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133 Posts authored by: jesseroman Employee


I admit, I've got a pretty good gig here at NFPA. In July, myself and NFPA's Southwest Regional Director Ray Bizal traveled to Colorado, the world's epicenter of legal pot, to tour a half-dozen marijuana grow and extraction facilities. We met with marijuana business owners and equipment manufacturers to learn about the various agricultural and industrial processes involved in this $1 billion industry. We also met with several very knowledgeable fire officials who shared with us all the work they have done over the past several years to develop regulations and procedures to ensure that this burgeoning industry is safe for employees and first responders.  


I filmed the trip to share with you some of what we learned. After the video, please check out the feature story I wrote on this topic, "Welcome to the Jungle," in the September/October 2016 issue of NFPA Journal. There are a bunch of other resources there including a slideshow explaining the entire marijuana extraction process, a map that shows marijuana's legal status in each state, a detailed overview of the hazards in each type of facility, and much more. Also, read about the NFPA 1, Fire Code, task group that is working on a new chapter addressing marijuana facilities.


While it’s undisputed that smoke alarms save countless lives, they aren’t perfect. In 2014, U.S. fire departments responded to almost 2.5 million false alarms, almost twice the total number of reported fires and five times the number of structure fires.


“Unwanted alarms have also taken an increasing toll on the nation’s fire service in the form of fuel costs, apparatus wear and tear, risk of collision and injury during response, and a growing complacency when responding to automatic alarms,” writes Marty Ahrens, senior manager of Fire Analysis Services at NFPA, in a feature story in the new NFPA Journal.


In the article, “The Unwanted Conundrum,” in the May/June NFPA Journal, professionals from all sides of the issue—manufacturers, firefighters, researchers—weigh-in with commentary on the issues, challenges, and possible solutions to the unwanted alarm problem.

Read what they have to say in the all new NFPA Journal

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In his most recent research column in the new NFPA Journal, Fire Protection Research Foundation Executive Director Casey Grant tackles the subject of robotics.


"The potential for robotics to assist with dangerous professions like firefighting is great—the possibilities are limited only by our imaginations,” Grant writes in the piece, “Machine Age.”


As this field expands and reinvents itself almost daily, researchers and standard developers must be diligent to keep up to date and address any issues and concerns that arise. Read more on this issue in Grant’s column in the new May/June issue of NFPA Journal.


Other columns in the new May/June NFPA Journal include:


NFPA Government Affairs Division Director Gregory Cade writing about the many ways NFPA is addressing emerging threats of violence;


NFPA Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy Lorraine Carli writing about why NFPA continues to push the home smoke alarm theme for Fire Prevention Week;


NFPA Vice President of Field Operations Don Bliss discussing the increasing use of NFPA codes and standards across the globe;


NFPA Public Fire Protection Division Manager Ken Willette writing about the many forward-looking education sessions being offered to the fire service at this year’s NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas;


And, Lucian Deaton of NFPA’s Wildland Fire Operations Division writing on prescribed burning and how the tactic can be a critical tool for many communities in the Wildland/Urban Interface.


Read all of that in the print edition of the May/June NFPA Journal, or online at

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the city of San Antonio, Texas, sheltered an estimated 37,000 storm evacuees at a cost to the city of roughly $21.8 million. While extraordinary in its benevolence, the city’s mayor at the time, Phil Hardberger, conceded later that his initial assessment that San Antonio could handle such a wave of refugees, even if it meant creating and implementing a complex, multiagency plan on the fly, was bold and maybe even ignorant.


Put yourself in Hardberger’s shoes,” writes Dean Larson, the chair of the technical committee of NFPA 1616, Mass Evacuation, Sheltering, and Reentry Programs, in his feature article “Single Source” in the new issue of NFPA Journal. “Sheltering that many people for an indeterminate length of time is a truly daunting task, one you’ve never before undertaken. Where do you even begin?”


Now, with the creation of NFPA 1616, there is a document officials can turn to for assistance. In his article, Larson details the just completed NFPA 1616—the 2017 edition will be the first—which describes an integrated program for planning, executing, and evaluating mass evacuation, mass sheltering, and mass reentry.


