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NFPA Today

135 Posts authored by: kristinbigda Employee

 

Does anyone else feel like 2019 is flying by, or is it just me?  Here we are the first day of November, fire inspectors have had a busy few months inspecting haunted houses, corn mazes, carnivals, and other seasonal events, the NFPA 1 Technical Committee has just about finished up their Second Draft work for the 2021 code development cycle, and we are ready to turn back the clocks (don’t forget that when you change your clocks, it's a good time to check your smoke alarm batteries to make sure they're working!)

 

This past week, the NFPA 1 Technical Committee met at NFPA headquarters and through teleconference to finish up their Second Draft work.  Most of the work this week focused on updating the extracted portions of the Code, with a few technical issues carrying over from the first, Second Draft meeting back in September.  One of those issues relates to two-way radio communication enhancement systems.  But before addressing some of the new issues facing the Committee on this topic, it’s important that inspectors and users of the Code are aware of how it got to where it is today in the 2018 edition.

 

The 2009 edition of NFPA 1 provided guidance on the design of two-way radio communication enhancement systems in Annex O. Annex O was deleted for the 2012 edition, because much of its criteria was incorporated into NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code at the time. For the 2012 edition of this Code, the mandatory reference to NFPA 72 was added to Section 11.10 for enforcement where the AHJ determines that a building requires such a system to facilitate fire department communications in the building. For the 2018 edition, the reference to NFPA 72 in Section 11.10.2 was replaced with a reference to NFPA 1221, Standard for the Installation, Maintenance and Use of Emergency Services Communications Systems. The 2016 edition of NFPA 1221 added requirements regarding two-way communications enhancement systems from NFPA 72 into Section 9.6.

 

So, as it stands in the Code today, for all new and existing buildings, minimum radio signal strength for fire department communications must be maintained at a level determined by the AHJ.  Where required by the AHJ, two-way radio communication enhancement systems must comply with NFPA 1221, and where a two-way radio communication enhancement system is required and such system components, or equipment has a negative impact on the normal operations of the facility that its installed, the AHJ has the authority to accept an automatically activated responder system.

 

NFPA 1221 covers the installation, performance, operation, and maintenance of public emergency services communications systems and facilities.  It applies to communications systems that include, but are not limited to, dispatching systems, telephone systems, public reporting systems, and one-way and two-way radio systems that provide the following functions: (1) Communication between the public and emergency response agencies, (2) Communication within the emergency response agency under emergency and nonemergency conditions, and (3) Communication among emergency response agencies.

 

Section 9.6 of NFPA 1221 specifically addresses two-way radio communications enhancement systems.  It addresses system components, system degradation, approvals and permits, radio coverage, signal strength, radio frequencies, system monitoring, and documentation of technical criteria. 

 

This current code revision cycle, the Fire Code Technical Committee has discussion expanding the provisions to address minimum safety and performance requirements, that currently do not exist in other codes and standards, for two-way radio communication enhancement systems.  The First Draft Report shows expanded text that addresses how accepted installation practices have made their way through the industry via emerging technologies that did not exist years ago.  New language addresses listing and labeling, minimum signal strength into the building, equipment installation, and acceptance test procedures.  Further updates at the Second Draft meeting as discussed, but not formally voted on by the Committee, include updating the terminology and additional references to NFPA 1221.  These changes as discussed at the Second Draft meeting will be voted on by the Committee in the coming weeks and published in the Second Draft Report early next year.

 

 What challenges have you faced as an inspector when addressing these building systems?  How have you addressed the provisions in NFPA 1 that rely heavily on AHJ decision and approval with regard to two-way communication systems?  Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

It's back to school time. Time for teachers open their classrooms for the new school year and welcome students back to classes. Soon artwork will cover the walls, student projects will be on display, and lockers will be overflowing with books and supplies. It is also a time for fire inspectors to walk the halls of schools, checking for fire code compliance, operable fire protection systems and maintained egress routes. 

 

schoolroom

 

Educational occupancies, defined in NFPA 1, Fire Code, as "an occupancy used for educational purposes through the twelfth grade by six or more persons for 4 or more hours per day or more than 12 hours per week" include preschools, elementary schools, high schools, and the like. Colleges and Universities fall under a different occupancy classification and, while might present some similar hazards, should not be protected as educational occupancies. Educational facilities are inspected frequently and kept under a close watch by code officials. The day to day activities of a school can be greatly impacted by a document such as the Fire Code. 

 

Furnishings and Decorations:

One area that inspectors and educational occupancies must play close attention to is furnishings, decorations, and interior finish. NFPA 1 provides the following requirements with respect to these materials:

 

  • Draperies, curtains, and other similar loosely hanging furnishings and decorations have to meet specific performance criteria from NFPA 701.Clothing and other personal supplies cannot be stored in the corridors unless the corridor is sprinklered, has a smoke detection system, or where the supplies are stored in metal lockers that do not interfere with the egress width.
  • Clothing hung on hooks along corridor walls or on racks in school lobbies greatly increases the combustible load and will generally allow flame to spread quickly.
  • Artwork and teaching materials can be attached to the walls but cannot exceed 20% of the wall area in a non-sprinklered building and cannot exceed 50% of the wall area if the building is fully sprinklered. Because the combustibility of the artwork cannot be effectively controlled, the quantity, in terms of the percentage of wall area covered, is regulated to avoid creating a continuous combustible surface that will spread flame across the room. It may be advantageous not only to limit the quantity of artwork displayed but also to avoid placing such materials near a room’s exit access doors.

 

Fire Drills

Emergency egress and relocation drills are required as mandated specifically by a particular occupancy in Chapter 20 or as deemed necessary by the local AHJ. Requirements for drills are extracted from NFPA 101 but are located in Chapter 10 in NFPA 1 under General Safety Requirements. Fire inspectors play an important role in regulating and managing drills in facilities throughout their jurisdiction, especially in schools. Drills should always be designed and conducted in cooperation with the local authorities as the procedure and details of drills will vary jurisdiction by jurisdiction. Factors such as occupant demographics and location may all impact the details of the drill.  

 

The purpose of emergency egress and relocation drills is to educate the participants in the fire safety features of the building, the egress facilities available, and the procedures to be followed.Speed in emptying buildings or relocating occupants, while desirable, is not the only objective. Prior to an evaluation of the performance of an emergency egress and relocation drill, an opportunity for instruction and practice should be provided. This educational opportunity should be presented in a nonthreatening manner, with consideration given to the prior knowledge, age, and ability of audience. Additionally, NFPA 1 also addresses frequency, conduct, environment, and documentation for drills.

 

Security

Perhaps one of the biggest issues facing schools and communities today is maintaining the safety and security of students and staff from a hostile event or unwanted intruder. Chapter 14 of NFPA 1 extracts requirements from NFPA 101 about acceptable door locking arrangements. Inspectors should reference NFPA 101 specifically for new provisions on classroom door locking (see Chapters 14/15 of NFPA 101 and newly issued amendment to the Code that modifies the permitted door locking arrangements.)  NFPA offers several valuable resources for fire inspectors and AHJs faced with implementing security provisions in their communities. 

