smoke alarms should be located on every level of the home, in each bedroom, and near all sleeping areas. Test them monthly to make sure they’re working. NFPA also strongly encourages households develop and practice a home escape plan to ensure that everyone knows what to do in a fire and can escape quickly and safely.

 

For a wealth of NFPA resources and information on home fire safety, visit www.nfpa.org/Public-Education.

 

On March 16, Boston became the first city in the nation to issue a stop (for two weeks) to its booming construction industry. Shortly after, similar measures were put into place in Pennsylvania, where on March 19, all construction operations were also ordered to stop.  In other cities such as New York and Chicago, construction activity has been modified but not stopped altogether, as certain construction practices are deemed ‘essential’ and are permitted.  Meanwhile, a “stay at home” order issued by California government does not apply to current construction projects there but some California cities have issued stricter provisions than those mandated by the state, such as San Francisco, where only construction on housing can continue as can construction on critical infrastructure.

 

Regardless of the varied levels of regulation in different states, the construction industry is feeling the impact of COVID-19, making guidance on safe practices for construction, alternation and demolition operations as relevant now as its ever been.  Whether it’s for new critical infrastructure such as healthcare facilities or permitted ongoing construction projects, proper safety measures cannot be shutdown or overlooked.  Major construction site fires have made headline news several times just in the last few months, causing millions in property damage and stopping projects in their tracks, and hundreds more have occurred beyond that.  As the industry continues to manage these fire events, invest in safety and bring awareness to these issues, simply looking past safe practices now will slow progress and put lives and projects at risk.

 

Model building and fire codes mandate structures undergoing construction, alteration, or demolition operations to comply with NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations. NFPA 241 provides measures for preventing or minimizing fire damage during construction, alteration, and demolition operations. (The fire department and other fire protection authorities also should be consulted for guidance.) It covers temporary construction, equipment, and storage, processes and hazards, utilities, fire protection, and safeguarding various operations, such as  construction and alterations, roofing, demolition, and underground operations.

 

Among other critical protection measures for construction site fire safety, NFPA 241 requires an overall construction or demolition fire safety program be developed.  A fire prevention program manager(FPPM), appointed by the owner, is required and will be responsible for the protection of the property from fire.  This person will be fully aware of and responsible for the information and procedures set forth in the fire safety program and has full authority to enforce them.  During this time, the FPPM should be aware of local shutdown requirements, if applicable, and how to safety manage the construction site while securing and removing equipment, materials, and personnel, as required by local jurisdiction, if construction is halted.

 

While NFPA 241 was not developed with the primary intent of being applied to the rapid shutdown of construction sites, such as what is happening in cities like Boston, it can offer safe guidance for maintaining safe construction sites during this unprecedented time.  Further guidance on the safe and recommended use of NFPA 241 during construction site shutdowns is being disseminated throughout the industry.  One local fire protection consulting firm has provided this guidance to its clients and stakeholders and could be useful to anyone concerned with construction site fire safety at this time.  

 

Have NFPA Technical Questions on NFPA 241?

We can help you with that! NFPA's Technical Questions Service provides NFPA members and public sector officials/AHJs with one-on-one help with their technical standards questions. Responses are provided by NFPA staff on an informal basis. The Technical Questions Service supports questions related to clarification of intent of codes and standards requirements, the technical basis of requirements, application of requirements, and general interpretations.

 

Please visit https://www.nfpa.org/Codes-and-Standards/Resources/NFPA-Technical-questions for more information.  

 

Finally, see this blog post for other ways NFPA is providing information, knowledge and tools.

 

At NFPA, we fully recognize that the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus is requiring professionals across multiple industries to function in ways that run counter to the norm, and that there needs to flexibility for these groups and organizations as they work to accommodate the demands of the current crisis. However, best practices should be applied when and where possible. When it comes to occupancies under construction, the requirements within NFPA 241 can be followed in the vast majority of instances without compromising efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

(A recent example of a fire department using Twitter to engage community members and share safety information during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

 

Calling all community relations coordinators, life safety educators, community risk reduction specialists, …and all those working in the prevention space who have been grounded by COVID-19! Many outreach professionals are now tied to their desks instead of hitting the pavement and wondering how they can add value to their communities during these difficult times. While the work you are doing may look different today, there is no doubt about it: It is, and will continue to be, a critical component of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem and a valuable local asset.

 

Where do you start?

 

This part is easy. Start with your goals! Before you jump in and generate a list of activities, social media posts, and Youtube videos, think deeply about what you would like to accomplish. Then, plan with this end in mind. Goal-focused outreach will ensure you can achieve your desired impact.

 

Community Relations:

Outreach programs intended to help agencies and departments establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with their communities are referred to as Community Relations initiatives. They are designed to foster positive relationships between residents, business owners, and local public service agencies. The desired outcome is a sense of community connection in which residents, business owners, and the response community feel protected, supported, and engaged. 

 

If your goal is to build strong Community Relations, consider these virtual outreach activities:

  • Record members of your department reading books and short stories. We tend to focus on children but home bound older adults may also enjoy this.
  • Schedule a Facebook Watch Party for a virtual fire station tour.
  • Interview members of your department in a 5 question “Get to know you” series. Ask questions such as: What is your favorite safety tip? What do you want people to know most about your job? How can people in the community help you stay safe?
  • Challenge families to build and post their best “pasta box & toilet paper” firetruck

 

Fire & Life Safety Education (FLSE):

According to NFPA 1035, FLSE programs work to eliminate or mitigate situations that endanger lives, health, property, or the environment. Those driving fire and life safety education are looking to impact safety behaviors. Rich virtual FLSE activities include a source of foundational content, an opportunity to practice a skill, and a specific call-to-action such as “Practice your home escape plan with your entire family!”

 

Think creatively about how you can deliver Fire & Life Safety Education through virtual channels:

  • Share the NFPA Heating Safety tip sheet and ask families to post pics of safe home heating.
  • Provide a virtual demonstration of the Fire Triangle to explain why it is important to keep a lid close by when cooking on the stovetop. Look here for additional resources to support your cooking safety messages. 
  • Loop in your local teachers! Share resources with teachers (and new home school “teachers”!) who can benefit from virtual lesson support. Sparkyschoolhouse.org is loaded with engaging educational activities that fit the bill. Check out the suite of Sparky Apps, videos, lesson plans, and e-books.
  • Run a virtual Remembering When workshop on Facebook Live. Pick one or two fire and fall prevention behaviors each day and discuss them. Host a session at a set time and invite older adults and their family members to join in for helpful tips. You might even make use of the Remembering When trivia questions. Engage those silver surfers!