“I believe the new standard will allow emergency managers and other key decision makers to initiate and manage such programs much more quickly and efficiently, and will help ensure a safe, humane, and supportive experience for evacuees throughout the evacuation, sheltering, and reentry process,” Larson writes in the article.


Learn much more about the new NFPA 1616 standard, how it was created, the process technical committee members went through to create it, as well as much more about what the how it will impact future mass evacuation and sheltering events, by reading Larson's article in the all in the new May/June issue of NFPA Journal. 

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A new NFPA Journal article, “Decentralization Revolution,” explores several proposed changes to the 2017 National Electrical Code® (NEC®). Several of the proposed changes will address key emerging issues and technologies related to electrical generation and distribution.


“The changing landscape has caused electrical experts to reimagine the future of the electrical grid, and has been one of the main drivers for three of the most important proposed additions to the 2017,” the NFPA Journal article reads. “More and larger consumer-owned power generation has caused the NEC’s code-making panels to consider systems and circumstances they never had previously.”


These include large-scale photovoltaic, direct-current microgrids, energy storage systems, and more.


Read much more about these emerging technologies as well as the proposed NEC changes designed to address them and ensure safety in the May/June NFPA Journal.

In addition, Listen to the NFPA Journal Podcast to hear NFPA electrical engineers Mark Earley and Jeffrey Sargent talk about the proposed changes to the 2017 NEC.


Download and subscribe to the NFPA Journal Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.


The April NFPA Journal Podcast episode is now available for download on iTunes, Google Play, and other podcast platforms.

The episode features NFPA electrical engineers and code specialists Mark Earley and Jeff Sargent, speaking on three new proposed articles in the upcoming 2017 edition of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®). The proposed articles discussed deal with energy storage systems, large-scale photovoltaic, and direct-current microgrids.


Listen to the podcast to hear the experts give their insights on these new technologies, and to learn about how they are addressed in the 2017 NEC. If you prefer, listen to the podcast on your computer.


Don’t miss an episode. Please subscribe to the NFPA Journal Podcast on iTunes!


Construction workers pick up in the aftermath of the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs.


In June 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire tore through the Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs, killing an elderly couple and causing an estimated $454 million in insured losses. It remains one of the most destructive fires in U.S. history—now it is also one of the most-well understood.


A new NFPA Journal article, “House to House,” in the “In a Flash” section of the magazine, looks at a groundbreaking 227-page study on the fire conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


A NIST team spent almost a year in Mountain Shadows conducting about 250 interviews with witnesses and first responders. They cross-referenced those accounts with radio logs, time-stamped photographs, satellite images, and city records to meticulously piece together how the wildfire moved through time and space. In doing so, they tried to determine how factors such as topography, weather, building density, ignition vulnerabilities, and first responder actions affected the fire’s path.


Read more about what they learned, and how meticulous, in-depth wildfire investigations could change the way we think about fire behavior, in the all new NFPA Journal. in this month’s “In a Flash”:


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.


The Sabine Pass liquified natural gas export terminal in Louisiana made the first LNG shipment from the U.S. lower 48 states in February.


Once thought to be past its peak, and even in decline, U.S. gas production is soaring to all-time highs thanks in large part to innovative extraction techniques, including hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.


The “shale revolution,” as this transformation has come to be known, is driving huge increases in gas demand and, in turn, billions of dollars in infrastructure investment in the U.S. and around the world.


The cover story of the March/April issue of NFPA Journal, “High Volume,” looks at what this enormous rise natural gas use means for inspectors, enforcers, and first responders. From a $20 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Louisiana, to a proposal to construct two massive LNG storage tanks in rural Massachusetts, this potentially flammable substance is making its way to unfamiliar places in quantities once unknown. The article also looks at the provisions in NFPA 59a, Production, Storage, and Handling of Liquified Natural Gas, which is used across the world to ensure the safe design, construction, siting, and operation of LNG facilities.


