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149 Posts authored by: cathylongley Employee

NFPA has released a new white paper designed to help healthcare officials meet and re-examine the emergency preparedness requirements set forth by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).


In November 2017, Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers, went into effect requiring healthcare facilities to adequately plan for both natural and man-made disasters, and coordinate with federal, state, tribal, regional and local emergency preparedness systems in order to be reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid. The CMS rule requires hospitals, critical access hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, long-term care facilities, intermediate care facilities, and rural health clinics to have an emergency preparedness (EP) program that entails four critical segments:


  • risk assessment and planning
  • policies and procedures
  • a communication plan
  • training and testing


Although the rule requires risk assessment and planning, guidance on conducting, implementing, and revisiting a comprehensive risk assessment plan is lacking. To help address “the how” NFPA developed Using NFPA 1300 as a Tool to Comply with CMS Requirements for an Emergency Preparedness Program, a free resource for the healthcare industry. Three of the major steps outlined in NFPA 1300 Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development directly correlate to the CMS EP rule (conducting a risk assessment, developing a CRR plan, and implementing and evaluating the plan).

CMS encourages healthcare providers and suppliers to review policies and emergency procedures on an annual basis. As part of this yearly review, healthcare authorities are encouraged to re-assess:


  • food and water needs
  • essential utilities, generators, and potential backup resources delivery challenges
  • evacuation plans and sheltering in place
  • tracking patients and staff; safety and security needs
  • communications, resources and assets
  • clinical support and staff roles
  • exterior connections and communications
  • new construction at or near a facility
  • roads and bridges that could be closed; alternate routes for first responders

“The only thing that is constant is change; and with September being Emergency Preparedness Month it is a great opportunity for healthcare facilities to review protocol and see how they can update and improve their EP plans,” Rich Bielen, NFPA Principal Engineer and the author of the white paper said.


Using NFPA 1300 as a Tool to Comply with CMS Requirements for an Emergency Preparedness Program can be downloaded for free; the document can also be accessed on the ASPR TRACIE CMS Resource page. For additional resources for healthcare facilities, visit

NFPA has released NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems to help engineers, manufacturers, code enforcers, first responders, and policy makers address potential challenges and obstacles related to energy storage system (ESS) installations.


The popularity of energy storage systems has been growing steadily for years. Businesses, consumers and government officials are increasingly recognizing the cost savings and efficiencies that come with capturing energy via solar and wind technologies; reserving resources for peak usage periods; and replenishing power at night when rates are typically lower. In fact, Global deployment of ESS is expected to expand thirteen times in size by 2024, with the greatest growth occurring in the United States and China, according to industry expert Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewable.


Certain ESS technologies, however, pack a lot of energy in a small envelope therefore increasing fire and life safety hazards such as stranded energy, the release of toxic gases, and fire intensity. These potential threats are driving the need for first responders and those that design, build, maintain, and inspect facilities to become more educated and proactive about ESS safety.


The development process for NFPA 855 began in 2016; and over the course of three years a wide range of stakeholders submitted more than 600 public inputs and 800 public comments. In addition to looking at where the technology is located, how it is separated from other components, and the suppression systems in place, NFPA 855 considers the ventilation, detection, signage, listings, and emergency operations associated with ESS.


Members of the building and design communities have closely followed the development of NFPA 855 because clients are more likely to consider ESS technology these days for new projects, renovations, and expansion efforts. Manufacturers, likewise, want to appeal to energy-savvy customers and ensure that they are producing the safest, most compliant products. And of course, first responders need to keep pace with innovation and learn about potential hazards including HAZMAT issues, thermal runaway concerns, battery explosion and re-ignition. In April, eight fire fighters were injured in Arizona when a fire caused an explosion as first responders attempted to check on a utility company ESS unit.


To learn more about ESS and potential safety risks, visit for:


  • free online access to NFPA 855;
  • relevant ESS research reports;
  • the world’s first online ESS training for the fire service;
  • a fact sheet for policy makers;
  • and assorted NFPA Journal content.


Current editions of NFPA 70 and NFPA 1 both contain extensive requirements for ESS too.

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According to a new NFPA report called Renovations Needs of the U.S. Fire Service, more than 21,000 firehouses across the country are beyond 40 years of age and the estimated total cost to replace them is $70-$100 billion.


The findings come out at a time when the condition of roads, transportation resources, energy grids and other critical infrastructure in our nation has become a bone of contention with policy makers and the public. The report’s findings are largely based on the data found in the Fourth Needs Assessment for the U.S. Fire Service, a survey that compares what fire departments actually have with what existing standards, government regulations, and other guidance documents state as being required in order to be safe and effective. Relevant case studies were also considered as part of the research project.