 

Community Risk Reduction (CRR): 

Community Risk Reduction is a process to identify and prioritize local risks, followed by the integrated and strategic investment of resources to reduce the occurrence and impact of those risks (NFPA 1300). CRR requires a good look at data to identify local needs and input from partners and stakeholders. It calls for a tailored plan to mitigate risks that have been identified as high-priority within a community. If your community is moving towards data-informed decision and risk-focused prevention, CRR is your path.

 

Community Risk Reduction requires thoughtful planning. As most events are cancelled, and people are working from home, take advantage of this time to focus your attention to the processes and partnerships that are core to CRR initiatives.

  • First, read NFPA 1300 Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. This document, which can be viewed for free online, will guide your CRR work.
  • If a risk assessment has been conducted, review your community profiles and share the information with agencies involved in the COVID-19 response. The data tell important stories about the needs and capacities related to this crisis.
  • If a risk assessment has not be conducted, this is a great time to start. As we respond to the challenges of this pandemic, we are learning a lot about the demographics, economics, and infrastructure within our communities. This information provides the backbone of a CRA. Capture as much of this information as possible to feed future work related to your CRA and CRR plan.
  • As Mister Rogers taught us, “look for the helpers”. Maintain an active list of the local businesses and community service organizations who are positively impacting your community during this time of crisis. This list will help you build out the capacity component of your CRA as well as identify future CRR partners.
  • Formalize your CRR team. CRR is not a one-person show! Use this time to build a strong cross-agency team of partners and stakeholders.

 

Whether your goals are aligned with Community Relations, Fire & Life Safety Education, or Community Risk Reduction, your work is important. Mitigation is incredibly important, but not easy work – complacency is hard to overcome. There is true value in each of these outreach and engagement efforts, on their own, but collectively, the outcomes of this work will result in connected, safer communities.

 

For additional CRR resources, go to nfpa.org/CRR or reach out to the CRR team at CRR@nfpa.org. Look to nfpa.org/public-education for tips sheets, lesson plans, messaging to support your FLSE outreach.

 

(Meghan Housewright is Director of the NFPA Fire & Life Safety Policy Institute, which supports policymakers around the globe in protecting people and property from fire and other hazards with best practice recommendations and approaches to develop and sustain a strong fire prevention and protection system.)

 

As doctors across the U.S. face the crush of COVID-19 cases, some are turning to social media and #GetMePPE to deal with the critical shortage of N95 respirator masks, gowns, facial shields, and other personal protective equipment (PPE). Repeated reuse of single use items, meant to protect patients and medical staff alike, is now routine, as is seeking community donations of unused or homemade gear.

 

Add to the doctors, nurses, and other hospital employees who desperately need these supplies: America’s first responders. Firefighters and paramedics are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, transporting sick patients and responding to calls out in the community. Unsurprisingly, some are becoming infected, or forced into isolation after interacting with those who have tested positive. In Washington, DC, 141 firefighters and paramedics are in self-quarantine after three members of the department tested positive for the virus. Last week, the San Jose Fire Department reported that around 10 percent of the city’s department is self-quarantined, while 13 responders have tested positive. This is happening to departments all over the country.

 

As first responders burn through their PPE supplies to reduce their risk, departments face shortages that will only grow with the pandemic. Action is needed now to help all workers on the front lines stay safe. But in the face of sky-rocketing global demand, what does that action look like?

 

A growing chorus, including the medical establishment, the mayor of New York City, Congressional Democrats, and the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank have called for the federal government to step into the breach. Under the powers of the Defense Production Act (DPA), the government could require U.S. businesses to accept government contracts for needed goods and services and oversee the distribution of that matériel to states and localities based on need, among other measures. While President Trump has signed orders allowing the DPA to be used to address coronavirus, he has not followed through by invoking its authority for specific actions. Instead, the president has argued the country is not yet on a supply precipice and that the voluntary efforts of U.S. industry will be able to meet the demand.

 

U.S. manufacturers, like 3M, are indeed moving swiftly to supply as much of the demand as they can. But as states, localities, and hospitals alike hunt for PPE in a crisis that is not just nationwide, but worldwide, the eruption of inevitable bidding wars have pushed prices well past the point of most public safety agencies. And while some in Congress have proposed more stimulus funding to directly aid the medical effort, that money won’t address the scarcity. The certainty of large government contracts will help manufacturers who can.

 

When the virus made landfall in the U.S., the national strategic stockpile, with 12 million N95 masks on hand (and another 30 million surgical masks), had roughly 1% of the PPE supply the Department of Health and Human Services estimated the crisis could demand: 3.5 billion masks. In the face of such staggering demand, the World Health Organization has called for a 40% increase in the production of PPE and other supplies. As firms consider how they can bring new production on-line, experts note it will likely take three to five months to actually begin production. The sooner they start, the closer we come to ending the shortage.

 

Need today is dependent on existing capacity, most of which occurs overseas. Much of that is in China, which until recently, has prioritized its own epidemic needs. As they gradually pivot toward meeting worldwide demand, cooperation between countries is now essential to workers on the front lines of the virus.

 

In the U.S., every 24 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire. Well before this crisis, every 1.3. seconds, a fire department responded to a call for medical aid. Our nation’s first responders were 24-7 well before this national emergency. Now, just as doctors and nurses still must treat other patients despite an ER full of coronavirus, firefighters will still need to respond, no matter the emergency. The U.S. is fortunate that its responders are such a strong part of the Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem. These are the people who make sure a house fire does not become a fatal fire or that a hazardous material spill does not become an environmental catastrophe. These are the same people who cut victims from car wrecks and bring them to the hospital. Their health is critical to the everyday safety of the community.

 

And while first responders may be at capacity now, the coming months could be worse. Land managers and fire officials are keenly aware of the challenge posed by virus-caused attrition to wildfire season. In Los Angeles, the crews that normally clear brush to lower fire risk have been delayed; in Washington state, they’ve been forced to cancel training for new firefighting personnel. All of this while the Western U.S. is under drought conditions from historically low snow and rain.

 

As a nation, we’re failing the first responder who today is responding to patients without proper PPE. If we let this continue into tomorrow, we are most certainly failing ourselves. Given the scale of the crisis, the U.S. needs every tool available pressed into service to meet this towering need.