 

Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

 

Thanks for reading!

Special thanks to Zack Fischer, one the interns spending a summer at the NFPA working in our Technical Services and Engineering divisions, for his contributions to this blog. Zack is studying for his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is scheduled to graduate in May 2020.

Without access to the situation, fire departments couldn’t do their job very well. They need access to every inch of the facility needing care. The overall idea of “fire department access” is whether or not a fire apparatus is able to access a building or facility close enough to effectively use fire hose lines, fire hydrants, and any other connections.

Fire department access requirements may vary all across the United States. To be sure what your state or counties fire access rules are, check your local fire prevention division and/or NFPA’s Code Finder. In NFPA 1, fire department access is addressed in Chapter 18, and provisions exist to allow fire departments to efficiently combat fire, keeping buildings and people safe. On top of the rules set in place by NFPA 1, authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) may require additional fire protection requirements when necessary. They are also allowed to modify existing requirements in situations where standing requirements are onerous and impractical to meet.

Fire department access and fire department access roads must be providing as well as maintained in accordance with Section 18.2 of the Code. Regarding access to structures, the AHJ has the authority to require an access box(es) to be installed in an accessible location where access to or within a structure or area is difficult because of security. The access box(es) must be of an approved type listed in accordance with UL 1037, Standard for Antitheft Alarms and Devices. The AHJ also has the authority to require fire department access be provided to gated subdivisions or developments through the use of an approved device or system. The owner or occupant of a structure or area, with required fire department access must notify the AHJ when the access is modified in a manner that could prevent fire department access.

Fire department access roads must be up to code to provide effective firefighting and allowing for a quick response time. Before designing or determining compliance of the fire department access, the first step is to determine when and where the Code mandates these. (Check out this post to learn more about the design criteria and specifications required for fire department access roads.) In section 18.2.3, NFPA 1 requires approved fire department access roads be provided for every facility, building, or portion of a building constructed or relocated. Acceptable fire department access roads will consist of roadways, fire lanes, parking lot lanes, or a combination thereof. If any one of the following conditions exist, the AHJ may modify whether or not a fire department access road is required:

  1. One- and two-family dwellings protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system in accordance with Section 13.1 of NFPA 1
  2. Existing one- and two-family dwellings
  3. Private garages having an area not exceeding 400 ft2
  4. Carports having an area not exceeding 400 ft2
  5. Agricultural buildings having an area not exceeding 400 ft2
  6. Sheds and other detached buildings having an area not exceeding 400 ft2

The intent is to not require fire department access roads to detached gazebos and ramadas, independent buildings associated with golf courses, parks, and similar uses such as restrooms or snack shops that are 400 ft2 (37 m2) or less in area, and detached equipment or storage buildings for commercial use that are 400 ft2 (37 m2) or less in area. Interestingly, the Fire Code Technical Committee addressed an issue regarding fire department access as their First Draft meeting last fall, leading to a revision which was voted into the First Draft of the next edition of the Code (you can view the First Draft Report here). Where the Code now states that sheds and other detached buildings having an area not exceeding 400 ft2 may be exempt from fire department road access, the Technical Committee made a change as follows: “(6) Sheds and other detached buildings, not classified as a residential occupancy, having an area not exceeding 400 ft2”.   The proposed change addresses "tiny homes" and similar structures, therefore requiring the application of Sections 18.2.3.1 through 18.2.3.2.2.1 in the Code that otherwise may have exempted these structures from fire department access roads. The growing trend of 'tiny homes', which are residential occupancies, can create a hazardous situation where homes are located close together or where multiple homes are located on a single property. By calling out small detached buildings that are also residential occupancies, this ensures that their fire department access not be compromised.

In summary, almost every building is required to have one fire department access road. Some might even need additional ones if an AHJ says so. Many factors go into determining fire department access, from structure and road requirements to AHJ input. These factors are all listed in NFPA 1, and following these codes will provide safer living conditions and save lives!

As a fire inspector or AHJ enforcing NFPA 1, what issues have you seen with fire department access? Does the Code miss any scenarios that would beneficial to update or review to accommodate common compliance issues around fire department access? Comment below, we would like to hear from you!

Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

The first part of this week’s post is written by Jen Sisco, Engineer in the NFPA Building and Life Safety Systems group and Staff Liaison to NFPA’s Fire Doors and Windows Technical Committee responsible for the development of NFPA 80 and NFPA 105. Thanks to Jen for sharing her knowledge of this important issue in the Fire Code!

 

Passive fire protection in buildings is a critical element for the protection of people and property within NFPA 1. The use of fire barriers, fire walls, and other fire rated assemblies play a vital role in the subdivision of buildings, protection of hazardous areas, and protection of means of egress. However, for these systems to function in a building there has to be allowances for openings for people, equipment, and other building systems.

                       
An unprotected or improperly protected opening within a fire barrier or fire wall poses the risk of comprising the protection of the assembly. NFPA 1 requires that the installation and maintenance of all devices used to protect openings in walls, floors, and ceiling against the spread of fire and smoke comply with Section 12.4 and NFPA 80. Not only is it important to ensure that all openings are provided with appropriate opening protectives, but also to ensure that these assemblies are properly inspected and maintained.

 

The majority of the requirements in NFPA 1, 12.4 are extracted directly from NFPA 80. This section provides an overview of the inspection, testing, and maintenance (ITM) requirements for fire doors. NFPA 80 provides more comprehensive information relating to the ITM, as well as design and installation of 16 unique type of opening protectives, including fire doors, fire windows, glass block assemblies, fabric fire safety curtains, and fire dampers.


Selection of and proper installation of an appropriate fire door assembly or opening protective is important, but equally as important is the ongoing ITM of these assemblies. Since the 2007 edition of NFPA 80 (referenced by the 2009 edition of NFPA 1), all fire door assemblies require annual inspections. Fire dampers require inspection one year after installation and then every four years or every six years in buildings containing a hospital. As fire inspectors, it is important to understand your responsibility in the fire door (and fire damper inspection process). With many other building fire protection and life safety systems demanding inspection, testing and maintenance resources, it can be hard to juggle the ongoing inspection verification and compliance. But these common building systems that are used every day, cannot be ignored.


Building owners are responsible for ensuring that the fire door (and fire damper) assemblies in their building are properly maintained and part of an annual inspection program. This can be done by in-house personnel with an adequate level of knowledge and understanding of the systems or can be done by a third party vendor (a certified fire door inspector, for example). The fire door inspector conducts the inspections per the minimum criteria in NFPA 1 (and NFPA 80) and the fire inspector/AHJ verifies with buildings that their fire door assemblies are being inspected, testing and maintained as required.


Knowing now that doors are required to be inspected annually, how do you as the AHJ know if a door has been inspected? Records of all periodic testing is required to be maintained for at least three years and be available for review by the AHJ. New to the 2019 edition of NFPA 80, which will be referenced in the 2021 edition of NFPA 1, is the permitted use of inspection markings on the tags or stickers that are applied directly to the assembly documenting an inspection.

 

Looking for additional information on this topic?