NFPA set out to determine just how old firehouses are today, and what it would cost to replace current, compliant structures that keep first responders safe from harm at their workplace. The report identifies the number of stations that are over 40-years old; are not equipped with exhaust emission control; are without backup power; do not have separate facilities for female firefighters; and need mold remediation.

Findings from the report include the following:


  • 21, 230 of U.S. fire stations (43 percent) are more than 40 years old, representing an 11 percent increase in aging infrastructure over the past 15 years.
  • The estimated cost to replace these stations is estimated at between $70 and $100 billion; costs depend on space needs, location, site condition, and department preferences.
  • Sixty-one percent of fire stations that are more than 40 years old are serving communities with less than 9,999 people.
  • A shortage of funding, tighter budgets, and a lack of grants are likely reasons for the large number of older stations.
  • 29,120 fire stations (59 percent) in the U.S. are not equipped with exhaust emission control systems, which are critical for mitigating firefighter exposure to diesel fumes. These fumes can increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, cardiopulmonary disease, respiratory disease, and lung cancer.
  • Assistance to Firefighter Grants have helped reduce the number of firehouses without exhaust emission control systems from 66 to 59 percent.
  • Approximately 17,030 fire stations (35 percent) do not have access to backup power, which is critical for business continuity during an emergency event. When the power is out, firehouses without generators may run into issues with phones ringing, computers running, trucks being fueled, and garage bay doors opening. The cost to install backup generators runs between $850 million and $1.7 billion.
  • When fire stations were built 40-plus years ago, departments were exclusively male. Today, the most recent Needs Assessment estimates that 10 percent of career firefighters are female. The number of males and females in a particular fire department typically varies based on whether the fire company is career, volunteer or combination, as well as the size of the community. Further research is needed today to determine the number of stations that do not provide separate facilities for female firefighters and the estimated cost to renovate these stations.
  • The number of firehouses affected by mold is unknown, despite common perceptions that stations are susceptible given water damage, prolonged humidity, or dampness. All fire stations should allocate resources for mold prevention including dehumidifiers, proper ventilation, mold inhibitors, and mold-killing cleaning products to reduce the likelihood of seasonal allergy and pneumonia-like symptoms.


To learn more about fire service infrastructure challenges, access the complete Renovations Needs of the U.S. Fire Service report here. For a broader understanding of fire service needs and trends, download The Fourth Needs Assessment for the U.S. Fire Service here.


According to numerous news sources, including CNN, more than 10,000 people in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka were displaced when a massive fire swept through a shantytown inhabited largely by poor garment factory workers last Friday evening. The loss could have been far greater, if the majority of residents were not off celebrating the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday with loved ones.

A local police chief told CNN that approximately 2,000 structures made out of corrugated metal, plastic and wood were quickly consumed by the fire. Impoverished residents were able to flee the fire – only a handful of occupants were injured according to news reports - but most lost all their possessions. The media outlet reported that Bangladesh State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman estimated that approximately "80% of the slum has been completely or partially destroyed."

Atiqul Islam, mayor of the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), told The Independent that “permanent establishments” were being erected nearby to house the victims of the blaze. In the meantime, residents sought temporary shelter at schools that were closed for the holiday week. Bangladesh officials have offered food and finances to those affected by the fire; and have indicated that the homeless will continue to receive assistance moving forward.

A report detailing fire investigation findings is expected within the next two weeks.

It’s important to note that Dhaka is not the only corner of the world struggling with devastating shantytown fires. In November 2018, NFPA Journal’s Angelo Verzoni wrote an article and sidebar story, chronicling serious fire problems within an informal dwelling community near Cape Town, South Africa. Verzoni reported on the Wallacedene Temporary Resettlement Area (TRA), a 16-acre neighborhood with approximately 4,500 residents and a long history of fire and flooding hazards. In response to persistent fires in the shantytown, the government spearheaded a project that placed battery-powered smoke alarms into homes. The result? Zero fire deaths in the settlement during that period.


Informal dwelling challenges extend far beyond Dhaka or Cape Town though. “Building regulation experts say as much as 80 percent of the built environment in developing countries was created without regulatory tools such as codes and standards. A very significant part of the built environment globally is informal, which means not benefiting from land-use regulation or building regulation as it relates to safety,” Fred Krimgold, a senior consultant with the World Bank Group’s Building Regulation for Resilience Program told Verzoni at the time. This means an astronomical number of people are at risk for dying in fires. A study published in 2017 by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, states that over 300,000 people around the world die each year in fires, with about 95 percent of deaths occurring in low- to middle-income countries, while millions more are seriously injured.