 

For additional NFPA content and insights, visit www.nfpa.org/coronavirus.

 

As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, we remain committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards.

With the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and around the world, many hospitals and health care organizations are preparing for the need for additional space for treatment, testing, triage, or quarantine. For many facilities, this includes the use of tents. It is vital that during these times we remember to maintain fire and life safety in these structures to allow medical teams to focus on patients. The 2018 edition of NFPA 101, Section 11.11 (same section in 2012 edition, which is adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) outlines the fire and life safety requirements for tent structures used in outdoor environments.

As with any building, adequate egress facilities are imperative in tents, not only within the tent, but outside the tents as well. All tents should have at least 10 ft. between stake lines to allow for egress. This space should be kept clear of storage or other items that could impede egress from the tent. The location of tents relative to other structures should be approved by your AHJ. Tents should also not be in locations which would obstruct egress from a building, fire department vehicle access, or access to firefighting equipment such as hydrants, fire department connections, or fire protection system control valves.

Flame propagation and fire hazards are a major concern for tents. The use of an improper tent fabric could potentially lead to a very fast spreading fire. Therefore, it is important to use approved fabrics and limit potential fire hazards. Tent fabrics should comply with the requirements of NFPA 701, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films.  In addition to compliance with the test standard, the AHJ may also wish to conduct field testing using a test specimen affixed to the tent at the time of manufacture.

Potential fire hazards in tents include combustible storage and debris, smoking, and heating equipment. Prior to the erection of tents, the area should be cleared of all combustible debris and vegetation. During the use of the tent, care should be taken to ensure there is at least a 10 ft. perimeter around all side of the tent that is free from all combustibles including storage, vegetation, and debris. Unless permitted by the AHJ (which will be highly unlikely), smoking is not permitted in tents and “NO SMOKING” signs should be posted.

A major potential fire hazard is the use of portable or temporary heating equipment. Only listed heating equipment should be used. Heaters utilizing liquefied petroleum gas should have all containers at least 60 in. from the tent, and comply with the provision of NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code. Electrical heaters should be connected to an electrical source that is suitable for outdoor use and is adequately sized for the electrical load. All heaters should only be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s listed instructions.

In addition to all the precautions already addressed, tents should be provided with portable fire-extinguishing equipment. Fire extinguishers should be the proper type for the potential hazards in accordance with NFPA 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, and should be in locations required by the AHJ. Access to fire extinguishers should be maintained clear so that they are accessible if a fire emergency arises.

During these unprecedented times, we should strive to maintain a high level of life safety to protect all the doctors, nurses, and other health care workers that are working hard, as well as their patients. Most importantly, stay safe and healthy!  

Did you know NFPA 101 and other NFPA documents in this blog are available for review online for free? Follow the links in this blog and click on “Free access”.

Given the COVID-19 crisis, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is urging officials to ensure that fire protection and life safety systems be maintained in all commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings; and that the personnel and vendors that service those systems be deemed essential.

 

“We cannot put additional strain to our overburdened emergency response capabilities, by not ensuring buildings are protected with the very equipment that saves lives and property,” said NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley. “First responders rely on commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings in their communities to have a full array of fire and life safety systems such as working fire detection, alarms and sprinkler systems.”

 

To avoid compromising fire and life safety, and leaving buildings vulnerable to vandalism, refer to the new NFPA Guidance for Maintaining Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems Regardless of Occupancy Status fact sheet that includes the following points:

 

  • All commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings should maintain fully operational fire and life safety systems as required by the applicable codes and standards. (NFPA 25, NFPA 72, NFPA 101)
  • Those responsible for these buildings should adhere to the expected schedules for inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) that are vital to their operation. 
  • Public and private employees who perform the inspection, maintenance and other responsibilities for these systems should be deemed essential workers.
  • Most ITM requirements can be executed by a single ITM service provider limiting the need for face to face interaction. 
  • Systems on construction sites that are being temporarily abandoned should remain in an operating condition as specified in the construction safety plan (NFPA 241).
  • Blocking open smoke or fire-protection rated doors can compromise the integrity of a building’s compartmentation plan. Maintaining these opening protectives is critical, especially in health-care occupancies. (NFPA 80)
  • ITM requirements for health care systems, including med-gas systems, that require ITM as outlined by the risk assessment performed for the building and in accordance with manufacturers recommendations should continue. (NFPA 99)
  • Without emergency power systems in proper working order, fire alarm system may not work as intended. (NFPA 110)

 

More information can be found at www.nfpa.org/coronavirus.

 

As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, we remain committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards.

The following proposed Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code, is being published for public review and comment:

Anyone may submit a comment on this proposed TIA by the May 8, 2020 comment closing date. Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council by the closing date.

The challenges of medical surge related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is the topic of a new NFPA Journal Podcast out now. Listen to the entire 45-minute, special-edition episode online now. Or download it wherever you get your podcast.

 

America's health care system is now experiencing a surge in patients with COVID-19, leading facilities and emergency responders to increase capacity and adapt in myriad ways. What will the health care surge mean for fire and life safety at existing health care facilities desperate to expand their patient capacity? What will it mean for responders on the front lines facing supply shortages? Learn how states are gearing up to address the crisis by erecting off-site field hospitals, creating makeshift floating hospitals, and repurposing other buildings to meet the medical demand.

 

The first segment of the podcast includes an interview I conducted with Jon Hart, an NFPA technical lead who is well-versed in codes applicable to health care facilities such as NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code, and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. In our 15-minute interview, Hart discusses the recent federal announcements to delay code enforcement activities in some health care facilities and what it means for fire and life safety at those locations. He doesn't pull any punches in saying the coronavirus pandemic could result in some less-than-ideal facility safety situations, but it's all about prioritizing in this unprecedented time. "Let's look for the big, obvious safety violations and things that are truly a hazard," Hart tells me, "but smaller things that may not be perfectly in compliance, they may just have to slip."

 

In the second segment of the podcast (at 17:40), my colleague Jesse Roman interviews John Montes, NFPA's emergency services specialist. Montes describes what could happen in the United States if the coronavirus-spawned health care surge becomes so severe that we have to provide care to patients in settings outside of traditional hospitals—places like repurposed hotels, docked cruise ships, and mobile field hospitals like those used in the military. Some locations are already planning for this process. "We have to think bigger, bigger scale [for this pandemic]," Montes says in the podcast. "We could potentially find ourselves in a situation where we are in more of a wartime footing where we are making exemptions and we are using outside resources to make this happen."