To assist in the application of provisions relating to fire doors and other opening protectives, such as those extracted into NFPA 1, NFPA has released a new online training series, “NFPA 80 (2016) Balancing Safety and Security with Fire Doors, Dampers and Door Locking.” This series includes modules offering an NFPA 80 overview, and covers ITM for swinging fire doors, requirements for fire and smoke dampers, and a module on permissible door locking arrangement for all doors.


The educational bundle is designed to help facility managers, building owners, engineers, designers, and code officials deal with essential safety and security features in the buildings that they oversee.


The four module, four-hour, self-paced online fire doors, dampers and door locking training includes more than 30 videos with engineers and others explaining key points, as well as animations, case studies and a Q+A section.

 

Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA.

This week’s post comes from Alex Ing, Associate Engineer in NFPA’s Hazardous Chemicals and Materials group and Staff Liaison to NFPA’s Special Effects Technical Committee responsible for the development of NFPA 1126.   Thanks to Alex for sharing his knowledge of this important issue in the Fire Code!

 

What is the first image that pops into your head when you say “4th of July”? If you imagined a fireworks display you would not be alone. The 4th of July, is the pinnacle fireworks holiday in the United States with cities and towns all over the country putting on their own displays. As the holiday approaches not only does the firework community get extraordinarily busy, but those fire inspectors tasked with permitting and approving these displays also get busy. NFPA produces two standards covering the safe display of fireworks and pyrotechnics, NFPA 1123 Code for Fireworks Display 2018 Edition, and NFPA 1126 Standard for the Use of Pyrotechnics Before a Proximate Audience 2016 Edition.

 

The main difference between the two standards is distance from the audience watching. NFPA 1123 sets the appropriate display distance for fireworks and pyrotechnics, and NFPA 1126 provides requirements for displays using pyrotechnics at distances closer than those required in NFPA 1123. There is a difference between fireworks and pyrotechnics, based on the fact that manufacture of fireworks is dictated by federal regulation. While most of the celebrations going on this 4th of July will be in accordance to NFPA 1123 some will also be in accordance with NFPA 1126. Additionally, NFPA 1126 will also be used for pyrotechnic displays at concerts and other similar events.

 

One issue that has been arising lately in the NFPA 1126 world has been the use of pyrotechnic effect simulation equipment. What pyrotechnic effect simulation equipment is, is equipment that is uses a chemical mixture, heat source, and the introduction of oxygen to initiate or maintain combustion and is used to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration, or detonation. The most common form that pyrotechnic effect simulation equipment takes are machines that imitate gerbs, the pyrotechnics that produce a spray of sparks in of a predictable duration, height, and diameter. These new simulation equipment, will take a chemical mixture (typically a metal mixture) heat it up, and then use a blower to produce a shower of sparks similar to gerbs. Traditional gerbs on the other hand contain a propellant in the mixture which will instead ignite the pyrotechnic material inside and propel it. Both of these pieces of equipment are considered pyrotechnic devices and fall under the scope of NFPA 1126. (see TIA- 16-1, TIA Log #1317) Therefore it is necessary that anytime pyrotechnic effect simulation equipment is used it follows all the same requirements as any other pyrotechnic devices under NFPA 1126. The 2021 Edition of NFPA 1126 will include more requirements specific to pyrotechnic effect simulation equipment such as requiring specific fuel based fire extinguishers, however for the 2016 edition there are no specific requirements for these devices.

 

Both NFPA 1123 and NFPA 1126 are referenced by NFPA 1 in Chapter 65.  Chapter 65 contains general provisions for regulating the storage, use, and manufacture of explosives, display fireworks, and pyrotechnical before a proximate audience; flame effects before a proximate audience; fireworks manufacturing; and model and high power rocketry.  This chapter covers the wide range of hazards, like those described above and addressed by NFPA 1126, and associated with the use of materials that potentially can have disastrous consequences if not applied and enforced properly. Adoption of NFPA 1 your jurisdiction also mandates compliance with NFPA’s suite of pyrotechnic documents all referenced in Chapter 65 unless amended locally by your jurisdiction. 

 

Do you have events in your jurisdiction where pyrotechnics will be used?  Comment below and share your stories of Code enforcement or compliance issues. 

 

Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

In Texas, the State Fire Marshal's Office has adopted the 2015 editions of both NFPA 101 and NFPA 1, with some noted exceptions. From their website, “The Life Safety Code® determines the design, construction and operation of occupied buildings. When other codes are utilized for building design elements, the standards of the Life Safety Code® prevail…. NFPA 1 is used by the State Fire Marshal’s Office staff when conducting inspections within their authority.”

 

Attendees Talking at NFPA Conference & Expo

 

Fortunately, inspectors from Texas don’t have to travel far to further their knowledge of the fire code and how to inspect for current code requirements as well as learn about upcoming, emerging code issues that will very soon be impacting the fire code community. Next week is NFPA’s flagship event, the Conference & Expo and is being held this year in San Antonio, TX. There will be over 130 educational sessions offered for the week along with other special events highlighting areas of fire protection, life safety, building construction and public education. To see the full details of the event (not too late to make last minute plans, regardless of where you are traveling from!), check out the Conference & Expo page.

 

If you plan to be at the event here is a list of some educational sessions (and their relationship to NFPA 1) that may be of interest to you as a fire inspector to further your knowledge about Fire Code related issues, use and enforcement. To see a full description of each session you can visit the Conference & Expo page or click on the individual links below.    

Hazardous Materials and Processes:

X09. NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code — Production Facility Compliance (NFPA 30 is second only to NFPA 101 with the number of sections extracted into NFPA 1. The Code extracts over 1400 sections from NFPA 30 including definitions, mandated provisions and explanatory Annex sections)

T68. When Uber Meets Octane: Fire Code Requirements for On-Demand Fueling (NFPA 1 added requirements for on-demand mobile fueling via a Tentative Interim Amendment to the 2018 edition of the Code?)

T69. Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) — Safety Considerations (NFPA 1 added a new chapter on additive manufacturing to the First Draft and will continue to discuss the topic throughout the remainder of the 2021 Code revision cycle)

W02. Flammable Refrigerants Regulations: Past, Present, and Future (Flammable refrigerants have been a topic of discussion by the technical committee for the last couple of Code revision cycles. The Code currently addresses these in Chapter 53.)

W16. NFPA 33 Spray Finishing Requirements — Practical Application from Autobody Shops to Yachts (Chapter 43 of NFPA 1 addresses operations involving the spray application of flammable and combustible materials and required compliance with NFPA 33. The Code extracts about 17 pages of material from NFPA 33 so it is important for fire inspectors to be aware of process that can occur in a number of different occupancies. )

 

W18. NFPA 30A and NFPA 58: Safe Refueling of Propane Autogas Vehicles (The Code extracts extensive requirements from both NFPA 30A and NFPA 58 that related to this topic.)

Fire Protection Systems:

T16. NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems — Test Your Knowledge (NFPA 1 extracts from NFPA 13 and requires fire inspectors to be familiar with automatic sprinkler system operation.)

X10. What’s Wrong with This Picture? Identifying Water-Based System Deficiencies (NFPA 25 is the governing document for the inspection of water-based fire protection systems and is also extracted into NFPA 1.)