Dhaka’s fire woes are not restricted to shantytowns. Earlier this year, NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley wrote about 80 people being killed and scores more being injured when an intense and fast-moving blaze broke out in a mixed-use part of the old city combining residences, shops, and chemical storage warehouses. A similar incident happened in Dhaka in 2010. The densely populated region has also experienced tragic factory fires, notably in 2016 and 2013, which respectively took the lives of 23 and more than 1,000.


Affable, willing-to-take-on-anything TV host, writer, producer, and spokesman Mike Rowe tackles firefighter cancer in his popular reality web television series, Returning the Favor. In the 19 hours since the show aired on Facebook, 728,000 people have viewed the program, more than 5,700 have shared the link, and 1,600+ comments have been logged – meaning that a whole lot of people are hearing about the impact of occupational cancer in the fire service from one of America’s most trusted sources.

In season 3, episode 17 of the series titled “Firefighters’ Fiercest Fight”, Rowe shows the devastating impact that cancer has had in the fire service – and in particular - on T.J. Maury, a resilient and upbeat Louisiana firefighter with a penchant for super heroes who’s battling stage 3 colon cancer. Despite 17 rounds of chemotherapy, more than two dozen radiation treatments, five surgeries, and a long road ahead, Maury, an assistant chief with the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base just outside of New Orleans, has demonstrated incredible strength and positivity throughout his bout with cancer. He received his diagnosis last summer on the same day he was set to receive the Civilian Fire Officer of the Year Award from the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C. The 35-year old was chosen for the honor from more than 4,000 firefighters and emergency services personnel who are assigned to the 71 Navy installations around the world.

Returning the Favor shines the spotlight on everyday heroes who are making a difference in their communities. Maury’s contributions on and off the job, his awe-inspiring attitude, and the support of his community take center stage in the episode. At the same time, Rowe takes the opportunity to educate viewers on the toll that cancer is taking in the fire service as a result of the toxins that they encounter on the fire ground.

Whether you are among the 2.3 million followers of Returning the Favor, a fan of Mike Rowe, a cancer supporter, or friend of the fire service – be sure to check out the “Firefighters’ Fiercest Fight” segment and work to better educate as many people as possible about the potentials risks that firefighters are exposed to each and every day.



The 2019 Safety Stand Down online interactive quiz is live. Test your knowledge of firefighter decontamination at and be automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win a limited edition challenge coin commemorating this year’s Safety Stand Down theme, “Reduce Your Exposure: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility.” 


Studies indicate that firefighters are diagnosed with cancer more often than the public, and that firefighters experience more cancer-related deaths than the general population. To keep the topic of occupational exposure at the forefront, the NFPA, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety Health & Survival Section, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are asking all fire and emergency services personnel to promote and take the 2019 Safety Stand Down quiz. First responders are encouraged to try their hand at 13 questions related to decontamination statistics, tips and resources through June 19.


Safety Stand Down is a joint educational and awareness initiative of the IAFC, NVFC, and NFPA. This year’s event takes place June 16-22. Agencies across the country are encouraged to suspend all non-emergency activities during that time so that they can focus on decontamination techniques, training, and education. An entire week is provided to ensure that all shifts and personnel can devote the necessary time to learning best practices and discussing key concerns. Topic information, training downloads, and videos can be found at, the official website for the Safety Stand Down event.


Quick. Time is running out for free access to the National Fire Data System (NFDS) update webinar. Are you interested in improving the way that your department applies data to better inform policies, reinforce gut instinct, or communicate effectively with local policy makers about the changing needs of society and the first responder community? If so, we have a webinar for you. Better yet, we have an entirely new information-sharing prototype in the works for the fire service.


Looking back 100 years, our ability to fight fires was limited by difficulties connecting hoses. Today, our ability to protect communities is often limited by difficulties connecting and sharing data. For two-plus years, NFPA has been working on the development of the NFDS, thanks to a DHS Assistance to Firefighters Grant. The mission is to create a flexible, scalable, and modern infrastructure that is designed to receive, process, store, and share data from local fire departments. Fire service data is any type of data that fire departments or other fire agencies collect to document or manage various activities.


Phase I of the NFDS project ran from 2016 through 2018, and focused on emergency response data. Phase II, which will wrap later this year, is considering community risk data with an eye on outreach, smoke alarms and inspections. While specific fire data problems differ there are some themes that have emerged across the fire service that NFDS will address including inconsistent data silos, delayed data access, and underutilized data.


