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142 Posts authored by: cathylongley Employee

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.

Nine-fold. That’s how great the increase was in residential battery energy storage system (ESS) installations from Q1 2017 to Q1 2018, according to PV Magazine. Homeowners are not the only ones going gaga over green technology. State officials and business leaders are also embracing the battery energy storage and solar systems that are revolutionizing our nation’s electrical infrastructure. All this innovation, however, can bring new hazards that emergency responders need to be well-versed on.


To address potential fire and life safety issues that may occur with solar and ESS technology in both housing and commercial settings, NFPA has updated and expanded its Energy Storage and Solar Safety Training for the fire service, with funding from FEMA. In 2015, FEMA funded NFPA’s initial efforts to develop first-of-its-kind ESS classroom training program for the fire service, and recently provided a second round of funding to update and expand the content with solar safety information and the latest in storage research findings.


The instructor-led course explores terminology, basic electrical theory, types of PV installations, battery chemistries (lead acid, lithium-ion, sodium sulfur, and flow batteries), as well as common applications they will be found in. Detailed guidance on handling failure modes and potential hazards associated with these technologies are covered, including pre-incident planning, systems shutdown, battery thermal runaway and re-ignition, ventilation, and other emergency response procedures. Fire service training officers are encouraged to participate in the training, then host classes locally to address the knowledge gaps surrounding alternative energy technology for first responders, AHJs and others in their area.


“We are increasingly seeing more high power battery energy storage systems comprised of hundreds or even thousands of smaller battery cells in our communities. These units connect together to create a much larger power supply capability, and are cropping up in large outdoor shipping containers, inside commercial buildings, at multi-family dwellings, and in residential homes,” NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley said recently. “Our first responders and enforcers need to know about hazards including electrical shock, batteries exploding or reigniting, HAZMAT issues, and flammable toxic off-gassing so that they can keep themselves and others from harm.”


NFPA has been addressing the topics of ESS and solar safety for years via relevant educational sessions, research and content. NFPA 855, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Energy Storage Systems, is slated to be released in 2020 and will help create more stringent ESS requirements nationally. The proposed standard will work alongside the new NEC Article 706. There were nearly 600 public inputs submitted on NFPA 855 last fall and more than 800 public comments were received during a recent comment phase, underscoring the strong interest in energy capture, distribution and storage.


For more information on the enhanced ESS and solar classroom training, contact NFPA. FEMA funds have also been earmarked to update NFPA’s self-paced online training with interactive 3D modeling, videos and quick reference materials by the beginning of 2019.

A new law that requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a registry to collect data on firefighter cancer was signed yesterday by President Trump.


The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act calls for the collection of voluntary data including whether a firefighter is a career professional or volunteer, years on the job, the number of calls responded to, and incident type so that researchers can better understand the impact of smoke inhalation and other job-related dangers that may lead to cancer.


According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general population in the United States. The hope is that the new Firefighter Cancer Registry data will influence firefighter protocol, inform medical research and enhance treatment for firefighters battling the dreaded disease.


The CDC is charged with stimulating participation in the voluntary registry, developing guidance for state agencies, and ensuring that once the information is collected it is made public and available for research purposes. The federal registry will electronically connect to state-based registries to glean local cancer diagnosis, pathological, and treatment details.


Firefighter contamination and occupational cancer have been organizational priorities for NFPA for many years. NFPA and its affiliate, the Fire Protection Research Foundation, have partnered with international fire groups, academic institutions, healthcare leaders, like-minded organizations and others to conduct research, identify safety gaps, develop best practices and educate audiences about the cancer risks that exist on the fire ground, and in firehouses, gear and apparatus. NFPA research reports, editorial content, fact sheets, safety bulletins, and workshops have helped to inform firefighters, their families, and community leaders about cancer in the fire service - and keep this important issue top of mind.


The campaign for the Firefighter Cancer Registry began in February 2017 when Buffalo area state representative Chris Collins proposed a bill to capture firefighter demographic information and exposure data.


After the announcement from the White House, Collins told Buffalo News, "We currently have a lack of information about how being exposed to certain fires will impact a firefighter's health, and this is a common-sense way to collect that data to improve protocols and equipment. I express my deepest gratitude for our nation's firefighters and first responders, and take pride in knowing that this registry could lead to reforms that will save lives." 


Well-played and well-said, Mr. Collins. NFPA and the global fire community thank you for leading the charge to protect those who protect us.




The second of three training courses developed to educate communities on NFPA 3000TM (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program is now available. NFPA 3000 provides unified planning, response and recovery guidance to help different authorities integrate and minimize harm if a mass casualty event occurs in their city or town.