Read more about the big build out in LNG infrastructure in the U.S., about its increasing use as a fuel for vehicles, and about how and why the U.S. is producing and consuming more gas than ever before, in the new April/May issue of NFPA Journal.


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.


The Hotel Vendome was the height of Gilded-Age opulence in Boston, but on June 17, 1972, it was the scene of a fire and partial building collapse that killed nine firefighters and injured eight—one of the worst losses ever suffered by the Boston Fire Department.


The “Looking Back” article in the new January/February issue of NFPA Journal takes a detailed look at this tragedy, including what led to the fire, and the subsequent building collapse that killed the firefighters.


“The collapse trapped 17 firefighters in a pile of debris nearly two stories high,” Mary Elizabeth Woodruff, manager of library in information resources at NFPA, writes in the article. “In the first hour, four firefighters were rescued, and eventually four more were freed from the rubble. Firefighters worked through the night to recover the bodies of the nine remaining men who died in the collapse.”


Read more about the Hotel Vendome fire in the new NFPA Journal and at


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.


While NFPA has long been a global leader and advocate for fire protection and life safety, in recent years the organization has made expansion of its reach internationally an even greater priority.


“NFPA has many reasons to expand its global influence,” writes Don Bliss, NFPA’s vice president of field operations, in his new “International” column for NFPA Journal, which debuted in the January/February issue. “Through this column, I will describe NFPA’s work around the world to help save lives and reduce loss with information, knowledge, and passion. We are doing a lot of great work with our partners and stakeholders, and there are many stories worth telling.”


Bliss’s new column will focus on NFPA’s many global efforts, from advising the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety to help improve basic safety conditions and worker awareness for Bangladesh’s garment workers, to NFPA's extensive work in South America and the Middle East.


“In my travels around the world, I have learned that NFPA’s reputation and brand are readily recognized and highly regarded,” he writes in his column. “Our standards are in use in more than 50 countries and in 14 languages, and there is no shortage of requests for training and technical guidance from the international fire service, our members, industry, and governmental (and non-governmental) organizations. Developing nations can face huge challenges with population growth, urbanization, substandard building construction, and overwhelmed fire services. NFPA has an inherent social responsibility to share our 119 years of experience and knowledge to help solve these problems and make the world a safer place.”


Read Bliss’s new column in the January/February issue of NFPA Journal.


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.


In the aftermath of the Black Forest Fire in June of 2013 near Colorado Springs, which resulted in the loss of 488 homes, a local newspaper, The Gazette, ran a series of articles finding fault in the response by county commissioners who both tabled wildfire code adoption and relaxed existing structural fire code requirements following the Black Forest Fire. Local officials claimed they made the decision to relax requirements on residential sprinklers to help homeowners better afford rebuilding.


The “Wildfire Watch” column in the new January/February NFPA Journal looks at the issue of what happens in the aftermath of a wildfire and how, in many cases, communities are missing opportunities to learn from the lessons wildfire provides.


“The balance between long-term progressive change and the immediate need to make people and budgets whole again is real, but we cannot afford to miss the critical lessons we can use to help shape a workable wildland/urban interface (WUI) landscape, writes Lucian Deaton, who manages the Firewise Communities and Fire Adapted Communities programs at NFPA. “What is needed to meet the WUI threat today is the collective conviction to stand by comprehensive rebuilding plans that reflect those lessons, and balance redevelopment with the assurance of a resilient WUI future.”


Read more about this issue in the "Wildfire Watch" column in the new NFPA Journal.


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.


Big Data is now being used to affect changes and find efficiencies seemingly everywhere you look, and even in many places you would never suspect. Data sets help fight the spread of malaria, grow better crops, and even identify ways to improve world happiness.


In September, NFPA took a decisive step further into the world of big data analytics by hiring former IBM data scientist Nathaniel Lin as director of data strategy and analytics. Shortly after being hired, Lin sat down for a long form interview with NFPA Journal Staff Writer Jesse Roman for the “Perspectives” feature in the new January/February issue of NFPA Journal.


