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5 Posts authored by: bpugh Employee
NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, has been the cornerstone of the electrical industry for over 120 years. While the NEC Correlating Committee recognizes that the code has to be reactive to trends in the industry, it also recognizes that, working together with electrical professionals, it can be proactive as well. The goal of the code is safe and sound growth of emerging areas. 
During the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas last June, five NEC committee members came together to tackle this important issue during their panel presentation, The Critical Role of the NEC® Back to the Future.
They focused on the advantages of applying the current edition, pointing to some of the new areas under consideration for the 2020 edition and beyond, and discussed the significant challenges created for owners, designers, installers, and enforcement where the latest edition is not adopted in a timely manner.
I had the pleasure to continue the discussion with the panel members after the presentation. The video above presents some of the highlights from that conversation. 
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to ALL the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions here. If you're not currently an NFPA member, join today!


Michael Crowley, Vice President of Development and healthcare practice leader for Jensen Hughes, and 38 year NFPA member, presented this popular topic to a packed room at the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas last month. Crowley is a passionate leader in the healthcare industry and currently serves as the Chair of the Health Care Facilities—Correlating Committee for NFPA 99.

Setting the stage of this session, Crowley compared the recorded health care facility fire losses from 1980 to 2014. Crowley explained, "The Life Safety Code has defined Fire Safety in healthcare since the late 1960’s. The adoption of the Life Safety Code by the precursor of Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) launched it as the premier healthcare fire and life safety document. The modification made over the years identified life safety and healthcare functional issues. These issues were addressed in the Life Safety Code and the positive performance are reflected in the recent Fire Record reports."

Heath Care Fire Data Comparison


Some of the major Life Safety Code changes that were introduced during this time period include:

  • Mandatory automatic sprinklers for new healthcare facilities and new and existing nursing homes.
  • The creation of suites in healthcare occupancies
  • Designation of hazardous areas
  • Quick response sprinkler requirements 


While the positive impact of NFPA 101, Life Safety Code® is clear, Crowley stressed to the audience that the healthcare industry continues to evolve and so must the code. New patient care options, design trends, more stringent smoking regulations, and a host of new technologies are just some of the topics that will spark code change discussions for the 2021 edition. To stay updated on the document's progress or to become involved visit


Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to ALL the 2018 NFPA Conference & Expo education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions here. If you're not currently an NFPA member, join today!

The short answer: everyone.    
Hot work is one of the leading causes of industrial fire. According to the NFPA report Structure Fires Started by Hot Work - September 2016U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 4,440 structure fires involving hot work per year. These fires caused an average of 12 civilian deaths, 208 civilian injuries and $287 million in direct property damage per year.
At this year's NFPA Conference & Expo, Skip Donnell, a volunteer firefighter and the Engineering Manager of Liberty Mutual Insurance, presented on the importance of implementing a hot works permit program - a program that can reduce loss potential as well as save lives. As he described, a hot work permit program is important because it:    
  • Provides accountability
  • Ensures a "paper trail"
  • Helps ensure safety of the facility
  • Reduces the likelihood of fires
  • Improves employee safety
As Donnell explained, the leading causes of hot work fire incidents can be traced to a failure to identify combustibles or combustible construction, impaired fire protection systems, or failure to implement a fire watch both during and after the hot work had been completed. Donnell went on to highlight some high profile cases throughout the years.   
One such well known case was the Pepcon Disaster in Henderson, NV. This remote desert manufacturer of ammonium perchlorate - an oxidizer used in solid rocket fuels - had an historic explosion back on May 4, 1988 from what was most likely caused by a welding incident. Watch the shocking explosion as captured by a bystander.  
This incident caused 1 death, injured 372 (including 15 firefighters) and had an estimated loss of $100 million.    
This example and many others shared during his presentation illustrated the dangers associated with hot work activities. These incidents emphasize the importance of actions taken both before and after hot work -- they both play a crucial role in significantly reducing loss potential.   
Creating a hot work permit process is key, but as Donnell explained, "You have to get buy-in from the highest level of management. And you need to empower managers to ensure that the process is followed.     
Use these 5 tips to ensure a successful permitting process:  
  • Avoid hot work if possible
  • Train personnel
  • Ensure area clear of flammable/combustible materials
  • Use a written permit system
  • Supervise the work
Remember, hot work is a leading cause of industrial fire loss and those fires may not become apparent until after work is completed. A hot work program can assist you in controlling this exposure.
Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to ALL the 2017 NFPA C&E education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions here.


