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120 Posts authored by: jrodowicz Employee

Not Every Hero Wears A Cape

Since 1922, the NFPA has sponsored the public observance of Fire Prevention Week. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country. During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults, and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire. Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.

Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage. This horrific conflagration killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.

 

1979 Fire Prevention Week poster featuring Sparky the Fire Dog

This week’s throwback from the NFPA Archives has us visiting 1979 and checking out what Sparky the Fire Dog looked like then.

 

Sparky the Fire Dog was created for the NFPA in 1951 and has been the organization’s official mascot and spokesdog ever since. He is a widely recognized fire safety icon who is beloved by children and adults alike. In addition to connecting with the public through educational programs, he has a very active website, sparky.org, which allows kids to explore and learn about fire safety in a trusted, interactive environment.

 

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.


 The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
 Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

Happy Fire Prevention Month everyone! Let’s spend some time getting to know one of our favorite characters and look back at some of Sparky the Fire Dog’s appearances through history.

 

Smokey the Bear introduces the world to Sparky the Fire Dog (circa 1952)Pictured here: An advertisement with Smokey the Bear introducing the world to Sparky the Fire Dog (circa 1952).

 

Sparky the Fire Dog was created for the NFPA in 1951 and has been the organization’s official mascot and spokesdog ever since. He is a widely recognized fire safety icon who is beloved by children and adults alike. In addition to connecting with the public through educational programs, he has a very active website, sparky.org, which allows kids to explore and learn about fire safety in a trusted, interactive environment. The story of Sparky and a museum chronicling the changes in his appearance can also be found on the website. In addition to the name and image of Sparky, the title Sparky the Fire Dog is a registered trademark of NFPA. The name and image of Sparky have appeared on literally millions of copies of brochures, posters, workbooks, videos and other material distributed by the NFPA in the U.S. as well as internationally since the character’s initial creation.

 

Sparky has partnered with fire professionals, teachers, civic organizations, corporations and the media to deliver invaluable fire and life safety educational messages to children and adults alike. Over the years, the iconic fire dog has  used a multitude of educational techniques, including books, tip sheets, online resources, videos, apps and NFPA’s national public safety campaign, Fire Prevention Week, to share important safety messages like “Stop, drop and roll”; “Get out, stay out”; “Dial 9-1-1”; and “Know two ways out.” His dogged determination has ultimately helped reduce fire loss and injuries in North America. Be sure to visit www.sparky.org for safety educational materials; and follow Sparky’s

adventures on the Sparky website, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

The name and image of Sparky and the title Sparky the Fire Dog are registered trademarks of the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA 02169.

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.


 The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.

 Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

After a week full of informative and innovative presentations and discussion, the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET 2019) has officially concluded.

 

Since 1997, the Research Foundation has organized SUPDET, an annual symposium which brings together leading experts in the field of fire protection engineering for the purpose of sharing recent research and development on techniques used for fire suppression, detection, and signaling. These events are generally attended by a variety of fire protection professionals, such as engineers, researchers, insurers, designers, manufacturers, installers, and AHJs.

Over the course of this year’s 4-day conference, participants were given the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from colleagues within the fire protection engineering field that are putting old ideas to the test and advancing research in new areas.

 

On Wednesday afternoon, SUPDET 2019 attendees were invited to participate in a Workshop on Automatic and Remote Testing and Remote Monitoring of Fire Protection Systems. The objective of the workshop was for participants to discuss how technology can be used to perform automatic and remote tests and remotely monitor fire protection systems and identify what may be needed to ensure system reliability in the future.

 

Representatives from more than 30 organizations were represented at this year’s event. While the focus of the conference was on suppression and detection, sessions covered topics on Notification, Data and Modeling, Standards, Life Safety and Emerging Technologies and Storage Protection, among others.  Thank you to all the researchers and presenters who shared their knowledge and insight this week. As Casey Grant stated at the beginning of the program on Tuesday, “If we didn’t keep doing these sessions and programs, we wouldn’t continue to keep making the kind of progress we’ve been making.”

 

Thank you again to our sponsors for their support: Gentex Corporation, Viking, Zurich, Victaulic, Fire & Risk Alliance, Underwriters Laboratories, Siemens, National Fire Sprinkler Association, and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

 

For copies of this year’s Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET 2019) presentation, please visit https://www.nfpa.org/supdet19presentations

 

And don’t forget to save the date for next year’s AUBE’20/SUPDET2020 which will be held September 15-17, 2020 at Katholische Akademie ‘Die Wolfsburg’ Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.