 

The NFPA Journal Podcast is a monthly series. Listen to past episodes here, including the March 13 episode on crisis standards of care and how emergency response agencies should be preparing for the unfolding crisis. Subscribe to NFPA Journal Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

 

“We have an obligation to the customers we serve … But we also have to protect our members because, if we don’t protect them, who’s going to answer the call for 911?” Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade told a local news station during a recent report on the coronavirus or COVID-19.

 

Responders respond

 

Captain McQuade is not alone in his thinking. Emergency response departments everywhere are stepping up their service and capabilities in the wake of the dangerous coronavirus that is sweeping the globe. To reduce risk of exposure, emergency response organizations have been making adjustments to their protocol; and for most, the new normal consists of screening 911 callers, adjusting response tactics, donning more PPE than usual, frantically searching for more of that gear and elusive testing kits, self-quarantining because of potential exposure or confirmed infection, protecting their families and loved ones from being exposed to anything they may have exposed to, taking patients to alternative sites, and preparing for reduced resources and manpower.

 

911, what’s the nature of your emergency?

 

Dispatch has always played a critical role in emergency response, but now the men and women on the line are asking 911 callers whether the sick or injured party (and others in the home) have been outside the country, exhibiting signs of fever or flu-like systems, or have come in contact with anyone that has been tested. These are critical protection measures so that responders can protect themselves when they go into certain emergency situations. Rhode Island public safety dispatchers are taking things a step further by requesting, if at all possible, that patients meet them outdoors where they will have their temperature taken. Paramedics and EMTs then call ahead to hospitals so that health care professionals can prepare for patient intake and provide guidance on the best ways for responders to deliver patients once onsite. States are setting up testing sites in vacant hotels, cruise ships, other buildings, and mobile field units/alternative sites to allow for increased testing, more rapidly. If it is determined that a patient needs transport to a healthcare facility – family members will likely be unable to join them in the ambulance unless that patient is a child or has special needs. Loved ones are also directed to contact the hospital directly to determine if they can visit patients.

 

Changes in access


In some cases, the screening tables have been turned on responders JEMS reports that nursing homes and other care facilities are screening paramedics as they come in to pick up patients because they stand a strong chance of being virus carriers. Wes Ward, EMS Battalion Chief for Center Point Fire District in Alabama told JEMS, “We don’t want to be a route of transmission of the disease throughout the public. That was a problem with the SARS disease in Toronto and we learned a lot from that.”


Shortage of supplies persist


Enhanced 911 call intake procedures also inform the way that paramedics and others dress for certain calls. If a patient seems to be infected or at risk, responders are donning PPE including masks, goggles, gloves and gowns. There is an alarmingly low supply of protective gear available for hospitals and responders. Fire departments, labor unions and elected officials have voiced concerns over this sad and dangerous reality. Typically, departments overwhelmed by a disaster rely on mutual aid or an agreement to share first responders and resources, but COVID-19 likely won’t adhere to man-made boundaries - making it less likely to tap into neighborly assets.


Testing is still largely reserved for the elderly, individuals with underlying health problems, and those suffering from more severe symptoms. Vice President Pence recently recognized the importance of testing those working on the front line, President Mike Pence said, “It is important the tests are available for the people who are most in need, and our health care workers and first responders that are helping and supporting them.” On the very same day Pence spoke about the issue, a policy maker in Florida suggested that first responders “take one for the team” and build immunity by getting infected by the virus in a controlled setting.

 

The downside of delayed responsiveness


The list of responders affected by the virus continues to grow. The first confirmed case of coronavirus occurred over two months ago in Kirkland, Washington. More than 40 first responders in that community went through a 14-day quarantine period – some sheltered in place at home while others holed up at a fire station that re-opened last weekend after a thorough cleaning. Some firefighters remain in home quarantined there. The number of infected firefighters continues to jump in cities and towns all over America. Last week, 80 remained under quarantine in San Jose, California, and the city temporarily shut down two fire stations. Similar efforts took place in Brooklyn – and are increasingly happening in communities all over.


Community communications is key

 

There are a lot of positives to take away from this global pandemic and one, in particular, is the proactive way that emergency response organizations are communicating to the public about local emergency preparedness decisions, changing protocol, social distancing, and sharing the hazards that are occurring as a result of the coronavirus. We are seeing fire departments, EMS, and others working to minimize frustrations, provide best practices, and debunk misinformation via media outlets, social media channels, department communications platforms, and regularly scheduled press events. Leaders are addressing local exposure issues, reminding us to not mix disinfectants that can generate dangerous, toxic fumes, and sharing guideline from different organizations. Emphasizing the importance of social distancing, and getting the word out about local changes related to firehouses (station visits, tours, community events and any other interaction that might put the public and emergency response personnel at risk). All these changes and communication efforts go a long way in alleviating concerns, defusing misinformation, empowering the public, and keeping people safe.

 

For the latest COVID-19 information from NFPA visit this landing page - www.nfpa.org/coronavirus. As we navigate the evolving situation with COVID-19, we remain committed to supporting you with the resources you need to minimize risk and help prevent loss, injuries, and death from fire, electrical, and other hazards.

The following errata on NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 70, National Electrical Code®: and NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code; was issued on March 10, 2020:

 

  • NFPA 13, Errata 13-19-5, referencing 9.5.3.2.2 and Table 23.6.1 of the 2019 edition
  • NFPA 70, Errata 70-20-3, referencing 225.30 of the 2020 edition
  • NFPA 99, Errata 99-18-3, referencing 5.1.3.5.11.2 of the 2018 edition

 

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.

 

In these uncertain times…


I cannot count the number of times I have heard or read this phrase over the past week. Amid this COVID-19 pandemic, our world is in crisis. We face unbelievable challenges in the weeks and months ahead. We are scared of the known and the unknown.


But even during these uncertain times, there is good reason for optimism. Because where challenges live, so do opportunities.


While this war against COVID-19 isn’t something we would ever wish for, we have the opportunity to leverage an unprecedented shift in public attitude and behavior. We are entering this battle as a culture of rescue - one in which we trust a system to provide an ever-present safety net. One in which we are sometimes complacent in the work of preventing emergencies. BUT - with a little bit of effort, we will finish this battle with a culture of responsibility.
While the challenges are vast, there is an opportunity to emerge from this pandemic as a world driven to prevent, partner, plan, and protect.


In many places, we are seeing signs of this already.