The three-part NFPA 3000 online, self-paced training series covers key elements of the standard, including:


  • Whole Community – proactively collaborate with a cross-section of leaders to reduce risk and optimize safety
  • Unified Command – work together to identify scenarios, authorities, roles, responsibilities, and communication with all key stakeholders involved in the process
  • Integrated Response – incorporate the organizational operations and objectives of agencies, and practice integrated response together as a cohesive, well-connected unit
  • Planned Recovery – establish a resiliency strategy (immediate, early, and long-term) that is well-defined and turn-key for implementation


On May 1, the first 2-hour training course debuted along with the new standard. It focused on three components - “Program Overview”, “Risk Assessment” and “Program Development”. The new Respond course highlights “Incident Response” and “Public Education and Information”; and builds on the lessons learned during the Plan training. The new modules underscore the benefits of communicating and practicing procedures with other agencies; methods for notifying first responders and the community if an ASHER event happens; and the development of targeted public information and training programs to minimize chaos.

Throughout the development process for NFPA 3000, Technical Committee (TC) members tied to hostile events in Boston, Wisconsin, Orlando, Sandy Hook, and Las Vegas emphasized the importance of working together to save lives and reduce angst. They echoed the sentiments of their fellow TC members from law enforcement, the fire service, emergency medical services, hospitals, emergency management, security, private business, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Justice, in stressing that, “the days of working in silos are gone”.

Later this summer, the final NFPA 3000 training course will be available. In addition to qualifying for CEUs, those that complete NFPA 3000 online training will receive a badge after each of the three courses (Plan, Respond and Recover), as well as a Program Specialist Badge for completing all of the courses. More importantly, those that take the comprehensive online learning courses, will be better equipped to protect citizens and first responders if a perpetrator strikes.

First responders, facility managers, AHJs, designers, and members of the building community packed the NFPA Energy & Solar Safety Training for the Fire Service at NFPA’s Conference & Expo pilot session in Las Vegas. Although NFPA’s new training is geared toward educating first responders and keeping them safe as innovative technologies emerge, it is clear that a myriad of professionals have a vested interest in learning about the potential hazards associated with ESS, photovoltaics (PV), and other alternative power sources.


Utility companies, business owners, and consumers are increasingly drawn to energy storage technology for a variety of reasons including:


  • backup capabilities that are especially important for continuity when the power goes out;
  • the prospect of cost-savings and storing energy for off-peak hours;
  • the ability to support and share the power being generated by other renewable resources including hydropower;
  • and the inter-connectivity of systems.


This keen interest prompted NFPA to take steps to update its three year old ESS training for first responders. The new module, which will debut later this summer, was funded by FEMA (they also provided support back in 2015 when NFPA first introduced ESS training to help the nation’s 1.1 million firefighters mitigate risk and respond to hazards).

Ron Butler, a former Detroit firefighter and president of Energy Storage Safety Products International, conducted the four-hour session beginning with an introduction to ESS and solar energy, an overview of key terminology, and some basic electrical information. He then spoke about different energy storage systems including lead acid, lithium ion, sodium sulfur and flow battery before explaining various PV technology such as monocrystalline, polycrystalline (mono/poly SI), thin film amorphous and concentrated PV cell (CVP) systems. Once the audience had a sense of the new and varied technology being used today in commercial and residential settings, Butler used videos, animation, case studies and best practices to demonstrate the ways that the fire service should handle failure modes and respond to dangerous incidents. This part of the training was highly interactive with audience members providing input and asking questions about pre-incident planning, thermal runaway, re-ignition, ventilation, air quality, emergency response, and disconnecting strategies.

NFPA’s updated ESS and Solar training helps practitioners properly identify the presence of PV and battery energy storage systems. Those that take the training will emerge with an understanding of the different types of battery chemistries and their related hazards; how to implement proper response procedures based on the type of incident; an understanding of the two common applications for energy storage systems and four types of energy storage systems; and knowledge about pairing photovoltaic (PV) systems and energy storage systems (ESS).


As was evidenced during the training rebirth in Vegas, NFPA’s updated ESS and solar training for the fire service provides a strong educational overview of today’s alternative fuel technology, proper mitigation practices, and the best ways to respond to fire and life safety hazards that often come with innovation.

News reports continue to document the popularity of renewable energy sources. Last week, New Jersey joined New York and California in mandating that utility companies draw 50% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. At the same time, a Bloomberg news article stated that half the new cars on the road will be electric by 2040 with the pricing of alternative vehicles being on par with gas guzzling cars by the early 2020s.


These trends are driven by consumer interest, business economics, government incentives, and a global commitment to becoming more green and efficient. These trends also accentuate the need for first responders, facility managers, code enforcers and others to learn all that they can about emerging technologies.