X17. Sprinkler System FAQs and Q&A (See notes above.)

Building and Life Safety:

M06. Enforcing the Extraordinary: Codes, Standards, and Best Practices for the Entertainment Industry (The Fire Code addresses all occupancies and special uses. Various sections throughout the Code will be needed to ensure building and occupant safety for entertainment events.)

P09. NFPA 241—Setting the Standard for Safeguarding Construction Operations (Chapter 16 of the Code addresses safeguarding construction and demolition operations and extracts from NFPA 241.)

P10. ASHER: A Public Session on Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (NFPA 1 along with other model codes such as life safety and building codes will be addressing the balance of fire and life safety with security from non-fire events for years to come. Compliance with both NFPA 3000 as well as model codes will no doubt overlap and working together as a community is critical for occupant safety.)

T59. NFPA 3000™ (PS): Community Threat Assessment and Response Preparedness (See note above.)

W49. Fire and Life Safety for Large Festivals (Large festivals are likely classified as assembly occupancies and can present unique challenges to a fire inspectors. With festival season upon us, NFPA 1 and the inspector play a critical role in keeping people safe during these events.)

Other:

M14 - NFPA 1 - Requisitos de Ocupaciones Especiales (Special Occupancy Requirements) (NFPA 1 addresses occupancy specific provisions for fire protection systems, egress requirements, interior finish, and other processes and operations that can be found in many occupancies.)

M18. Consumer Fireworks — A Review of Recent Large-Scale Fire Tests (In August 2014, a TIA was issued in conjunction with a Standards Council decision to temporarily withdraw NFPA 1124 and end all NFPA standards development activities relating to the storage and retail sales of consumer fireworks. Since then, a 2017 edition of the standard was issued but without any provisions related to consumer fireworks in its scope.)

 

M19. A New Standard for Energy Storage Systems: NFPA 855 (NFPA 1 will extract from NFPA 855 if it is issued by the Standards Council this summer. Critical and necessary requirements for fire inspectors related to energy storage systems will be added to the 2021 edition.)

X16 - The NFPA® Fire & Life Safety Ecosystem (The Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem cannot function effectively without an effective regulatory environment, use of referenced codes and standards, and effective code compliance, all cogs where fire inspectors can play a critical role in the safety of buildings, occupants and responders.)

 

We want to hear from you. Are you planning to attend the Conference next week in San Antonio? If this is your first NFPA Conference & Expo, what are you looking forward to the most? What educational sessions do you believe will bring you the most value as a Fire Inspector? Check back in here after the Conference and let us know what you thought and how we can further help you do your job.

Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

Thanks for reading!

Are you responsible for enforcing apartment buildings where residents want to use grills?  Have you been faced with landlords or condo associations who are seeking education on the risk of grills and cooking appliances?  Do you see office buildings with grilling/patio areas located too close to the building? Why does a Fire Code care about the occupant use of grills? NFPA 1 provides limitations for the use of grills, hibachi, and similar devices used for cooking and heating to ensure both the safety of occupants and protection of property.

 

grilling safety

For other than one- and two-family dwellings, no hibachi, grill, or other similar devices used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose is to be used or ignited on any balcony, under any overhanging portion, or within 10 ft (3 m) of any structure.  This keeps the ignition source a safe distance from the structure, such as an apartment building or dormitory, and away from exterior areas.  In addition, these grills/hibachi cannot be stored on balconies.  Where grills are stored on balconies, the probability is high they will be used there as well.

 

With regard to the application and enforcement of this provision in the Code, a frequently asked question to NFPA staff is whether electric grills are including in this provisions.  The answer is yes, they must follow the same rule as other fuel fired grills noted above.  In 2006 the Code read as follows:

10.11.7 For other than one- and two-family dwellings, no hibachi, gas-fired grill, charcoal grill, or other similar devices used for cooking, heating, or any other purpose, shall be used or kindled on any balcony or under any overhanging portion or within 10 ft (3 m) of any structure. Listed electric ranges, grills, or similar electrical apparatus shall be permitted.

 

However, the underlined sentence was removed in the 2009 edition and all subsequent editions.  From 2009 on, the requirement as stated in Section 10.11.6 is intended to include electric devices when enforcing this requirement. Listed equipment permanently installed in accordance with its listing, applicable codes and manufacturer’s instructions is permitted, however. 

 

We understand the challenges you may face in your role as a fire inspector when enforcing this provision.  The inspection of every balcony of every multifamily dwelling is an impractical enforcement task. Compliance through public education is more readily achievable. As an AHJ, you can provide written notification of these requirements to condominium associations, property management agencies, and others who are affected. When the potential danger posed by grills is understood, voluntary compliance is easier to obtain. Landlords can also include this prohibition in leases to ensure that tenants are aware of the restrictions. 

 

NFPA also offers safe grilling tips and other resources for grilling safety.  Here you will find a safe grilling tip sheet, grilling statistics infographic, a video with grilling safety tips, and also a video to show how to check your gas grill for leaks.  In addition, you can check out this recent blog highlighting other safety information regarding grilling. All important information for consumers and enforcers alike.  Who says grilling is only for the summer?  If you grill year-round you should stay safe year-round.

 

Don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

 

Thanks for reading!

Standpipe systems are fixed piping systems with associated equipment that transports water from a reliable water supply to designated areas of buildings. Such systems are typically provided in tall and large-area buildings. 

These systems can significantly improve the efficiency of manual fire-fighting operations by eliminating the need for long and cumbersome hose lays from fire apparatus to a fire. Even in buildings that are protected by automatic sprinklers, standpipe systems can play an important role in building fire safety by serving as a backup for, and complement to, sprinklers.standpipe

 

So, how does this impact you as a fire inspector? As an inspector utilizing NFPA 1 you need to know three things about standpipes when determining if a building and system is compliant with the Code:  (1) Where are standpipes required, (2) What type of system is required and (3) Has the system been properly inspected, tested, and maintained.

 

Where are standpipes required?

The Code required standpipe systems, designed and installed in accordance with NFPA 14, in new buildings that meet any of the following conditions:

(1) More than three stories above grade where the building is protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system,

(2) More than two stories above grade where the building is not protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system,

(3) More than 50 ft (15 m) above grade and containing intermediate stories or balconies

(4) More than one story below grade

(5) More than 20 ft (6.1 m) below grade

 

In addition, standpipes are required in high-rise buildings and some stage areas in assembly occupancies.  Some occupancies also mandate the presence of standpipes, such as detention and correctional occupancies, airport terminals and piers, at certain thresholds.  As a fire inspector, you will be utilizing a number of codes and standards when inspecting buildings.  You might find that the standpipe thresholds vary in the codes. NFPA 1 might mandate the presence of standpipes where NFPA 101 does not, for example.  This is because the scope of a fire code, life safety code, and building code differ.  When enforcing the provisions for standpipes, the most restrictive provisions of the applicable codes apply.