The National Fire Data System: What We've Built and Where We're Going webinar looks at the historical foundation of fire service data, and covers:


  • what has been built over the last two years;
  • who has been involved in the process;
  • the role that different levels of the fire service, AHJs and others play in broadly improving fire data;
  • how stakeholders can get involved in the process; and
  • what’s to come in the second phase of the 4-year project.


The need for reliable and relevant fire data is not a revolutionary concept. We live in a data driven world. Ever-increasing calls for fiscal responsibility and organizational accountability require fire departments to use data to justify their existing and requested resources and deployment strategies. The NFDS webinar, which is open to all until March 8, helps different stakeholders understand where we’ve been, what’s being done today, and what we can expect from the next level of fire service data.

You won’t find too many emergency responder organizations convening on the gutsy topics being discussed at this week’s 4th NFPA Responder Forum in Alabama.


During his opening remarks today, NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley told the crowd of more than 130 attendees from 15 leading first responder organizations that when he first heard about this year’s plans to tackle the issues of bullying, hazing, racial bias, cultural acceptance, and gender equality during the 3-day program – his first reaction was, “that’s an ambitious agenda.”


Since its debut in 2015, the Responder Forum has taken on new risks and zeroed in on the emerging challenges that emergency responders are facing on the front line. Previous Forums have covered smart firefighting, civil unrest, drones, contamination control, energy storage systems, active shooters, and occupational health and safety – all timely topics that either put people and property at risk or provide solutions to address long-standing issues.


This year the Forum is taking things a little further.


The firefighters, chiefs, marshals, trainers, investigators, EMS professionals and others in attendance have been recognized as forward-thinkers, and as such are considering content that some might find unfamiliar and uncomfortable. They are answering important questions such as – what is the modern day emergency response community doing to protect our firefighters, police and EMS professionals in the spaces where they work, day in and day out? What are we doing to ensure that the perception of the “brotherhood” that is so often touted by first responders, is in fact, relevant for all?

Pauley told the scholarship candidates, “It is up to all of us to ensure that each man and woman that dons the uniform feels that leadership has their back in the station, around the kitchen table, in the apparatus, and .”


Day 1 included presentations designed to help the attendees and the larger emergency response community take o difficult topics.


  • USFA Deputy Fire Administrator Denis Onieal acknowledged and explained why the topics of inclusion, hazing, bullying, and LGBTQ awareness are complicated. The well-known fire authority referenced the New York Times best-seller, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance in his remarks. He asked attendees “to resist the urge to be more tribal; to avoid retreating to comfortable corners.”
  • NFPA Director of Internal Communications Mike Hazell asked the up-and-comers to take notice of behaviors, to emphasize the impact they are having in the workplace, and to have bold, thorough conversations with all personnel. 
  • Casey Grant, Executive Director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation, spoke about the value that the Responder Forum has in the research community. Grant said, “Sharing your voices and stories is hugely important” as he and others look to provide behavioral benchmarks and best practices.
  • Sara Janke, PhD, Director & Principal Investigator for the Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research then entertained and enlightened the crowd with first responder statistics and stereotype observations. Janke said, “If firefighters are not motivated to report and rarely report, it is the equivalent of a “green light” for perpetrators within that culture.”
  • Next, NFPA’s Senior Director of Public Education Andrea Vastis highlighted how stereotypes and unintentional bias can impact our behaviors. Vastis’ presentation drew spirited comments and questions from the audience, and prompted many follow up conversations after she left the stage.
  • Finally, it was time for Ali Rothrock to share her powerful story. A volunteer firefighter, EMT, author (Where Hope Lives), mental health advocate and post-traumatic author from Pennsylvania, Rothrock silenced the audience as she recounted the physical, sexual and mental abuse that she experienced at a young age in firehouses. Her journey nearly broke her until she sought help for PTSD and began her new mission of helping others heal from harrowing events.

As promised, today’s Responder Forum was groundbreaking in a number of ways, but the hard work begins when these leaders break into work groups tomorrow and ultimately return to their respective stations to champion change.


Read about Day 2 of the Responder Forum

Read about Day 3 of the Responder Forum



On the final day of the Responder Forum, it was time for participants to highlight key takeaways from their breakout groups and ask the difficult questions that will help fire, EMS and police organizations become more culturally aware.