The media has focused the public’s attention to the problem at hand. Individuals are taking actions to protect family members and strangers alike through social distancing and quarantines. Religious services are being streamed and restaurants closed to keep parishioners and patrons healthy. Kids on “coronacations” are learning virtually as parents become ad-hoc home school teachers. Unexpected public-private partnerships are sprouting up in an effort to combat the physical, emotional, and financial difficulties. People are being re-educated with amended definitions of “emergency” and developing self-reliance should the need for medical attention arise.


Emergency declarations are often driving the bus on these actions. The public is moving towards compliance.
And, folks, this is exciting and encouraging.


In my role at NFPA, I am immersed in all things Community Risk Reduction (CRR). My work is focused on increasing awareness and implementation of CRR to help communities identify, prioritize and plan to mitigate risks. It requires a dive into the data, input from partners, and lots of creative, strategic thinking to reach the end goal of safer communities.
An important ingredient in CRR success is an activated public focused on responsibility for individual and community safety. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unfortunate catalyst driving this positive shift.


It will take time to see outcomes we consider as positive. But there is value in thinking ahead. If your community currently embraces CRR, pay attention to the opportunities to expand your tailored messaging. Support your vulnerable residents and ensure their needs are met. Make note of the partnerships that are forming now. Start planning new strategies to leverage a renewed sense of responsibility among business owners, students, and families. Pay attention to the boat-loads of community data sliding across our screens every day.


If you are new to CRR (or not), take some time to read through NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development. As standards go, it is a short read but packs a punch with helpful information for anyone looking to understand CRR foundations.

 

Pay particular attention to the information about Community Risk Assessment (CRA). This process is guided by an examination of 9 different community profiles to provide a clear view of the risks in the communities. A look at profiles such as demographics, critical infrastructure, economics and others may well provide helpful information during the fight against COVID-19, as well as in the aftermath.


While these are indeed uncertain times, let’s work together and ensure something good comes from the chaos. Seize the opportunities.


For additional CRR resources, go to nfpa.org/CRR. Feel free to reach out to the NFPA CRR team at crr@nfpa.org too.

The following four proposed Tentative Interim Amendments (TIAs) for NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 1006, Standard for Technical Rescue Personnel Professional Qualifications; NFPA 1192, Standard on Recreational Vehicles; 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:

 

  • NFPA 13, proposed TIA No. 1489, referencing Table 25.9.2.3.1 of the 2019 edition, closing date: 3/31/2020
  • NFPA 1006, proposed TIA No. 1488, referencing 10.3.1, 10.3.2, and 10.3.3 of the proposed 2021 edition, closing date 3/24/2020
  • NFPA 1192, proposed TIA No. 1490, referencing 1.3.3 of the 2021 edition, closing date: 4/16/2020
  • NFPA 1851, proposed TIA 1484, referencing various sections in Chapters 7, 11, 12, and Annex A, of the 2020 edition, closing date: 4/30/2020

 

Anyone may Submit a Comment on these proposed TIAs by the closing date indicated above.  Along with your comment, please identify the number of the TIA and forward to the Secretary, Standards Council.

coronavirus

 

As the world grapples with the unprecedented health crisis known as COVID-19 or the coronavirus, NFPA, like many organizations, is monitoring the U.S. Centers for Disease Controland Prevention and other governmental sources for COVID-19 updates and adjusting business practices as recommended.

 

We know that the information available through NFPA is of paramount importance to safety in both ordinary times and extraordinary ones. NFPA is fully operational and providing our tools and resources to those who depend on them to continue to do their jobs safely and protect their communities. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve put out a number of communications related to the pandemic.  For your convenience, here’s an overview of them and some additional information in one single post.

 

Emergency Planning

In a blog earlier this month, our Emergency Services Specialist John Montes wrote a blog entitled, Organizational Planning Tips for Pandemic Preparedness. While many may not immediately think of NFPA as the first place to go for resources in a medical emergency, Montes points to NFPA 1600, Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management  which was recognized as the US National Preparedness Standard by the 9/11 Commission. Widely used by public, not-for-profit, nongovernmental, and private entities on a local, regional, national, and global basis, NFPA 1600 has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a voluntary consensus standard for emergency preparedness. The standard is available on the NFPA website for free viewing, and offers key information for entities who want to conduct a risk assessment, business impact analysis, capabilities and needs assessments, and develop emergency and recovery plans.

 

He also references NFPA 99, Health Care Facilities Code which provides critical safety information and requirements for isolation spaces, emergency planning, IT and data infrastructure, and more. An additional resource is the NFPA Emergency Preparedness Checklist.

 

Responder Safety During Pandemics

When tragic events unfold, it is our first responders that are on the frontline, risking their own safety to help others. Staff Writer Angelo Verzoni speaks to a number of fire service professionals in the latest NFPA Journal Podcast. The timely podcast looks at the additional precautions that can be put in place to enhance the well-being of first responders.

 

Fire Doors and Life Safety

Kristin Bigda, the NFPA technical lead on building and life safety posted a blog - Don't Compromise Fire Safety While Responding to Coronavirus: Keep Fire Doors Operable after hearing that  facilities had begun propping fire doors open so that people didn’t have to touch handles for egress. While she recognizes the logic in terms of germ spread prevention, Bigda stresses that propping fire doors open presents significant hazards and risks in the event of a fire.  “It is imperative that we not forfeit institutional elements of safety while working to address others. In this case, we need to balance the risk of the coronavirus against other real hazards that have the potential to harm multiple people in a very short window of time,” the popular NFPA 101 blogger said.

 

NFPA codes and standards such as NFPA 1, Fire CodeNFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, govern the installation, inspection, testing and maintenance of fire doors.  Fire doors and other opening protectives such as shutters and windows must be operable at all times. 

 

Trainings and Certifications

Amidst travel bans and cancellations of face-to-face gatherings, we understand that individuals are not able to participate in live training programs or conferences aimed at keeping them up to date on the latest learnings for their professions or meeting various certification requirements. NFPA offers a full array of online training and certification programs to help meet those needs.

 

During this time, we are all focused on responding appropriately and continuing our efforts to enhance safety. Thank you for the work you all do. For the latest from NFPA, please visit our website.

As incidents of the coronavirus have continued to climb in the U.S., you’d be hard-pressed to get through the past couple of weeks without hearing reports of its spread. All of this is understandably generating conversation and concern among all of us.