 

Did you know that there are instances where the AHJ can permit the removal of existing occupant-use hose lines? Where (1) NFPA 1 does not require their installation, (2) The current building code does not require their installation, AND (3) The AHJ determines that the occupant-use hose line will not be utilized by trained personnel or the fire department, existing occupant-use hose lines can be removed per the AHJ.  This was added to the Code to place emphasis on the preference for untrained building occupants to evacuate rather than attempt to extinguish a fire using hose lines.

 

What type of system is required?

In addition to the Code mandating where standpipes are required it will also specify what class of system is required for a particular installation.  Standpipe systems are designated as Class I, Class II, and Class III.  Note that sprinkler systems with hose connections are not necessarily considered to be standpipe systems. Such systems are often regarded simply as sprinkler systems. The design of a combined system is similar to any other Class I or Class III system, except that the water supply and pipe sizes may be larger to accommodate the added sprinkler system demand.  The process of designing a standpipe system begins with determining the intended use, that is, whether it is for (1) full-scale fire fighting, (2) first-aid fire fighting, or (3) both. These three uses correspond with the three classes of standpipe systems. Most aspects of system design, such as the required water supply, layout, and system components, are also affected or dictated by the class of system.

 

Let’s look at a Class I system, as an example:  A Class I system provides 2½ in. (65 mm) hose connections at designated locations in a building for use by the fire department. A Class I system is typically required in buildings that have more than three stories above or below grade because of the time and difficulty involved in laying hose from fire apparatus directly to remote floors.  For these reasons, Class I standpipes are the required system in high-rise buildings.

 

Requirements for inspection, testing, and maintenance of standpipes systems

Finally, a standpipe system installed as required by NFPA 1 must be properly maintained to provide at least the same level of performance and protection as designed.  Specific details for inspection, testing, and maintenance of the system are found in NFPA 25. The owner is responsible for maintaining the standpipe system and keeping it in good working condition.

 

Are you required to inspect buildings with standpipe systems?  What types of buildings in your jurisdiction have standpipe systems?  Have you sited compliance issues?  Are there any resources you find could help you do your job better when enforcing standpipe or other building systems?  Comment below and join the discussion!

 

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new york public library

 

Since the historic fire at Notre Dame this past Monday, I have found myself fascinated with the flood of analyses and photos and information about the fire, the building design and construction, its history and a global desire to rebuild.   I am confident that for the weeks and months to come we will continue to see and hear information as plans solidify and a community joins together to plan and prepare for moving forward with redeveloping and reimagining this global icon. 

 

A few days ago, a local Boston news website wrote an article about a local monument, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, and its recently completed fire protection upgrades.  The last sentence of the article resonated with me the most.  Chris Gedrich, an executive at Boston-based Suffolk Construction stated “We rely heavily on teamwork and partnerships . . . and a lot of pre-analysis of hazardous areas before we start to work.”  Designing, building, protecting and maintaining has to be a team event.  Those partnerships and shared conversations that are held up front set the stage for success among all those involved in such a unique large scale project that carries such a variety of goals and objectives held my numerous stakeholders.  When the Notre Dame community is ready to move forward following the fire, this quote will have to hold true to ensure a safe and resilient structure.  

 

You read in Robert Solomon’s post about the challenges of protecting historic buildings from fire and the codes that NFPA produces that address these challenges.  Both NFPA 909 and NFPA 914 are referenced in NFPA 1.  Inspectors and AHJs are provided the direction to comply with NFPA 914 when faced with historic buildings in their jurisdiction.  For buildings that display cultural resources, including museum or library collections, or spaces within other buildings used for such culturally significant purposes, inspectors have available to them NFPA 909.

 

What is so unique about NFPA 909 that also relates to the quote noted above from Mr. Gedrich is its emphasis on the planning process when preparing a protection plan for a cultural resource property. The governing body of these properties is responsible for developing and adopting a protection plan for the property.  In addition, a planning team must be identified in order to oversee the development of the protection plan.  The planning team collects all relevant information, standards and regulations to begin the development of a protection plan.  Chapter 5 of NFPA 909 provides the governing body of a cultural resource property with the framework to develop the protection plan.

 

Throughout NFPA 909, for the variety of culturally significant properties, is the common theme of teamwork, either during day to day protection of the property and even during construction and renovation projects.  Identified and agreed upon roles, responsibilities and documentation are a minimum to ensuring the adequate protection of such valuable and treasured property.

 

Whatever transpires with the future of Notre Dame or other communities around the world that may be reassessing the safety, security and resiliency of their own cultural and historical structures, one thing is for sure, it will involve teamwork, contributions and buy-in from all stakeholders involved in the process.  It will be an effort and undertaking with a global impact and with modern fire safety and technology in the spotlight.  I, for one, will be following along with the rebuilding of this icon every step of the way.  Will you?

 

Do you have any historical or cultural buildings in your jurisdiction?  What challenges do you face?  Comment below and join the discussion!

 

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A few weeks ago, the comprehensive First Draft Report along with the First Draft of NFPA 1, 2021 edition, was published. In the report, documentation of all first revisions, committee inputs, and responses to public inputs, are available for public review. The First Draft is the public’s first view of the current state of the document and the newly introduced changes and topics that were voted on by the Fire Code Technical Committee.

NFPA’s codes and standards must remain relevant and useful to our variety of customers who use them. One way to do this is to continue to evolve and introduce requirements for new and emerging technology into our codes and standards. NFPA 1 did just that in its First Draft by adding a chapter on Additive Manufacturing (3D printing).

Additive manufacturing is defined as ‘a process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, sometimes referred to as 3D printing’. There are two types of this process that are addressed in NFPA 1. Industrial Additive Manufacturing is 3D printing operations that utilize combustible powders or metals, an inert gas supply, or a combustible dust collection system or that create a hazardous electrical classification area outside of the equipment. Nonindustrial Additive Manufacturing do not create a hazardous electrical classification area outside of the equipment and do not utilize an inert gas supple or combustible dust collection system. In general, it’s a process in which a material, such as plastic or metal, is added in layers until a fully designed item is whole and complete.

3D printing is not a completely new process, but its popularity has been growing, the technology is evolving and 3D printers are becoming more mainstream and more widely available to businesses and to the public. It is being conducted in a variety of occupancies: personal residences, healthcare, businesses and industrial operations and can produce everything from small plastic gadgets to large metal jet engine parts.

But what place does additive manufacturing have in a fire code? In the September/October 2018 edition of NFPA Journal, Angelo Verzoni cited a study published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal which found that the plastics used in smaller, desktop 3D printers (nonindustrial processes) can produce hazardous volatile organize compounds and should be used in well ventilated areas. Because most of the materials used in the process are combustible, the primary concern of larger 3D printers, likely classified as industrial additive manufacturing, is the production of combustible dust. The printing process generates dust and can produce very small particles. Some metals used in the process can burn very quickly and produce high temperatures. All of this being a concern to building owners, fire inspectors, equipment operators and occupants.

The Fire Code is addressing these issues by requiring listed equipment, safe dust collection and management processes and safe use and handing of any associated hazardous materials. Other NFPA documents such as NFPA 652 and NFPA 400 are referenced for their expertise on the relevant topics associated with the additive manufacturing process.