Attendees from 15 diverse responder organizations worked together to identify best practices and the honest questions that need to be answered if equity is going to be achieved and awareness is going to be prioritized


Here’s a snapshot of the suggestions and considerations that the teams presented on. All proceedings from the Forum will be shared at a later date in a separate blog:


  • We need to educate ourselves, internally and externally by making sure that we interact with our colleagues and our residents – and take time to get to know the people around us
  • It's important that we meet people where they are. For instance, in Palo Alto, California – the fire service in that affluent city inserts notifications about risks and seasonal challenges in library books because more than 50% of their calls involve the elderly. Palo Alto is home to five libraries widely used by senior residents. Officials have also tapped into Whole Foods to get safety messages to the area’s older audience. In the Detroit area, a fire department established 501C status so that they could support their community. They fundraise and then engage with residents of all ages via Christmas programs, backpack distributions, and neighborhood events. This goodwill goes a long way when emergency responders need support from the community.
  • Departments must have a defined code of ethics/conduct that makes the standard of behavior clear. This way leadership and rank and file requirements can be defined and communicated.


Here are some of the queries from the group that will unearth answers as first responders look to establish equity in their stations and establish rapport with area residents:


  • Why isn’t bullying and hazing being reported? Is it because the leader will brush it off or has an environment of intimidation been adopted?
  • Are you using observations from the field or current events to foster discussions in your station?
  • When was the last time you showed up in your community when things went right, not just when things went wrong?
  • Does everyone have a seat at the table - or just a select few?
  • Are you encouraging and creating educational opportunities that will result in changing behaviors of unconscious bias?
  • Do your recruitment efforts reflect the community; and does your community see emergency response as a relatable, attainable, viable career option?
  • Does your department have a policy on the use and maintenance of social media, as it relates to community engagement?


Earlier in the day, the audience heard from a local firefighter who championed a community engagement strategy that is being considered in many jurisdictions throughout the country. Ben Thompson of Birmingham Fire & Rescue spoke about his city’s C.A.R.E.S (Community Assistance, Referral and Education Services) program which is taking proactive steps to serve patients who frequently call 911 for non-emergent complaints. Time spent helping the elderly may preclude departments from providing life-saving medical evaluations, treatment and transport, so Birmingham Fire & Rescue Fire partnered with social workers to develop a “Prevention through Intervention” home-visiting program for recently discharged heart-failure and COPD patients. This para-medicine initiative is a great example of an emergency response organization connecting with a certain market segment and community partners to add value in a way that is relevant today.


The final day of meetings in Alabama featured leaders at all levels rolling up their sleeves, asking difficult questions, listening to different perspectives, and redefining the perception of first responders - both internally and externally.
Preparing modern fire, EMS and law enforcement personnel to address challenges, on the front line and in the places that they work, is exactly what the NFPA Responder Forum is all about.


Read about Day 1 of the Responder Forum

Read about Day 2 of the Responder Forum




Day two of NFPA’s Responder Forum dove a little deeper into the topics of LGBTQ acceptance, unintentional bias, and cultural awareness prior to scholarship recipients breaking out into work groups to discuss community and social media engagement; hiring, recruitment, and retention processes; and hazing, bullying, and inclusion challenges.


The day began with an organizational breakfast where leaders from the nominating organizations were able to endorse their members’ efforts to raise the bar in the emergency response community.


UK firefighter Katie Cornhill with Dorset & Wilshire Fire & Rescue Service then provided perspective on transitional or transgender acceptance in her session, Fire Harms and Kills – So Does Non-Inclusive Leadership. The Communities Program Manager spoke about the history of equal rights dating back to the Magna Carta in 1215 and referenced landmark events such as the establishment of the U.S. Bill of Rights, which paved the way for the United States Constitution. “People perform better when they can be themselves. They work more efficiently, effectively, cohesively and confidently,” Cornhill said.


Class of 2015 Responder Forum graduate Manny Fonseca, PhD returned to the Forum to share his experiences so that attendees could better understand the unintentional biases and lack of cultural awareness that can often preclude emergency responders from garnering the trust and respect they need from residents. Fonseca used his academic, leadership and minority insight to elicit feedback from the audience about preconceived notions. Current president of the Hispanic Fire Fighters Association, Fonseca underscored the importance of engaging residents and working with community leaders to facilitate better relationships between authority figures and diverse audiences.



Rounding out the morning program was Dante James, co-founder of The Gemini Group, LLC which helps others better understand and implement racial equity (including gender, disability, and sexual orientation). James stressed, “Nothing has been more impactful in this nation than race. It’s a conversation that centers around the dominant culture – straight, white, dominant, able-bodied males.” James told the crowd, “Inclusion is about who’s sitting at the table.”


During the second half of the day, members of the Responder Forum broke out into work groups to answer questions such as: 


  • As leaders (rank is irrelevant) are we addressing gender discrimination/bullying head on?
  • Does your organization take into account the demographics of the community when it comes to hiring, and if so, is that dynamic constantly monitored?
  • Does your organization use mainstream social media when it comes to being engaged with the community? What are some benefits/value of using social media and what are some challenges?