NFPA has designed an educational lineup at its annual conference in June to help the fire service, the built environment and design professionals become aware, prepare, and respond to emergencies associated with energy storage systems (ESS), solar power, alternative fuel vehicles, and new innovations such as small unmanned aerial systems, artificial intelligence, spaceports and more. Here’s what’s on tap:


  1. Jump start your learning at a special pre-General Session four-hour pilot of NFPA’s newly redesigned ESS/Solar Safety Training for First Responders. So much has changed in our world since NFPA introduced the world’s first ESS safety program in 2015, that FEMA provided grant money to update the content with new considerations and more solar energy information. Be among the first to learn what’s new.
  2. Before or after educational sessions on opening day, swing by the NFPA Building of Tomorrow on the Expo floor to learn more about some of the latest technology that will enable smart buildings and electric vehicles to steer us into the future. This virtual reality demonstration offers an up close look at new advances as well as other innovations on the horizon.
  3. On day 2 of the conference several sessions cover energy storage systems and photovoltaics. Gain insight on the global view of ESS and PV; listen to a panel discuss fire safety considerations; hear about who’s embracing this new technology and why; and learn from well-versed technical leads and SMEs about NFPA’s 855 Energy Storage System Standard.
  4. If you’ve had your fill of ESS on Tuesday, you can always see how unmanned aerial systems (drones) are being used for safety within the fire service today.
  5. On Wednesday, the future of transportation will take center stage. Representatives from the DOE/Clean Cities initiative will provide an overview of Alternative Fuel Vehicles, including plans for more electric and hydrogen fuel infrastructures; while two more educational programs center around natural gas vehicles and the safety systems in place, and the concerns that firefighters have when it comes to identifying AFVs and extricating passengers.
  6. With new opportunities, come new hazards. That’s why first responders need to know more about what artificial intelligence can (and cannot) do for firefighting, emergency response, and safety inspections. “Deep learning" technology, such as those developed by Google and Facebook, may hold some answers.
  7. New technology is synonymous with this brand. Representatives from UBER will offer insights on how the next generation of air travel, more specifically, air taxis will impact fire and life safety. Do you know what you need to know about electrical grid expansion, airborne battery systems, and the ground-based charging stations that will need to be evaluated for active and passive fire protection, life safety, and first responder training and tactics? You will after this session.


Perhaps, the greatest reason to attend NFPA’s Conference & Expo is the invaluable opportunity to connect with forward-thinking and diverse professionals who share your passion for keeping people, property and first responders safe for existing and new hazards – and keeping an eye on new trends and future technologies. That’s the foundation of good learning; that’s the cornerstone of NFPA’s C&E. 


Ten people were killed and another 10 injured during an active shooter event at a high school in southeastern Texas today, according to CNN. The latest tragic incident comes just 17 days after NFPA released NFPA 3000™ (PS), Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program to help entire communities organize, manage, communicate, and sustain an active shooter/hostile event preparedness, response, and recovery program.


In the wake of the tragedy at Santa Fe High School, Governor Greg Abbott called for policymakers and other authorities to do more. According to CNN, Abbott said, “"We need to do more than just pray for the victims and their families. It's time in Texas that we take action to step up and make sure this tragedy is never repeated ever again."


NFPA 3000™ (PS) was developed at the request of first responders following a previous active shooter event. The new body of knowledge provides guidelines for integrated, proactive, practiced, whole community strategies.


The first of its kind standard was developed by a 50-member Technical Committee made up of representatives from law enforcement, fire, medical, education, facility management, private security and government agencies including the FBI, DHS, DOJ and more. During the fast-tracked standards development process, committee members provided invaluable job perspective and insight from horrific mass casualty incidents including Sandy Hill, Mandala Bay, Pulse Nightclub, and the Boston Marathon.


As Governor Abbot stated today, it’s time to do more to reduce active shooter/hostile event risk, improve unified response and ensure that authorities are working together before, during and after the unthinkable happens.


While we cannot prevent these tragedies from occurring, we can do more to help communities prepare, respond and recover more effectively. For more information on resources to support communities visit

CNN photo


A deadly fire at a four-story mall in Kemerovo, Russia has not only shaken officials and residents in the Siberian city but has raised the ire of fire and life safety advocates around the globe due to serious lapses in fire safety protocol.


The death toll from Sunday’s horrific fire at the Winter Cherry Mall currently stands at 64, with ten victims at the hospital and another ten unaccounted for. An entire class of schoolchildren died as they celebrated the beginning of school break with classmates; making futile calls to loved ones in their final minutes. The incident is the 8th deadliest fire in a retail property since 1970.

Russia's Investigative Committee found “serious violations" at the mall including blocked fire exits and disconnected smoke alarms. Additionally, mall management has been criticized for not providing evacuation support or guidance. Movie-goers reportedly learned about the fire when a man burst into the theater yelling “fire”. Officials have detained employees of the fire alarm company; and are looking to speak with a security guard who turned off the public address system.

Witnesses described a very chaotic scenario with occupants scrambling to escape heavy smoke and flames in dimly lit spaces. According to CNN, the fire began in a movie theater on the shopping center’s top floor. Flammable thermal insulation in the building is believed to have contributed to rapid fire spread and intense heat. Rescue attempts were thwarted when the fourth floor collapsed.

The shopping center opened in 2013 in a former confectionery factory, and is a magnet for families and youths because of its retail stores, theater, bowling alley, skating rink, children's center, and petting zoo. In addition to the dozens of human casualties, an estimated 200 animals perished. More than 800 firefighters fought the blaze for 12 hours.

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