3D printing is an exciting technology and we are sure to see more of it in the future as the equipment advances and products that impact our day to day lives are produced by 3D printers. The Fire Code is sure to follow these advances and ensure that our customers are provided with requirements to keep their buildings, occupants and property safe from fire incidents involving this process.

To view the details of the NFPA 1 First Draft Report and new Chapter 46 visit nfpa.org/1next. We are also seeking input from the public on the recent changes made to the Code. We invite you to participate in the process by submitting comments to NFPA 1 using the link on the page above.

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Over 200 pages of NFPA 1 (including Annexes) are dedicated to the storage, use and handling of hazardous materials.  We receive many questions asking hazardous materials-related questions from fire inspectors, AHJs, and others, trying to better understand how to apply provisions to help them with their day to day job enforcing Fire Code requirements.  Most commonly we hear from users about how to determine the maximum allowable quantity (MAQ) of a hazardous material and how to properly protect a space with hazardous materials.

 

Inspectors are responsible for enforcing the safe use and presence of hazardous materials, which include aerosols, compressed gases and cryogenic fluids, corrosives, explosives, flammable and combustible liquids and solids, toxic materials, oxidizers and LP Gas.  The amount of material in the Code that one needs to understand in order to safely apply it can be complex and even overwhelming.  There are several key terms that must be understood first before applying the Code:

  1. Maximum Allowable Quantity (MAQ). The quantity of hazardous material permitted in a control area.  This term is deceiving.  NOTE! --> While the term is referred to as "maximum", it really means that the material allowed is the maximum quantity per control area before requiring additional protection.  So, its not really a "maximum", rather a threshold before additional requirements kick in. 
  2. Control Area. A building or portion of a building or outdoor area within which hazardous materials are allowed to be stored, dispensed, used, or handled in quantities not exceeding the maximum allowable quantities (MAQ). 
  3. Protection Level. While not an officially defined term in the Code, but, where the quantity of hazardous materials in storage or use exceeds the MAQ for indoor control area the occupancy is required comply with additional protection requirements (referred to as Protection Level 1, 2, 3 or 4.)

Here are the first steps for a fire inspector, facility personnel or designer planning for the presence of these materials in their building:

      1. Classify the hazardous material

      2.Determine the quantity of hazardous material to be use

      3. If the quantity exceeds the MAQ for a single control area, one can either apply the provisions for the various protection          levels, or apply provisions for multiple control area

      4. If the quantity does not exceed the MAQ for a single control area, no special construction features are required

 

FireCodeFriday

 

To apply steps 3 and 4, an inspector needs to know what the permitted MAQ is for the particular occupancy.  Table 60.4.2.1.1.3 presents what can be termed the “general” MAQs. These are maximum quantities of hazardous materials that are considered to be appropriate for industrial, mercantile, or storage occupancies without the need for special protective measures. This is used to determine the MAQ for any given material, unless the MAQ for the specific occupancy is different. In that case, the MAQ in the occupancy-specific table applies.

 

The following steps should be followed when using Table 60.4.2.1.1.3:

  1. The category of the hazardous material should be determined, based on the classification of the material and the definitions within the Code. Without this basic information, the limits and protection features cannot be identified. All physical and health hazards associated with the hazardous material must be identified and classified so that each risk can be determined and the protection features or limits can be specified.
  2. The use of the hazardous material in a building must be understood so that appropriate limits can be established. These uses are generally categorized as storage, use-closed, and use-open. The storage category is designed for a hazardous material that is intended to enter a building in a container, cylinder, or tank and is not removed from the original container, cylinder, or tank in the storage room or control area. If the hazardous material is shipped to the site, stored, then shipped off-site, only the storage column of the table is used.
  3. If the material is used in a process, the process system must be reviewed to determine whether it is classified as use-closed or use-open. Closed use and storage have very similar risks and are treated the same with respect to MAQ. Open use is considered the most hazardous and, therefore, is most restricted with respect to an MAQ 4
  4. Apply the appropriate footnotes (there are quite a few!)  Information in the footnotes may modify the values in the Table so this step cannot be overlooked.

 

Chapter 61 through 75 then contain requirements to specific types of hazardous materials (for example, Chapter 63 contains requirements for compressed gases and cryogenic fluids.)  Most of these provisions are extracted into NFPA 1 from the respective NFPA documents  (NFPA 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code; NFPA 58, Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code...) 

 

Understanding how to properly protect areas with the storage, use or handling of hazardous materials benefits both life safety and property protection. In addition to understanding how to properly protect these areas, fire inspectors are required to meet the minimum professional qualifications established in NFPA 1031, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Inspector and Plan Examiner. One way to accomplish this is with a Certified Fire Inspector (CFI) certification, which includes demonstrating knowledge on protecting areas with hazardous materials.  These programs were created back in 1998 in response from local jurisdictions for a certification program based on the competencies in NFPA 1031.  Starting in NFPA 1, 2018 edition, compliance with NFPA 1031 is mandated for all fire inspectors and plans examiners.  The NFPA CFI I and CFI II certification programs are one way to demonstrate compliance with this requirement, promote professionalism in the role of a fire inspector, help demonstrate and understanding of the application and use of codes and standards, and improve job performance.  For more information on these programs and how to enroll, visit their page.

 

And finally, don't miss another #FireCodeFridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

Thanks for reading!

Today’s blog was written by Val Ziavras, a Fire Protection Engineer at NFPA. Special thanks to Val for her contribution to this blog and discussing one of the many subjects addressed in the Fire Code!


Fire-resistance-rated assemblies play a vital role in fire safety. However, an assembly is only as good as its weakest point - the openings. How do you know if an opening in a fire-resistance-rated assembly is protected appropriately, or if the opening is even permitted?

 

Not all openings are created equal. Door openings, for example, usually can’t be avoided as they are needed for the movement of people and equipment throughout the building, and for security and privacy. Windows or transom openings, on the other hand, are not necessary for the building to function; they tend to be installed for aesthetics, environmental reasons, or other architectural purposes. To understand the requirements for opening protectives, it is required for one to first understand the difference between a fire-protection-rating and a fire-resistance-rating. Although often used interchangeably, they are different.

 

Most opening protectives (assemblies protecting openings in a fire-rated assembly) have a fire-protection-rating whereas the wall/floor/ceiling assembly has a fire-resistance-rating. There are some exceptions where an opening protective may also be fire-resistance rated, but it is not the majority. There are a number of tests that will result in a fire-protection-rating, such as NFPA 252 and NFPA 257. When a product has a fire-resistance-rating it has been tested to ASTM E119 or ANSI/UL 263. If the opening protective is being tested as a wall; it will be subject to the same fire test as the wall itself. NFPA 252, NFPA 257, and ASTM E119 all expose the test specimen to a fire-based on the standard time- temperature curve.

 

A big difference between the tests is the performance criteria. For products undergoing a test resulting in a fire-protection-rating, some amount of openings, specifically around the glazing, are permitted and there are no limitations on the amount of heat transferred from one side to the other. Products tested to ASTM E119 are held to different test criteria based on their performance needs. There can be no passage of flame or gases hot enough to ignite cotton waste on the unexposed side and the temperature on the unexposed side of the wall cannot increase more than 250OF above the original temperature.