Wildfires continue to be a problem in the United States and abroad. According to the California Department of Insurance, the Camp Fire of November 2018 cost somewhere in the vicinity of $8.5 billion in property loss and damages. Currently, the Camp Fire is regarded as the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.
While the massive destruction of such fires is difficult in itself, the tragedy that comes from the loss of lives all the more difficult to recover from.


This year’s first day of sessions at the Fire Protection Research Foundation’s Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET 2019) covered a number of Detection-related topics. But I thought I would take a moment to highlight Jessica Doermann’s presentation on Development of a Research-Based Short Message Creation Tool for Wildfire Emergencies.

Doermann

 

Doermann’s goal was to develop a message creation tool to help agencies generate effective 360-character messages that auto-incorporated research-based best practices. Her intent was to help develop a foundation for the bridge between short message alert research and the practical generation of messages during imminent threat emergencies.

 

Over the course of her research, Doermann determined that the following factors were the most important when it came to getting public response to messaging:

  • Readability
  • Content
  • Style
  • Risk Perception
  • Public Trust
  • Public Action

 

In addition, Doermann determined that the content of an effective short message alert was typically made up of five primary types of information:

  • Hazard
  • Location
  • Timeline
  • Guidance
  • Source

 

However, depending on the length of the message and the amount of information provided, the order of these five necessary types of information would change.

 

example

 

If you would like to review Jessica Doermann’s presentation, or any of the other wonderful and informative presentations from this year’s Suppression, Detection and Signaling Research and Applications Conference (SUPDET 2019), please visit https://www.nfpa.org/supdet19presentations

 

And don’t forget to save the date for next year’s AUBE’20/SUPDET2020 which will be held September 15-17, 2020 at Katholische Akademie ‘Die Wolfsburg’ Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany.

 

The above image displays how a concealed attic space acted as a flue to spread a fire that destroyed St. Paul’s Church in Newburyport, Massachusetts on April 27, 1920.

 

From NFPA Quarterly vol. 14, no.2 (1920):

 

The fire was discovered about 4 A.M. burning on the roof of the parish house. This is the addition at the rear of the church, appearing at the right in the picture. The firemen came promptly, and in a few minutes apparently had it well under control. Then, without any intermediate appearance, flames broke out in the tower, having traveled, unseen, through the blind attic over the church proper. Two hours later the fire was extinguished, leaving the church as shown in the picture.

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.

 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.

 

Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

Today we look back at a historic fire incident that had a significant influence on modern firefighting tactics.

 

An aerial shot of the Blackwater Fire of 1937

 

The Blackwater Fire began with an electrical storm on August 18, 1937 near Blackwater Creek in Shoshone National Forest area of Wyoming. When the fire was first noticed, it looked like it only covered an area of two acres. However, at the would continue to grow and eventually cover roughly 1,700 acres and lead to the deaths of 15 firefighters.

 

Aerial description of the fire and diagrams of personnel movement

 

From the NFPA Quarterly vol.31, no.3 (1938):

“[Above is an] aerial view of Blackwater burn. Dash line indicates edge of fire when finally corralled. Dotted line shows fire line lost at time of tragedy. Right-hand arrow marks the place where 7 men were burned to death by a spot fire from below, which these men had just discovered when fires were whipped to fury by sudden wind. Left-hand arrow points to spot on ridge where crew of 40 men were overtaken by flames while climbing to safety above timber line. Most of the crew who stayed with their foremen at this point were painfully burned. Three died later. Four others who broke away died in the fire.”

 

The Blackwater Fire was the first fatality fire to have an in-depth investigation into the events immediately after the incident. The lasting impact from this tragedy is that the analysis of the event led to the smokejumper program.

 

The Wildland Fire Leadership Program has set up a detailed Staff Ride to the Blackwater Fire. The concept behind staff rides is “to put participants in the shoes of decision makers on a historical incident in order to learn for the future.” It allows participants to ask thoughtful questions not just about “what happened?” but also “What would I have done?”

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.