 

While no one knows what the true extent of the virus or its impact will be, it’s clear that everyone is thinking hard about ways to implement preventative measures for keeping safe.

 

At NFPA, we’ve recently heard that some facilities have begun propping fire doors open so that people don’t have to touch them to open them. While I can see the logic in terms of germ spread prevention, propping fire doors open presents significant hazards and risks in the event of a fire.

 

It is imperative that we not forfeit institutional elements of safety while working to address others. In this case, we need to balance the risk of the coronavirus against other real hazards that have the potential to harm multiple people in a very short window of time.

 

NFPA codes and standards such as NFPA 1, Fire Code, NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, and NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives, govern the installation, inspection, testing and maintenance of fire doors.  Fire doors and other opening protectives such as shutters and windows must be operable at all times.  Operability of these systems includes opening, closing and latching.  Fire doors must be kept closed and latched or arranged to be automatic closing during the time of a fire.  In addition, blocking or wedging of doors in the open position is prohibited, as it violates the required operation and closing feature of the door. 

 

While it may seem more “convenient” or in this case, a safer option from the perspective of spreading germs, interfering with fire door operation can have grave consequences during a fire. In addition, allowing fire doors to be held open runs a risk of this becoming an accepted practice in the building for any number of situations. Building residents and staff should be taught code-compliant solutions and should not get into a habit of overriding fire safe practices.

 

Anything that could prevent the door from closing and latching properly during an emergency condition such as propping the door open with objects, taping the latch, using wood wedges or kick-down door stops, or overriding the closing device, is a violation of the standards. If they are to be effective, fire doors must be not only closed but also held closed. Building fires are capable of generating pressures sufficient to force fire doors open if they are not held closed with enough latching force, thereby rendering the doors incapable of protecting the opening in which they are installed and potentially allowing the fire to spread to an adjacent space and beyond the compartment of origin.

 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a wealth of information, guidelines, and resources for cleaning and disinfecting facilities in the community setting: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html

 

And, of course, as common sense dictates, wash your hands regularly, well and often!

 

Do you know someone with a passion for home fire safety? Is this person a huge proponent for home fire sprinklers? If so, you can celebrate his/her work with a formal award. 

 

NFPA and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) are now accepting nominations for their Bringing Safety Home Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts by a safety advocate who diligently promotes the importance of home fire sprinklers.

 

Sprinklers

 

The Award honors members of the fire service and other fire sprinkler advocates in North America who use HFSC educational materials, NFPA data, and NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative resources to educate decision-makers on home fire sprinklers. Efforts are aimed at educating the public and policy makers to increase the use of home fire sprinklers in new homes. The award winner will receive a $1,000 grant to further fire sprinkler advocacy and educational efforts in his/her area.

 

Don’t delay. Make sure your favorite home fire safety leader gets the recognition he/she deserves. NFPA and HFSC are accepting nominations for the Bringing Safety Home Award through March 27, 2020Download the application form then send it to firesprinklerinitiative@nfpa.org. Or visit NFPA’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative webpage where you can find the form along with additional information and resources about the Initiative and the award.

The growth and spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection around the world has everyone on edge. Businesses, schools, and healthcare institutions are all breaking out their pandemic plans from H1N1 in 2009 or, if they didn’t have guidance in place, they are looking to establish continuity or strategic plans in case COVID-19 threatens to impact their operations.

 

According to news report, COVID-19 is spreading at a fast rate; and as more testing kits become available, there will be many more confirmed cases of the virus around the world. Those kits will also provide a much better epidemiological picture of where COVID-19 is spreading and how it is being transmitted. With measures being taken to slow its spread, hopefully, we will see the impact lessened and the threat thwarted, but, in the meantime, it is important to plan for the worst.


Maybe you’re thinking COVID-19 is a medical issue, not a fire incident or emergency response concern, so how can NFPA help us?


The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), recognized NFPA 1600 Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management as our National Preparedness Standard. Widely used by public, not-for-profit, nongovernmental, and private entities on a local, regional, national, and global basis, NFPA 1600 has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a voluntary consensus standard for emergency preparedness. The standard is available on the NFPA website for free viewing, and offers key information for entities who want to conduct a risk assessment, business impact analysis, capabilities and needs assessments, and develop emergency and recovery plans. Healthcare decision-makers may also find NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code helpful; the document provides critical safety information and requirements for isolation spaces, emergency planning, IT and data infrastructure, and more.


So, what can you do today to better prepare and revise your plans?


First thing is to identify the event that you are planning for. Chapter 5 of NFPA 1600 states, “Crisis management planning shall address an event, or series of events, that severely impacts or has the potential to severely impact an entity's operations, reputation, market share, ability to do business, or relationships with key stakeholders.” In the case of COVID-19 that is easy to identify. What’s harder to put a finger on is the vulnerability of people, property, operations, the environment, the entity, and the supply chain operations.

 

Second is to conduct a business impact analysis. A key facet of this deep dive is evaluating the following: 

 

  • Dependencies
  • Single-source and sole-source suppliers
  • Single points of failure
  • Potential qualitative and quantitative impacts from a disruption

 

Third is to assess your resource needs. Here are some things to consider:

 

  • What do you have in place currently to mitigate potential disruptions?
  • What are the things you must do to maintain services, at a minimum?
  • What are your technological capabilities and how can they be leveraged to minimize impact?
  • What are aspects of your business or services that can be disrupted in order to re-direct assets to necessary activities?

 

Once you have a good picture of the threat, your capabilities, and what you need to continue operations, you can realistically plan. Businesses and communities will be well-served if they regard the coronavirus as an opportunity for self-evaluation and to either update or create plans that will be needed if the virus continues to spread. NFPA 1600 is a valuable tool for those who are focused on continuity of operations, but bear in mind that planning cannot and should not be done in a vacuum. Establish a planning team, and invite your stakeholders, vendors, and emergency partners to participate in the planning process, where appropriate. Evaluate your products or services, and prioritize the use and purchase of them. For a business, an example of prioritization might entail decreasing marketing efforts so that fulfillment capabilities can be increased. For a school, it may entail reducing or cancelling after school events and large gatherings, such as assemblies. Another thing to consider is your physical operations. Ask questions about what can be done remotely.


Healthcare gets a little trickier because facilities service patients; but do all operational aspects require workers to be physically present, perhaps unnecessarily putting them and their loved ones at risk? Or can you identify the biggest priorities? Do you know what your surge capacity is? How many additional PPE supplies can you store? What contracts do you have in place to acquire more supplies? Are you in touch with the local health department and discussing plans for any surges, how to get support or how to offer support? Do you have MOUs with similar facilities in case your physical operations are affected? Now is the time to ask these questions, and more, and to make the necessary connections.


