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Celebrating Engineers Week!

Posted by ctuttle Employee Feb 11, 2019

Ever wonder what engineers actually do? There are so many disciplines within engineering today that it can be difficult to keep up! Since NFPA employs many engineers, the Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) group at NFPA will be celebrating Engineers Week from February 17th to 23rd to raise awareness of engineers' positive contributions to our quality of life.


The Women in STEM group is sharing some of the cool things engineers do with our NFPA community! We curated a calendar of activities and content, with each day having its own focus (Learn, Visit, Build, Look & Listen, Read, Compete, and Think). There are ideas for all ages. Whether you're looking for something to do with your kids during school vacation or you've been itching to find a new podcast for your nightly commute home, we hope that you'll learn something new while having fun. Make sure to download the attached calendar, browse the links, and share with your friends! 


#WCW at #NFPAconf

Posted by ctuttle Employee Jun 18, 2018

Did you know that NFPA has a Women in STEM group? One of our own engineers, Val Ziavras (vboutin ), presented at the NFPA booth on Wednesday about our internal group, our mission, and what kinds of activities we do. One of these activities is the annual Women in STEM (previously Women in Engineering) Reception. Every year this event tries a new format and covers different topics, which seems to gain more interest and set the bar higher for the next one. This year, Val worked with leaders from Jensen Hughes to assemble a panel of women who work in the fire protection field around the world. They called this powerhouse of experience The International View. The panelists were:


  • Marisol Arrocha with the Panama Fire Department delegation, located in Panama City, Panama
  • Ozlem Emgen with Riskonet Danışmanlık ve Eğitim Ltd. Şti., located in İstanbul Province, Turkey
  • Birgitte Messerschmidt formerly with Rockwool International, located in Denmark (currently an Applied Research Director at NFPA in Quincy, MA)
  • Shamim Rashid-Sumar with Jensen Hughes, Inc, located in Dubai, UAE


From left to right: Usha Tyson, Julie Brown, and Moriel Kaplan of Jensen Hughes, Birgitte Messerschmidt, Marisol Arrocha, Val Ziavras of NFPA, Shamim Rashid-Sumar, and Ozlem Emgen

[From left to right: Usha Tyson, Julie Brown, and Moriel Kaplan of Jensen Hughes, Birgitte Messerschmidt, Marisol Arrocha, Val Ziavras of NFPA, Shamim Rashid-Sumar, and Ozlem Emgen]


The International View gave audience members (both male and female) the opportunity to hear about the different experiences of women in male-dominated careers in cultures other than our own. They shed light on work-life balance, what it’s like to collaborate with professionals from other countries, if and how the #metoo movement impacted their societies, what kinds of questions they would ask before relocating abroad, and much more. The ongoing Q&A was peppered with a fun audience poll where we took a guess at some eye-opening international statistics. While it was enlightening to hear about our cultural differences, it was also comforting to learn about our similarities. Some commonalities that emerged were that all women were thankful for the use of technology in their lives (thank you, FaceTime!) and that all put their families first when given the chance to move abroad (i.e. making sure they felt safe and had opportunities). My favorite part of the Q&A was hearing about their challenges with working across cultures. The women shared humorous stories about things getting lost in translation, sarcasm falling flat in another country, and the unique obstacle of not being able to understand someone speaking your own language because of accents and dialects.


A packed room for The International View

[A packed room for The International View]


I was grateful to have the following hour to get to know these women better during the networking reception. They are each inspirational in their own way, and as a whole they are so intelligent, driven, selfless, and strong. Hence why they were all my #WomanCrushWednesday! This reception is just one of the things that makes the NFPA Conference and Expo different from other industry events.  I hope to see you there next year!


Some of NFPA's Women in STEM

[Just some of NFPA's Women in Engineering]

The Jan/Feb 2017 NFPA Journal edition features an article discussing the fire hazards present in hyperbaric chambers, especially those used in non-clinical applications. The article was written by Stephanie Schorow and features members and staff of the Technical Committee on Hyperbaric and Hypobaric Facilities. It describes that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is approved by the FDA for 14 specific uses, including treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning, thermal burn injuries, and crush injuries. However, HBOT is becoming increasingly popular for treating conditions outside of this approved list: AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, depression, migraines, Parkinson's disease, and more. This therapy has also gained popularity from celebrities and famous athletes, and while some of these chambers are being used in clinical settings, many are not.


More often than not, these freestanding, non-affiliated, or privately owned hyperbaric chambers are not manufactured, installed, housed, operated, nor maintained in accordance with NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code, and this greatly increases the risk of fire and explosion. It is a goal of the Technical Committee and this article to make fire marshals and AHJs aware of this propagation of HBOT and the risk caused by hyperbaric chambers that do not comply with NFPA 99. The Journal article even provides a list of ten tips for AHJs to teach them more about the specific hazards regarding these chambers and how to find them in their jurisdiction. Something as simple as an increased awareness can help reduce risk, injuries, and deaths associated with non-compliant hyperbaric chambers, so pass along the article to your local AHJ!

On Wednesday our Division Manager of International Programs, Olga Calendonia, wrote an excellent blog post about the devastating fireworks explosion in Tultepec, Mexico this week, which has now claimed 35 lives and injured dozens more. The video below gives viewers a sense of just how catastrophic this explosion was. Did you know that this is the third fire-related disaster at this very market since 2005?! While the NFPA standards surrounding fireworks manufacturing and display are the obvious go-to standards in a time like this, the new NFPA 1300 also came to my mind. 


Video courtesy of CNN


What stood out to me was the frequency of similar incidents in the same location, and the perceived risk of storing and selling consumer fireworks at a market where many people, food, and other merchandise vendors all cohabitate. NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, could play a role here. For instance, a risk assessment matrix could reveal both high frequency and high impact for the hazard that is the sale/storage of consumer fireworks in this highly trafficked holiday market. Identifying the risk level is one of the first steps to reducing risks in any given community. It's also important to note that a "community" doesn't have to be a country, state, or city. A community can also refer to an area, event, or building; as big or small as the need demands. 


Risk Assessment Matrix from NFPA 1300


How do you think a community risk assessment (CRA) or community risk reduction (CRR) plan could play a role in a scenario like this one?


My heart goes out to those affected by this explosion, and I know that NFPA will continue to work towards preventing tragedies like this one.

The article "Proving Risk Reduction Works: The Case in Point" by Mark Chubb of the IAFC describes the challenge facing fire and emergency services to prove the effectiveness of community risk reduction efforts. Chubb illustrates a case study that is a successful blend of anecdote, supporting data, and petition. Be sure to check out his full article here.


When proving program effectiveness we know that the data is out there among our communities, but it is not always clear the best way to collect, analyze, and communicate that data in order to achieve our objectives. NFPA aims to provide fire and emergency services in any size community with tools to aid in these endeavors, and NFPA 1300, Standard on Community Risk Assessment and Community Risk Reduction Plan Development, is that toolbox. Released to the public as a draft document in August 2016, NFPA 1300 is currently open for public input until June 28, 2017. On behalf of the Technical Committee on Fire Prevention Organization and Deployment I encourage you to read the draft and submit your ideas to the committee for review at We look forward to hearing from you!



community risk reduction crr community risk assessment iafc nfpa 1300 nfpa 1730 smart enforcement

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