 

To properly protect an opening in a fire-resistance-rated assembly, the proper fire-protection-rating is required. Section 12.7.6 of NFPA 1 addresses opening protectives in fire-rated assemblies. It should be carefully noted that this table DOES NOT require the fire-resistance-ratings. The fire-resistance-rating will be mandated somewhere else in the Code and Section 12.7.6 will provide the required fire-protection-rating of the opening based on that mandated fire-resistance-rating. Wherever the Code refers to a fire-protection-rated door assembly or fire door assembly, it is referring to the entire assembly. If any single component is not properly provided, installed, and functioning, the assembly is not a fire-protection-rated assembly. For example, if a listed fire door leaf and frame are installed with positive latch and hinges but the required self-closing device is omitted, the assembly cannot be considered a fire door assembly and is not considered to have any fire-protection-rating.

 

For example, a new exit stair enclosure that connects 2 stories would require a 1-hour fire-resistance-rating based on how the Code requires exits be protected. Table 12.7.6.2.2 provides the minimum fire-protection-rating of the openings in “Vertical shafts, including stairways, exits, and refuse chutes”. Based on the Code requirement for a 1-hour fire-resistance-rating, the table tells us that opening protectives must have a minimum 1 hour fire-protection-rating.

 

How does this impact a fire inspector? AHJs are responsible for confirming that openings have been properly inspected, tested, and maintained and met the provisions as referenced in NFPA 80, Standard for Fire Doors and Other Opening Protectives (also extracted into NFPA 1, Section 12.4). An inspection of an opening protective will determine if the proper opening has been installed; the proper fire-protection-rating being one of the first pieces of information that an inspector will look at on the label on the opening protective. The inspections themselves, required annually, may be done by a person also serving as a fire inspector, by a facility manager/facility staff, or by someone who is in a role specific to the inspection, testing and maintenance of openings.

 

NFPA offers a plethora of resources related to protecting and inspecting fire-rated opening protectives including training and online learning. A recent article in NFPA Journal highlights the importance of clearances and gaps around fire door installations, particularly in health care occupancies. It also addresses the connection between the maximum gaps permitted by NFPA 80 versus the criteria tested for by NFPA 252 and how proposed research and testing can further the knowledge on the performance of opening protectives and their impact on building and life safety. NFPA offers annotated handbooks on the 2010, 2013, and 2016 editions of NFPA 80 if you are in a role where you require  expanded knowledge of the standard, in addition to the application for fire-rated openings in NFPA 1.

 

Thanks for reading, stay safe!

 

Please visit www.nfpa.org/1 to view the free access version of NFPA 1 2018 edition. Follow along on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA. Looking for an older #FireCodefridays blog? You can view past posts here.

The Fire Code is a comprehensive document for issues related to life safety from fire to building occupants, property protection, and enhanced emergency responder safety. In fact, there are 15 different items listed under the scope of the Code including but not limited to inspection of buildings, fire investigation, plans review, fire and life safety education, design, installation and maintenance of fire protection systems, storage and use of hazardous materials, conditions impacting fire fighter safety and the design and maintenance of egress systems. Together, the items addressed by the Code provide a single resource that can be utilized by a fire inspector during their day to day jobs.

 

 

Chapter 1 of the Code provides many of the ‘ground rules’ for the scope, application and enforcement of the Code. While Chapter 1 provides comprehensive provisions and direction on how the Code should be administered and enforced, these administrative procedures and requirements are frequently customized by the jurisdiction as part of the code adoption process. The remainder of the Code cannot be applied without first understanding the foundation set forth in the provisions of Chapter 1. For those familiar with some other NFPA codes and standards, Chapter 1 of NFPA 1 is quite a bit longer due to the scope of the Code and the responsibilities of a fire inspector.


One of those responsibilities with respect to the application of NFPA 1 is to issue permits. The Code requires a permit for more than 80 different types of operations and activities so a fire inspector must be aware of where and what activities are occurring in its jurisdiction that could affect fire and life safety. They are predicated upon compliance with the requirements of NFPA 1 and constitute written authority issued by the AHJ to maintain, store, use, or handle materials; to conduct processes that could produce conditions hazardous to life or property; or to install equipment used in connection with such activities. By requiring permits and approvals, the AHJ can ensure that the activities or operations are performed safely. In some jurisdictions, the AHJ may allow the permitting of some of these activities through other departments in the jurisdiction. As an example, the AHJ may allow all permits for new construction to be applied for and issued at the building department. In these circumstances, the AHJ still maintains the permit, plan review, and inspection authority granted in this Code.

 

Permits are sought via an application to the AHJ and may be accompanied by any data or information as required by the AHJ as well as the appropriate fee. AHJs have the responsibility to review all permit applications and issue permits as required. Where an application for a permit is rejected by the AHJ, the applicant is to be advised of the reasons for such rejection. The reasons for rejections should be detailed sufficiently so that the applicant can understand what actions are required to resubmit the permit application and potentially receive approval. Other permitting requirements include, but are not limited to the following (See also NFPA 1 Section 1.12 for all provisions related to permitting and approvals):

 

  • The AHJ may require an inspection prior to issuance of a permit
  • Permits issued under NFPA 1 can continue until revoked or for the period of time designated on the permit.
  • Permits are issued to one person or business only and only for the location or purpose described in the permit application.
  • Any change that affects any of the conditions of the permit requires a new or amended permit. 
  • Permit extensions may occur if the AHJ has been presented by the permittee an appropriate reason for failure to start or complete the work in the timeframe authorized by the original permit.
  • A copy of the permit must be posted or readily accessible at each place of operation and is subject to inspection as specified by the AHJ

 

Permit activities regulated under NFPA 1 may also be regulated by other government bodies. One example is the installation of underground petroleum storage tanks. In many jurisdictions, a separate environmental protection agency may be charged with responsibility to review the environmental factors of petroleum storage tank installations. The AHJ for NFPA 1 may wish to withhold fire code permit approval until confirmation is received that an approval from the environmental permitting body has also been received. The fire code inspector however, is not to be held responsible for enforcement of the regulations of other regulatory agencies unless specifically mandate to enforce those agencies’ regulations. Where additional permits, approvals, certificates, or licenses are required by these other organizations, they must be obtained by the applicant before work on the activity can begin. The fire inspector/AHJ serves an invaluable role in the permitting process. Many activities and operations cannot start or continue without issuance of a permit, and without an AHJ approval there is no permit. 

 

Those serving in a fire inspector role are required to meet the minimum professional qualifications established in NFPA 1031, Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Inspector and Plan Examiner. One way to accomplish this is with a Certified Fire Inspector (CFI) certification. These programs were created back in 1998 in response from local jurisdictions for a certification program based on the competencies in NFPA 1031. Starting in NFPA 1, 2018 edition, compliance with NFPA 1031 is mandated for all fire inspectors and plans examiners. The NFPA CFI I and CFI II certification programs are one way to demonstrate compliance with this requirement, promote professionalism in the role of a fire inspector, help demonstrate and understanding of the application and use of codes and standards, and improve job performance. For more information on these programs and how to enroll, visit their page.