Lin believes NFPA is sitting atop a “gold mine” of information; opportunities are everywhere, he said, from data-driven models that inform wildfire risk reduction strategies to analytics tools to help enforcers improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their inspection programs.


Find out more about the kinds of tools Lin hopes to develop from harnessing the troves of fire data; learn about NFPA’s ambitious data and analytics plans to support it’s goals, and read about how “data, with the right type of advanced analytics, is truly transformational,” all in the “Perspectives” feature in the new NFPA Journal.


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.


There is a dramatic shift beginning to happen with how healthcare is delivered in the United States, and fire departments could have a big role to play, according to Thomas Breyer, the director of Fire and EMS Operations at the International Association of Fire Fighters.


In the feature article “Community Coverage” in the new January/February NFPA Journal, Breyer writers about the rise of community paramedicine, or mobile integrated healthcare as it’s sometimes called, where non-emergency medical care is provided outside of a hospital setting, usually in patients’ homes, by fire-based paramedics or emergency medical technicians.


These types of home services “are intended to keep people out of hospital emergency rooms and thereby reduce health care costs while keeping emergency resources free for true emergencies,” Breyer writes. “Such programs represent a dramatic reinvention of healthcare delivery in this country, where the fire department, rather than a hospital, is the central connector in a patient-centric system.”


Learn much more about these programs, where they are working, what issues they raise, how hospitals benefit, and how NFPA is involved, in the “Community Coverage” feature story in the new NFPA Journal.


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.


In his “First Word” column in the new NFPA Journal, NFPA President Jim Pauley reflects on his first full year at the helm of the organization.


There was a plethora of highlights for NFPA in 2015, Pauley writes. That includes big organizational changes, such as introducing a new vision and mission for NFPA and reorienting the organization’s strategy, to important ongoing work such as the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s completion of nearly two-dozen projects, and the 20 reports produced by NFPA’s Fire Analysis and Research Division.


“NFPA has accomplished much in its 120-year history, and we have much yet to do. Last year marked the beginning of our journey to accomplish more for fire and electrical safety,” Pauley writes. “We made progress last year, and the we is all of us—you, NFPA employees, the NFPA board and leadership, and our thousands of volunteers and partners who support our work each day. Here’s to a successful 2016.”


To read more about NFPA’s highlights from 2015, read Pauley’s “First Word” column in the new NFPA Journal.


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.


Much of the Western United States is locked in a long and ongoing drought and the pressure is on to conserve water in anyway possible.


One of the areas that has been flagged for conservation is the inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) program for mechanical building systems, including fire sprinklers, writes Matt Klaus, a principal fire protection engineer at NFPA, in his In Compliance column in the new January/February NFPA Journal.


NFPA 25 Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems, has been adopted in many states, and often requires ITM service providers or building owners to discharge water onto the ground to make sure the systems are working properly, Klaus writes.


“While these tests require a considerable amount of water to be flowed, they are vital to ensuring that the sprinkler system and its water supply (in the case of the pump test) will be available when called upon,” Klaus writes. “The NFPA 25 technical committee is aware of concerns over water usage … (and) has already taken steps to provide options for limiting water usage and continues to address the problem.”


Learn more about this issue and about the proposals on the table to alleviate these water usage concerns in the new NFPA Journal.


Also in "In Compliance" in the new NFPA Journal, there has been a lot of discussion among code developers and safety officials recently about food trucks. But what about another fad: shipping containers modified as mini take-out restaurants?


It is these types of interesting mixed occupancy questions that NFPA Principal Life Safety Engineer Ron Coté writes about in his "In Compliance" column in the new January/February NFPA Journal. The containers present several questions. Should they be treated as a food establishment, or an industrial occupancy? Or, perhaps a combination of both?


The "In Compliance" section also looks at highlights of the proposed changes to the 2017 National Electrical Code® (NEC® ), including new articles for generation, distribution, and utilization; as well as a look at NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, and why it's important to plan carefully around fire alarm system testing impairments.


Receive the print edition of NFPA Journal and browse online member-only archives as part of your NFPA membership. Learn more about the many benefits and join today.

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