 The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
 Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

Boston's portable drill tower in 1938

 

From The NFPA Quarterly v.32, no.2, 1938:

What is believed to be the first large city portable drill tower designed for holding public exhibition drills in various parts of the city is shown above. The picture shows Boston firemen performing for the first time on the tower at a public exhibition held on historic Boston Common late in September and witnessed by approximately 10,000 people. The portable drill tower was the idea of Boston’s Fire Commissioner, William Arthur Reilly, and Fire Chief Samuel J. Pope as a novel and effective method of interesting the public in the work of the Boston Fire Department.

The portable drill tower, erected at various playgrounds and other public places throughout Boston during Fire Prevention Week, makes it possible for large numbers to witness fire department drill work. The tower is easily erected and dismantled and can be readily transported from place to place.

The purpose of the portable drill tower was to popularize the work of the fire department and increase the morale of the department.

 

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.

 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

an illustration of what a participant in cockroach racing might have looked like

During the summer of 1925, Mr. S.D. McComb, chairman of the NFPA Marine Committee shared a story that he had heard from a colleague “across the pond” regarding the possible hazards of a pastime once common aboard ships at sea in the mid-to-late 1800’s.

 

From The NFPA Quarterly v.19, no.1, 1925:

Referring to an article in a recent number of the Nautical Magazine about fires on board ship. The following, although not recent information, may interest you. It was told me by a man-of-war’s man about fifty years ago. My informant probably started his career at sea in the early sixties, and most likely in wooden ships. Here are his own words, as near as I can remember: “Us boys used to catch cockroaches, get some small pieces of candle, light them, tilt them a bit to let the grease run, then put them on the cockroaches’ backs, and have races.” He then naively added: “You must not get catched at it though.” I presume the bearers of the light would make for some secluded spot in the ship.

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.

 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

Happy Independence Day, America! Today we thought we would share one of NFPA’s public outreach posters from 40 years ago.

Did you know that each 4th of July, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks?

According to NFPA, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires.

In 2017, US hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks related injuries; 54% of those injuries were to the extremities and 36% were to the head.

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives. 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. 

Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public. 

During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s master magician, Mark Wilson toured the United States with a jovial talking steam pump engine named Snuffy.

There were two versions of Snuffy used as part of the national radio and television tour promoting fire safety for children. Little Snuffy was designed and built by Doug Beswick and Carl Jablonski. He had moving headlights, a mouth, and a hat that “tipped.” It drove and did everything by remote control. Big Snuffy was created by John Gaughn, the master illusion builder, and was built on a golf cart chassis. The driver “magically” controlled it from inside the boiler.

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives. 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. 

Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public. 

Vendome

From Fire Command vol.39, no.9 (1972):

“On June 17, a four-alarm fire in the former Hotel Vendome became the worst tragedy in Boston Fire Department history when a portion of the building collapsed, killing nine fire fighters. The old hotel was being converted into apartments when the fire occurred.”

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives. 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. 

Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public. 

On June 9th, 1946 a fire at the Canfield Hotel in Dubuque, Iowa captured national attention when 19 people died and 20 others were injured.

 

The Canfield Hotel consisted of two buildings: the original four story brick joisted section and the six story fire resistive annex that was built in 1925. The original building did not have a sprinkler system and had installed a wooden stairway to connect the original building to the three upper floors of the annex. The annex had a closed non-combustible stairwell with automatic fire doors that lead to an exit on the ground floor.

 

Guests accessed the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of the annex from a sub-standard elevator or the open stairway from the first floor of the original building. Additionally, corridors between the original building to the annex continued across all floors but were protected with automatic fire doors. Guests accessed the fifth and sixth floors of the annex from an elevator.

 

The fire started in a small closet in the Red Lounge on the first floor of the hotel. Waitresses were instructed to put cigarette butts in paper napkins and place them in a paper trash can in the closet. At 12:10 am, four guests had gone to play the juke box and heard a crackling noise and smelled smoke, went to investigate, and discovered that the wall in the closet was on fire. The guests and the hotel manager tried to extinguish the fire with a wet towel and a fire extinguisher but their attempts were unsuccessful. The fire quickly spread to the combustible finish on the walls of the bar. Fifteen minutes after the fire began, the hotel manager tried to warn guests on the upper floors. The night clerk notified the fire department at 12:39 am. Many escaped by using the fire escape on the annex.