At night it was time to celebrate both the collective achievement of the responder community and the commissioning of the NFPA Responder Forum Class of 2016 (scholarship candidates attend the Forum for three years).


During a special dinner reception, NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley asked the graduating class, “Don’t let this all end tomorrow. Work at keeping in touch. Work at proactively gathering insights from your team and your Responder Forum peers when you return to your various stations. You are the future of the fire service – and we expect great things from you.”


His sentiments were reinforced by keynote speaker, Keith Bryant, the United States Fire Administrator. Bryant told the crowd of approximately 140, “It would be a wonderful thing for the fire service to be an example for the rest of society. As fire leaders, we are in the people business. Be people-centered, people-focused and people-committed.


The 2018 NFPA Responder Forum continues on Wednesday, when ideas are shared and experiences are considered in an effort to address the modern day challenges of the emergency response community.


Read about Day 1 of the Responder Forum

Read about Day 3 of the Responder Forum



Just weeks after winning a gold award for its hot work safety training, NFPA has released the course in Spanish. The new e-learning program for Spanish-speaking trade workers debuted this week, just as a new hot work fact sheet was introduced in both English and Spanish.


After unpermitted welding at a Boston brownstone prompted a nine-alarm fire that killed Lieutenant Edward Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy in March 2014, NFPA stepped up its strategies for helping communities reduce avoidable loss by raising awareness of hot work job site safety considerations and hazards.


The concerted efforts began shortly after the tragic blaze, when Boston Fire officials reached out to NFPA looking for help reducing hot work risks in the city. The two organizations began their campaign for change by lobbying with Boston fire, building, safety, and trades leaders to get the city’s fire code updated so that all workers on a job are now required to earn a hot work safety certificate before pulling a permit. This summer, that safety mandate was extended throughout the Commonwealth.


To better inform anyone engaged in any activity involving flame or spark production in Boston, NFPA developed classroom training that has educated more than 33,000 construction workers about hot work safety. NFPA then developed an  Hot Work Safe Practices course to ensure that more hot work supervisors and laborers were being informed. That training won a Brandon Hall Group gold award for excellence in August – and as of this week is available in Spanish.


The hot work material is presented in an interactive and engaging 90-minute eLearning format. While the training was developed in response to specific local needs it was created in a way that is relevant to anyone wishing to improve job site safety knowledge or to any state/jurisdiction wishing to implement safety requirements like the Bay State has.

The training opens with news footage of the deadly Beacon Street fire and includes an interview with the mother of one of the deceased Boston firefighters. The story is woven throughout the course, conveys the seriousness of the content, and enables the learner to:


• Identify relevant standards, regulations, and ordinances that are applicable to hot work
• Describe the systems approach to hot work safety
• Define and identify hot work and hot work hazards
• Describe hot work evaluation requirements
• Describe hot work safety team roles and responsibilities
• Describe hot work permit requirements


A new hot work fact sheet was also created. The targeted and relevant information within the two-sided handout emphasizes the importance of hot work safety, and is available in both English and Spanish. The document provides a definition for hot work, insight on safety risks, ways to minimize harm, alternatives to hot work, and links to helpful content.


All of NFPA’s resources related to hot work safety can be found on


“Toyota builds for redundancy; I never thought this would happen,” Engineer Ryan Grimes said as he reflected on lessons learned when a natural disaster disrupted operations at a Toyota pickup truck plant in San Antonio, Texas for ten weeks. Grimes is charged with plant planning and provided insight on an unanticipated weather event that challenged business continuity, lead to new partnerships, and resulted in some surprisingly positive operations efficiencies.

In May 2016, a microburst brought intense wind and rain which caused roof drains to close. The steel roof ripped like paper causing leaks that then prompted power problems in the facility. As a result, production halted to a stop. When the elements subsided, the Toyota team needed to find solutions and resources; and, in the process, identified new business approaches.

Speaking to attendees at NFPA’s Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, Grimes offered a snapshot of the car maker’s operations in North America - 14 manufacturing plants, 26 million square feet (~600 acres) under roof, 250+ substations (primary-transformer-secondary) and over 50 miles of busway before detailing the devastation at the plant in Texas.



Despite the top ten Fortune 500 company’s strong preparedness culture, they were not entirely ready for Mother Nature’s wrath or the fallout that ensued in the weeks and months after violent weather hit San Antonio.



Given their lengthy delays in manufacturing and insurance claims that amounted to tens of millions of dollars – Toyota is sharing their experience so that others will benefit and be forthright about their own operational challenges.



Grimes shared the following 13 lessons learned that may help you plan for both the anticipated and the unexpected.