As an all-hazards information and knowledge leader, NFPA has worked to help entities and communities address emergencies for a very long time. As you review or develop necessary plans, consult NFPA 99, NFPA 1600, and the NFPA 1600 handbook.You may also want to consult the NFPA Emergency Preparedness Checklist or contact NFPA to learn more about a facility planning workshop that walks parties through the process of developing emergency plans.  And, as always, if you have questions or need guidance on how to access or use codes and standards - we are here to help.

 

IT’S A BIG WORLD. LET’S PROTECT IT TOGETHER.

 

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I have written a few blogs about host and contractor employer responsibilities. Over the past year, I have pointed out many times that  NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace has minimum issues that need to be addressed between the two employers. NFPA 70E requires a documented meeting but does not detail exactly what should be documented. NFPA 70E refers to known electrical hazards but it really is how the contract employee will be protected from those hazards that should be addressed.

 

A host employer is responsible for safety in their facility regardless of purpose of a visit. No one should violate the host’s established safety procedures regardless of their employment status. A host employer is not given carte blanche to allow contract employees to willfully expose themselves to the risk of an injury or fatality. Host employers have been cited by OSHA for incidents involving contract employees. At the very least the host and contract employers should review each other’s applicable safety procedures. They should then document how the contract employee will conduct the task. A host employer may find it hard to justify hiring a contract employer who has no safety policy, procedures or training for the task to be performed in their facility. It is also possible that the contract employer must educate, train and document what is to occur due to lack of a host employer safety policy. A consensus should be reached on how to educate and train contract employees. This must occur before an employer begins the task. If it is not documented, it did not happen.

 

I pulled up the BLS database for fatal occupational injuries incurred by contracted workers (2011-2017) to provide some data to illustrate the need for a host and contract employer to be in the same ball park. During this time there were 1,049 fatalities, including 440 contract employees, from exposure to electricity in all occupations. I expect that an employee is either working for a host (employer) or a contract employer. A simplistic view with all things being equal would be a 50/50 split if there was an equal number of employees. Contract employees account for 42% of all contact fatalities. Contract workers in the database are not limited to those in the electrical industry. Employees from cleaning services, HVAC, plumbing, groundskeeping, and other non-electrical trades are included. The following charts show the percentage of contact fatalities attributed to contracted workers compared to all other workers. Note that fatalities due to >220 volts may be included within the other three sub-categories.

 

70e

From this data, it seems as if the contract employee is not fully aware of the distribution system or equipment at the host’s site when performing an assigned task. This unfamiliarity results in contract employees accounting for a higher percentage of building wiring and switchboard, switch and fuse fatalities than for all contact fatalities. It could also be the reason behind the slightly higher percentage of contract electrician fatalities. The minor rise in >220 volt contact fatalities may be due to contract employees being exposed to higher voltages than seen while performing typical tasks. Contract employee fatalities due to contact with powerlines is consistent with the overall contact fatalities.

 

Host employers may be taking a hands-off attitude with electrical safety when using a contact employer. Host employers may be hiring contract employers without implementing a safety program with them. Host employers may not be verifying that a qualified or a properly trained unqualified contract employee is assigned the task. The contract employer may not be enforcing their own safety protocols while at a host employer facility. The contact employer may not be ensuring that an employee is qualified or trained for the specific task to be conducted and to recognize the electrical hazards associated with the host’s specific equipment.

 

A contract employer must address the safety of their own employees regardless of the work location and assigned task whether it is electrical or not. A host employer is not only responsible for the safety of their own employees but also contract employees from any trade. A host may assume that a contract employer has a well-developed and documented electrical safety program (ESP) and that only qualified or trained contract employees will be assigned work. The host may assume that the contract employer’s ESP addresses issues within the host’s facility. We all know about assumptions. When it comes to electrical safety and keeping an employee alive or uninjured, an assumption does not provide the correct answer. A host and contract employer must be sure and it should be documented.

 

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 newsletterto stay informed of new content. The newsletter also includes NFPA 70E information such as my blogs.

Next time: Putting an Employee’s Life at Risk for No Reason

In October 2019, a construction worker at a residential project in New Jersey was electrocuted and killed when scaffolding 70etouched a high-tension power line. That same month, a worker at a construction site in Maryland died when the articulating boom he was operating reportedly touched a power line. In December last year, an Amtrak worker in New York died when he placed a ladder against a substation transformer that he thought was off, but was in fact still energized.

In light of these fatalities, it’s critical to examine how much and what kind of electrical safety training employers are required to provide their employees, and what that training should accomplish.

 

In his latest NFPA Journal column, Derek Vigstol dives into the subject of electrical safety training. It starts, he says, not just with our set of personal protection equipment (PPE) but with a genuine understanding of the definition of a “qualified person.”

Read “In Compliance” in the March/April 2020 issue of NFPA Journal.

 

In an effort to reach more people across the globe with fire, life and electrical safety information, NFPA is expanding its digital delivery of content for Spanish-speaking audiences.

 

Beginning this year, NFPA will produce six digital issues of the entire NFPA Journal in which all editorial, columns and other materials are translated into Spanish. NFPA Journal, as the official publication of NFPA, contains coverage of news and topics of interest around the world and will now be more accessible for Spanish-speaking individuals.

 

This change replaces Journal Latinoamericano, a print and digital magazine that began more than two decades ago and contained a selection of articles from NFPA Journal, as well as articles written by Latin American professionals. Journal Latinoamericano included a limited print circulation four times a year and an accompanying digital version.

 

This move will provide more frequent content - six translated digital issues of NFPA Journal per year. The transition is part of a continuing effort to translate a growing array of NFPA materials including blogs, codes and standards, training and other information (all available as digital delivery).

 

Visit NFPA Journal en Español to learn more or to sign up for the digital edition.

Recently, two teachers’ unions joined forces with Everytown USA, a gun violence prevention advocacy group. They released a position statement against active shooter exercises, featuring realistic simulations, in schools; and highlighted the psychological and emotional impact on students that participated in those simulations. There have been reports of workplace exercises where occupants of buildings have also suffered harm as a result of realistic simulations.