 

When the fire department arrived, the fire had encompassed the lounge and the lobby. The fire department did not have enough staff to simultaneously fight the fire and save lives so they made the decision that life-saving took priority over fighting the fire at the time. At 12:42 am, another alarm was sent out by police radio to call for additional help. Civilians, the police department, and National Guardsmen assisted the fire department. They were able to rescue 35 people using ladders and 27 people jumped into life nets. It took the fire department 2.5 hours with six pumping engines, an aerial, and two ladder companies to extinguish the fire.

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.


The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

From The NFPA Quarterly v.43, no.1, 1949:

On Saturday afternoon, June 4, 1949, two employees under the direction of a foreman were unpacking goods in the Montgomery Ward warehouse in San Rafael, California, -- an innocuous operation from a fire hazard standpoint as long as somebody saw to it that the packing materials were properly disposed of. This foreman undertook to do when he detailed one of his men to burn the rubbish. Being new on the job and not having previously had the rubbish detail, the employee was instructed to proceed to the end of a certain corridor, go through a doorway and there he would find a place to burn. The employee was successful in “finding a place to burn”; when next he was seen racing back up the corridor closely pursued by a fast spreading fire that caused $350,000 damage before being controlled.

There were two doors at the end of the corridor, one to the outside where the incinerator was located, and the other a fire door to a paint spray room. As luck would have it, the latter was blocked open, so in he went, deposited the rubbish in a convenient metal enclosure with what looked like a smoke pipe in the back, and touched a match to it.

Fire apparatus arrived promptly in answer to an automatic alarm, but the unsprinklered one- and two-story wood frame structure was already beyond saving.

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.


 The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
 Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

CQ CQ CQ…

This is KB1JOY. Welcome back for another installment of our Throwback Thursday blog!

As part of our National Electrical Safety Month coverage, the NFPA Research Library & Archives thought we would share a piece from the archives relating to Amateur Radio and introduce some of our readers to a popular hobby at the same time.

Amateur Radio enjoys a long and rich history. Over the years, Amateur Radio enthusiasts (or Hams) have made a number of significant contributions to their local communities and to the sciences. Today Amateur Radio (ham radio) is still a popular hobby that allows people to experiment with electronics and communications in a fun way.

“Although Amateur Radio operators get involved for many reasons, they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles, and pass an examination for the FCC license to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands.” These bands are frequencies allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use by ham radio operators.”

We hope you enjoy the following story and image!

73.

KB1JOY.

ARRL_Home Radio_1922

From The NFPA Quarterly v.16, no.2, 1922:

The radio signaling apparatus in the home of Mr. Hiram Percy Maxim, Hartford, Conn. Mr. Maxim is president of the American Radio Relay League. Most amateur experimenters locate their station in their home, and inasmuch as they are unable to change the surroundings they must, to a certain extent at least, take things as they are. A careful study of the conditions will, however, often enable one to overcome and seeming handicap which may exist. This is just what Mr. Maxim has done. As a result, he has an efficient equipment without some of the unfortunate hazards which surround other amateur stations. Mr. Maxim made frequent grounds inside and outside of his home. He made at least twenty driven pipe grounds, running the ground conductor from the pipes to a water pipe outside of the foundation wall. Inside of the house, Mr. Maxim connected, electrically, all soil, gas, heating and other metal conductors by means of a copper bonding wire, and connecting this bonding wire to a water pipe, thus providing means for “draining” any static accumulation within his home.

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives.


 The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic.
 Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public.

May is National Electrical Safety Month and we are excited to have the opportunity to share some of the safety messaging NFPA has distributed throughout its lengthy history.

 

 

This week we are have a classic public service advertisement from 1964 warning the public to pay attention to the electrical.  Sparky’s message may be and old one, but it is still a valid and important one.

According to NFPA’s latest Home Electrical Fires report, “Aging electrical systems in older homes can be a source of arc faults, either through normal wear and tear or because the systems cannot accommodate the greater demands of modern appliances. Circuits can also be overloaded by providing electricity to too many appliances, often through power cords.

 

For more information regarding this and other moments in fire history, please feel free to reach out to the NFPA Research Library & Archives. 

The NFPA Archives houses all of NFPA's publications, both current and historic. 

Library staff are available to answer research questions from members and the general public. 

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