These were the words of Captain Peter Berger of Hallandale Beach Fire Rescue as he spoke to a full house of fire service industry leaders — along with his partner Captain Greg Moulin of DFW Airport Fire Services — on the topic of Cancer in the Fire Service: A Public Policy Risk Analysis at the 2017 NFPA Conference & Expo in Boston. New evidence suggests that cancer is overtaking heart attack as the number one killer of fire fighters in the United States, and as Berger explained, reports of cancer in the fire service are growing due to exposure to carcinogenic by-products of combustion. Captain Berger and Captain Moulin presented some compelling data on this important issue. 



cancer overtaking heart attack as highest risk of death for firefighters


Captain Berger warned that there is no escaping the reality of this situation. Instead, what needs to happen is the "the 3 A's."


Awareness, acceptance, and action


The high rate of cancer among fire fighters, as both Berger and Moulin explained, was due to three routes of exposure:

- Ingestion

- Inhalation
- Absorption 


The ingestion of contaminates is due in large part by the handling of saturated PPE gear and then eating or drinking without first going through decontamination.


On the topic of "absorption," Captain Moulin stressed that the adage of "the darker your PPE the more manly you are" needs to stop. Proper care and maintenance of your PPE needs to be a priority. Some of the recommended changes he recommended includes regular inspections, including pass/fail inspection checklist, using an extractor or dedicated washer for PPE cleaning, and retiring your PPE after 10 years.



Exposures through inhalation as Berger explained is one that in many cases is preventable through strict PPE policy. Berger provided a number of examples of risky practices that are far too commonplace. Among those mentioned is the exposure to diesel fumes. These fumes pose a risk at the fire scene as well as at the fire house where the engines are stored, many times alongside PPE gear. Berger even shared this startling photo of the air scrubber filters from his own firehouse.

diesel exhaust benzene inhalation risk for firefighters

Captain Berger's heartfelt message was clear: "Let's act smarter so we can make the change happen and get home safe to our families." The changes that Berger and Moulin are suggesting include department policy changes, but perhaps more importantly, a change in attitude. These changes include:

- Complete buy-in is needed from top to bottom.
- Dark soiled gear is not cool.
- Clean gear is smart.
- We need to treat all fire scenes as hazmat scenes.
- Overhaul with PPE is always needed!


In addition to these preventative practices, screenings for cancer needs to be part of the yearly practice.


The full audio from this session is available here. And special thanks to Captain Berger and Captain Moulin for agreeing to share their slides with us here as well. For more on the work Berger and Moulin are doing on this topic, visit the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation website.


Did you know that NFPA Conference & Expo attendees and NFPA members get full access to all the 2017 NFPA C&E education session audio & video files? Browse the full list of education sessions - with attached audio/video - here.

6a00d8351b9f3453ef01bb08f62178970d-200wi.pngNFPA 86, Standard for Ovens and Furnaces, provides standardized methods to minimize fire and explosion hazards of ovens and furnaces used for commercial and industrial processing of materials. Within NFPA 86 are requirements for proper explosion ventilation methods that should be applied to new ovens and furnaces. In order to thoroughly review the NFPA 86 explosion ventilation requirements for the next revision cycle, the Technical Committee on Ovens and Furnaces sought information on real world incidents where NFPA 86 ventilation requirements would be involved.

The purpose of this project, which is documented in this report, was to gather information regarding explosion incidents in which an oven, furnace, or dryer was involved. This information was then sorted and a basic analysis was conducted in order to provide useful information to the Technical Committee on Ovens and Furnaces.

Proper explosion relief design and installation is essential to ensure the safe operation of industrial appliances like Ovens, Furnaces and Dryers. The new Fire Protection Research Foundation report, "Oven, Furnace and Dryer Explosion Incidents" is now available for download, and reviews the type of these systems that are experiencing explosions, as well as the causes and subsequent outcomes of the explosion incidents through an information gathering effort.

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