  1. Emergency plans need to be up to date, and include responsibilities. A lack of understanding about roles and direction were obstacles that could have been avoided.
  2. When there’s a roof on the floor no one thinks about electricity. Workers were standing in water with live electrical cable nearby. Look for all hazards, not just the obvious one. Locate and repair existing and potential unsafe conditions with stringent inspection and assessment. Is it safe for all? Could there be additional failures? What is damaged? What are the priorities?
  3. Ironworkers know more than you think. The roof in the Toyota incident was sitting on cable. When the iron worker was told to cut the cable, he realized it was holding up part of the roof. He stopped immediately and informed the project team. 
  4. Supplier relationships are important. Toyota did not have a relationship with a generator company, and spent a great deal of time working on logistics. 
  5. Know your load – not just how much but what kind. Cyclical loads aren’t necessarily the same as others.
  6. Think about cable runs before you run. Planning where to run cable is important. Decide where they should go and how to protect them while they are in place.
  7. Quick isn’t always the best. Long lead items are sometimes important and can save time in the long run.
  8. Sometimes you really can’t get there from here. Restoring a facility or operations back to the original condition may not be the best option.
  9. A good design firm can be invaluable. Partnering with a design firm that has capacity in all disciplines can make all the difference.
  10. Not all cable tests are created equal. Toyota needed to test cable that had the roof sitting on it. They considered partial discharge which was potentially damaging and only allowed for detection of gross/major insulation defects. Tan-Delta was not damaging, and could distinguish between new, medium and strongly aged insulation. Additionally, it has a low power requirement.
  11. Test your work after it’s complete. Look at reoccurrence prevention. Why did this happen? What can we do if it happens again?
  12. What comes in, must come out. Decommission!
  13. Big cranes are fun to watch. Incidents like the one at Toyota’s Texas truck plant require difficult decisions and tasks – and very long hours of working with the same team for weeks on end. You have to look for bright spots, celebrate the wins, and apply learnings to ensure that you are better prepared for business continuity in the future!


Looking to learn more about the steps you can take to optimize safety in the event of a natural disaster? NFPA offers facility emergency preparedness planning training and a course to help develop an electrical safety program based on the 2018 NFPA 70E, as well as a web page devoted to disaster preparedness.


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!


In the wake of a massive fire at the 200-year old National Museum of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, cultural leaders, fire officials, life safety authorities, and the press have zeroed in on the widespread underfunding of cultural institutions; the overall disrepair of arts buildings; and the safety deficiencies that further exacerbate fire incidents in museums around the globe.


This year’s National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Hugh Eakin wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post about the treasure trove of Latin American history that went up in flames at the Museu Nacional on the evening of September 2. As reported, the former 19th century royal palace was home to more than 20 million artifacts, including audio recordings of languages no longer spoken, Greco-Roman artifacts, dinosaur fossils, Egyptian mummies, and many more irreplaceable finds. Lives were spared because of the timing of the fire, but the building and an estimated 90% of the contents were ravaged by smoke, flames, and water.


For years, NFPA has worked with the Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro fire departments, and more recently with the fire service in the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Paraná, Pará, Ceará and Goiás to help authorities address fire safety challenges and strengthen local protocol. Interestingly enough, last October NFPA technical staff presented on NFPA 909, Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties - Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship and NFPA 914, Code for Fire Protection of Historic Structures at a seminar organized by Fundabom (São Paulo Fire Department Support Foundation), in partnership with the São Paulo Fire Department and Brazilian Architecture Council. During that program, NFPA and others addressed different aspects of historical building fire protection so that the São Paulo Fire Department could review and revise their standard related to the protection of historical and cultural buildings.


Data from the American Association of Museums (now the American Alliance of Museums) indicates that budgets for cultural institutions have dropped from 38% to 24% since 1989. In the Post piece, Eakin wrote, “As we witness the Brazil tragedy, it may be all too easy to conclude that this is a poor-country problem. It’s not. It is a warning for all of us.” The article goes on to quote J. Andrew Wilson, a museum adviser and former head of the United States’ Smithsonian’s fire protection program, as saying, “There exists a cavalier attitude in this country that ‘fire won’t happen to me.’” This same sentiment was echoed in The Los Angeles Times story entitled, “Think the museum fire in Brazil can’t happen here? Think again.”


By all accounts, the museum in Brazil was seriously underfunded. Other transgressions have been noted as well, including political issues, ignorance of safety concerns, disregard for employee warnings, and a general disinterest in the arts and history that put the building and its contents at risk. The building also lacked sprinklers and working fire hydrants.


With all these factors at play, what happened in Brazil is certainly saddening, but not surprising.