 

Thanks for reading, stay safe!

 

Don't miss another #FireCodefridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

Today’s post is from NFPA staff, Jennifer Sisco. Jen is a Fire Protection Engineer in the Building and Life Safety Department where she serves as Staff Liaison to multiple NFPA Technical Committees. Special thanks to Jen for her contribution!


For those of us who live in locations where the winter season means snow, ice, and cold; it can also mean seasonal fire and life safety hazards that can impact the responsibilities of building owners, facility managers, and fire inspectors.


NFPA 1 requires that the means of egress be maintained free of obstruction or impediments to ensure full instant use; and states that site administrators and staff are responsible for inspecting all egress areas to stairways, doors, and other exits to ensure that they are in proper condition. The annex further clarifies that this includes keeping the means of egress and all components clear of snow and ice. Drifting, plowed, or falling snow can make exterior doors difficult to open or make an exit impassible. Likewise, ice on exterior stairways and walkways can pose a significant life safety hazard.


In addition to blocking means of egress, snow can also impact fire department road access - reducing widths, blocking gates, or rendering roadways impenetrable. Fire department access roads, including gateways, need to remain unobstructed. NFPA 1 recognizes that this may be difficult in some areas with extreme snowfalls and that temporary alternative arrangements may need to be made, including temporary roadways as a result of snow accumulation. If it is anticipated that temporary alternate measures may be required, they should be coordinated in advance of snow events, whenever possible.


Winter conditions can prompt power outages which also correlate to increased carbon monoxide-related injuries and deaths. Carbon monoxide is responsible for tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths annually in the United States, alone. Portable generators are a major contributor to carbon monoxide injuries and deaths, typically due to generators being operated in a garage, basement, or other indoor space. NFPA 1 states that generators never be operated inside a building, unless they are in a specifically designed generator room; and that they should be located at least 5 feet away from all building openings and air intakes with the exhaust directed away from the building.


Even in areas not prone to snow, cold temperatures have the ability to freeze piping for sprinkler systems or other water-based suppression systems. Frozen pipes are not only a concern for exterior piping, as piping within buildings in unconditioned spaces, near building openings, or in buildings with heating system impairments can also be subject to freezing. In accordance with NFPA 1, property owners are responsible for ensuring that all water-filled piping is maintained above 40˚F or provided with some other form of freeze protection. In areas that have the potential for freezing temperatures below the level that can be adequately protected by an allowable antifreeze solution, supplemental heat can be provided when temperatures fall below the level of the antifreeze solution. Other means of freeze protection for water-filled piping, including heated valve enclosures, heat tracing, insulation, or other methods are allowed by the applicable installation standards.


Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures can pose hazards to fire and life safety, but many of the hazards can be mitigated with a little preparation by building owners and facility managers; and enforced by those inspecting the property. Preparation and management of winter-related fire and life safety issues referenced in the Fire Code are critical to staying safe in the cold weather.


NFPA offers free resources on winter fire safety, as well as free infographics on a number of topics included winter fires and safe electrical practices. You can also find reports, data and statistics on winter related fire safety issues on www.nfpa.org.


Thanks for reading, stay safe!

 

Don't miss another #FireCodefridays blog! Get notifications straight to your email inbox by subscribing here! And you can always follow me on Twitter for more updates and fire safety news @KristinB_NFPA

It’s hard to believe it’s already time to reflect on the end of another year. As a Staff Liaison at NFPA, my role is to facilitate the development of NFPA 1 while ensuring the NFPA standards development process is followed and that we successfully revise our Code to best serve our end users. In addition, this process involves guiding the Technical Committee in addressing emerging issues and technologies related to their document and educating our stakeholders on the content contained in NFPA 1.

2018 was a busy year for the development of NFPA 1. We saw many important issues brought to the Committee; balancing building security and life safety, firefighter communications, energy storage systems, safety of portable generators, and many more. Early this year, NFPA staff and the Fire Code Technical Committee began the journey of developing the 2021 edition of the Code. This included the following activities:

  • Schedule update and customization – The 2021 revision cycle has been updated to reflect the challenges and needs of our technical committees, stakeholders as well as the staff involved in the developing a document that extracts from over 50 other NFPA standards and is over 750 pages in length. Changes to the schedule include:
    • Separating out the work on text owned by NFPA 1 versus the provisions extracted from NFPA 1. This will have an impact on the work by holding at least two meetings at both the First and Second Draft stages (we held two First Draft meetings in 2018.) This will allow for greater visibility of the work being done to extracted text for both our volunteers and the public.
    • Allowing for some additional time internally to process the changes both from NFPA 1 unique text as well as the extract updates. This includes pushing out the ballots and posting of the First Draft and Second Draft reports to maximize production time and product a higher quality end product.
  • Pre-First Draft Meeting – In May we held a Pre-First Draft meeting to address issues that arose early in the process and to plan ahead for the remainder of the revision cycle. At this meeting, five task groups were created to further review public inputs on topics such as life safety and security, standpipe provisions, portable generators, and emergency services communications. The Committee also developed draft actions on over 70 public inputs and reviewed emerging trends and technologies impacting the Code.
  • First-Draft Meeting #1 – In September we held the (first) First Draft meeting where the Committee acted on over 125 public inputs, developed 93 First Revisions and created 51 Committee Inputs. These actions account for future extract updates and the many emerging issues that will need to be addressed by the Fire Code this cycle. Six new task groups were formed to work on issues that arose during the meeting. These task groups will further evaluate topics such as photovoltaics, Monitor-it-Yourself (MIY) systems, energy storage systems, and portable generators.  
  • First Draft Meeting #2, extract review – In November was the second, First Draft meeting. At this meeting the Committee addressed only the review and updating of Code provisions that are extracted from other documents. At this meeting the Committee reviewed over 300 pages of updated text from 14 different NFPA codes and standards. The remainder will be reviewed and updated at the Second Draft.

There is such a large volume of information contained in this Code. The more we can educate our users the more we can help with the enforcement of the Code and the safety of buildings and their occupants. I am hopeful that you have found this blog as a successful way to communicate knowledge and information related to Code revisions, FAQs, current events and other seasonal related Code topics. (You can view all past Fire Code Friday blogs here!) In addition, the 2018 edition of the Fire Code Handbook was released earlier this year. This resource provides not only the Code text but commentary that provides explanations behind many of the Code provisions.

Looking ahead, 2019 will bring another busy year. It will be the second year of the revision cycle and the committee will hold at least two Second Draft meetings. We will continue our discussions on improving the Code development process for NFPA 1 to best serve our stakeholders, our inspectors, and the many staff involved in the production of the document. I look forward to continued advances in our work and the development of an NFPA 1 that will continue to serve as the go-to resource for fire inspectors.

In closing, thank you, all, for reading Fire Code Fridays. I hope you have benefitted from the information.  If you have suggestions, or feedback, or future topics you would like to see discussed please comment here. Let’s keep the discussion about the Fire Code and fire safety going in 2019.

Best wishes for a safe and happy New Year!

Kristin Bigda, P.E. NFPA 1 Staff Liaison

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