 

The Everytown USA statement closely resembles one produced by the National Association of School Resource Officers and The Association of School Phycologists (NASRO/NASP with one big differentiation: NASRO/NASP made a distinction between exercises and drills. Why is this important? Because they are considered two very different things in codes and standards.


NFPA has several documents (NFPA 101, NFPA 99, NFPA 1600, NFPA 3000, and more) that talk about drills and exercises. Although the codes are different, they all recognize that drills differ from exercises. An exercise as defined in NFPA 1600 Standard on Continuity, Emergency, and Crisis Management is a process to assess, train, practice, and improve performance in an entity. It’s important to note that it says entity, not occupants.


None of the NFPA codes or standards currently define what the term “drill” means but the term “fire drill” has its own section in NFPA 101 Life Safety Code. In Chapter 4 of NFPA 101, and in its explanatory language in Annex A, it is clearly laid out that the intent of drills is to familiarize occupants with using different egress routes and practicing drills at different times. NFPA 101 advises to use simulated conditions, and the explanatory annex clarifies that this reference applies to using the emergency egress alarm to signal the drill; practicing at different times of the day or different days of the week; and to searching for a secondary exit, if the closest one is blocked.


Both drills and exercises are effective practices, and should be used to keep our schools and communities safe.
Drills focus on the occupants of a building and are meant to teach a skill or action by following and practicing a set of instructions. As an example, a fire drill is designed to teach occupants of a building to egress the building quickly and safely. During fire drills you can gain additional skills by learning to check for the nearest exit to you, by seeking an alternative exit, and moving to relocation areas. Most of us are familiar with drills because we have experienced them on a regular basis from kindergarten through adulthood.


School drills have proven to be historically successful. In fact, the last fire-related deaths recorded at a school were in 1958. What’s great about drills is you are learning a skill (egress or shelter in place) that can be applied in different scenarios. Egress knowledge, for example, is important during a fire but can also be applied during an active shooter incident. Shelter in place is key during a hostile event, but it can also be useful during natural disasters, air quality issues and other emergencies. The skills taught to occupants during drills can typically be applied when direction is given or when occupants are faced with decisions.


Drills should be conducted in accordance with locally adopted codes, like NFPA 101. The proposed 2021 edition of NFPA 101 requires an emergency egress drill for each month that school is in session. Where allowed by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), those monthly egress drills can be changed from egress to another form of preparedness drill, twice per school year. This was done in order to give schools more flexibility and to not have emergency drills take up an exorbitant amount of time each month. These guidelines are minimum requirements; schools and AHJs may choose to do more, if they see fit.


An exercise applies to the entity. Exercises are designed to simulate hazards, conditions, and responses to dynamic threats. They give participants an opportunity to test preparedness measures, decision-making, and necessary skills, among other things. An exercise is much more dynamic and complicated than a drill and usually serves building and life safety authorities the most. By simulating a hazard and responding to it, the exercise creates opportunities to test procedures for access, way-finding, threat remediation, rendering aid, and relocating injured parties out of a building. For example, an active shooter exercise may be used to assess communication between school leaders and responders; determine responders’ abilities to navigate buildings; gage how aid is provided; examine the functions of unified command; and analyze the procedures for community notifications.


Like drills, exercises can improve an entity’s readiness and reinforce critical decision-making skills, while under pressure. Exercises help responders get familiar with the intricacies of buildings. They provide a means to practice communication methods and elicit feedback on what plans, policies, and procedures worked - and what didn’t go so well.


NFPA 3000 Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response Program requires that facilities who have been deemed by their AHJ to be at risk for an active shooter or hostile event exercise all, or part of their emergency operations plan, no less than once annually. NFPA 3000 explains that the exercise is designed to be coordinated with community response partners. The exercise can be a tabletop or functional exercise; in other words, occupants don’t need to be involved in any way. NFPA 3000 further specifies that training the occupants of a building on their expected actions be part of an emergency plan (i.e. drills).


Understanding the differences between the terms drill and exercise can help re-frame modern day conversations about safety. Here are the key takeaways.

 

  1. There is a difference between drills and exercises!
  2. Keep the occupants of your buildings and your building’s community informed of your efforts!
  3. Follow the codes!
  4. Work with your AHJ!

 

And remember, NFPA codes and standards are designed to make our communities safer. If you have questions related to building and life safety, contact an NFPA staff member today.

 

IT’S A BIG WORLD. LET’S PROTECT IT TOGETHER.

 

If you found this article helpful, subscribe to the NFPA Network Newsletter for monthly, personalized content related to the world of fire, electrical, and building & life safety.

NFPA Standards DirectoryThe 2020 NFPA Standards Directory is now available for download. The directory contains standards development information, including:

  • an overview of the standards development process;
  • the Regulations Governing the Development of NFPA Standards, Technical Meeting Convention Rules, and other procedures;
  • members of NFPA's Board of Directors, Standards Council, Advisory Committees, and Committees (with scope and responsibilities); and
  • additional contact information and resources.

One of the most notable features of NFPA's standards development process is that it is a full, open, consensus-based process.  "Full consensus" means that anyone can participate and expect fair and equal treatment because safety is everybody's business.  The NFPA Standards Directory is your guide to NFPA's standards development process - download it for free today!

 

 

Request for Proposals are now open for three Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) research projects.

 

First Responder Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) Operations Training: Baseline Materials & Usage Assessment: The overall goal of this project is to substantially increase the availability of free training and education on the safe implementation and utilization of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) used by the Public Safety Departments. This RFP specifically addresses the role and related details of the FPRF contractor for developing baseline content and materials that include assessment of current and trending knowledge, policies, and standards on public safety drone usage and collect relevant public safety drone usage and application information. The deadline for submitting proposal is 5 pm ET on 10 March 2020.


Economic and Emotional Impact of an Active Shooter / Hostile Events: The overall project goal is to establish a sustainable quantitative approach to identify and measure the economic and emotional impact of events that are addressed by NFPA 3000, Standard for an Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program. The overall objectives are: (1) Establish valid economic measures for emergency responders; (2) Quantify short- and long-term emotional impact on emergency responders; and (3) Justify resources needed for preparedness, training, equipment, & other critical needs. The deadline for submitting proposal is 5 pm ET on 13 March 2020.


Occupational Exposure of Firefighters – A Literature Review: The goal of this project is to review existing research into firefighter exposure and identify all the potential contaminants that firefighters can be exposed, depending on the type of fire attended. The deadline for submitting proposal is 5 pm ET on 16 March 2020.

 

You can also find all three RFPs on the Foundation website.

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