Clearly, more can and should be done to protect institutions that house the history and heritage of any group, culture or nation. Without proactive, practical steps in place to champion and enforce fire and life safety, public buildings will continue to be at a greater risk for hazards and heartache.



Michele Gay is all too familiar with the heartbreak of active shooter incidents. Gay’s daughter Josephine Grace was among the 20 children and six staff members killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012.


One of two co-founders of Safe and Sound Schools, Gay’s current role and mission to “support school crisis prevention and protect every school and every student, every day” brought her to NFPA’s headquarters for the first of three Massachusetts School Active Shooter Symposiums this month. The mother-turned-advocate hailed organizers for setting the bar for other policymakers across the country to hold similar programs and support efforts that will reduce risk in schools.



"Without strong leadership and leaders putting money where their mouth is, it’s like pushing a giant boulder uphill,” Gay said. "Safety is something we all say we want. The mission statement for every single school in America says something about providing a safe and secure environment but when it comes down to the realities of what it takes to keep people safe, we often turn away because it’s uncomfortable, expensive, or may cause us to get into arguments. We need community leaders to work together, and our policymakers to champion, endorse and support collaboration.”


The Massachusetts School Active Shooter Symposium was developed at the request of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and co-hosted by State Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey and NFPA President/CEO Jim Pauley. Following the release of NFPA 3000TM (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program, Baker asked the fire marshal, the Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, and the Undersecretary of Homeland Security for the State of Massachusetts to bring together school, police, fire and EMS officials to discuss the unified planning, response and recovery strategies outlined in NFPA 3000. It is believed that Governor Baker is the first governor in the country to convene such a summit on school active shooter protocol. Two additional summits will be held later in the month. In total more than 500 first responders and educators are expected to participate.



NFPA 3000, the first standard of its kind, provides the framework for entire communities to organize, manage, communicate, and sustain an active shooter/hostile event program. NFPA’s Jim Pauley told the full-to-capacity crowd, “What brings us here today is a whole different level of concern. Without question, schools and campuses have been the most engaged audience since we released NFPA 3000; this is not surprising, considering the lives you are entrusted to care for.”



The state fire marshal underscored the importance of developing and reviewing comprehensive school emergency plans annually before school starts – a requirement that has been in place in Massachusetts since 2002. “We’ve worked together to develop medical emergency response plans, protocol for bomb threats, and to place defibrillators in schools. These joint efforts, and the dialogue today, are the building blocks that we can use to address this next major school safety issue," Peter Ostroskey said.

Rounding out the program were presentations from:


  • the Department of Fire Services Fire Safety Division about maintaining building and fire safety while addressing new threats
  • Town of Needham fire, police and school leaders highlighting the rescue task force concept they employ for a variety of school emergencies
  • Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) members sharing what they are doing to help communities identify at-risk students to prevent incidents from happening in the first place


For more information on NFPA 3000, visit

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) approved a resolution, submitted by the IAFF Executive Board, to support and promote NFPA 3000™ (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program during their 2018 convention in Seattle last week.

The new policy requires fire/EMS departments sending rescue task forces (RTF) to ASHER incidents to ensure that both fire/EMS, and law enforcement members are trained on Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC); and emphasizes that they should train together initially and on an on-going basis so that response is unified and effective. The resolution states that fire/EMS departments must have PPE to protect personnel from the risks associated with hostile events; and to further safeguard the health and well-being of members by providing post-response behavioral health programs including the IAFF’s Peer Support Program.

The IAFF’s endorsement of NFPA 3000 is not limited to its 313,000 full-time professional firefighters and paramedics. Resolution No. 13 calls for union members to advocate for the guidance referenced in the new standard, especially during integrated ASHER planning efforts in their communities; and to inform the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and police labor and management organizations about the best practices outlined in NFPA 3000.


Released in May, NFPA 3000 helps entire communities organize, manage, communicate, and sustain an active shooter/hostile event preparedness, response, and recovery program. The Technical Committee responsible for the standard is made up of representatives from law enforcement, the fire service, EMS, hospitals, emergency management, private security, facility management, education, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice, and others. NFPA 3000 takes into consideration job-specific insight from mass killings at Mandalay Bay Resort, Pulse Nightclub, Sandy Hook Elementary, the Sikh Temple, the Boston Marathon, and other less publicized events.


NFPA 3000 is the first standard of its kind, but a clear example of the importance of coming together to reduce risk in our communities. The days of working in silos are over – and this endorsement reinforces that truth. NFPA applauds the IAFF’s Executive Board’s endorsement; greatly appreciates membership’s acceptance of this motion; and welcomes additional advocacy for proactive, integrated ASHER protocol from other top fire organizations, EMS authorities, and law enforcement leaders.

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